Monday, August 12, 2019

When Wind And Solar Projects Age

When solar and wind projects fail, become outmoded or age
and produce less energy than the energy it took to make them
no green environmentalists are to be found


Carrizo Plain Solar

Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and wind turbines break down and produce less energy than the energy it took to make them. So far, throughout the U.S. there are no plans for the replacement or decommissioning of millions of PV panels and thousands of turbines when a project fails or when they become outmoded or when they are useless with age.

Perhaps we have a lesson for the future with what is happening now. Before the big rush in the 1980s to generate electricity from solar and wind, California's Central Valley was a vast grassland where antelope and elk grazed and wildflowers swept the spring landscape. Then, in 1983, came the Carrizo Plain solar facility with 100,000 photovoltaic arrays generating 5.2 megawatts at its peak. It was by far the largest photovoltaic array in the world. But, in1994 it was dismantled.

Today, the Carrizo Plain solar facility, near the Carrizo Plain National Monument, is an abandoned, decaying eyesore where the wind whistles through a cyclone fence that encloses the remains of a once ambitious plan to generate power from the sun at one of the sunniest places in California.

If any spot was tailor-made for a wind farm it would surely be Hawaii. The gales are so strong and relentless that trees grow almost horizontally. Yet the 27-year-old Kamaoa Wind Farm (left) is a relic of rusting wind turbines. As the Hawaii Free Press describes it, "A breathtaking sight awaits those who travel to the southernmost tip of Hawaii's stunningly beautiful Big Island, though it's not in any guidebook. On a 100-acre site, where cattle wander past broken 'Keep Out' signs, stand the rusting skeletons of scores of wind turbines. There are five other abandoned wind farms in Hawaii.

The rush to renewable energy has been just a free-for-all in which get-rich-quick companies exploited ridiculously generous tax breaks to pepper the States with millions of PV Panels and thousands of wind turbines. It is a scam that has been working well as long as they can blame the destruction and expense on saving the planet.

Thanks to the wind rush of the 1970s and 1980s there are dozens of wind farms scattered around the Western rim of the Mojave Desert near Tehachapi pass with as many as 14,000 abandoned, rusting, and slowly decaying wind turbines. At Tehachapi in hapless Kern County, officials had no provision in law requiring developers to cover the future tear-down costs of the wind turbines. At first, that may not have seemed like a big deal. But the federal tax breaks soon dried up and the developers vanished, leaving behind thousands of rusty, cranking turbines standing in rows like soldiers on the windy plain outside Tehachapi.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Renewable Energy: A Misguided Quest To Save The Planet

Solar and wind enthusiasts only talk about "installed capacity"
claiming that one megawatt will power 1,000 homes

The people who believe in climate change believe it is caused by the carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity. In order to eliminate CO2 and greenhouse gases they have focused on using "renewable energy," getting electricity from the sun and the wind. Slick advertising and political agendas have convinced them that renewable energy is clean, green and critical to stopping global warming.

But that's far from the truth. Most people haven't considered that we pay twice for renewable energy. Once in taxes that finance its billions in subsidies and a second time in our electric bill. Large-scale renewable energy farms create more pollution, more destruction, more danger, more expenses, and more jobs than they do electricity.

Wind and solar enthusiasts only talk about "installed capacity" claiming that one megawatt powers 1,000 homes. However, the amount of electricity that any power plant actually delivers is its "capacity factor." Solar and wind farms have the lowest capacity factors of any energy source. About 30%.

So, with both wind and solar farms generating less than 30% of their installed capacity, and according to the Renewable Energy association, that one megawatt of potential output actually powers only 164 homes. Not 1,000 homes.

Most people seem to feel we are on the right track with renewable energy, arguing that their low production can be overcome by building "more" solar farms and erecting "more" wind turbines.

Well, consider this. The U.S. has 1.4 million solar farms, some with over 8 million PV panels. So, there are already trillions of PV panels in use, but they generate less than 1% of the nation's electricity. The U.S. has 58,000 wind turbines (20% of them in Texas). They generate 6% of the nation's electricity. Compare those colossal numbers to the 99 nuclear reactors in the U.S. that generate 20% of the nation's electricity.

Palo Verde Nuclear Station, in the Arizona desert, has been the largest producer of electricity in the U.S. for over 30 years. It generates more than 32.3 million MWh and supplies electricity to homes and businesses in Arizona, California, Texas, and New Mexico. It has 3 reactors, a capacity factor of 93.8%, and serves over 4 million people.

Palo Verde has offset the emission of almost 534 million tons of carbon dioxide (the equivalent of taking up to 84 million cars off the road for one year); more than 278,900 tons of sulfur dioxide; and 681,000 tons of nitrogen oxide.

Nuclear energy is the cleanest, most reliable and the only energy source that can produce more electricity than oil, coal or gas and eliminate CO2 and greenhouse gases. It takes millions of tons of oil or coal to produce the same amount of electricity as one ton of uranium.

Few people know that solar energy is NOT environmentally friendly. It creates 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than nuclear power plants. Solar panels only last 25-30 years and they can be broken by lightening or during hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.

Every photovoltaic (PV) solar panel contains lead and cadmium. Lead, cadmium and cadmium compounds are highly toxic. When panels are broken or are discarded in landfills, these toxic chemicals can leech into the soil, poisoning aquifers and water basins.

And, this is not to even mention the environmental damage done by making solar panels in the first place. The manufacturing of silicon solar cells requires furnaces running at 2,000ยบ C and involves a witch's brew of chemicals. The furnaces emit CO2 and some of the chemicals and byproducts are tens of thousands times more harmful than CO2.

Solar panels are mostly glass and plastic so the cost of recycling them can be more than the value of the materials recovered. In Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) panels the glass is infused with toxic minerals. So, the recycling process for CdTe panels must include a step to separate the toxic minerals from the ground up glass.

The problems of solar panel disposal is going to explode soon and little is being done to mitigate their potential danger to the environment. A growing number of environmental scientists and even solar industry leaders are voicing concern about what happens to discarded solar panels. And still the U.S. has no plan, no regulations and no money set aside for the disposal of PV solar panels.

Wind turbines are not the clean and green structures that we think they are. It takes over 175 tons of coal to make the 800 tons of steel and concrete that are used when installing a single wind mill.

Turbine generators use permanent magnets that are made from rare earth elements. A single 2 MW wind turbine contains about 800 pounds of neodymium and 130 pounds of dysprosium.

These rare earth minerals are mined almost exclusively in China. But as mining spreads to countries like Malaysia and Brazil, scientists warn about the dangers of toxic and radioactive waste that is generated on an epic scale from the mining and processing of rare earth minerals.

Wind turbines are as tall as 30-story buildings with blades as wide as a passenger jet's wingspan. These large turbines must be spaced 5 to 10 blade diameters apart which requires the clearing huge stretches of land. Massive wind installations are expensive and rely heavily on large government subsidies.

Wind farms are built outside of populated areas and far from major cities. Transmission lines, at a cost of $1.9 million per mile, must be built to carry electricity to consumers over long distances.

The average cost of a wind turbine is about $2 million per megawatt. The cost of offshore developments is 5 times more than the cost of onshore developments as construction and maintenance must all be handled by ship and helicopter.

