Monthly Archives: June 2014

The EPA’s Regulatory Tidal Wave

In March, the Congressional Research Service issued a report entitled “EPA Regulations: Too Much, Too Little, or Right on Track.”

“Since Barack Obama was sworn in as President in 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed and promulgated numerous regulations implementing the pollution controlstatutes enacted by Congress. Critics have reacted strongly. Many, both within Congress and outside of it, have accused the agency of reaching beyond the authority given it by Congress and ignoring or underestimating the costs and economic impacts of proposed and promulgated rules.The House has conducted vigorous oversight of the agency in the 112th and 113th Congresses, and has approved several bills that would overturn specific regulations or limit the agency’s authority. Particular attention has been paid to the Clean Air Act; congressional scrutiny has focused as well on other environmental statutes and regulations implemented by EPA…

“EPA states that critics’ focus on the cost of controls obscures the benefits of new regulations, which, it estimates, far exceed the costs. It maintains that pollution control is an important source of economic activity, exports, and American jobs, as well. Further, the agency and its supporters say that EPA is carrying out the mandates detailed by Congress in the federal environmental statutes.”

Other studies, including one by CNS news  document the extraordinary number (2,827) and length (24,915 pages) of EPA final regulations.

Today, the New York Analysis of Policy & Government reviews the most onerous of the EPA’s actions, its planned implementation of the President’s Carbon Emissions program.

The President’s Executive Action on Carbon Emissions

The June roll out of the White House executive action to cut power plant emissions has been met by support from environmental and kindred political groups. The nation’s 600 Coal-fired plants are the biggest target. If fully enacted, according to a Bloomberg report, coal’s share of energy generation would be reduced from 40% to 14%. The executive action is a follow-up to the White House’s climate change strategy released in June 2013, which called for power plant emissions controls, electrical grid upgrades, carbon capture technology development, periodic reviews of energy matters, and methane and hydrofluorocarbon reductions.

The executive action follows a 2009 pledge by President Obama to cut domestic greenhouse gas by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020, and over 80% by mid-century. It would institute the controversial “cap and trade” concept, which requires emissions producers to obtain “carbon permits” to operate.

The executive action was based on findings summarized in the Environmental Protection Agency’s study, “Climate Change Indicators in the United States,” which   concluded that human-caused climate change has already occurred and is producing harmful effects on the environment. Critics maintain the study ignored contrary evidence.

DETAILS

Carbonbrief.org describes the executive action succinctly:

“The plan aims to cut the emissions of the US power sector 30 per cent on 2005 levels over the next sixteen years. It is open for comment for 120 days and the EPA aims to have final rules in force by June 2015.

“Each state in the US will be set their own target for emissions per megawatt hour of electricity produced. States will have until 30 June 2016 to submit plans explaining how they will meet this target. The EPA says it might allow states to plead for up to two years’ extra time.

“The proposal covers emissions from 1,600 existing coal and gas-fired power stations across the US. Regulations limiting emissions from new power stations are already in the pipeline…There is no legal precedent for it to use the Clean Air Act in this way. The Ohio attorney general has pledged to challenge the EPA’s plans. Legal opinions differ  on the EPA’s authority.”

The Institute for 21st Century Energy  notes that “fossil-fuel fired power stations comprise almost 76% of the generating capacity and nearly 66% of the electricity generated in the United States.”

CAN THE EPA DO THIS?

The EPA bases its authority to engage in this action by virtue of presidential executive action, using the Clean Air Act (CAA) section 111(d). There is significant controversy over the constitutionality of the move.  Mr. Obama failed to win Congressional approval for climate change legislation in his first term, and opponents will claim with substantial validity that he lacks the authority to enact his current program without Congressional approval.

