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Archive for December, 2013

Whether you celebrate Christmas or another holiday this season, we wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, and a joyous New Year!

In the final post for the year 2013 we conclude our series of recapping what the Sea Level Rise Advisory:

“Any strategic plan about options to prepare a state for sea level rise must consider…the need for public investment and resources essential to the plan,” wrote one individual involved in the SLR process. Other requests include “broad-based revenue raising” (i.e. all Delawareans will be subject to some sort of tax or fee, someway, somehow). “Continued research, relevant capital, and infrastructure investments.”

“The Committee’s choice to characterize its deliberations and work on Sea Level Rise adaptations as ‘options’ for ‘potential’ inclusion into a state adaption plan…feeds into a public perception that the Committee’s work might be more of an academic exercise than a serious endeavor to move forward. To me it…makes it easier for decision-makers, including elected officials, to ‘opt out’ or play down action oriented strategies. programs, policies, and the necessary investments to investing required public funds.”

The author does not want to “encourage”  SLR preparatory planning. Rather, he/she wants Executive orders from the Governor to require SLR planning (p.72)

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“Passive Solar heating and cooling can save 50% of (sic) the cost of heating and cooling from a building. It is required by law for California.  The Legislature needs to copy this law for Delaware.” The author of this letter proposes going back to a 1990 EPA proposal to require companies with over 100 employees a a site to reduce the number of cars at the site;  ideas include requiring carpooling and charging employees for parking.

“The only real solution to shoreline erosion is to retreat, as has occurred for nearly 400 years of settlement of Delaware.” Ban beach replenishment and federal flood insurance, since “taxpayers put up $3 for every $1 that the homeowner puts up”. (p.78).

Pages 80-88 were blacked out. No idea what was in them; an attempt to obtain those pages will be made. The same is true of pages 121-122.

The League of Women Voters in Delaware are on record supporting the SLR planning agenda.  “Require SLR be considered in public and private sector regional planning.”

“Develop a statewide retreat plan and update it periodically.”

Their letter talks about “Transfer of Development Rights”-this is when landowners are incentivized to not develop their land. In terms of environmentalism, this means to steer land development away from rural areas or areas with natural resources.  As an example, suppose you own farmland in one of the “endangered” zones. You would agree to sell the rights to development to one of the “good” groups, say the Sierra Club, for example. You would still legally own the land, but not the rights to develop the land. The Sierra Club would own those rights. Given their track record of being against nearly all development of any kind, basically what you have agreed to do is to receive payment in exchange for stopping further development or unapproved use of your land. This is one way anti-growth people and organizations have proposed to halt future development-rather than use  the rule of law to halt you, they convince you to stop development, and give you some money as a bonus for your troubles.

What do they recommend the state do to combat this “crisis”?

1. Consider a “coastal security tax”-

2. increase taxes on hotels, motels, and “weekend” (also monthly and seasonal) homes and apartments.

3. increase real estate transfer taxes and building permit fees for coastal building properties and homes.

4. Carbon tax-$2 per ton of CO2, increased as costs from “recovering from storms” increases.

5. Add a surcharge to Route 1 traffic; the surcharge would pay for changes to transportation and roads due to SLR.

6. Require realtors to disclose the “risks” of SLR in Delaware. It says the state, not even just the coastal areas.

7. Set up a database, via the Insurance Commisioners’s office, with up to date info on storm and flood insurance availability and costs from both private and public sources.

8. “Social justice”-have equal redistribution of reimbursement resources for all residents affected by SLR, regardless of any factors.

A group called Dover Interfaith Power & Light is also mentioned, also supporting the conclusions of the Advisory Committee. Highlights:

-they want to, by the 8th grade, teach students the “underlying science and history of weather, climate, SLR, and coastal storms.” We can speculate how the information will be taught and how many viewpoints would be presented to the students.