The lifespan of wind turbines is about 20 years. Offshore turbines don't last as long. Salt water is far more damaging than the sun and rain. Every turbine requires preventive maintenance checkups two to three times per year and repairing wind turbines is difficult with workers making repairs while up over 300 feet in the air.

Wind energy needs locations where wind speed is high. It turns out there is considerable overlap between the places where there is a lot of wind and where there are migratory bird routes as well as a lot of lightning strikes.

Although the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds over 170 mph at the tips. Ecologists are seriously concerned about the number of protected species such as golden eagles, burrowing owls, red-tailed hawks and falcons that are being shredded each year by wind turbines.

Tragically, the size of these majestic creatures makes it difficult for them to maneuver through forests of spinning wind turbine blades, especially when they are concentrating on looking for prey.

The risk to birds is highest at night, when the blades and towers are cloaked in darkness. The argument that millions of birds are killed annually by house cats and flying into buildings and other structures would be acceptable if wind energy was supplying plenty of cheap, dependable, carbon-free electricity. But it does not!

Wind turbines get more than their fair share of lightning damage as compared to buildings and towers of a similar height.

The materials the blades are made of are insulators that cannot easily dissipate the charges racked up while whooshing about their business. And lightning strikes can cause significant damage. Blades explode; generators and control system electronics fry.

Wind turbines are noisy. A study in Sweden measured the noise of wind turbines to be 5 to 10 decibels louder than the noise of a chainsaw at a distance of 120 yards with wind speeds of 28 mph, the wind speed at which turbines perform their best.

So here's the "bright idea" being used to capture energy from the sun without the hazards of toxic PV panels. Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) or Solar Thermal Plants.

Ivanpah Solar Electric is the world's largest Solar Thermal Plant. It has 173,500 double-mirrored heliostats which turn to keep focusing sunlight toward "boilers" located on top of three 40 story towers. The boilers create steam that is then piped to steam turbines, which generate electricity.

A CSP plant can store the heat of solar energy in molten salts, which enables them to generate electricity day or night. However, at night CSP plants burn fossil fuels to keep the water in the boilers heated so electric production can start up more quickly when the sun comes up each morning.

Of course, birds unfortunate enough to fly through the 800° to 1,000° Fahrenheit beams of sunlight aimed at the towers while chasing after insects that are attracted by the mirrors, are instantly incinerated. Employees at Invanpah call them "Streamers" because of the trail of smoke they leave behind as they fall from the sky.

Invanpah is on 3,500 acres of public land in the Mojave Desert. It still cost taxpayers $2.2 billion and it received $1.6 billion in loan guarantees and $600 million in federal tax credits.

The cost of electricity from Invanpah is over 21 cents per kilowatt hour. The cost of PV solar is about 12.2 cents per kilowatt hour. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates generating electricity from wind at 9.6 cents per kilowatt hour. But, when the wind is not blowing the cost of wind power increases to 15.1 cents per kilowatt hour if natural gas is used as the back-up fuel and 19.2 cents per kilowatt hour if coal is used as the back-up fuel. The cost of nuclear power is the lowest at 2.1 to 4.0 cents per kilowatt hour.

California boasts that their 11,000 wind turbines generated 14.3 million MWh in 2018. But their Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, with its 2 reactors, generated 17.9 million MWh in 2018 and has generated that much annually for the past 33 years.

Diablo Canyon is 90% reliable and supplies 9% of California's carbon-free electricity. However, a state already plagued by rolling blackouts, they want to close Diablo Canyon and replace it with an electricity system that is dependent on the wind.

Many people have been taught to fear nuclear power because of accidents like Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island. The fact is, since 1970, these are the only three accidents in the world involving reactor core damage.

At Chernobyl approximately 30 men died from radiation. At Fukushima an 8.9 magnitude earthquake created a 45 foot-high tsunami. The tsunami killed 19,000 people. It damaged 3 reactors but no one died from radiation. At Three Mile Island no dangerous amount of radiation was discharged outside of the facility. The people of Harrisburg, PA would actually receive more radiation from a chest x-ray than they received as a result of the accident.

Because of three accidents in half a century, we spend billions on energy sources that depend on the weather. They are totally unaffordable without huge government subsidies, triple the cost of electricity, generate electricity less than 30% of the time, put electricity grids at a risk of collapse, cannot prove they significantly eliminate CO2 and greenhouse gases, devastate millions of acres of land, forests, mountains and bays, displace and kill wildlife and endanger the population with millions of tons of undetectable toxic chemicals and radioactive waste that end up in our landfills and oceans.

But the rush to renewable energy has been a free-for-all in which get-rich-quick companies exploited ridiculously generous tax breaks and peppered the States with PV panels, heliostats and wind turbines. It has been a scam that is working well as long as they can blame all the destruction and expense on saving the planet.

Nuclear plants last 65 years, not the 20-25 year lifespans of solar panels and wind turbines. When nuclear reactors are decommissioned about 99% of the radioactivity is associated with the fuel which is removed following the shutdown. The remaining radioactive waste comes from steel that has been exposed to neutron irradiation. But that steel can be recycled for other nuclear plants.

When solar panels and wind turbines age, they are often abandoned. The Carrizo Plain solar facility, built in 1983 was abandoned the late 1990s. The first windfarms appeared in 1981. Today, dozens of those wind farms are abandoned, left rusting and slowly decaying. In some areas the smaller turbines with their telltale lattice-work towers, will soon get upgraded to larger. But no one mentions what will happen to the discarded steel towers and useless turbines.


Updated September 24, 2019

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Dirty Secrets of Solar Energy

Most people see solar as a "clean" source of energy but solar energy has more than its share of "dirty" secrets and renewable energy and climate change enthusiasts are simply ignoring them.

Few people realize that the manufacture of PV solar cells requires toxic chemicals, electricity and fossil fuel furnaces running at 2000° C, which in turn produces CO2. The panels themselves contain toxic chemicals, some of which are tens of thousands of times more toxic than CO2.

The cost of solar energy in the U.S. today is reported to be 12.2 cents per kWh, or about the average price people in the U.S. pay for electricity. But, regardless of its current rate per kWh, that rate does not include waste disposal and soon there will be plenty of waste.

Solar energy actually produces 300 times more hazardous waste per unit of energy than nuclear plants. In 2017 the U.S. installed 35 million new panels. At the end of their 25 year life there will be 1.9 million tons of cadmium waste. And cadmium, by the way, is the 6th most deadly chemical known. Where will we dump this hazardous waste?

Solar is the only source of electricity that doesn't include the cost of waste disposal. No money is being set aside to replace old panels. No money is being set aside to dispose of old panels that are too toxic to be put in landfills. No money is being set aside to recycle old panels that probably will ever be worth recycling since 90% of their materials are glass, aluminum and plastic. And, even worse, there is no dedicated national program or requirement to safely dispose of solar panels.

When panels are cracked or broken, rainwater can wash cadmium out of the panels and into the soil where it can leach into water supplies. Solar panels can be damaged by lightening, hailstorms, tornados, hurricanes and earthquakes. When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last September, the nation's second largest solar farm lost a majority of its panels. In 2015 a tornado broke 200,000 solar modules at southern California solar farm Desert Sunlight.

