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Apr 13, 2014
Is Ocean Acidification a Crisis?

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D.-R.I.) once castigated “climate deniers” for ducking the issue of ocean acidification, claiming skeptics “ignore facts they cannot explain away.”

The term “acidification” is a bit loaded and rhetorical. Although ocean pH has declined from about 8.2 to 8.1 over the past 200 years, there’s no danger of it decreasing to below 7.0 - the pH of neutral water. “De-alkalization” might be a more accurate way of describing the effect of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions on ocean chemistry.

Be that as it may, in a rebuttal to Sen. Whitehouse, I noted that CO2Science.Org, one of the oldest and most prominent skeptic blogs, hosts an extensive (and growing) ocean acidification database, and regularly reviews new scientific research on the topic.

This week on CO2Science.Org, chief blogger Craig Idso posts a 5,700-word essay reviewing 17 field studies of changing ocean pH levels, coral calcification rates, and coral health.

Much of the alarm over ocean acidification is based on short-term laboratory exposure studies. Field studies, notes Idso, “more aptly represent conditions in the real world, many of which conditions are impossible or impractical to incorporate into a laboratory setting.” Here are results from three of the studies reviewed.

Bessat and Buigues (2001) found that, instead of the 6-14% decline in calcification rates predicted by a prominent laboratory study, calcification rates in massive Porites corals in French Polynesia increased during 1801-1990.

Meron et al. (2012) examined two coral species off the coast of Naples, Italy, where CO2 from underwater volcanic vents produces a natural decline in pH levels. The researchers found that the “corals present at the lower pH sites exhibited only minor physiological changes,” and that “no microbial pathogens were detected.”

Similarly, Noonan et al. (2013) examined six scleractinian coral species exposed to elevated CO2 concentrations from volcanic “seeps” near Papua New Guinea. Dissolved CO2 concentrations were 28%-88% higher than in adjacent control areas. Nonetheless, the six species “were all able to not only survive, but to function well throughout the full range of CO2-induced pH values to which they had been exposed throughout their entire life spans,” Idso writes.

For a more extensive review of the literature on acidification and impacts on marine plants and animals, Idso’s chapter on aquatic life in the just-released report Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts.


The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website,

Apr 05, 2014
This winter’s price energy spikes - brownouts and blackouts will only get worse under Obama’s EPA

Dave Solomon, Union Leader

A congressional committee has joined New England senators in demanding some answers as to why natural gas and electricity prices soared during the winter that’s finally winding down.

Ranking representatives on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to the regional manager of the New England wholesale electricity market on March 27 with a long list of questions related to affordability and reliability.

“This year’s brutally cold winter stressed the electric grid, causing electricity prices to spike across the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and highlighted our nation’s reliability vulnerabilities,” they wrote. “Members are concerned these problems will only worsen as more coal plants are scheduled to shut down due to environmental regulations.”

Included in the letter is a link to a staff report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that reveals just how stressed the electricity grids were throughout much of the country, not just in New England.

New England avoided any brownouts brought by extreme cold and high energy costs, but other regions were not so lucky. “According to FERC, January’s cold weather events stressed the bulk power system with high loads, and other challenging operating conditions, including more than 50 gigawatts of forced outages,” the letter states.

A report prepared by FERC staff notes that forced outages were significant in some regions during the week of Jan. 4.

“In the Southeast, Duke Energy Progress and South Carolina Electric and Gas implemented voltage reductions on Tuesday morning, Jan. 6. Several generating units also tripped in the SCE&G area, forcing the company to implement rotating outages and shed approximately 300 megawatts of firm load during the morning peak. The load was restored later in the morning,” the report states.

The fact that much of the country was facing the prospect of roving brownouts during what was admittedly a severe winter worries people.

The letter from the House committee to ISO-NE and three other grid operators that together cover most of the U.S. east of the Mississippi, came just a week after a group of U.S. senators from the six New England states called on federal regulators to ensure that markets functioned properly and that prices were not increased by speculation or manipulation.

The senators, five Democrats and one Independent, focused on the possibility of foul play, while the House committee, controlled by a Republican majority, focused on the impact of EPA regulations that could force more coal-fired plants offline in the years ahead.

“We are concerned that outages and price increases could be exacerbated in the future as coal-fired power plants that utilities have relied on to meet the surge in demand are shuttered for environmental reasons,” the letter from the Energy and Commerce Committee states.