In its June 23 decision in the case of Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, The U.S. Supreme Court gave a mixed ruling to the legality of the measure.  The Scotus blog summarized the decision:

The Clean Air Act either compels nor permits the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt an interpretation of the Clean Air Act requiring a stationary source of pollution to obtain a ‘Prevention of Significant Deterioration’ or Title V permit on the sole basis of its potential greenhouse-gas emission. However, EPA reasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act to require sources that would need permits based on their emission of chemical pollutants to comply with “best available control technology” for greenhouse gases.”

Opposition

The President’s program has encountered broad based opposition from scientific, legal, financial, industrial, and consumer interests. Manufacturers and oil refineries would also be hit hard.  Consumers would face significant price increases. Critics maintain that the technology to comply with the new regulations remains unproven.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce (see below) believes that the program, despite the heavy cost, will produce only a 1.8% reduction in emissions.

International strategic implications would be broad.  The U.S. has a vast supply of coal, (Kentucky, for example, fills almost all of its energy needs from coal) and essentially making it unaffordable would render the U.S. and its allies more dependent on international energy supply producers, such as Russia and middle eastern nations, that are hostile to the west.

Nor are international implications being considered by. Moscow funds its vast military buildup through its energy sales; taking U.S. coal off line will increase the Kremlin’s profits and provide greater assets to spend on its already massive armed forces. Europe will be more dependent than ever on Putin.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce analysis reports that the program would: “Lower U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $51 billion on average every year through 2030; Lead to 224,000 fewer U.S. jobs on average every year through 2030; Force U.S. consumers to pay $289 billion more for electricity through 2030; Lower total disposable income for U.S. households by $586 billion through 2030.”

The Institute for 21st Century Energy believes that under the executive action “consumers would pay nearly $290 billion more for electricity between 2014 and 2030.” The Institute notes that “over $50 billion in lost investments every year between now and 2030…U.S. households could lose $585 billion by 2030…electrical costs would increase by $289 billion by 2030…224,000 more people could lose their jobs every year between 2014—2030…increased compliance cost [would be] $480 billion.”

Also Opposing the President’s proposals are numerous scientists who note that their research and findings, (which are contrary to the conclusions espoused by supporters of the human effect on the global temperature theory) have been wholly ignored. They are joined by those concerned that what they describe as faulty or incomplete evidence being employed to use allegations of human-caused global warming as an excuse to enhance governmental authority, establish a more centralized economy, and enrich special interests.

Critics also maintain that the executive action could substantially and detrimentally impact the American economy and the cost of energy.  Major geopolitical implications will result as non-U.S. providers of energy sources, such as Russia, Venezuela, Iran, and others benefit from it.

On June 26, Rep. Randy Forbes  issued the following statement:

“I am co-sponsoring the Protection and Accountability Rgulatory Act, H.R. 4812. This bill does two important things: [it] nullifies these EPA rules on emissions from power plants, [and] prohibits the EPA from issuing anything similar unless specifically authorized to do so by Congress.  I also cosponsored the REINS Act (H.R. 367) : which requires Congressional approval for regulations that cost over $100 million. It’s just common sense that we ought to have more than unelected bureaucrats writing rules that the businesses in our communities have to follow.”

On June 16, the governors of  Alaska, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming submitted the following letter to the White House, which summarized many of the policy arguments against the program:

“Mr. President:

“As Governors leading diverse States that both produce and consume energy, we ask that you pursue a pragmatic energy policy that balances our nation’s economic needs, energy security, and environmental quality objectives.

“As you know, the energy industry is a major source of job creation in our country, providing employment to millions of our citizens and bolstering U.S. economic competitiveness. America was able to meet almost 90 percent of its energy needs last year the most since March 1985 in large part because of increased domestic energy production. We take pride in the fact that domestic production largely powers America and increasingly other economies as well, helping to eradicate poverty and to provide political stability around the globe.

“Development of our resources has put more money in the pockets of working families and has helped the poor and elderly on fixed incomes, who can now more easily afford to run their air conditioning in the heat of the summer. For example, American natural gas production is reducing average retail electricity prices by 10 percent, saving households, on average, nearly $1,000 per year between 2012 and 2015.

