Archive for February, 2009

Charmin ‘worse’ than Hummers?

February 27, 2009

As part of the ongoing green attack on our potty habits, The Guardian (UK) has this quote from Allen Hershkowitz, a “senior scientist” with the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age. Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution… People just don’t understand that softness equals ecological destruction.”

Reusable toilet wipes?

February 27, 2009

Wallypop, purveyor of goods “supporting a natural lifestyle” is selling cloth toilet wipes. Wallypop says:

Using cloth toilet wipes actually has many advantages. For one, it’s a lot more comfortable and soft on your most delicate body parts. It’s also more economical, uses less paper, and saves you those late-night trips to the store.

Here’s how you use them, according to Wallypop:

Using cloth wipes for urine-only visits to the bathroom is so simple it’s hardly worth mentioning. Go, wipe, and then toss the wipe into whatever container you prefer.

Using cloth wipes for other toilet visits is not any more difficult, but there is a certain ick factor involved. Consider how much waste you’re willing to leave on your children’s diapers or wipes when you toss them in the pail. Use the same standards for yourself. Shake, scrape, swish, or squirt off anything you don’t want in your laundry, and then toss the wipe into the pail or container. (Personally speaking, we just wipe and toss in the pail. Our wipes have minimal staining.)

As Andrew Bolt commented,

Surely it’s time global warming believers marked their houses with some sign, a green pentangle or something, as a warning to visitors to enter at their own risk.

Obama’s climate rip-off

February 27, 2009

My column at FoxNews.com today…

President Obama wants to pay you to support global warming regulation. What he isn’t saying, however, is that his enticement won’t come close to covering what the regulations will cost you.

You can read the full column at FoxNews.com.

Recycle urine?

February 27, 2009

Rose George opined in today’s New York Times that we should recycle urine.

IN the far reaches of Shaanxi Province in northern China, in an apple-producing village named Ganquanfang, I recently visited a house belonging to two cheery primary-school teachers, Zhang Min Shu and his wife, Wu Zhaoxian. Their house wasn’t exceptional — a spacious yard, several rooms — except for the bathroom. There, up a few steps on a tiled platform, sat a toilet unlike any I’d seen. Its pan was divided in two: solid waste went in the back, and the front compartment collected urine. The liquids and solids can, after a decent period of storage and composting, be applied to the fields as pathogen-free, expense-free fertilizer.

From being unsure of wanting a toilet near the house in the first place — which is why the bathroom is at the far end of their courtyard — the couple had become so delighted with it that they regretted not putting it next to the kitchen after all.

What does this have to do with you? Mr. Zhang and Ms. Wu’s weird toilet — known as a “urine diversion,” or NoMix (after a Swedish brand), toilet — may have things to teach us all.

Though George advocates urine diversion toilets, she acknowledges there could be a problem with them:

Then there’s the sitting problem: in most urine-diversion toilets, a man must empty his bladder sitting down. This wouldn’t be a problem in some countries — Germany recently introduced a toilet-seat alarm that admonishes standers to sit — but it has been in others. Professor Jenssen was flummoxed by one participant at a training workshop in Cuba who said firmly, “If a man sits, he is homosexual.”

First, the greens came for our 3.5 gallon flush toilets. Now they want our flush toilets. What’s next? Just hold it?

Deregulation or greens to blame for utility shut-offs?

February 27, 2009

The Washington Post reported today that,

Utilities across the Washington region have sent out millions of notices to customers who have fallen behind on their gas and electric bills in the past year and are increasingly shutting off service as residents find that they cannot pay rising heating costs.

In addition to billing cycle issues, the Post attributed customer payment difficulties on deregulation:

Higher wholesale energy prices continue to push up electricity and natural gas costs, a result of deregulated markets in the District and Maryland. A typical monthly Pepco bill for District customers is $103.67 today, compared with $58.16 in 2004.

The fuller story is that Maryland had capped electricity rates until a few years ago when the caps expired and market forces — like supply pressures — pushed prices up.

Who’s against increasing supply? A year ago, the Post reported that it was the greens.

Greens come after your Charmin

February 26, 2009

The New York Times reports this morning that,

… The country’s soft-tissue habit — call it the Charmin effect — has not escaped the notice of environmentalists, who are increasingly making toilet tissue manufacturers the targets of campaigns. Greenpeace on Monday for the first time issued a national guide for American consumers that rates toilet tissue brands on their environmental soundness. With the recession pushing the price for recycled paper down and Americans showing more willingness to repurpose everything from clothing to tires, environmental groups want more people to switch to recycled toilet tissue.

“No forest of any kind should be used to make toilet paper,” said Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist and waste expert with the Natural Resource Defense Council…

Environmental groups… are hoping that Americans will become as conscious of the environmental effects of their toilet tissue use as they are about light bulbs or other products.