The letter cites a February report from the Energy Information Administration suggesting that the number of coal-fired power plant retirements will be higher than originally anticipated, and that an estimated 60 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity will retire by 2020.

“We are specifically concerned that the loss of these critical generation facilities in such a short timeframe will make it increasingly difficult to meet electricity demands in the future, thereby putting reliability at risk and driving up electricity prices for consumers,” the representatives write.

In New Hampshire, PSNH is under pressure from regulators to sell off its coal-fired plants in Bow and Portsmouth. Those plants were called upon to produce electricity throughout much of the winter, when their cost of operation was actually lower than the cost of electricity produced by natural gas.

The president of ISO-NE, Gordon van Welie, warned that things are likely to get worse before they get better, when he addressed an energy industry conference in Washington, D.C., in mid-March. The region will be in a “precarious operating position” for the next three to four years, he said.

The regional grid operator, ISO-New England, attributes these sharp increases to the combination of “low temperatures, high demand for natural gas and constraints on natural gas pipelines.” Because natural gas runs so much of New England’s power generation, the price of that fuel is closely tied to the price of electricity.  The lawmakers are probing into the price spikes. 

The lights stayed on this winter largely because of the ISO’s “Winter Reliability Program.” Power plants that could burn oil (some of which hadn’t done so in a while) stocked up on fuel inventory and were able to run on oil when natural gas was either unavailable or too expensive.  Over the course of the winter, these power plants had burned through most of the 3 million stockpiled barrels.  Some generators, at one point, only had two days’ worth of oil left.  See with next year’s early outlook (given the El Nino Modoki and warm pool in the Gulf of Alaska and more blocking than 2013) why we would have trouble especially given the shutdown of 95% of all coal plants due to EPA’s reckless regulatory assault. Remember Obama promised electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket. Expect if blackouts occur the democrats will be blaming the oil companies.


Mar 29, 2014
The Denier Mantle Moves On

By Dr. Charles Battig March 28, 2014

By their consistent refusal to acknowledge the accumulated facts of climate history, the mantle of “climate denier” has rightfully passed on to those who continue to promote misinformation and the unwarranted fear of manmade climate change. It is time that the fabricators of fear be so labeled.

These new-age denialists have elevated their computer models above the real world of factual observations. Prof. Chris Folland, Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research set the standard for climate pseudo-science. “The data doesn’t matter. We’re not basing our recommendations on the data. We’re basing them on the climate models.”

“The models are convenient fictions that provide something very useful,”: Dr. David Frame, Climate modeler, Oxford University. Indeed so, since the designer of the model can decide which “very useful” output is desired. The baking of a cake is a useful analogy. The cook decides which ingredients to include in the recipe, the quantity of each, the final shape and name of the cake. It could be named a lemon meringue, but if the lemon flavoring is omitted, it certainly will not be a valid lemon meringue.

Computer climate modeling has formed the basis for the continuing plethora of climate scare stories. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calls them “scenarios,” but these computer fabrications are treated by the media, politicians, and general public more like predictions. The common ingredient in the dozens of these General Circulation Models (GCM) used by the U.N. and its supporters is the assumed primary role of manmade carbon dioxide in driving Earth’s climate. They assert that the role of manmade carbon dioxide is the singular answer to making their climate models work, and thereby match some carefully chosen period of climate history. Like the lemon in the cake, the prime role of fossil fuel carbon dioxide in driving the results of their climate computers is the one essential ingredient purposely baked into the computer/cake. “Lemon in, lemon out.”

The full list of climate determinants ("cake ingredients"), their multiple interactions, relative temporal significance, and relative quantitative importance remain beyond current scientific understanding. Even the basic records of global temperature, surface or atmospheric, are in dispute because of faulty measurement technology, selective editing, missing data sites, and urban heat contamination. Yet, manmade carbon dioxide has been computer preprogrammed to a predetermined prime importance as the main determinant of global temperature and climate change.

What does the Earth say about the climate computer models? The real-world record documents no warming for the past 17 years, even as atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased about 9 per cent. How bad were the computer models? A recent paper found that “global warming over the past 20 years is significantly less than that calculated from 117 simulations of the climate by 37 models." Oops.

The deniers claim deadly sea level rise based on their computers. The actual record shows that recent global sea level rise has decelerated 31 per cent. Oops.

Did the U.S. have an extreme weather year in 2013? Tornadoes? The number of tornadoes in the US in 2013 was the lowest total since 2000 and the lowest total in several decades. Oops.

