Free Markets, Free People

EPA


Where’s the EPA in the Mojave Desert? Heck, where are the environmentalists?

Funny how some projects attract the EPA like flies to, well, you know and others?  Meh.  The LA Times reports:

Construction cranes rise like storks 40 stories above the Mojave Desert. In their midst, the "power tower" emerges, wrapped in scaffolding and looking like a multistage rocket.

Clustered nearby are hangar-sized assembly buildings, looming berms of sand and a chain mail of fencing that will enclose more than 3,500 acres of public land. Moorings for 173,500 mirrors — each the size of a garage door — are spiked into the desert floor. Before the end of the year, they will become six square miles of gleaming reflectors, sweeping from Interstate 15 to the Clark Mountains along California’s eastern border.

BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah solar power project will soon be a humming city with 24-hour lighting, a wastewater processing facility and a gas-fired power plant. To make room, BrightSource has mowed down a swath of desert plants, displaced dozens of animal species and relocated scores of imperiled desert tortoises, a move that some experts say could kill up to a third of them.

Despite its behemoth footprint, the Ivanpah project has slipped easily into place, unencumbered by lasting legal opposition or public outcry from California’s boisterous environmental community.

Interesting.  No EPA interference.  The Enviro crowd rolls over.  The project has all of the things which in normal circumstances (i.e. if it was a petro-chemical project) would have it tied up for years both in red tape and court cases.

But for this?

Nah.

Endangered species?  Fuggitaboutit.  This is important ideological agenda stuff for the “enviro” crowd.

Away from public scrutiny, they crafted a united front in favor of utility-scale solar development, often making difficult compromises.

Compromises?  It is full-scale capitulation.  It is abject hypocrisy.  It is an example of why the environmental community is seen by many as more ideologically driven than environmentally driven.  It explains why their motives are suspect.

Take a look at this page in which you’ll see a conception of the finished project, the impact it has on the desert and the number of projects being developed in California and then just ask yourself what that same environmental community would be doing if the name of the developer was Exxon-Mobil instead of BrightSource.

"The scale of impacts that we are facing, collectively across the desert, is phenomenal," said Dennis Schramm, former superintendent at neighboring Mojave National Preserve. "The reality of the Ivanpah project is that what it will look like on the ground is worse than any of the analyses predicted."

In the fight against climate change, the Mojave Desert is about to take one for the team.

Yet barely a whimper raised by environmentalists over the scale and impact of these projects on what they claim to hold most sacred. 

Hypocrites!

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


CAFE standards, market distortion and the usual results

In light of the article below on the failure of communism (which, necessarily, relies on central planning and ignores markets), this is an interesting topic:

The CAFE rule is the fleet-wide average fuel economy rating manufacturers are required by Washington to achieve. The new rule — issued in response to a 2010 Obama directive, not to specific legislation passed by Congress — would require automakers to achieve a 40.9 mpg CAFE average by 2021 and 54.5 mpg by 2025.

Got that folks … your representatives had nothing to say about or do with this.  It was dictated from on high.

In case you’re wondering whatever happened to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it has been supplanted in the CAFE process by the EPA. The proposed regulation was designed, according to the EPA, "to preserve consumer choice — that is, the proposed standards should not affect consumers’ opportunity to purchase the size of vehicle with the performance, utility and safety features that meets their needs." But the reality is that consumer choice will be the first victim.

And that essentially means that with the switch from the NHTSA to EPA, the auto industry most likely had no place at the table.  An agency with an agenda but little experience with the industry came up with the new rules.

Also note the usual pandering to choice.  They talk the talk, but reality shows they’re not at all sincere about it:

Getting from the current 35 mpg CAFE standard to 54.5 can be achieved by such expedients as making air conditioning systems work more efficiently. We have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell to anybody who thinks that’s even remotely realistic. There is one primary method of increasing fuel economy — weight reduction. That in turn means automakers will have to use much more exotic materials, including especially the petroleum-processing byproduct known as "plastic." But using more plastic will make it much more difficult to satisfy current federal safety standards. The bottom-line will be much more expensive vehicles and dramatically fewer kinds of vehicles.