“This significant accomplishment of increased U.S. energy independence, with its associated economic and health benefits, has been achieved largely by State policies despite redundant and burdensome federal regulation. Your proposed rules for regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants and redefining the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) would unnecessarily expand federal authority over the States in energy policymaking and risk undermining our success.

“In an unprecedented move, your GHG emissions plan would largely dictate to the States the type of electricity generation they could build and operate. In addition, you seek to essentially ban coal from the U.S. energy mix. Your pursuit of this objective will heavily impact those of our states that rely primarily on coal for electricity generation such a decision should not be made by unaccountable bureaucrats. Your Administration is also pushing for Washington to seize regulatory control of nearly all waters located in the States by expanding the definition of WOTUS. If successful, the federal government would become the arbiters of how our citizens, State highway departments, county flood control and storm water agencies, utilities, irrigation districts, and farmers use their water and their land.

“Although we are still examining the impacts of the GHG proposal released on June 2 and the proposed expansion of WOTUS, we can confidently say that, according to the best available data, millions of jobs will be lost and billions of dollars will be spent over the coming decades in an effort to comply with these and other federal regulations. And those numbers stand to increase with every tightening of those standards  hitting particularly hard working families, poor, and elderly.

“Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that your Administration is content to force Americans to bear these substantial costs where there are highly questionable associated environmental benefits. In fact, your EPA Administrator admitted during testimony to the U.S. Senate that there would be no climate mitigation benefits to America pursuing unilateral action. Moreover, in 2008, you personally guaranteed that under your energy plan, “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

“You admitted that your energy plan would have the following impact: “[Energy industries] would have to retrofit their operations that will cost money. They will pass that money onto consumers.”

“You rightly acknowledge that American citizens will literally pay the price of your energy agenda. They will also pay the price in the form of lost jobs and less reliable electricity. As representatives of the citizens who stand to lose so much while gaining next to nothing, it is our duty to confront this issue and to ask that you rescind the regulations you have put forth. Disposing of these regulations will protect Americans from the costs and burdens the rules would impose upon them and will ensure the continuation of America’s energy renaissance, which is indispensable to our country’s economic recovery and job creation and which is largely a result of State policies.”

THE SCIENCE

The program is a response to the theory that global warming (originally it was global cooling, and is also called climate change) has occurred as a result of human activity.

President Obama has repeatedly asserted that there is no serious valid scientific opposition to the theory. On June 26, he stated:  “So the question is not whether we need to act.  The overwhelming judgment of science, accumulated and measured and reviewed and sliced and diced over decades, has put that to rest. “

In reality, the Scientific community remains split on the existence or degree of impact of human-caused global warming. That assertion fails to take into account a significant portion of the scientific community that disagrees with the theory. Indeed, the Scientific community remains split on the reality or degree of impact of human-caused global warming. While studies from the United Nations support the President’s beliefs, 31,072 American scientists including 9,029 Ph.D’s have signed a petition opposing the views of those who claim human factors have warmed Earth’s climate.

A report published in Science Magazine on the heat content of the Pacific Ocean during the past 10,000 years notes that “water masses linked to North Pacific and Antarctica intermediate waters were warmer…during the middle Holcene thermal maximum than over the past century.  Both water masses were…warmer during the Medieval Warm period…than in recent decades.

Professor Richard Lindzen  of MIT, quoted in infowars.com,  notes that the changes due to global warming are too small to account for.  He stated that in the January 2014 article that “Global warming, climate change, all these things are just a dream come true for politicians. The opportunities for taxation, for policies, for control, for crony capitalism are just immense, you can see their eyes bulge.”

The U.K.’s Telegraph notes that science writer Steven Goddard, using original  data from the 20th century,  has indications that the Earth has actually been cooling since the 1930’s. Swedish studies   have found that Earth was warmer both in ancient and Medieval eras than it is currently.

CONCLUSION

Substantial constitutional, scientific, economic, military and political considerations may result in a significant effort to reverse the executive action.