U.S. wildfires? The number of wildfires across the US in 2013 is the lowest it has been in the past ten years and the acreage involved is at the second lowest level in that same time period. (

U.S. extreme heat in 2013? Extreme heat was down across the US for 2013. The number of 100 degree days across the country during 2013 was down, and may have been the lowest in about 100 years of records. (NOAA, USHCN reporting stations; through August)

U.S. hurricanes? The U.S. is in the longest period since the Civil War Era without a major hurricane strike in the US (i.e., category 3, 4 or 5). The last major hurricane to strike the US was Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

So who are the climate deniers? The U.N.’s IPCC would be the presumptive leader, as it was founded to find the imprint of “human induced” climate change. Other drivers of climate were largely dismissed unless they could be shown to support the pre-determined conclusion that there was a significant human fingerprint. This body is a political entity, not a scientific research organization. It is notable that even as earlier IPCC predictions of the impact of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide have proved false, and their magnitudes lessened in subsequent IPCC reports, the organization remains unrepentant in its claims of certainty.

Notable scientific organizations such as the World Meteorological Organization (present at the founding of the IPCC), the American Meteorological Society, and the American Physical Society have, at the leadership level, supported the premise of harmful climate change, primarily caused by manmade carbon dioxide. Their published papers are mostly skeptical of climate drivers not based on manmade carbon dioxide. Most recently, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has declared itself firmly in the skeptics’ camp by issuing its report to “Recognize Climate Change Risks.” The failure of climate modeling predictions is not acknowledged...the relevance is denied.

There are many individuals including Al Gore, science advisor John Holdren, and John Podesta who are skeptics of scientific reports which point out the disconnect between the manmade climate change mantra, and the actual physical record.

Most notable is the lack of a definitive scientific report that can identify and quantify the impact of human carbon dioxide on global climate, and distinguish it from the natural background of climate change over time. The presumptive human influence signal is lost as background noise in the over-riding signal of normal climate variability.

The deniers of computer-generated climate failures are denying the real world.

Charles Battig, MD , Piedmont Chapter president, VA-Scientists and Engineers for Energy and Environment (VA-SEEE). His website is

Mar 19, 2014
Alarmist opinion and letter writers and commenters show their lack of knowledge about science

Dr. Gordon Fulks

Hello Everyone,

Nothing is more predictable than The Oregonian printing letters to the editor attacking me a few days after I write another Op-Ed.  I must sell a lot of newspapers!

This time a 64 year old physician attacks me for not being a climatologist, using a medical analogy, likening me to a podiatrist trying to do heart surgery.

This is how I answered him:

Dear Dr. Bachhuber,

Thanks for your political opinions. As a physician you should be able to understand the basic climate issues. A lot of physicians do. People with many different backgrounds work in this field, not just climatologists. The most prominent one is the Great Global Warming Guru Dr. James Hansen who recently retired from NASA/GISS. He is an astrophysicist like I am and comes from the astrophysics group at the University of Iowa. I’m from the competing group at the University of Chicago. The other prominent climate alarmist is Professor Michael Mann at Penn State. He has degrees in geology and physics, studies tree rings, and calls himself a professor of meteorology. None of this is particularly unusual in science, although I agree it would be in medicine.

Where we do get into the inappropriate is when biologists, ecologists, and yes physicians claim expertise in physical processes in the atmosphere when they likely have none at all. Such is apparently the case with Warren Aney (above). He is prescribing treatments for planet earth without any apparent knowledge of their effectiveness or even if the planet is suffering from Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming caused by man’s burning of fossil fuels. And he is not just prescribing low-cost sugar pills but vastly expensive treatments with no efficacy.

Such is the difficulty with ignorance. In your field, the ignorant are prevented from practicing by licensing laws. The same holds true in many other professions from the law to engineering. Unfortunately in science too many like you claim enough expertise to advise the public when you should not be doing so.

To be sure, some physicians long ago figured out the Global Warming nonsense. It does not take a PhD in Physics. Perhaps the most famous is Michael Crichton, MD. As a writer of science fiction, he specialized in stories that minimized the fiction and maximized the facts. You should read his famous lecture to students at Cal Tech, ”Aliens Cause Global Warming”.

Crichton’s final sentence is especially poignant to me:

“Personally, I don’t worry about the nation. But I do worry about science.”

And this is the central problem for science. How do we keep the ignorant from practicing when their knowledge is purely political and their zeal is pseudo-religious.