Today we are installing solar panels on rooftops, carports and covering our deserts with blankets of solar panels because it takes millions upon millions of PV panels to get a trickle of energy from the sun.

Two of the largest solar farms in the U.S. are Topaz and Desert Sunlight in the California desert. It's hard to imagine the size of Topaz; nearly ten square miles; 1/3 the size of Manhattan; PV panels as far as the eye can see in both directions. Giant projects like Topaz and Sunlight rely on so much land they create an enormous impact on the environment, vegetation and wildlife.

Topaz has 9 million PV panels and Desert Sunlight has 8.8 million. They both have a "nameplate capacity" of 550 megawatts. In other words, they can produce 550 megawatts under factory conditions, peak sunshine and no wind. After dusk, they produce no electricity. The miles and miles of transmission lines that carry power to the grid during sunny days hang idle from their massive steel towers.

You might argue that 550 megawatts of solar energy for 8 to 12 hours a day is better that 1,200 megawatts from a fossil fuel plant spewing CO2 into our atmosphere, and you might be right. But, borrowing Palo Verde Nuclear Station as a benchmark, a solar farm producing between 0 and 550 megawatts is a trickle compared to the 3,800 megawatts Palo Verde has been generating all day long, every day and for 25 years.

Nuclear plants have a life span of 60 years, not 25. Nuclear waste can be recycled but a law passed by President Carter in 1977 prevents recycling. As a result there is about 56,000 tons of "used fuel" piling up at storage facilities. Still, that is better than 50,000 tons of cadmium for every 1.8 million PV panels that are decommissioned.

If environmentalists really wanted to do something, that used nuclear fuel could be recycled. It contains roughly enough energy to power every household in the U.S. for 12 years and could conceivably run the U.S. nuclear fleet for almost 30 years with no new uranium input. Recycling would relieve our dependency on foreign countries to provide the medical isotopes needed for the 20 million nuclear medicine procedures performed each year and it would reduce dangerous nuclear waste to just one cubic yard per plant.



I am a concerned citizen that has researched, studied and written about renewable and clean energy sources for 3 decades. It's mind boggling to me that we can spend billions a year on solar energy and claim that nuclear plants are too expensive to build. It's mind boggling that we are happy to spend over 12 cents per kWh for solar energy when nuclear energy costs about 3 cents per kWh. For more information visit my blog Facing Hard Facts About Renewable Energy. Charlie Tyrrell

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Is Solar Our Next Environmental Crisis?

The sun might produce more power in a single hour than the entire world consumes in an year but to get a few hundred megawatts of electricity from the sun requires millions of solar panels and the destruction of massive areas of land.

Tens of millions of solar panels are being installed every year to meet clean energy needs but few people realize that PV solar technology is neither "clean" nor "green." PV solar cells are crystalline silicon and silicon may be made of sand but its path from sand to panel requires electricity from coal-burning plants and heat from furnaces running at an incredible 2,000° C (3,632° F) which, in turn, emits sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The manufacturing process employs toxic chemicals such as hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane and acetone. The panels contain toxic materials; cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide, polyvinyl fluoride, lead and sulfur hexafluoride to name a few. Another toxic chemical, silicon tetrachloride, is a byproduct of panel production and silicon tetrachloride is highly toxic to plants and animals.

Solar panel waste isn’t a huge issue right now in 2018 because there isn’t a big enough volume to cause concern. However, hundreds of millions of panels flooded the U.S. market in the last decade and, in 2017, the United States installed about 35.3 million new solar panels. With a useful life of just 20-25 years the problem of solar panel disposal is expected to explode soon.

PV panels cannot be trashed or landfilled without precautions against toxic chemicals leaching into the soil and PV panels are not easy to recycle. Actually, there are not many money-making salvageable parts on any type of solar panel that makes recycling even practical.

Solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than nuclear power plants and that's a huge amount of solar waste. Unlike other sources of energy, the cost of disposal is not included in the cost per kilowatt hour for solar. There is no national program or requirement to safely dispose of damaged or end-of-life solar panels and no guidelines on the proper way to recycle solar panels.

California has long been a trendsetter in its clean energy goals and it is the first state to require all new homes to have solar power. Many states are now seeking to follow that plan. While California's law encourages the safe disposal of old panels, it simply treats damaged and old solar panels as universal waste, like TVs or batteries, not "hazardous waste."

When panels are broken from lightening or during hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. small bits of glass, rocks and dirt get mixed and the panels cannot be sent to recycling plants. So where are those damaged panels going now? With no program or requirement to safely dispose of solar panels, some unfortunately find their way to landfills.

Neither solar or wind power are reliable enough to meet our energy needs. These renewable energy sources must have fossil fuels or Lithium batteries as a backup when inevitably the sun isn't shining or the wind stops blowing.

Two of the largest solar farms in the U.S. are Desert Sunlight Solar with 8.8 million PV panels and Topaz Solar with 9 million panels. Both have the same 550 Megawatt installed capacity. Keep in mind, though, there is a big difference between a generator's rated (nameplate) capacity and the actual electricity generated.

Between Desert Sunlight and Topaz there are a total of 17.8 million PV panels installed over 20 square miles of land area. Together they can produce up to 1,100 megawatts depending on efficiency, amount of sunlight, temperature and wind variables. However, right next door to Topaz is the 1.4 square mile Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant. Diablo generates 1,000 megawatts every day, all day, rain or shine. Diablo saves 19 square miles of land that would lose vegetation and wildlife habitats under the massive arrays of 17.8 million PV solar panels.

Palo Verde Nuclear Station in Tonapah, AZ has been the largest supplier of electricity in the U.S. for 25 years. It generates 3,300 megawatts of "clean energy" for 4,000,000 people every day. It would take 6 years for Desert Sunlight or Topaz to produce that much electricity.

We are spending billions on solar and learning how to recycle solar panels. Meanwhile, the U.S. developed the recycling technology for used nuclear fuel decades ago but barred its commercial use in 1977. Since used nuclear fuel generally retains about 95 percent of the uranium it started with there is enough "used fuel" piling up at storage facilities to power EVERY U.S. household for 12 years and run the U.S. nuclear fleet for almost 30 years with no new uranium input.

Recycling nuclear fuel would also provide radio isotopes for the 20 million nuclear medicine procedures performed each year and reduce nuclear waste to 1 cubic yard per plant.

So, what am I missing with this fascination to cover the planet with solar panels when we could simply change the ban on recycling nuclear fuel and build a couple more Palo Verdes. Nuclear units can easily operate 50 or 60 years while solar panels have relatively short operational lifespans (20 to 30 years), so their disposal will become a problem in the next few decades. While nuclear waste is contained in heavy drums and regularly monitored, very little has been done to deal with solar waste which cannot be easily detected once it's buried in our landfills.

If we follow California's lead of adding thousands to the cost of new houses we are simply replacing the CO2 environmental crisis with solar waste which could conceivably be twice the height of Mt. Everest within 25 years.

REFERENCES

Will Solar Power Become Our Next Environmental Crisis?