Dr. Hershkowitz is pushing the high-profile groups he consults with, including Major League Baseball, to use only recycled toilet tissue. At the Academy Awards ceremony last Sunday, the gowns were designer originals but the toilet tissue at the Kodak Theater’s restrooms was 100 percent recycled…

Marcal, the oldest recycled-paper maker in the country, emerged from bankruptcy under new management last year with a plan to spend $30 million on what is says will be the first national campaign to advertise a toilet tissue’s environmental friendliness. Marcal’s new chief executive, Tim Spring, said the company had seen intense interest in the new product from chains like Walgreens. The company will introduce the new toilet tissue in April, around Earth Day…

“Our idea is that you don’t have to spend extra money to save the Earth,” [Mr. Spring] said. “And people want to know what happens to the paper they recycle. This will give them closure.”

“Closure” about toilet paper?

Government commission urges taxing drivers by-the-mile

February 26, 2009

A week after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood floated the idea of taxing drivers by-the-mile-driven rather than by-the-gallon-of-gas-purchased and the White House’s near-immediate denial that such a tax was under consideration, a federal commission has recommended just such as tax.

In a report released today, the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission recommended that,

A federal funding system based on more direct forms of “user pay” charges, in the form of a charge for each mile driven (commonly referred to as a vehicle miles traveled or VMT fee system),
has emerged as the consensus choice for the future…

Commence the transition to a new, more direct user charge system as soon as possible and commit to deploying a comprehensive system by 2020…

Ensure that, once implemented, mileage-based fees and any other charges are set to meet the
designated federal share of national surface transportation investment needs, and index these rates to inflation.

Initiate an extensive public outreach effort to create a broad understanding of the current funding
problem, the proposed solution, the intended method of implementation, and the anticipated
impact on individual system users.

So the government plans on monitoring how much you drive and taxing you on that basis. Note that fuel efficient vehicles won’t save you from the tax.

The Commission’s report is available here.

BP CEO calls for more drilling

February 26, 2009

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed calling for more domestic oil drilling, BP CEO Tony Hayward observed,

… energy security can only be built on a solid foundation of free markets and free trade. Two-thirds of the world’s oil is traded across international borders. This huge and agile market makes it possible to respond quickly to supply disruptions, such as hurricanes or political unrest. Tariffs, heavy taxes, or restrictions on the free movement of petroleum products interfere with that process…

… America must stop looking to others for the oil it needs and actively develop its own hydrocarbon endowment. Even with the rapid growth of alternatives, fossil fuels will continue providing most of the energy Americans consume for decades into the future.

The search for new sources of domestic crude has been constrained by a lack of access to promising areas, notably the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Resource estimates for closed areas exceed 100 billion barrels of oil, with 30 billion recoverable with today’s technology and at today’s prices.

Opening up the OCS would enhance America’s energy security. Moreover, a new study by ICF International estimates that it could create as many as 76,000 new jobs and generate a total of nearly $1.4 trillion in new government revenue by 2030…

What a refreshing change from Lord John Browne who thought BP stood for “Beyond Petroleum.”

Obama cancels Bush oil shale leases

February 26, 2009

The Washington Post reported this morning that,

In his second reversal of a Bush administration decision, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday that he is scrapping leases for oil-shale development on federal land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

Salazar rescinded a lease offer made last month for research, development and demonstration projects that could have led to oil-shale exploration on 1.9 million acres in the three states.

It was the second time Salazar has reversed the Bush administration. He also halted the leasing of oil and gas drilling parcels near national parks in Utah this month.

At least the oil and gas producers had the courage to speak up:

“It’s part of a pattern of decisions by the secretary that are detrimental to all sources of domestic energy,” said Kathleen Sgamma, government affairs director for the Denver-based Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States.

In a media release, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar said,

“We need to push forward aggressively with research, development and demonstration of oil shale technologies to see if we can find a safe and economically viable way to unlock these resources on a commercial scale. The research, development, and demonstration leases we will offer can help answer critical questions about oil shale, including about the viability of emerging technologies on a commercial scale, how much water and power would be required, and what impact commercial development would have on land, water, wildlife, and communities.”

Despite the Obama administration’s apparent openness to drilling, rest assured that last bit about “impact” on “land, water, wildlife, and communities” is code for “Don’t worry fellow greens. We’ll make sure that oil shale never happens.”

Perfect climate for lobbyists?

February 25, 2009

The Center for Public Integrity reports that more than 770 organizations have hired an estimated 2,340 lobbyists who earned an estimated $90 million last year to influence the federal government on climate change legislation.

The Center’s website has a search form so you can see who’s lobbying for who and for how much.

No word on who, if anyone, will be lobbying on behalf of consumers and taxpayers.

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