They’ll have to be much smaller and much lighter and they’ll cost an average of $3,200 dollars more (and that’s the lowball estimate).  Yup, no intrusion into the market there.  They’ve given “choice” lip service – get over it.

Result?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that there will be no vehicles costing $15,000 or less, the segment of the market that college students and low-income consumers depend upon. Altogether, an estimated seven million buyers will be forced out of the market for new cars.

Note, it’s the new car market at risk. 

And:

Total costs, as calculated by the EPA, will exceed $157 billion, making this by far the most expensive CAFE rule ever. For comparison, the previous rule in 2010 cost $51 billion, according to the EPA. But the EPA doesn’t include this fact in its calculation: Annual U.S. car sales are 14-16 million units, yet over time, this rule will remove the equivalent of half a year’s worth of buyers.

But remember, to the sycophants, this is the crew that “saved” the auto industry.  Now you can understand that it was only for political reasons that was attempted.  Those jobs and industries, after this election year, are no longer critical.  In fact, they actually hamper the goal to “revolutionize” the energy sector.  That’s much more important than the middle class the left is currently and conveniently so fond of.

Put this one under “the law of intended consequences”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


EPA: When reality meets bureaucratic inertia

What if you passed a law that required the use of alternative fuels from particular sources to be blended with petroleum based fuels to help “break our dependence” on petroleum from “unfriendly countries” (and cut greenhouse gases).  And what if, a few years later, new and abundant sources of domestic oil and gas were found, plus even more from secure allies like Canada?

Wouldn’t it makes sense to reconsider the original legislation in light of the new finds. 

Oh, and one more thing … what if one of the alternative fuels mandated to be mixed with gasoline hadn’t yet materialized commercially?  Would you exempt refiners or fine them?

Common sense says you exempt them.  The EPA has, instead, chosen to fine them.

When the companies that supply motor fuel close the books on 2011, they will pay about $6.8 million in penalties to the Treasury because they failed to mix a special type of biofuel into their gasoline and diesel as required by law.

But there was none to be had. Outside a handful of laboratories and workshops, the ingredient, cellulosic biofuel, does not exist.

Somehow that appears to be considered the fault of the refiners.  And the EPA is requiring the fines be levied and paid. 

Any guess as to who will end up paying those fines?

The 2007 law requires three types of bio fuels be mixed:  “car and truck fuel made from cellulose, diesel fuel made from biomass and fuel made from biological materials but with a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gases” according to the NY Times.

But cellulosic fuel is commercially unavailable.  There simply is none to be had.

Michael J. McAdams, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Association, said the state of the technology for turning biological material like wood chips or nonfood plants straight into hydrocarbons — instead of relying on conversion by nature over millions of years, which is how crude oil originates — was advancing but was not yet ready for commercial introduction.

Of the technologies that are being tried out, he added, “There are some that are closer to the beaker and some that are closer to the barrel.”

But the requirement – and the fines – remain.

Meanwhile, time has marched on and guess what? 

Mr. Drevna of the refiners association argued that in contrast to 2007, when Congress passed the law, “all of a sudden we’re starting to find tremendous resources of our own, oil and natural gas, here in the United States, because of fracking,” referring to a drilling process that involves injecting chemicals and water into underground rock to release gas and oil.

What is more, the industry expects the 1,700-mile Keystone Pipeline, which would run from oil sands deposits in Canada to the Gulf Coast, to provide more fuel for refineries, he said.

But the EPA is unmoved by that or the fact that cellulosic fuel is unavailable:

But Cathy Milbourn, an E.P.A. spokeswoman, said that her agency still believed that the 8.65-million-gallon quota for cellulosic ethanol for 2012 was “reasonably attainable.” By setting a quota, she added, “we avoid a situation where real cellulosic biofuel production exceeds the mandated volume,” which would weaken demand.

Hmmm … expert: “We’re closer to the beaker than the barrel”.  Bureaucrat: “Even though the product is not commercially available, we still believe the mandate for this year is reasonably attainable.”