Heading For A Solar Waste Crisis

Solar Panel FAQs

The Toxins of Solar Panels

Power From The Sun

Photovoltaics

About Solar Energy

Recycling Solar Panels

Installed Capacity vs Generation

The Need To Recycle PV Panels

Palo Verde and AZ Prop 127

Palo Verde

Facing Facts About Renewable Energy



Thursday, September 13, 2018

Facing Hard Facts About "Renewable Energy"

Once upon a time, the Tobacco Industry did the research and reporting on the critical or negative characteristics of smoking. We ended up with a very misinformed public. Today, the Renewable Energy Industry does the research and reporting on the critical or negative characteristics of "renewable energy." Well, guess what?

In our over anxious effort to save ourselves from global warming we are spending billions of dollars each year on wind and solar energy sources that are not only unreliable but expensive and dangerous as well.

What we are overlooking is the value of nuclear energy. It is the only "clean energy" source that can outperform fossil fuel plants. A single nuclear plant can provide electricity to millions of people, not just a few thousand and do it cheaper and safer than either solar or wind.

Nuclear Plants do not depend on the weather so they do not need to "save electricity for a rainy day" with huge banks of Lithium batteries like PV solar or by using fossil fuels for backup like wind energy. They do not produce CO2 or greenhouse gases or destroy land, forests and bays and they do not displace and kill wildlife.

No dangerous radiation has EVER been released in the U.S.A. thru the history of nuclear energy and nuclear waste does not result in undetectable, highly dangerous poisons in our landfills like millions of damaged or used solar panels and dead batteries soon will.

If the U.S.A. recycled its deposits of used nuclear fuel there would be enough fuel to power every home in America for the next 12 years and enough to power our nuclear fleet for the next 30 years with no new uranium input. Instead, we are building high maintenance wind farms and burying thousands of acres of land under PV panels to generate a fraction of the electricity produced by a single nuclear power station.

Recycling "used fuel" would provide the medical isotopes needed for the 20 million nuclear medicine procedures performed each year and reduce nuclear waste to just one cubic yard per plant.

Wind Farms are thousands of acres of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet's wingspan. Although the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds up to 170 mph at the tips.

In order to get more than a couple hundred megawatts of electricity, we need bigger and bigger wind farms; from the 47,000 acre Horse Hollow to today's 100,000 acre Alta Wind Energy Center, located in the Tehachapi Mountains. Alta is now the largest wind farm in the United States with 4,731 wind turbines.

Wind enthusiasts like to talk about "installed capacity." If you add the "rating" of all the turbines at Alta, the installed capacity is 1,547 megawatts. However, wind farms, universally, are barely 40% productive. When the wind blows too slow the turbines are shut down for economic reasons. When the wind blows too hard the turbines are shut down for safety reasons. When the wind is dormant, there's no electricity. Therefore, Alta will only generate about 618 megawatts on the average.

Since wind energy cannot be stored in large quantities, these massive wind farms need fossil fuel for back-up. According to the Department of Energy, the cost of wind power is 15.1 cents per kilowatt hour if natural gas is used as the back-up fuel or 19.2 cents per kilowatt hour if coal is used as the back-up fuel. The cost is not the 9.6 cents per kilowatt hour the EIA is using for its models.

PV Solar Farms use thin-film cadmium telluride photovoltaic (PV) panels. These are the same panels and the same technology found on residential and commercial roof tops. But few people know that PV solar cells are crystalline silicon and this technology is neither "green" nor "clean."

Silicon may be made of sand but its path from sand to panel requires electricity from coal-burning plants and heat from furnaces running at an incredible 2,000° C (3,632° F) which, in turn, emits sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The photovoltaic manufacturing process employs toxic chemicals and the panels themselves contain several toxic materials, some of which are tens of thousands times more harmful than CO2 and their toxicity comes into play during the manufacturing process, as well as when a panel is damaged or disposed of improperly.

Topaz Solar Farm has 9 million PV panels and Desert Sunlite Solar Farm has 8.8 million. Both have the same 550 Megawatt installed capacity. But again we are talking about "installed capacity," adding up the "rating" of all the PV panels. Topaz claims to produce enough electricity to power 160,000 average California homes. But, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the number of homes powered by one megawatt on a national scale is 164 homes. In that case the 550 Mw of Topaz would power 90,200 homes, not 160,000.

Between Topaz and Desert Sunlite there are 17.8 million PV panels that cover 20 square miles of land area. Together they can generate 1,100 megawatts under ideal conditions, at a cost of 12.2 cents per kilowatt hour. The solar industry claims the cost is down 70% but unlike other sources of energy the cost of handling end-of-life panels is NOT included in its cost per kilowatt hour.

Right next door to Topaz Solar is the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant. It generates 1,000 megawatts, all day, every day and at an average cost of 2.1 cents per kilowatt hour. This 1.4 square mile nuclear plant generates as much electricity as those 17.8 million solar panels and saves nearly 20 square miles of land that is buried under all of those panels at Desert Sunlight and Topaz. It does all this 80% cheaper than solar energy and the cost of waste disposal is included in that figure.

Solar Thermal Plants (or CSP) use "concentrated solar thermal technology." But, unlike PV solar and wind, you don't want to try this technology at home.

Ivanpah Solar Electric is the world's largest thermal solar plant. It uses 173,500 double-mirrored heliostats which turn to keep focusing sunlight toward "boilers" located on top of three 40 story towers. The boilers create steam that is then piped to steam turbines, which generate electricity.

Approved in 2010, the Ivanpah plant was at the center of the Obama administration's push to bring alternative-energy projects to public lands. This $2.2 billion project received $1.6 billion in loan guarantees and $600 million in federal tax credits.

But, Invanpah has been a failure in many ways. It produces only about 392 megawatts of power and the cost is 3 times the cost of traditional power sources.

Ivanpah does not eliminate greenhouse gases. It burns gas at night to keep the water in the boilers heated so electric production can start up more quickly when the sun comes up each morning. It also burns gas during periods of intermittent cloud cover.

Every day a gruesome fireworks display unfolds at Invanpah. The bright light from the 5 square miles of garage-door-size mirrors acts as a mega-trap for insects. The insects attract birds. As birds fly into concentrated beams of sunlight (800 to 1,000 degrees F) they are instantly incinerated, leaving wisps of white smoke against the blue desert sky. Workers at the Ivanpah Solar Plant have a name for the spectacle: "Streamers."

Wind, Solar & Wildlife. At Invanpah, BrightSource has spent $56 million to protect and relocate the desert tortoises but still animals were crushed under vehicle tires, army ants attacked hatchlings and one small tortoise was carried off to an eagle nest, its embedded microchip pinging faintly as it receded. As for the birds, federal biologists say about 6,000 birds die every year from collisions or immolation while chasing flying insects around the facility.

PV solar projects with their millions of solar panels require massive land areas. Topaz is 1/3 the size of Manhattan. The clearing and use of such large areas of land adversely affects vegetation and wildlife in many ways, including loss of habitat; interference with rainfall and drainage; or direct contact causing injury or death.

These sprawling solar projects can also fool migrating birds into changing flight direction because they appear to be lakes from a distance. Waterbirds fly to solar fields and realize too late that the solar panels are not water. They then collide with the solar panels and are critically injured or are unable to take flight.