Congress demands Obama act to stop illegal immigration

The House of Representatives has expressed outrage concerning the overwhelming influx of unaccompanied minors, some potentially tied to violent gangs, that have flooded across the southern border. Rep. J. Randy Forbes (VA-R) wrote to the President on June 16 stating:

“I join with a vast number of Americans in expressing outrage at your Administration’s inability and apparent lack of will to enforce he integrity of our borders.   In recent days, your Administration stated that at least 60,000 illegal immigrant youth, unaccompanied by their parents, will arrive…in addition to the over 400,000 total individuals that arrived at the border last year.”

Forbes has demanded that Mr. Obama release intelligence reports from the Department of Homeland Security on the issue.

Observers have tied the start of the event to recent White House policies, especially the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

According to DHS:

“DHS will exercise prosecutorial discretion as appropriate to ensure that enforcement resources are not expended on low priority cases, such as individuals who came to the United States as children and meet other key guidelines.  Individuals who demonstrate that they meet the guidelines … may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and may be eligible for employment authorization.”

The program, enacted without the required Congressional approval, was seen by many as an “invitation” to alien youth to come to the U.S., with the encouragement of parents who could use the youngsters’ presence as an “anchor” to eventually gain access to residency.  Although the program’s guidelines aren’t  applicable to the current influx, the President’s tone, and the refusal by the Administration to provide adequate border security, provides a different impression.

Questions have also been raised about how many of the illegals managed to first cross into Mexico from more southern nations, travel the length of that nation, and wind up in the U.S. Mexico is noted for its strict policy against unlawful entrance into its own territory.  The unfortunate story of Sgt. Tahmooressi,  the decorated U.S. Marine who mistakenly crossed into Mexico and has been imprisoned for the last 90 months is indicative of this.

Many Republicans have been reluctant to vigorously oppose the President’s unlawful policy for fear of alienating Latino voters. Some political analysts, however, say the GOP has ample reason to be concerned about allowing the surge to go forward.  Unopposed by the hyper-partisan Justice Department of Eric Holder, illegal aliens could be encouraged to unlawfully cast votes. New residents from outside the U.S. vote for Democrat candidates in vastly greater numbers than they do for Republicans.

New York City is reviewing legislation that would allow illegals to vote after three years of paying taxes.

A Pattern of Lawlessness in Washington

The latest details of the IRS scandal establish beyond a reasonable doubt an ongoing and significant pattern of lawlessness and abuse of power on the part of federal agencies under the current White House.

Assume you are the head of a private corporation, under questioning by the Internal Revenue Service or any other government agency for alleged wrongdoing. You respond that the computer evidence of the incident has been erased and the computer itself has been discarded.  That response would probably result in a great deal of legal problems for you, perhaps even imprisonment for obstructing justice and the destruction of evidence.

This is precisely the situation that the IRS finds itself in currently.  Under Congressional investigation for the overt and widespread abuse of its power by targeting those who disagree with the White House, the agency claims that all the relevant emails of section head Lois Lerner, seven other involved employees, and all 82 other individuals in the email chain—have been lost.  IRS chief John Kosekinen has been blatantly unapologetic about the whole matter.

Rep. Darrel Issa believes that that Ms. Lerner and the IRS hierarchy acted uner the direction of the White House.  He notes

“If the IRS truly got rid of evidence in a way that violated the Federal Records Act and ensured the FBI never got a crack at recovering files from an official claiming a Fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination , this is proof their whole line about ‘losing’ e-mails in the targeting scandal was just one more attempted deception. Old and useless binders of information are still stored and maintained on federal agency shelves; official records, like the e-mails of a prominent official, don’t just disappear without a trace unless that was the intention.”

This is not an isolated incident for the current Administration.  Since gaining office in 2009, the Obama presidency has been marred by repeated significant scandals which the Justice Department under Eric Holder has refused to take action on.