Yet there is nothing on the horizon for commercially available cellulosic ethanol in 2012:

One possible early source is the energy company Poet, a large producer of ethanol from corn kernels. The company is doing early work now on a site in Emmetsburg, Iowa, that is supposed to produce up to 25 million gallons a year of fuel alcohol beginning in 2013 from corn cobs.

And Mascoma, a company partly owned by General Motors, announced last month that it would get up to $80 million from the Energy Department to help build a plant in Kinross, Mich., that is supposed to make fuel alcohol from wood waste. Valero Energy, the oil company, and the State of Michigan are also providing funds.

Yet other cellulosic fuel efforts have faltered. A year ago, after it was offered more than $150 million in government grants, Range Fuels closed a commercial factory in Soperton, Ga., where pine chips were to be turned into fuel alcohols, because it ran into technological problems.

Yes that’s right folks, Government Motors is sucking up $80 mil in taxpayer dollars for a startup on a product that experts say isn’t ready for prime time and, as demonstrated by the Georgia plant, still has technical problems which apparently prohibit the commercial production of the desired alternate fuel (after it sucked up $150 mil of tax payer money).

This is ideological agenda driven madness abetted by bureaucratic stupidity.  However, no one has ever claimed bureaucracies deal in reality. They’re fall back for such absurdities is process.   Fining companies for not using a product that isn’t available but mandated simply underlines how decidedly absurd they can be.  The EPA is on a mission.  It has been directed to push that agenda by whatever means necessary.

Meanwhile the changes that should be reflected in the new reality – more abundant domestic and safe oil and gas, are being roundly ignored and their exploitation mostly hindered.  And you, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, are being fined and looted to push this absurd agenda.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


The regulatory (and legal) attacks on private property

Witness the story about the DOT proposing a new rule that would require all operators of farm equipment to hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). That would also require all the paperwork and cost that goes with it (while small family farms try to comply with rules, costs and regulations designed for semi-truck drivers). Here’s a video to help explain the story:

 

 

Of course, saying that the idea is "absurd" has simply lost its impact in this sea of absurdity. Absurd, it seems, is the new normal.  Along with the environmental movement’s success in limiting land use, to include land owned privately, as well as the Kelo decision giving much broader eminent domain powers to governments, property rights have never been more in peril.   And property rights, whether you want to believe it or not, are fundamental to our other rights.

Now we have another attack on property rights – you’ll no longer have the right to decide who can drive what on your private property.   The tradition of family farms – which relies on everyone in the family to succeed – is now about to irrevocably regulated away.

Some more details about what this means:

The proposed change also means ANYONE driving a tractor or operating any piece of motorized farming equipment would be forced to pass the same rigorous tests and fill out the same detailed forms and diaries required of semi-tractor trailer drivers. This reclassification would bury small farms and family farms in regulation and paperwork.

Some of the additional paperwork and regulation required:

-Detailed logs would need to be kept by all drivers – hours worked, miles traveled, etc.

-Vehicles would have to display DOT numbers

-Drivers would need to pass a physical as well as a drug test – every two years.

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation (WFBF) is one of many farm organizations not happy about the idea and has sent the DOT a letter expressing this opinion:

“WFBF opposes any change in statue or regulatory authority that would reclassify implements of husbandry or other farm equipment as Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs)”

WFBF Director of Governmental Relations Karen Gefvert continues, explaining the excessive cost to farmers if this allowed to move forward:

“The proposed guidance by the FMCSA would result in an initial increased cost to each Wisconsin farmer and employee of $124 just for the CDL license, permit and test; not to mention the time and cost for the behind-the-wheel training that is several thousand dollars.”

Additionally, Illinois farmers believe this regulation will also force new restrictions on trucks used in crop-share hauling. (One estimate claims more than 30% of Illinois farmers utilize shared land.) These crop-share trucks are typically limited-use vehicles that often travel fewer than 3000 miles each year, mainly hauling crops from the fields to nearby grain elevators. To require them to follow the same rules as semis would also mean a farmer would be forced to purchase substantial insurance.