Wind energy does not disrupt the use of land for agricultural or other purposes but the construction and maintenance of large-scale sites pose a significant threat to nearby wildlife. In addition, wind energy can only be harnessed in locations where wind speed is high and migratory birds follow these wind currents.

When wind turbines are installed near wetlands, on mountain ridges, near shorelines, or at sites subject to frequent fog or low-lying clouds, losses are great during the spring and fall migration periods. Researchers estimate that 140,000 to 328,000 birds are killed every year in collisions with the turbines' spinning rotor blades and support towers or electrocuted by power lines which carry electrical power into the grid.

Safety & Waste.The problem of solar panel disposal will explode with full force in two or three decades and wreck the environment because it is a huge amount of waste and PV panels are not easy to recycle.

The photovoltaic manufacturing process employs toxic chemicals such as hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane and acetone. The panels themselves contain toxic materials; cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide, polyvinyl fluoride, lead and sulfur hexafluoride to name a few. And yet another toxic chemical, silicon tetrachloride, is not in the panels but is a byproduct of their production. Silicon tetrachloride is highly toxic, killing plants and animals.

There should be a worldwide concern that PV panels use and contain chemicals that are tens of thousands times more harmful than CO2 and their toxicity comes into play during the manufacturing process as well as when a panel is damaged or disposed of improperly. When panels are damaged during natural events — hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. — decommissioning them is a big concern.

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last September, the nation's second largest solar farm, responsible for 40 percent of the island's solar energy, lost a majority of its panels. In 2015 a tornado broke 200,000 solar modules at southern California solar farm Desert Sunlight.

When modules are broken into small bits of glass, rocks and dirt get mixed in and disposal is a major issue. They cannot be sent to recycling plants and disposal in regular landfills is not recommended as toxic materials leach into the soil.

But where are those damaged panels going now? With no dedicated national program or requirement to safely dispose of solar panels, some unfortunately find their way to landfills. If the system owner is green-minded and has the money, panels may get shipped to a recycling facility. Other industry players are warehousing damaged or old panels until a practical recycling program is established.

China and other countries that mass-produce solar panels but do not regulate how toxic waste is dumped into the environment can introduce significant health risks to the manufacturing workers and the country’s inhabitants.

There are two concerns over nuclear energy that have the greatest public impact; nuclear accidents where the core could overheat, melt down and release radioactivity and the disposal of long-lived radioactive waste.

The truth is, there have been only three accidents involving reactor core damage in the world since 1970. Three Mile Island in 1979; Chernobyl in 1986; and Fukushima-Daiichi in 2011 where 4 reactors were damaged. Although the U.S. generates 33% of the world's nuclear energy, there has never been any dangerous radiation released in the U.S.

The reality of Three Mile Island was significantly different than the mass hysteria. No significant radiation was discharged outside of the TMI facility. The reactor containment vessel worked exactly as designed and contained nearly all of the radioactive isotopes in the core. One would actually receive more radiation living at an altitude like Denver, CO than anyone near Harrisburg, PA received as a result of the accident.

As for "nuclear waste" there is no such thing. Used fuel generally retains about 95 percent of the uranium it started with and this "nuclear waste" can be recycled. The U.S. developed the recycling technology decades ago but barred its commercial use in 1977. As a result there is about 56,000 tons of "used fuel" piling up at storage facilities that, as mentioned earlier, contains roughly enough energy to power every U.S. household for 12 years and run the U.S. nuclear fleet for almost 30 years with no new uranium input.

This "used fuel" could relieve our dependency on foreign countries to provide the medical isotopes needed for the 20 million nuclear medicine procedures performed each year. The best part, if recycled the total nuclear waste produced each year at each plant would measure just one cubic yard. Solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than do nuclear power stations. Nuclear waste is easily detectable unlike the toxic chemicals from damaged or disposed solar panels.

REFERENCES

  1. Tehachapi Wind Farm
  2. Facts About Industrial Wind Power
  3. The Hidden Costs of Wind Energy
  4. The Chemicals That Make Solar Possible
  5. Solar Waste Crisis
  6. Solar; The Next Environmental Crisis
  7. Birds Incinerate at Invanpah
  8. Nuclear Waste

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Healthcare Isn't New

Obama didn't invent healthcare. Before the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) emergency rooms cared for everyone. Some people couldn't pay so hospitals charged more to those who could pay. Under Obamacare, those who can afford health insurance still pay for those who can't but taking care of the needy is much more complicated.

Obamacare is based on 3 cheap insurance plans, Bronze, Silver and Gold. The deductibles are $6,000, $5,000 and $3,000 respectively. If you want a cadillac plan, low deductible, there is a 43% excise tax on your premium. For those earning up to 400% of the FPL, the premium can be susidized up to 100%. But chances are the deductibile will be an out-of-pocket expense without reimbursement.

Before Obamacare, Medicaid was split 50/50 between the state and federal governments. It served the poor for over 50 years. But now, based on income alone (138% of FPL), it includes people with multiple properties and other assets and the federal government picks up the entire tab.

At the onset of Obamacare eight years ago statistics claimed 37 million were uninsured. Then the 11 million illegal immigrants were added to boost the numbers. Then Healthcare.gov claimed Obamacare insured 20 million new enrollees. Today's estimate of uninsured is 47 million according to The Heritage Foundation. Arithmetic indicates something is wrong.

Deaths in the USA are down because of medical advances. Not Obamacare. Millions are not going to start dying no matter what happens to healthcare.

By the way, ACA (Section 1312(d)(3)(D)) requires members of Congress and designated congressional staff members to obtain their health insurance through ACA exchanges. In other words, they have the same healthcare as every other citizen. However, our tax dollars pay 72% of the cost of their premiums. This is good for staff members but members of Congress should not be susidized.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Healthcare - What Options?



What I like most about this CNN Politics headline of July 25, 2017, "The Republican health care strategy: Pass bill first, fix it later" is this. It is exactly what Nancy Pelosi said about ACA (aka Obamacare) on December 24, 2009. You must understand that ACA was passed using a "shell bill." So when the Democratic House got the Senate version of their H.R.3200 healthcare bill it was now known as H.R.3590 Amended¹. And they literally had no idea what was in it.

Obamacare would be impossible to fix. Its basis is 3 cheap insurance plans with deductibles of $6,000, $5,000 and $3,000. Subsidies of up to 100% of the cost of the premium are available for individuals and families earning up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and Medicaid was expanded to include up to 138% of FPL. Those who buy a "Cadillac plan" are charged a 43% excise tax on their premium and those who don't get or buy insurance are fined. These are five good reasons why Obamacare cannot be "fixed."

Let's not forget "If you like you healthcare plan you can keep it." Well, not exactly. Your plan must meet "federal standards" and if you have a plan you did not buy through the Health Exchange you cannot deduct your premium costs from your income tax as you have in the past. That's a "biggie" for middle class or the 273 million Americans who had health insurance before Obamacare.

On the other hand, there is a tragic anger over the GOP Healthcare Plan. I say "tragic" because among all of the hate and disregard for the GOP bill I'm yet to hear the cons express any specifics or particulars within the bill with which they disagree. I've just pointed out specifics about Obamacare that are bad. What is "bad" about the GOP plan?