Science involves logic and evidence only. That is why I present such arguments. The facts that the earth has not warmed in 16 years and that Pacific Northwest temperatures have been trending downward is highly relevant. They show that our planetary physicians do not understand the disease they propose to treat. Isn’t it time to find planetary physicians who can get things right?

As to salmon doing well because of restoration efforts, a scientist would point out that would not be effective if the Columbia River water temperature had risen enough to cook the fish! As to ocean acidification, a scientist would know that any increase from our burning of fossil fuels is so minute as to be less than natural variations.

As to the death of some farmed oysters in Washington State, most biologists realize that living organisms are multi-parameter creatures that can suffer from a variety of illnesses that may seem similar. Non-native species may not be suitable for the farming intended in local waters.

As to the claimed rise in deep ocean temperature, you obviously need to be a scientist to be a little skeptical of all you have been told. Convenient answers to inconvenient problems should trigger a lot of questions.

Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)
Corbett, Oregon USA

My Op-Ed must have really hit home with the climate cult, because they are certainly swarming like a nest of angry hornets.  But like hornets, they find it difficult to mount an effective counterattack if their intended victim is the least bit prepared.

Mar 17, 2014
Democrat Climate Caucus Reveals Its Stupidity

By Alan Caruba

The nation seems to be passing through a period in which too many U.S. Senators have been elected without so much as a high school level understanding of what drives the Earth’s climate and it isn’t the 0.038% of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

On Monday, March 10, some twenty of them will stay up overnight on the Senate floor, according to The Hill, “to bring attention to the impacts of climate change.” You don’t get more idiotic than that. Climate, measured in decades and centuries, is always in a state of change. Meanwhile, the weather anywhere in the nation, determined by the changing seasons and responsive only to short-range forecasts, has turned colder thanks to a cooling cycle that is now into its 17th year.

Giving speeches all night in the Senate will not change that, but Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has partnered with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to announce a new “climate change caucus” when you can ask any of the million unemployed Americans what the Senate’s real priority should be.

Sen. Whitehouse seems to think that a winter storm that causes “little summer cottages (be) washed into the sea” makes the non-existent issue of climate change “a bit personal.” Does this moron take rain or snow storms personally? When the sun rises in the morning, does he think it does so just for him?

Democrats are so afraid of the political fallout from the devastation of Obamacare and the lies told to support it that they are desperate to divert voter’s attention to anything else and climate change rates higher than having to discuss why we are still in a major recession after one full term by President Obama and the first year of his second. So, between now and the midterm elections in November, they will engage in all manner of theatrics to stay in office.

Thank goodness we have men like Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) in office. For a long time now he has been on record calling climate change - formerly called global warming- “a hoax.” When he takes a head count, he finds “fewer and fewer members of the United States Senate that are sympathetic to this whole cause.”

Behind the climate change “cause” falsehoods is the intention to impose fees on all aspects of American business and industry that emit carbon dioxide. Sen. Whitehouse wants to force up the cost of energy by making the larger emitters pay for doing what volcanoes do, emit CO2. In addition, all of the Earth’s living creatures do that as well. Congress has defeated 692 similar bills.

Sen. Whitehouse and his climate caucus are depending heavily on the 30% or so voters who still think that global warming is real. To some extent you can’t blame them. They were taught that in school and college. They read and hear that it is real in the news media every day. As of today, however, not one high school graduate has lived in a period of global warming.

And what is the rest of the world supposed to think when both British Royal Society and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences have just released a report, “Climate Change: Evidence & Causes” that is a rejection and abandonment of the most fundamental values of science.  The report asserts that “Continued emissions of these gases (CO2) and other greenhouse gases will cause further climate change, including substantial increases in global average surface temperatures and important changes in regional climate.”

Tom Harris, the executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition, responded saying the report “does a serious disservice to science and society.” And that is an understatement. “This is not the language of is appalling that two of the world’s foremost science bodies should engage in such unconditional rhetoric.” Not to mention that it is an outright lie.

So, while the twenty or so desperate Democrats gather all night, keep in mind that (1) there has been no global warming since 1997, (2) more than 31,000 scientists have signed a petition saying humans are not causing global warming, (3) Arctic ice is up 50% since 2012, and (4) every one of the climate computer models predicting warmth has been wrong over and over again.