-they agreed with all  of the LWV proposals listed above

This group believes SLR is being underestimated-will be more than 1.5 meters, and melting ice caps will continue for at least 1000 years. At current fossil fuel use trends, Delaware will be mostly underwater in a few centuries.

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The final respondent to the survey accused the scientists behind the original 57 inch SLR projection of “scientifically unsubstantiated claims” and asked the government to not “meddle and promote a counterproductive agenda.” The author calls for letting private investment “take responsibility for purchasing low lying land”.

“Since DNREC and the EPA don’t really know ‘best’, let industries and businesses develop their own coping plans if and when such become necessary.”

The author concludes his/her criticism of the government by saying that “property rights were being eroded” and that SLR appeared to be the “new public crisis.”

135 pages of documentation from the state on SLR reveals a truth we long suspected but only now is being confirmed: those who believe that humans are the primary factors behind global warming, who believe the Arctic ice has melted, and who believe the melting ice caps will cause a large amount of flooding, are going to insist the state begin a multifaceted campaign to counter SLR, including retreating from the shores, raising taxes on individuals, businesses, property owners, and land developers who live near the shore, and asking the state to further regulate different aspects of land use from building permits to septic tanks.

Many of these people have no problem with requiring others to do things against their will and do not want to have any opposing viewpoints presented. The fact that the state hired Dr. Katharine Hayhoe to provide alarmist predictions about the future of Delaware’s weather shows the state wants to consider  future punitive action against those who are “over-developing” by the shore. They use the worst-case scenarios not merely as a possibility but as a likelihood when planning for SLR. Stricter energy mandates and carbon taxes will be the wave of the future in Delaware if not challenged.

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If you want to see what Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist from Texas Tech being paid by the state to “prove” that Delaware is suffering from the threat of sea level rise due to man-made causes, is up to, she has a presentation she recently provided to the state confirming the conclusion they already had: humans are causing the Arctic Ice caps to melt which will flood Delaware’s shore line and fundamentally alter its temperature and we need drastic action to reduce our own human-caused influence on society.

Some notes taken from the 1 hour 7 minute presentation by Dr. Hayhoe:

“Shared Socio-Economic Pathways”- (c.25:00) are discussed as necessary to resolve our energy and environmental issues: What are these? From the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis:

“define five possible paths that human societies could follow over the next century. The pathways are part of a new cooperative research framework that is expected to improve interdisciplinary analysis and assessment of climate change, its impacts, and the options societies have for mitigation and adaptation.”

The five narratives are:

  • SSP1 (Sustainability). A world making relatively good progress toward sustainability, with ongoing efforts to achieve development goals while reducing resource intensity and fossil fuel dependency. It is an environmentally aware world with rapid technology development, and strong economic growth, even in low-income countries.
  • SSP2 (Middle of the road). This “business-as-usual” world sees the trends typical of recent decades continuing, with some progress toward achieving development goals. Dependency on fossil fuels is slowing decreasing. Development of low-income countries proceeds unevenly.
  • SSP3 (Fragmentation). A world that is separated into regions characterized by extreme poverty, pockets of moderate wealth, and a large number of countries struggling to maintain living standards for a rapidly growing population.
  • SSP4 (Inequality). A highly unequal world in which a relatively small, rich global elite is responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions, while a larger, poor group that is vulnerable to the impact of climate changes, contributes little to the harmful emissions. Mitigation efforts are low and adaptation is difficult due to ineffective institutions and the low income of the large poor population.
  • SSP5 (Conventional Development). A world in which conventional development oriented toward economic growth as the solution to social and economic problems. Rapid conventional development leads to an energy system dominated by fossil fuels, resulting in high greenhouse gas emissions and challenges to mitigation.

Question to think about: What does the analysis of the “five socio-economic paths” as shown above represent to you?

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Wilmington average temperature: predicted to be 5 degrees F higher in 2100 than lowest estimate. Apparently by 2060 temperatures will really rise. Emissions spiked 3% during the last decade (who was president?)