Clearly frustrated, Congress is pursuing this latest offense.  Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA)  notes that “The American people are tired of scandals and they are tired of excuses.  I am immediately calling for the appointment of an independent special counsel…”

The problem is larger than any individual scandal.  The question that must be resolved is central to the whole concept of representational government:  Are our elected and appointed leaders subject to the law? The current crop clearly believes otherwise.

Trademark Office Abused

The unlawful growth in Washington’s power continues to expand.

The illegal use of the machinery of the federal government to advance partisan ideological goals and beliefs, most of which are in defiance of the Constitution and not in line with mainstream American ideas, can be seen in areas large and small.

The latest has to do with the abusive act by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.   With absolutely no legal authority to do so, this branch of the federal government has decided to revoke the trademark of the Washington Redskins football team in response to complaints that the title is offensive to native Americans.

The decision is wrong in a number of ways. It is a violation of the First Amendment to use the power of the Federal Government to restrict the right of any individual or organization to use a title merely because another individual, organization, or politician finds it offensive. That opens the door to numerous attacks on freedom of speech, at a time when that right is already under attack from those who seek to limit it in other ways.

It is also inappropriate for a federal bureaucracy to make a value judgment in a matter such as this.  There is no clear indication that the term “Redskins” is overtly offensive, except to those who spend their lives finding ways to be offended.

The U.S. Patent and Trademarks office is “the federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks.”  It was not designed to venture into and pass judgment on political issues. Its use by politicians eager to make ideological points is offensive to both the First Amendment as well as to the concept of a federal government that is supposed to operate in a nonpartisan manner.

Terrorism’s Growing Threat

Author Dan Perkins will discuss the growing terrorism threat to America Thursday, June 26, at 10am on the Vernuccio/Allison Report heard nationwide on the amfm247.com network.  You can also tune in on 1520am/107.1 fm in Las Vegas, Nevada; 1640am/102.1fm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; 1630am/102.1fm in Tampa, Florida; 810am/98.3fm  in Macon, Georgia, and 100.7 fm in Boulder, Colorado.

Slavery predominates in Communist & Radical Islamic States

The U.S. State Department has released its latest report on Human Trafficking.

Sadly, the slave trade is not a thing of the past. According to Secretary John Kerry, “More than 20 million people, a conservative estimate, are victims of human trafficking. And the United States is the first to acknowledge that no government anywhere yet is doing enough.” In a recent statement to Congress, Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, “Modern slavery undermines the rule of law. It feeds instability, breeds corruption, fuels transnational crime and taints supply chains that drive the global economy.”

The list of nations that are the worst offenders in this foul practice contain no surprises: Cuba, North Korea, Russia, Iran, Algeria, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania,  Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

With just a few exceptions, every nation on the list subscribes to governing philosophies that reject the concept of individual freedom.  Most also adhere to beliefs that deprive women of equal status before the law.

In our politically correct era, politicians and academics are loathe to state the obvious fact that nations that adhere to the policies of communism or extremist Islam are prone to slavery, by whatever name it is called, because those governments do not believe in individual rights.

Major Media Fails to Cover IRS Scandal

One of the most sensational domestic political stories  of the past several decades is the IRS scandal, and the cover-up of it via “lost” emails and destroyed computers. Yet the major media, including the networks, CNN, and MSNBC, have barely covered it.

We will continue to cover this key issue, both at usagovpolicy.com and on the Vernuccio/Allison Report.

 

 

The myths about fracking

Recently, opponents to the energy extraction process known as hydrofracking have based their position on six objections this activity, which has extraordinarily enriched many states, created vast employment opportunities, helped the environment by providing a clean source of fuel, and given the United States a desperately needed boost towards energy independence.

First, they describe a threat to potable water, mostly based on potential spills and other possible accidents resulting from hurricanes and other problems. Independent research and experience indicates otherwise, fortunately. A far more realistic threat to our drinking water comes from leaked and spilled oil and antifreeze from vehicles on our roadways.  If we were to follow the extremists criteria, we would be forced to close down not only fracking in those states where it occurs but also a major portion of the roads throughout America.  The extremists describe myths about radioactivity that have been completely proven to be false.