Find out if one of those Senators is from your State and is up for reelection in November. Then vote him or her out of office and replace them with a candidate who wants smaller government, less spending, and demonstrates a devotion to both the truth and the U.S. Constitution.

Feb 22, 2014
Can you believe John Kerry said that?

Craig Rucker

Update; See John Christy and Richard McNider: Why Kerry Is Flat Wrong on Climate Change

We are reminded of the dangers of consensus science in the past. For example, in the 18th century, more British sailors died of scurvy than died in battle. In this disease, brought on by a lack of vitamin C, the body loses its ability to manufacture collagen, and gums and other tissues bleed and disintegrate. These deaths were especially tragic because many sea captains and some ships’ doctors knew, based on observations early in the century, that fresh vegetables and citrus cured scurvy.

Nonetheless, the British Admiralty’s onshore Sick and Health Board of scientists and physicians (somewhat akin to the current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) dismissed this evidence for more than 50 years because it did not fit their consensus theory that putrefaction (or internal decay) caused scurvy, which they felt could be cured by fresh air, exercise and laxatives.



Can you believe John Kerry said that?

Of all the threats we face, is global warming truly the “most fearsome?”

Temperature records show no global warming since the nineties.  Climate computer models call for warming which has not occurred.

In a world where despotic and unstable regimes toil ceaselessly to arm themselves with actual nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, why would the U.S. Secretary of State rank global warming the most fearsome weapon of mass destruction?

Is CO2, the naturally occurring gas you just exhaled, truly more dangerous than a nuclear armed Iran or North Korea?  Is CO2 truly more dangerous than terrorists?

CFACT’s Marc Morano summed it up in what the Washington Examiner described as a “superbly insightful answer”:

“After more than 40 years in public life,” Morano said, “John Kerry is still seeking a legacy, and he has chosen global warming as his ticket. Kerry is steering the Obama administration’s international focus to embarrassingly bad man-made climate fears. Kerry has his sights set on committing the U.S. to a new U.N. global climate treaty in Paris in 2014. And he is using his pulpit as secretary of state to entangle the U.S. into a sequel to the Kyoto Protocol.”

President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry and Hillary Clinton share a problem.  Their feckless foreign policy has been totally ineffective.  There is no sign of their efforts at statecraft leading to anything worthwhile in a major way, yet their failures abound.

The United States has lost a great deal of respect with foreign leaders.

For Obama, Kerry and Clinton the answer may be global warming—the last refuge of the ineffective.

Can Kerry shift focus away from real world issues and onto climate?

The UN plans to complete work on a new climate treaty in Paris next year.  Will Obama and Kerry try to create a legacy for themselves by locking the U.S. into a new regime of wasteful and destructive climate agreements? 

There’s something genuine to fear.

For nature and people too,

It is the long awaited sequel.

Feb 08, 2014
Most Great Lakes ice since the mid 1990s UPDATED - 88.4% coverage

By Joe D’Aleo, CCM

It has been a brutal winter - ranking near the coldest ever in the north central including the northwest Great Lakes region, where it has AVERAGED over 10F below normal. Tom Skilling, Chicago’s long time TVmeteorologist notes

It’s been 3 decades since we’ve experienced a winter like this--and more snow’s on the way this weekend followed by another slug of arctic air Sunday night into the opening days of next week. The 2013-14 snow season has moved to 3rd snowiest of the past 129 years while meteorological winter 2013-14 ranks 8th coldest of the past 143 years.


The ice has increased to cover 88.4% of the Great Lakes (73,790 square miles of ice!).


According o the Canadian Ice Service this past week, we trailed only 1995/96 and 1993/94 for coverage for the date. they began records in 1980. It should be noted, the modern record may hav eben et in 1978/79.


With more arctic air due the next 5 days with anomalies of minus 10 to 20F, we may surpass one or both days.


It should be noted most of the region has also been very snowy with 200-300% of normal snowfall. As one commenter said “if this global warming gets any worse, we are going to all freeze to death”.

Before someone accuses me of not knowing the difference between weather and climate, I will note there is no difference. Climate is a description of weather - averages, ranges, means, and variances.  I know no one who denies climate change is real. We just dispute the cause(s). And oh by the way we predicted a very cold winter and Joe Bastardi and I even speculated on Weatherbell similarity to 1917/18 and 1993/94. See how similar 1917/18 and 2013/14 were in the Pacific anomalies. Focus on the big warm pool near Alaska and warm water near Indonesia which anchored convection there.

1918 january and February mean sea surface temperature anomalies.