“There’s no way I could ever hope to tell you what’s going to happen on July 18, 2064″  But I could make a respectable guess over the averages over 2060-2080 or 2090 under a given scenario of human emissions. Climate sensitivity is unknown but we can use models which cover a range of values.”

“Climate models are imperfect.” Acknowledgement that climate models cannot account for significant variations in weather.

Believes Delaware is warming and cold nights were becoming less frequent. This year would have to be an anomaly then because we are in the middle of a cold wave.

Negative effects of global warming: tourism will decrease because we will have reduced time outdoors due to heat and a massive UV index increase,  warping rail lines and buckling highways, longer growing seasons but ones which do not ward off insects and parasites, an energy grid overload, and an increase in health risks from heat waves (does not address what colder weather would do)

Annual precipitation predicted to increase.  Delaware’s precipitation is uncertain because the models vary on where the “line” of precipitation is and Delaware is right on the line. Days with 1+ inches of precipitation: could go from 1-2 days per year from 2020-2039 to possibly 2-3 days at “worst” scenario by 2080-2099. Conclusion: same or slightly more snowfall/rainfall in winter means flooding, rainfall in summer coupled with high evaporation means lower lake and river water levels.

Heavy precipitation means more flooding and storm water damage to property.

“A certain amount of climate change can be avoided under a lower (predicted) scenario.”

“temperatures in every season are already getting warmer. “Smart Planning” can help reduce the impact.”

Incorporate climate change into every aspect of policy.

57 minute mark: unidentified male wonders how we can mislead public about “climate change”. “We’ve been operating under the assumption that facts are enough and one thing we know for sure is that facts are not enough and social science research tells us that with everything.” (59:30)

Question about Newark Data Center power plant burning natural gas to power data center. “Tragedy of the commons” due to all total fossil fuel burning around the world. Dr. Hayhoe clearly opposes natural gas. Compares natural gas use to smoking cigarettes: sooner or later you have to stop. Just one more (natural gas) plant, just one more cigarette.”

Methane emissions must be contained. increased methane from continental shelves, which is 25x more effective as a heat trapping gas than CO2.

Reservoirs of methane in those shelves….fossil fuel companies know that and have a plan to get it.

Humans have so damaged the planet even if everyone died and aliens came 5000 years from now our “damage” will still be visible.

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The bottom line is that Dr. Hayhoe provided the audience with the most extreme weather scenarios and also acknowledged that the computer models were not perfect and could not guarantee accuracy. They use static data points to predict future weather, which would mean the general trend was going up. At the end of the day, CRI is disappointed that DNREC and the state will use data which is disputed by Dr. Legates to advance an agenda which will target “dirty” manufacturers and land developers, particularly downstate with unsubstantiated data. In part 3 we will conclude this series with a return to the Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee notes released to the public, who can already see where we are headed.

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Just yesterday the Sea Level Rise (SLR) Advisory Committee came out with its updated report, suggesting Delaware could have between 1.6-4.9 feet of sea level rise on Delaware’s shores by the end of this century. At those predictions most of Sussex and eastern Kent County will be underwater. Needless to say, the amount of flooding “expected” will impact property owners and businesspeople downstate. Here are some of the comments submitted by the committee. Ones of particular note are in bold.

“Sussex County seems to be extremely backwards, with little ideas about science”

“Sussex County Council is an ignorant bunch. The Council… has never met a developer it doesn’t like”.

“Wait to see what happens” and “How will you implement retreat?” and “How much brainwashing do we need?” (thoughts on who would have said this)
Very Worried about insurance, both homeowner policy and FEMA”

“Local communities are essential in supporting anything you (state government) try to do. Getting them to support any initiatives is key.”

“SLR Statements included in all property sales/leases.”

“Signage in high risk areas and outreach!”