Second, fracking is criticized because many of the jobs created are not long-range permanent.  That is quite true. But many states are desperately in need of employment, and local governments are in desperate need of revenue.  The employment opportunities, seen regionally, are not that short-term.  The major local revenue they produce will allow urgently required local needs to be addressed.  Look at it this way: If you were to win a million dollars in the lottery, the income would also be considered a one-shot, but it would certainly address your financial problems.

Third, critics note that local schools would be forced to educate new students and local roads would have to bear the burden of heavy trucks. In one key area where fracking is prevented from taking place, New York, The Census Bureau reports that a stunning 1.6 million people left the state over the past decade, a trend that is continuing.  For two decades, New York has led the nation in the percentage of its people who are fleeing for greener pastures. The problem is especially acute upstate, where the fracking would take place.  In essence, the state is being depopulated. An activity that stops that is a welcome development, not a problem.  And, yes, more people and economic activity brings more traffic.  But that means more jobs in road building and repair, also a welcome response to New York’s employment woes. New York’s 6.7% unemployment rate is worse than that of 36 other states.  That crisis cannot continue to be ignored.

Fourth, critics maintain if the process was done safely, it wouldn’t be profitable.  If every extremist, over-the-top concern of every industrial process were to be subjected to what the extremists considered “safe,” there wouldn’t be a single profitable venture in the nation.

Fifth, it’s pointed out that some earthquake readings have been detected in areas where fracking takes place.  There is some merit in a strictly technical sense.  But not only have the readings been well within the not-even noticeable range, they are fairly characteristic of many activities.  If there is a new water line being emplaced in your community, for example, the digging produces readings that could also be considered “earthquakes.”

Sixth, concern is expressed over the release of methane. Methane is a natural substance also produced by cows and other mammals when they release gas by—pardon the phrase—farting.  Unless a law is successfully passed against farting, methane is here to stay.

There have been numerous falsehoods created by those with a financial interest in keeping the U.S. from being freed from reliance on foreign oil.  One story circulated about how several workers were killed working on a fracking job.  It turns out they were driving a truck on an icy road, skidded, and sadly lost their lives.  Another famous myth was that in a town near a fracking site fire came out of a local facet.  That turned out to be false, as well.

Preventing fracking keeps energy prices exorbitant, prevents America from becoming energy independent, and robs many of employment opportunities.

Negotiating America’s surrender in the war on terror

The BBC has reported that the Taliban had cut off the fingers of at least eleven Afghans who participated in that nations’ presidential run-off election. The terrorists did not want the voters to participate in that exercise in democracy.

This is the organization that the Obama Administration has been in negotiations with since June of 2013, in violation of U.S. law.  It is the same organization that has wrecked havoc in Iraq, and that, worldwide, assaults and kills women for seeking education or basic civil rights.  The same organization that bears responsibility for the deaths of thousands of Americans in the 9/11/01 attacks in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.

In addition to the legal issues surrounding the White House’s decision to negotiate, very significant moral questions abound, as well as matters of diplomatic precedent.  Washington had, in the past, held to a wise policy of not negotiating with terrorists. To do invites more acts of terror by groups and individuals who see those acts as a path to extorting demands from governments.

The Obama Administration abandoned the precedent of not negotiating with terrorists, and did so without consulting Congress, or with much discussion with the American public.

Added to this is the fact of the very public announced departure date of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.  By elevating the Taliban to the status of a negotiating partner, it has given that terrorist organization a very substantial boost in its bid to return to power after America withdraws. The disaster that will befall that nation is similar to the fate of Iraq following the President’s premature withdrawal there. With al Qaeda making gains throughout the world, and the Taliban restored to the status quo that existed at the time of the 9/11/01 attacks, the safety of the American people has been placed in severe jeopardy.

In essence, the Administration has effectively negotiated a U.S. surrender in the war on terror.