Court of Auditors finds public aid for energy renovation to be effective

The Court of Auditors drew up on Wednesday an "encouraging" report on the payment of the "Habiter mieux" public aid, which has financed 240,000 housing energy renovations since 2010, and made recommendations to make it even more efficient. [19659002] Seized by the Senate Finance Committee in December 2016, the Court conducted a survey of the National Housing Agency (Anah), which has been managing the "Living Better" program since its inception in 2010, and scrutinized a little over a thousand cases.

The balance sheet of this premium paid to households, most of them modest homeowners, to help them renovate their homes – in addition to other assistance – is "encouraging", summed up Pascal Duchadeuil, President of the Fifth Chamber of the Court of Auditors in presenting the report, made public on Wednesday.

"It is not common that the Court", often very critical of the quality of the management of den public authorities, "should be given this type of assessment, especially in the field of housing policy", he pointed out.

If the system has "weaknesses", these can "be corrected," according to the Court, "to meet the new challenges to which" Live better "is now confronted": achieve the goal of 75,000 renovated homes per year, an increase of 50%, set by the government late November

Two of the three objectives set for the program were achieved: supporting the most disadvantaged, with very modest beneficiaries (83% of cases) and reducing the energy consumption of housing, with 43% energy gain in 2016 , much better than the 30% targeted.

Following a "prolonged heating period", in addition to the "financial gain on energy consumption", households note an "improvement of the general state of housing, a sanitation of housing, a diminutio n of the sensation of cold and an improvement of the health of the occupants ", notes the Court

-" Effective management "-

For the third objective on the other hand, to renovate the private housing stock," the balance sheet is Halftone ": on a 2010-2017 target of 300,000 homes," we exceeded 240,000 end of 2017, "said Mr. Duchadeuil.

The Court points above all a" lack of stability of resources and regulations " to "live better": the amount of its envelope, the National Fund for Thermal Renovation Assistance (FART), 500 million euros for 2010-2017, has been revised 10 times.

"This instability has not allowed the establishment of a sufficiently long-term support scheme to attract all the potential beneficiaries of these aids ", estimates the Court.

For their part, the amounts allocated have undergone five modifications in seven years, passing from 1,600 to 3,500 euros, to go down to 2,000 euros since 2016.

Highlighting the a "effective management" of a device "well evaluated and controlled" by Anah, the Court advocates a paperless management of files and a "simplification" of aid to finance work in installments – two developments in progress – to pass

For half of the working population and half of the pensioners, the beneficiaries are people with very modest incomes, housed in "old large, old houses", expensive to heat, who "impose "

The Court recommends to better accompany them, to" strengthen the link "between the levels of aid ceilings and their situation of fuel poverty, to implement multi-annual programming, to stabilize regulations and finally to "develop the partnership with local authorities".

Guyana: WWF reiterates opposition to mining project before public debate

WWF detailed on Tuesday its opposition to the "Montagne d'Or" mining project in Guyana, supported by Emmanuel Macron when he was minister, a few days before the first public meetings.

the environment "is committed against this project after analyzing it" from an environmental and economic point of view, said Pascal Canfin, Director General of WWF France, during a conference call.

The project, carried by the Russo-Canadian consortium Nordgold-Columbus Gold, plans the exploitation of a mine, from 2022, in a zone with 125 km by track south of the city of Saint-Laurent du Maroni, in the middle of the rainforest, and allow the creation of 750 direct jobs.

The biggest project of primary gold extraction ever proposed in France plans to dig a pit equivalent to 32 times the stadium of France.

It is the object of public debate until July 7 in French Guiana, with the The first public meetings at the beginning of April

This industrial project "is an economic aberration and an aberration in terms of the return on the public money invested", estimated Mr. Canfin

The project would require 420 million euros public money, or 560,000 euros per direct job created, calculates the NGO. The latter defends another model of economic development based for example on eco-tourism for this region where the unemployment rate is higher than 20%.

For the WWF, this project will not be able to fight against gold panning illegal. "This is completely wrong," said Canfin, arguing that the areas and methods used are very different.