“1% hotel tax on tourism. Carbon tax is most fair.”

“Make sure someone from Sussex County Tourism is on the Advisory Committee…to combat the tears that will emerge from this discussion.”

“Giving DNREC authority to regulate development with a 100 year flood plan”

“New authority for DNREC to…manage…new lands”

“Developers should pay through permit/consultation fees”

“Provide timely consultation, set permit fees high enough especially for business/developers to sustain program.”

“I do not see much private sector involvement”

“This (SLR) seems like an insurable risk. Can a public insurance pool be set up, funded from land taxes and development permits?”

“To whom does the SLR committee report (good question)? I suggest either the governor or the committee of the state legislature.”

one committeemenber proposed a package of tax increases with more local control over how SLR actions are handled and paid for.

“We need to restrict development in sensitive areas before they start,

“I think it is only honest and fair to warn new homebuyer’s of the property’s potential future vulnerability. The potential future risk of sea level rise should be disclosed in the Delaware seller’s disclosure of real property condition report.”

“SLR predictions should be figured into…business development plans.”

“prohibit development in areas that will be flooding with SLR.”

“providing as much technical resources to businesses, industries. Land management is a critical role for the state.”

“I don’t believe public money should be used for replenishment of private beaches.”

One partially illegible comment suggested better engineering of dikes.

“Partnerships with consultants should be included. Consultants offer a wealth of expertise.”

“Most presentations suggest SLR is coming or just arrived.  Show people what damage it has caused over the past 100 years.”

“County ordinances which take care of land use in unincorporated areas.”

“Provide SLR planning to local governments…especially target Wilmington.”

“It would be helpful to have a cost estimate: Abandon, buyout, move. With some rough dollar number for the extreme we can evaluate other plans.”

The question is, what does all of this mean? From these statements, which are full quotes from unidentified names (blacked out in the document), there is a pattern which emerges: the government, possibly DNREC, should be allowed to levy taxes on landowners and land developers in Sussex County to pay for the sea level rise actions. Landowners in all three counties, but especially in Sussex and parts of Kent, will need to advise potential buyers that the property is in a “flood zone”-and the government should have the ability to either tell the potential buyers or make the landowners do so. The next step then is to decide how badly “SLR” will “devastate” Delaware’s shoreline.

Next week we will show more information obtained from these documents and explain what it means to you.

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Tomorrow, December 7th, Delaware will commemorate the 226th anniversary of Delaware becoming the First State-the day Delaware was first in the new nation to ratify the US Constitution.

For this year’s blog post we ask: What was political life in Delaware back then? Delaware’s first constitution was created in 1776, but like the Articles of Confederation along with it, many Delawareans thought the new state’s constitution was too heavily weighted towards the legislative branch (the articles the legislative branch was composed of elected representatives from the states).

The General Assembly was the only governing body during the 1780s. They worked on laws ranging from improving the economy and transportation, adopting laws to enable bridges to be built and milldams to be erected along the state;s waterways, even to preventing pigs from wandering the streets of Delaware’s new towns. Some other laws include a 1785 law passed to eliminate local fairs where alcohol was being served. The next year they passed a law to eliminate “idleness” which meant no racing, cock fighting (roosters, just so it’s clear), or shooting matches. All of these new laws were due to the new found religious feeling among Delaware’s various Protestant denominations.

Despite Delaware’s being a border state during the Civil War, in the 1780s there was a movement towards abolition. In 1787 the General Assembly reversed a 179 law which treated the theft of Black people and horses as equal, and passed a law to prevent Black people, both slave and free, from being sold out of state, and then they banned the fitting of slave ships in Delaware.

In 1786 Delaware was asked to send a delegation to a governmetn convention in Annapolis. Since many states did not send delegates, those who attended decided to postpone the convention to the following year, and hold it in Philadelphia instead. This was the Constitutional Convention.

Delaware’s delegates: George Read, John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, Jacob Broom, and Gunning Bedford Jr.