Oh yes! There is this noise that 20 million, no 23 million, no 24 million, its been creeping up, will be left uninsured in 10 years. This is according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Yes. The same CBO that predicted that Obamacare would increase Medicaid enrollment by 5 million but it increased the enrollment by 23 million. The CBO also predicted the cost of ACA but they missed that too, by $583 million. Seems the Budget Office isn't too good at predicting healthcare budgets.

If that 23 million sounds familiar, it should. Medicaid Expansion enrolled 23 million under ACA and the CBO predicts that 23 million will lose insurance over 5 years. The CBO based their damning prediction only on Medicaid recipients. You see, Medicaid used to be split between the states and the federal government 50-50. ACA changed all that. Those states, 37 of them and D.C., accepting the Medicaid Expansion would be reimbursed 100% by the feds. Well, that was for the first 3 years. It dropped to 95% this year and will then continue forever at 90% reimbursement.

I saw two things wrong here. Those 37 states and D.C. being reimbursed 95-100% for Medicaid no longer have any significant cost for Medicaid but they are not returning to their citizens any portion of the millions in savings and, secondly, the states no longer have any rights to design a healthcare plan of their own, which was actually guaranteed to them by our Constitution.







Monday, July 17, 2017

Our Election Was Not "Hacked"



hack
/hak/
use a computer to gain unauthorized access to data in a system; to gain access to a computer illegally


Everyone already knows for a fact that no unauthorized access was gained to any voting machines and no votes were illegally altered or changed by Russia, China or anyone else. So, by definition, our election was factually not hacked.

 

Here is what a few of the media had to say:

CNN 6/15/2017: "According to the recent Bloomberg report, Russian hackers tried -- but failed -- to alter data from the US election in 39 states."

BBC 6/21/17: "Russian hackers targeted election systems in 21 US states during last year's campaign... there was no evidence to suggest actual vote ballots were altered in the election hack."

Washington Post 6/6/2017 "While the attacks seem more exploratory than operational — and there’s no evidence that they had any actual effect — they further illustrate the real threats...."

The Guardian 6/5/2017 "vote-counting was thought to have been unaffected, despite concerted Russian efforts to penetrate it."

Fox News 5/30/2017 "Republican and Democrat officials, including President Obama, have universally agreed on this [that the Russians somehow hacked state voting machines] never happened."

 


So why does the media continue to fuel the hysteria with a constant allusion to Russians "hacking" our election?

Because the Russians did in fact "hack" the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the personal Google email account of John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman. According to ODNI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the Russians were responsible for the hacking the email server and they forwarded the contents to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks then released nearly 20,000 damaging emails that suggested that the DNC was actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign. What an embarrassment to Hillary Clinton and the DNC. At least it should have been. But the DNC, the masters of deception and distraction that they are, twisted the story from hacking the DNC to hacking the election.

But where is the evidence that Russia hacked our election? Well, that's being "investigated." And investigated and investigated. As the investigations dragged unsuccessfully on and on the media began to invent its own sensational headlines and stories.

Steven Colbert's monologues portrayed Trump as "inviting" the Russians to hack our elections. Newsweek published "How Trump Invited Putin to Hack the Election." Their logic comes from Trump's remark “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails [of Hillary Clinton] that are missing."

Clearly it was a reference to the FBI's investigation into the thousands of emails that were wiped clean from Hillary Clinton's secret email server. But many uninformed people were conned into believing Trump actually suggested the election hacking even though he never mentioned "hacking" or "elections?"

An outlandish story comes from the Washington Post. They have printed that the "proof" of Russian interference is in a secret envelope delivered in early August 2016 by CIA courier to the White House for the eyes of President Barack Obama and three senior aides only. But the contents of the envelope are still "secret." Believe that one and I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'll sell you!

Other explanations of proof that Russia hacked the election are "that's what Russia does" and Russia believed "they could control Trump by blackmailing him with Russian business transactions." Sorry, that dear media is an opinion, not "proof."

How did Russia help Trump? Even if any one of these accounts were true, or all of them, what did Russia actually accomplish that influenced, interfered, changed or altered our election? The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), apparently frustrated and humiliated with trying to build a case, all concluded that "Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency."

Really? Denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency. Hillary Clinton entered the presidential race in a thunderstorm of scandal, from Whitewater to Benghazi to foreign contributions to the Clinton family foundation to her use of a private email server to her escape from the Uranium One¹ scandal. Donald Trump Jr. surely didn't have to travel all the way to Russia to "find dirt" on Hillary Clinton. There's plenty right here in the U.S.A.

The FBI, CIA and NSA underestimated the power of a well-informed faction of Americans who believe in America, who want jobs, who are anxious for the economic climate to stabilize, who took the loss of three Americans in Benghazi seriously, who feel ISIS is a real threat and who have watched as their freedoms trickle away to tax laws disguised as healthcare and censorship that hides behind political correctness.

Hatian Street-vendor Pharmacy
The Clinton Foundation got $235 million in the Uranium One deal and has always been suspect in my opinion. They may provide 80% of their charity work to personal charities but donating to lands like Haiti are quit convenient. Donate millions in drugs to Haiti, a country with street vendors for pharmacies and then fix Haiti's elections and you can guarantee no one can confirm how much money the foundation donated or where the money ended up.

In my opinion, Hillary's private server was used for Foundation business. That "classified document" hysteria was nothing but a smoke screen to cover up the real issue of incriminating foundation communications that were on that server. Perhaps investigators would not have had to seek out Canadian records to uncover the truths about the millions in foundation donations that occurred during the Uranium One¹ deal if they had known then about the Clinton's private server.

[1] Clintons and Uranium One

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Understanding Social Security and Medicare



Contributory Entitlements

Social Security and Medicare are considered entitlements because "you have a right to them" and, by definition, when you have a right to something it is an "entitlement." They are, however, "contributory entitlements" and not to be confused with "means-tested entitlements."

Contributary Entitlement Programs include Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment insurance. Social Security provides retirement and disability benefits, Medicare provides health care for the elderly and Unemployment Insurance provides benefits to working age adults out of work.

All working Americans and their employers fund these programs through payroll taxes (FICA) as defined by federal law. While the programs are an "entitlement" available to all Americans, in order to qualify for benefits recipients must have worked and made contributions to the programs through payroll taxes. Unless you are disabled, you cannot collect from Social Security until you are 62 years old and the amount you can collect depends on what you paid into the fund.

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must first have worked in jobs covered by Social Security. Then you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security's definition of disability.

Means-Tested Entitlements

Welfare Programs are "means-tested entitlements." They include 13 separate programs to fight poverty and the Medicaid Program which provides health care to low-income Americans. Welfare Programs and Medicaid are non-contributory entitlements, meaning recipients are entitled to the benefits even though they have made no contributions to the programs through taxes.

Welfare Programs are targeted to low-income individuals and families. While these programs are an "entitlement" available to all Americans, in order to qualify for benefits recipients must be "means-tested" to show their means are below a cutoff. Only low-income Americans qualify for these benefits.

Contributory Entitlement Programs are not Socialistic. You must pay into them to collect. Means-tested Entitlement programs on the other hand are socialistic, where you get something for nothing.