The NGO also points out the risks to the environment, with a site located in near the largest biological reserve in France, the use of significant amount of cyanide or deforestation. There are "major industrial risks", said Laurent Kelle, head of WWF France's Guyana office.

WWF is still concerned that this project, if completed, will lead to other similar projects. "One of the fears we have is that Golden Mountain opens the Pandora's box," worried Pascal Quéru, an economist at WWF France.

The project was supported by Emmanuel Macron when he was minister of Economy, but it is rejected by the Minister of the ecological transition, Nicolas Hulot.

It also faces the opposition of customary chiefs in this French territory in South America, whereas some politicians and entrepreneurs are in favor.

Public debate on the multi-year energy plan begins on March 15, 2018

What is the Multi-Year Energy Plan (EPP)?

Created by the Energy Transition Law of 2015 multi-year energy programs are used to predict development trajectories of the different modes of production of electricity and heat in the hexagon and in overseas departments. Investments must be in accordance with the objectives of the Act:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% between 1990 and 2030 and divide by four by 2050.
  • Reduce final energy consumption by 50% in 2050 compared to 2012 with an intermediate target of 20% in 2030.
  • Reduce the consumption of gas, oil and coal by 30% in 2030 compared to 2012.
  • Increase the share of energy 23% of the final gross energy consumption in 2020 and 32% in 2030. Today we are at 18%.
  • Multiply by five the amount of renewable heat and cold delivered by heat and cold by 2030.
  • Reducing the share of nuclear power in electricity generation by 2025.

What are the possible scenarios?

If the objectives are well defined, the trajectories are harder to imagine . This is why the State, which is the owner of the public debate, proposes to support the debates on two of the four scenarios developed by Transmission Network (RTE) the manager of 100,000 kilometers of high and medium voltage lines

The "Ampère" scenario examines the reduction of nuclear power in relation to the development of renewable energies. By 2035, there would still be a 46% share of nuclear power generation. This scenario predicts a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. © RTE

The "Volt" scenario examines the evolution of nuclear power and renewable energies according to economic opportunities. In this scenario, nuclear power remains central both in national production of electricity and export capacity, particularly to Germany, which is expected to face the shutdown of its coal plants. The scenario allows for a significant reduction of greenhouse gases. © RTE

Where are the controversies?

As since the beginning of the French nuclear program, it is the place of the atom in the French energy mix that is controversial to the point of relegating to second place the questions of production heat, insulation of buildings, conversion of the car fleet from oil to electricity. The government is responsible for this situation, which risks diverting public debate from its objectives. Nicolas Hulot indeed publicly announced last November that the goal of reducing the share of nuclear to 50% in 2025 yet enshrined in the law was not feasible and was postponed by a few years. EDF subsequently declared that it would not consider any closure (outside the Fessenheim power plant) before 2029. Finally, the two scenarios chosen for the debate are those with the least number of nuclear reactor closures (16 for Ampère, 9 for Volt horizon 2035). For the Climate Action Network (RAC) these scenarios involve leaving about twenty reactors in operation beyond fifty years, which poses security problems.

What are the objectives of the debate? public

For the National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP) there are four:

  • To inform the public about energy projects and issues.
  • To allow the expression of various actors: elected representatives, institutions, unions, associations, NGOs, consumers, residents
  • Enabling everyone to take cognizance of each other's positions and arguments
  • Enlighten the State by providing new ideas or reflections

What are the tools of public debate?

The National Commission of Public Debate will use all the consultation tools invented over the last twenty years

Meetings will be organized in all regions, with specific focus on territories with positive energy metropolises, rural territories. Meetings with target audiences: young people, consumers, businesses, artisans and traders, precarious energy are planned.

Finally an innovation: the G400. 400 people will be drawn from 15 March. These "ordinary citizens" will be kept informed of the exchanges. In June, they will have to decide on the topics that generated the most discussions.

Will the opinion of the citizens be listened to?

The government assures it: the definitive EPP will only be drafted in the second half of 2018 and will incorporate the contributions of the public debate. It has already happened that citizen proposals have modified projects. This is the case of Cigeo radioactive waste landfill center where the 17-person novice panel on the issue had imposed a pre-industrial phase on the National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (Andra). she had not planned.