Delaware was one of the states who pushed for equal representation in the new US government, which is why every state gets two senators regardless of size. The House was apportioned by population, which the larger states wanted. Believing this was fair, Delaware’s delegation sent the new US Constitution to Delaware’s General Assembly, presented to the body on October 24. But, there was a problem.

There was a contested election in Sussex County over an election to the General Assembly. Armed Tories were harrassing voters, physically and non physically. The House decided to remove this obstacle to ratifying the state’s Constitution, and on November 7, 1787, they adopted a resolution to hold an election for delegates to attend a state-wide convention in Dover to consider ratifying the Federal Constitution. Three and a half weeks later delegates met at the Golden Fleece Tavern owned by Elizabeth Battell in Dover to discuss (with lots of alcohol and food) whether to adopt the new Constitution.

During this time the General Assembly, not all of whose members were invited to the Golden Fleece Tavern held their official business in a tavern owned by a rival inkeeper to Ms. Battell, named John Freeman.

Five days later the delegates came out and announced that indeed, Delaware would ratify the new Constitution. This made Delaware the first state to do so.

We can glean from Delaware’s politics in the 1780s that being a small state made getting people to conventions more easy, which probably helped Delaware become the First State. A decision to not hold up the deliberation of the US Constitution because of a disputed election in Sussex County in hindsight appears to have worked. Given how strong Tory sentiment was in Sussex County, they may not have been able to push through otherwise.

Tomorrow, remember Delaware Day, and if you are in Dover you can participate in festivities!

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Aaron Nathans of the News Journal published a story on the News Journal website yesterday reporting the nine Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) states co-signed a letter together to the EPA asking the governing agency to use RGGI as a base to create a national carbon tax/cap and trade law.

Nathans writes:

Collin O’Mara, Delaware natural resources director, said there will be various ways for states to fulfill the EPA requirements, but, “What we’re saying is, having an emission cap and trading program is a much more cost-effective, much more predictable way to achieve the same result.”
RGGI states boast that since 2005, participating states have cut their carbon emissions by 40 percent. The cap-and-trade program has new requirements intended to reduce emissions further, and create more revenue that the states can use to fight climate change.
RGGI does not do much for the environment. Dave Stevenson, CRI’s own Director of the Center for Energy Competitiveness has written here and here and here and here
about the foolishness of continuing RGGI and the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) which is popular in state capitals around the nation but has done little to nothing for the environment and has only raised everyone’s electricity rates.
Some key facts:
· Delaware’s electricity prices will increase by 18.1 percent by 2026
· In 2026 the RPS mandate will reduce annual wages by an average of $944 per worker
· Due to higher home energy costs, in 2025 annual real disposable income will fall by $291 million

 Delaware manufacturers are already paying 50% higher electric rates than the average state. The Delaware Economic Development Office reports these high power cost are one of the biggest threats to our economy and now we will compound the problem”.
 Delaware’s goal is to reduce emissions by 755,000 metric tons. China increased CO2 emission by 1.4 trillion metric tons from 2004 to 2008 so the Delaware decade long reduction goal is replaced by China every 68 seconds.
Instead we see Delaware joining with other states to now lobby Washington DC to take the increased electrical and total energy rates in Delaware and make this a national deal. Instead of what amounts to a regional cap and trade deal would become nationwide. Given that Congress right now is unlikely to approve of cap and trade the most likely scenario would be for the EPA to issue back door regulations to have at least some cap and trade ideas in place, thus giving us something like the carbon tax even if Congress does not formally pass one.
The state has far exceeded its goal of a 10% “dirty emissions” reduction by 2019 already. Plans already in place will further reduce emissions by 34% by the end of next year. Rather than continue with the “renewable energy investment” scheme which the state continues to advocate for, Governor Markell could choose to return money extracted from Delaware home and business electricity bills back to the consumers.

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