2014 january sea surface temperature anomalies


The oceans just as they drive the seasonal patterns drive the climate regimes over longer periods including the cooling of the 1940s to 19070s, warming from 1979 to 1998 then the pause and soon the decline.. The sun drives the ocean cycles. CO2 goes along for the ride.

Jan 13, 2014
Let wind subsidies die

The wind production tax credit has long outlived any public policy usefulness. Late in 2013, Big Wind fought fiercely to renew its expiring subsidy but failed. We hope that means many members of Congress see this as a mature industry that long ago outgrew its infancy and understand that the nation’s new wealth of lower-cost natural gas has profoundly rewritten U.S. energy economics.

In the early 1990s, with dreams of cheap and clean wind energy ascendant, Congress lavished a generous subsidy on power from the tall, twirling turbines. The wind industry responded, and since then has increased its installed generating capacity 30-fold.

For 20-plus years the subsidy has been intermittent, although not as unreliable as the winds that drive the turbines. The most recent authorization, a 2013 extension tucked into the federal budget deal that avoided the so-called fiscal cliff, expired Dec. 31. Applause, please, for our do-little Congress: What’s known as the wind production tax credit has long outlived any public policy usefulness. Lawmakers now being urged by industry lobbyists to renew the subsidy retroactively instead should let it blow away.

We say this with no animus toward the bucolic concept of wind energy, whose clean-and-green image is to electrical generation what puppies and kittens are to the animal kingdom. Our concern is the reality of subsidized wind energy at a time when natural gas is more plentiful, and cheaper, than Washington could envision in the 1990s. Today wind generation is a comparatively expensive proposition that, whenever its tax subsidy temporarily has vanished, has seen the new construction of wind farms all but vanish too. These welfare payments to the industry have incentivized private investors to sink money into wind projects that, without the federal freebie, they’re eager (and probably smart) to avoid.

Like its cousins, the ethanol and solar industries, the wind lobby basks in political correctness and political favoritism: Big Wind, too, has grown comfortable in its dependence on federal and state governments that decide which energy industries will be winners or losers - discrimination enforced by squeezing taxpayers or rigging regulations.

News about eagles killed by turbines is an issue separate from government coddling, but one now emerging as a public relations debacle. In late November, Duke Energy agreed to pay $1 million in fines in the first criminal case brought against a wind company over the killings of federally protected birds, 14 golden eagles and 149 other protected birds slain at two wind projects in Wyoming. Robert G. Dreher, an acting assistant U.S. attorney general, explained the violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act: “In this plea agreement, Duke Energy Renewables acknowledges that it constructed these wind projects in a manner it knew beforehand would likely result in avian deaths.”

Duke said it is working with federal officials and field biologists to determine when it should shut down its turbines to limit bird deaths. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it is investigating similar cases elsewhere - and has referred seven of them to the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecution.

Motor vehicle drivers, illegal hunters and deaths by poisoning kill more eagles than turbines do. But growing publicity about wind farms chewing up eagles undercuts the industry’s promotion of itself as environmentally friendly. The National Audubon Society and other conservation groups are especially exercised about a new federal rule, announced in December, that lets wind farms obtain 30-year permits to lawfully kill bald and golden eagles. Many Americans who only have heard about neighbors of wind farms criticizing the turbines’ thrumming noises will have a far easier time relating to criminal cases based on huge blades pulverizing wildlife.

All of which pins the Obama administration between its dueling political loyalists: environmentalists learning about the 30-year eagle kill permits, and fans of renewable energy sources that don’t spew carbon dioxide.

Wind energy’s peculiar problem is that, because wind blows erratically, companies that rely on it also need backup generating capacity - typically fossil-fueled - for days when customers want electricity but the air is still.

The obvious solution here is for Congress and the White House to stop manipulating the tax code as America’s de facto energy policy: Thorough federal tax reform should sunset this arbitrary favoritism for wind energy and other politically favored industries.

Late in 2013, Big Wind fought fiercely to renew its expiring subsidy but failed. We hope that means many members of Congress see this as a mature industry that long ago outgrew its infancy and understand that the nation’s new wealth of lower-cost natural gas has profoundly rewritten U.S. energy economics.

The wind lobbyists will be back in 2014, pleading for more handouts from American taxpayers. Tell your members of Congress that a government $17 trillion in debt - and still borrowing heavily - can’t afford to keep protecting this industry from cheaper competition.

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