Green light for the appointment of Chantal Jouanno to the National Commission of Public Debate

Parliament gave Wednesday the green light for the Elysee nominations of former Minister Chantal Jouanno at the head of the National Commission for Public Debate, and Arnaud Leroy, former spokesman for Emmanuel Macron during the presidential campaign at the head of the Agency for the Environment and Energy Management (Ademe)

These appointments were to be confirmed by the competent committees of the two chambers.

Former UDI de Paris senator received 29 votes in favor, 1 against, 3 blank or void ballots and 1 abstention in the Committee on Planning and Sustainable Development of the Senate

The relevant committee of the Assembly The National Assembly, for its part, declared by 28 votes in favor, 4 against and 4 abstentions.

M. Leroy, for his part, won 22 votes in favor, 1 against and 4 blank or void ballots in the Senate, and 35 votes in favor and 5 abstentions to the Assembly.

Ms. Jouanno announced in July her departure from politics after having was champion of karate then minister of Nicolas Sarkozy (Ecology then Sport). She succeeds former prefect Christian Leyrit, 69.

Created in 1995, the National Commission for Public Debate's mission is "to inform citizens and to ensure that their point of view is taken into account. the decision-making process for major development projects and equipment of national interest. "

In particular, it was seized for the Cigeo project for the disposal of radioactive waste in Bure (Meuse), for the EuropaCity project in Ile -de-France, or for the gold-bearing project Montagne d'Or in Guyana or for a third subway line in Toulouse.

M. Leroy, 41, former MP (PS) of the French from abroad, is a member of the executive bureau of La République en Marche after being part of the triumvirate at the head of the presidential party between the elections of the spring and the election of Christophe Castaner as general delegate

He succeeds Bruno Léchevin, former trade unionist and ex-Mediator of energy, who was appointed in 2013 by François Hollande.

Public Support Levels on Trump Increases

The latest public poll of Quinnipiac University shows, the level of public support for President Donald Trump's performance reaches 40 percent, the best in seven months. Analysts say the increase in support is likely due to a strong economy. However, according to them, Trump takes political risks by continuing to criticize Democrats and an ongoing investigation into the possibility of collusion between Russia and its presidential campaign.

President Trump accentuated the benefits of tax reform that he manifested in a visit to a factory in Ohio.

But Trump also criticized Democratic congressmen who did not give him a lively reception on his State Speech some time ago.

"They are like dead and behave as if they were not Americans, not Americans. Some say they are treacherous. We might call it that. Can we call it a traitorous act? Why not ?, "Trump said.

His remark was deviating from his recent speech to Congress, where he tried to generate the prospect of bipartisan spirit, which said," I call for all of us to put aside differences, seek common ground, and seeking the unity needed by the people. "

The slightly improved level of public support for Trump's performance suggests that voters are beginning to recognize their role in economic improvement.

However, according to Jim Kessler of the research institute Third Way in Washington DC, the outburst of Trump's anger against the Democratic faction could ruin the support.

"You know, if Trump is smart, he will try to move in the middle and make a deal with the Democrats, but his government does not show the ability to run seamlessly in less time a week, so before they can realize a few weeks running smoothly, I think a "said Jim Kessler.

Trump and some of his Republican allies also continue to complain about an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The Democratic Faction views it as a coordinated effort to disrupt an investigation led by special investigator Robert Mueller.

Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said, "They continue touting conspiracy theories, with all the ridiculous sentiments. They will not stop, perhaps because they are afraid of a real investigation. They are afraid of what Mueller is doing and what he will continue to do will reveal something. "

The Mueller investigation showed no signs of coming to an end. John Fortier, an analyst at the Center for Bipartisan Policy, said the ongoing investigation would be an influential factor in this year's congressional elections.

Report: Lawyers Suggest that Trump Reject Meetings with Investigators Special

"The inquiry overshadowed his presidency. We do not know the time until when. As time passes this year, we do not know what will be revealed, and whatever the outcome (whether or not proven Russian interference is possible) can be horrendous, "he explained.

Improvement in the level of public support for President Trump's performance is likely to help the fraction The Republic maintains a majority in Congress in this year's elections. [ab/lt]