Social Security, Medicare and the Federal Budget

There are two types of spending in the federal budget process: discretionary and mandatory. Mandatory spending is ongoing. It does not take place through appropriations legislation and so it occurs each year without a change in an underlying law that provides the funding. Mandatory spending includes "entitlement" programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and required interest spending on the federal debt.

Discretionary spending, on the other hand, will not occur unless Congress provides the funding through an appropriations bill each fiscal year (which begins October 1st). This spending is an optional part of fiscal policy, in contrast to "entitlement" programs for which funding is mandatory. Military spending is an example of discretional spending.

A note about Medicare financing. Medicare is financed by payroll taxes (FICA), general tax revenue, and premiums paid by enrollees. The Medicare trust fund comprises two separate funds. The hospital insurance trust fund is financed mainly through payroll taxes on earnings and income taxes on Social Security benefits.

Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) is supposed to be self-funding like Social Security, but Part B (supplemental medical) was always funded partly by beneficiary premiums and partly by funds from some Social Security taxes and interest on investments. Part D (prescription drugs) is also funded like Part B.

Can Social Security and Medicare funds be "borrowed" to pay off debts?

Tax income from payroll taxes (FICA) is deposited on a daily basis and is invested in "special-issue" securities. The cash exchanged for the securities goes into the General Fund of the Treasury and is indistinguishable from other cash in the general fund.

In other words, Social Security and Medicare are part of the general fund and mandatory spending. As "entitlements," the government cannot take them away from you. You WILL get those benefits regardless of where the government has to get the money.


[1] Social Security Funding

[2] Medicare Part D

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Medicaid - Past, Present and Future

April 2017 Enrollment Report - 69 million People Covered


Medicaid is available in all states and provides health coverage to millions of Americans, including eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities. Medicaid is administered by states, according to federal requirements. The program is funded jointly by states and the federal government.

Since 1965 Medicaid has been a government insurance program that has been available for persons of all ages whose income and resources are insufficient to pay for health care. It is the largest source of funding for medical and health-related services for people with low income in the United States. It is a means-tested program that was jointly funded by the state and federal governments and managed by the states.

In all states you can qualify for Medicaid based on income, household size, disability, family status, and other factors. Eligibility rules differ between states. In 2009 approximately 50.9 million U.S. citizens were enrolled for Medicaid.

The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), enacted in March 2010, expand Medicaid coverage to millions of Americans by expanding the qualifying income to 400% above the federal poverty level (FPL). Some states have expanded their Medicaid programs under ACA to cover all people with household incomes below that level. Others haven’t.

In states that have expanded Medicaid coverage under ACA, you can qualify based on your income alone. Estimates were that there would be 5 million new enrollees in Medicaid nationally. However, enrollment increased by over 11 million people, 71% of whom are able-bodied working adults. In 2015 Medicaid spending grew to $545 billion, $232 billion over the original CBO estimates.

According to April 2017 data, 74,531,002 individuals were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP where 68,884,085 individuals were enrolled in Medicaid and 5,646,917 individuals were enrolled in CHIP. Currently, 44 million beneficiaries are enrolled in the Medicare program. Medicare is funded by every working adult through payroll taxes and enrollees pay a monthly premium and yet there are 70% more people on welfare funded Medicaid than on Medicare.

Expenditure data available for 2015 shows that the National Healthcare Expenditure (NHE) to be $3.2 trillion. The U.S. Population is currently hovering at around 320 million, so healthcare spending for that year will reach $10,000 per person.

As for the GOP's proposed changes to Medicaid, the example that would put me in favor of the changes comes unwittingly from the Kaiser Family Foundation's¹ article "How Would Proposed Changes to Medicaid and Marketplace Coverage Affect Real People?" Their story goes like this. "Without Medicaid expansion, Tracy would lose his Medicaid coverage and access to services supporting his substance use recovery. Tracy is a 38-year-old full-time student pursuing a teaching degree in Albuquerque, New Mexico." It is difficult for me to understand a tale like this.

If changes were enacted that would limit federal Medicaid funding through a per capita cap or a block grant for states that have implemented the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid Expansion and Tracy lost his Medicaid, it may seem harsh but, I would say to Tracy "You're 38 years old. Get control of yourself and get a job."

[1] Kaiser Family Foundation

Sunday, July 9, 2017

How The Clintons Caused The Housing Market Crash

The seeds of the mortgage meltdown were planted during Bill Clinton’s presidency

Bill Clinton was President during an historic economic period known as the dot-com era that occurred between 1997 and 2001. Adaptation of the Internet by businesses and consumers created a period of excessive speculation and extreme growth. The combination of rapidly increasing stock prices, market confidence and speculation in stocks by individuals resulted in many investors willing to overlook traditional cautions.

Widely available venture capital created an environment in which firms were throwing money at any and all dot-coms to help them build market share whether they could ever be profitable or not. It was a brave new era, in which more than a dozen fledgling dot-coms that nobody had ever heard of could pay $2 million of other people's money for a Super Bowl commercial.

When the music stopped, many pioneering dot-coms went out of business. The Dow Jones Index, made up of dot-com blue chips, dropped more than 72 percent as Wall Street darlings saw their stock prices fall more than 99 percent from their highs. What happened next was an almost exact replay of the Great Depression.

Congress had passed the Glass-Steagall Act In 1933 in response to the fraud that preceded the Great Depression. Banks would be allowed to take deposits and make loans. Brokers would be allowed to underwrite and sell securities. But no firm could do both due to conflicts of interest and risks to insured deposits. From 1933 to 1999 the law worked exactly as intended. The repeal of this law in 1999 by Bill Clinton led directly to the mortgage-fueled meltdown of 2008.[1]

In 2000, Clinton's Affordable Housing Act[2] ordered the taxpayer-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to expand their quotas of risky loans from 30 percent of portfolio to 50 percent as part of a big push to expand homeownership. The Federal Reserve[3] regulators, who are responsible for examining and overseeing financial institutions, gave banks higher ratings for writing loans in "credit-deprived" areas to those who were at high risk of defaulting. If the banks didn’t comply, regulators reined in their ability to expand lending and deposits.

By 2002, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had bought well over $1 trillion of subprime, uninsured low quality loans. Fannie and Freddie were securitizing these home loans and offering 100 percent taxpayer guarantees of repayment. So now taxpayers were on the hook for these risky, low down payment loans.

As of 2007 there were 27 million subprime and other low quality mortgages in the US financial system. That was half of all mortgages. The housing bubble peaked in 2007 and collapsed in 2008. Tragically, when prices fell, lower-income folks who really could not afford these mortgages under normal credit standards, suffered massive foreclosures and personal bankruptcies. Banks owned $700 billion in houses and the hard-earned knowledge of 1933 had been lost in the arrogance of 1999.

The collapse of many startup internet companies, along with several interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve, led to an economic recession precipitated by a rapid decline in the NASDAQ. Three years later the taxpayers had to write a check for $187 billion to rescue the insolvent Fannie and Freddie. This was the largest bailout in history. It's a perfect example of liberals using government allegedly to help the poor, but the ultimate consequences were disastrous for them.

And yet, while Hillary Clinton was running for Senator of New York, she was taking contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac foundations. The Washington Times investigators reported, “Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s political action committee and individuals linked to the companies donated $75,500 to Mrs. Clinton’s senatorial campaign — making her the fourth-largest recipient in Congress of the mortgage firms’ total donations in the years 1989 to 2008 behind Mr. Obama, Mr. Kerry, and Mr. Dodd...”
[1] 10 Years Later, Looking at Repeal of Glass-Steagall

[2] Housing and Community Development Act

[3] Federal Reserve System

Monday, July 3, 2017

Obamacare - The Secret Bill

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Was Passed Using A Shell Bill

UPDATED: originally published August 3, 2014

H.R.3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ACA or Obamacare) was passed using a "shell bill." Here's how that works.

It's important to note that the 111th Congress was a Democratic Congress (both the House and the Senate had a Democrat majority). The House created and passed healthcare bill H.R. 3200 dated July 14, 2009. But the Senate had their own version of H.R. 3200 that they wanted to use and that spelled problem for the Senate.

Their bill included 17 separate tax provisions and an individual mandate to purchase health insurance or pay a tax "penalty" raising approximately $500 billion in new tax revenue. But, according to the U.S. Constitution, any bill that raises tax revenue must originate in the House. Therefore, in order to use the Senate bill, Congress would have to disguise it as a House bill.

Just in time along came House Bill H.R.3590 titled "Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009." The Senate removed the 3 pages of H.R.3590 and stuck in their 2,490 page H.R.3200. Then they returned H.R.3590 to the House as "AMENDED."
AMENDMENTS:
"Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert"
Time was of the essence for the Democrats. It was December 24, 2009 and they had lost their House and Senate Majorities in the November elections. There would be a new Congress in January. There could not have been enough time for anyone to "read" this 2,490 page bill, so I'm pretty sure no one in the House knew exactly what was in the Senate bill.

But they decided to take a gamble. As House Speaker in 2010, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) famously said of Obamacare, "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what's in it." H.R.3590 was passed by the House with 219 Democrats voting "Yes" and 212 "No" votes that included all the Republicans and 34 Democrats.

The Republicans tried to stop the bill by taking it to the Supreme Court. They recognized this bill overhauled the entire healthcare sector of the U.S. economy, taking away the states' rights to initiate and manage their own health insurance reforms and transferring the power to the federal government.

This bill established strict federal controls over private health insurance dictating the content of insurance benefit packages.

It strictly governed the use of medical treatments, procedures, and medical devices including how physicians and other medical professionals deliver care.

It established new federal agencies, bureaus, and commissions to oversee various aspects of the healthcare system and made major changes in payments to medical professionals, doctors, and hospitals in Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs.

Finally, it restricted the personal and economic freedom of every American by imposing dubious and unprecedented mandates on businesses and individuals.

The Supreme Court ruled against the Republicans saying that H.R.3590 did not violate the Constitution as raising tax revenue was not the purpose of the bill and mandating individuals and business to buy insurance was not against the Constitution.

On March 21, 2010 President Barack Obama signed H.R.3590 into law and...

Voila Obamacare was born!



The following link is available for those who would like to look at the Bill themselves:

[1] House and Senate Bills 3500-3599

[2] H.R.3200

[3] Blog Who's Kidding Who About Healthcare?
The New Taxes of ACA - There probably are not 3 things that will benefit your family under Obamacare but at least 3 of the following tax increases will affect the tax-paying members of your family.
  • A mandate on individuals to obtain coverage or pay a tax penalty
  • A 40% (huge) excise tax on health care plans of $8,500 or more for an individual and $23,000 or more for a couple.
  • An increase in the basis of the medical expenses deduction from 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income to 10 percent, except for seniors, who will stay at 7.5 percent
  • A tax on brand name drugs
  • Eliminates Medicare Part D (prescription drug) deduction
  • An annual tax on the health insurers (as in any business, this will be passed on to subscribers)
  • A tax on companies that manufacture or import medical devices
  • A mandate on companies with more than 50 employees to provide health coverage or pay a $750 penalty for each employee who obtains their own coverage through the insurance exchange
  • A 0.5 percent hike in the Medicare payroll tax for single earners over $200,000 and joint earners over $250,000
  • A $2,500 cap on FSAs in cafeteria plans
  • Changes in health savings accounts (HSAs), Archer Medical Spending Accounts, health flexible spending accounts (FSAs), and health reimbursement arrangements
  • An increase from 10 percent to 20 percent in the penalty for early non-qualified HSA withdrawals
  • A 0.5 percent excise tax on cosmetic surgery

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Clintons and the Russian Uranium Deal

President Bill Clinton and Vladimir Putin in Moscow in 2010

UPDATED - Originally published August 6, 2016
The story of Uranium One began in 2005 in Kazakhstan and lead to the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, taking over uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West in a $1.3 billion deal. As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, nearly $34 million flowed to the Clinton Foundation.[1]

The major players included former U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Clinton's Canadian friend, mining financier Frank Giustra and his old friend, Ian Telfer, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

ARRANGING THE DEAL

Frank Giustra, a gold mining financier, was about to make his first big uranium deal with the help of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Guistra is a member of the board of trustees of the Clinton Foundation. He met Bill Clinton at a charity fundraiser and had provided his corporate jet for Clinton's fundraising campaign in Africa. Clinton would later borrow Giustra's jet 26 times for Foundation business.

Bill Clinton accompanied Frank Giustra aboard Mr. Giustra’s private jet to Almaty, Kazakhstan, where they dined with President Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, a meeting made possible by the influence of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Two days after the visit, Mr. Giustra’s company, UrAsia, signed a deal acquiring three Kazakhstan uranium mines, among the most productive uranium mines in the world. Following the deal, Giustra’s new company, UrAsia, was considered one of Canada’s hottest new mining ventures.

$3.1 BILLION, BILL CLINTON & THE KREMLIN

In 2007, Frank Giustra sold UrAsia to a company called Uranium One for $3.1 billion. Uranium One, a South African company with uranium assets in Africa and Australia, was chaired by an old friend, Ian Telfer.

With its success, Uranium One began gobbling up companies in the United States, including a uranium mill in Utah and more than 38,000 acres of uranium properties in Wyoming, Texas and Utah. That deal gave Uranium One the potential to become a powerhouse in the United States uranium industry and the domestic supplier of choice among U.S. utilities.

By 2009 however, a subsidiary of the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, gained a 17 percent ownership share in Uranium One. After the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock. The Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013.

RUSSIA, U.S. URANIUM MINES, & HILLARY CLINTON

The sale gave the Russians control of uranium deposits around the world, including one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Hillary Clinton's aides denied she personally intervened in the approval process and said she showed no favoritism toward foundation donors.

HOW $34 MILLION REACHED THE CLINTONS

Several months after Frank Giustra's deal with Kazakhstan's iron-fisted president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Clinton Foundation received a $31.3 million donation from Giustra that remained secret until it is discovered by reporters in 2008. Both Clinton and Giustra will later claim that this chain of events was merely coincidental

The Clinton Foundation's records show that Ian Telfer, Chairman of Uranium One, made a donation of $250,000 in 2007 during the time Uranium One was being bought by Rosatom. However, Canadian records show the actual amount was more like $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors.

Read the story
[1] Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal - NYT

[2] A luxury jet and their $100 million donor - WaPost