If you want to find a way to drive individually owned farmers out of business, adding absolutely unnecessary requirements and costs is a great way to start.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I do want to point to something that I’ve known about an watched over the years.   It’s called “Agenda 21” and it is a UN program first signed on too by George H.W. Bush in 1992.  Here’s some of the disturbing verbiage driving that agenda:

Land… cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes. The provision of decent dwellings and healthy conditions for the people can only be achieved if land is used in the interest of society as a whole. -  Source: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat I),Vancouver, BC, May 31 – June 11, 1976. Preamble to Agenda Item 10 of the Conference Report.

That has pretty much been a guiding principle in the UN’s agenda for decades, obviously, and now in it’s Agenda 21.  We, apparently, along with 177 other world leaders, signed on to this anti-American (and I mean that in the truest sense of the word) agenda.  George Soros is a huge backer of the initiative, and I’ve found, over the years, if Soros is for something, freedom is surely going to take a beating.  I’m not saying that there’s an active, agenda driven group that is purposely trying to implement this agenda.  I am saying though that this agenda can and may be used as a self-justification for various officials at differing levels of government to implement its principles because they believe in them.

You can read a bit about it here.   Bottom line, of course, is it is against private ownership and as we saw in Kelo private ownership was indeed “a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes.”  So instead of upholding individual property rights, the court opted to give governments at all levels broader power to take private property.

This new requirement from DOT is somewhat different.   It actually takes power from states and localities and centralizes it.   By making farm machinery something which must be regulated by the federal government, it usurps that local and state power in favor of broader federal regulation.  Of course the loser here is the farmer who must now face the cost, lost productivity and bureaucratic record keeping and other compliance costs of something which has never been and shouldn’t now be any concern of the Federal government.

This isn’t the only example of these sorts of attacks.  You have the EPA attempting to expand beyond its mandate.   And other bureaucracies are as well.   And it isn’t just limited to the federal level.   At every level there’s some government bureaucrat trying to find ways to control your property or tell you how you must live on it.  In one of the silliest, but obviously serious attempts (the property owner was threatened with 93 days in jail for non-compliance with some vague city ordnance), we see a city manager going way beyond what most reasonable people would find, well, reasonable:

 

Thankfully, public pressure made the boob back off, but I have little doubt in my mind he’d have jailed the woman if left to his own devices.  “Agenda 21” stuff – eh, probably not.   Tin-pot dictator’s syndrome?  Probably.  But regardless, a threat to property rights.

Our property rights are dying the death of a thousand cuts.   We need to push back and push back hard against infringements on a local level (the garden) as well as the national level (DOT and EPA regulatory power grabs).

Otherwise, when they decide they can control the temperature in your house automatically (as they’ve tried in CA), you won’t have a legal leg to stand on.  Right now they’re both wooden and government termites are busily at work.

[HT: @Longhawl]

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


In the midst of terrible economic times, let’s raise energy prices dramatically and lay people off …

“Never let the reality of the situation stand in the way of a political agenda”, ought to be the slogan of the Obama reelection campaign.

In the midst of the worst economic downturn the executive branch of the Federal Government (the Obama administration), under the guise of the EPA is ratcheting up standards that will shut down many coal fired plants and their jobs as well as cost billions for utilities to keep other coal plants open.  Result:

Consumers could see their electricity bills jump an estimated 40 to 60 percent in the next few years.

The reason: Pending environmental regulations will make coal-fired generating plants, which produce about half the nation’s electricity, more expensive to operate. Many are expected to be shuttered.

Of course the timing of the increase is predictable:

The increases are expected to begin to appear in 2014, and policymakers already are scrambling to find cheap and reliable alternative power sources. If they are unsuccessful, consumers can expect further increases as ore expensive forms of generation take on a greater share of the electricity load.

Yup, safely reelected (he hopes), Mr. Obama will smile benignly as he watches more of you hard earned money go for what should be cheap and plentiful energy based on incredibly abundant coal.  Instead we’ll be chasing “reliable alternate power sources”.   One would like to believe we’d go to natural gas, but then those abundant finds are also being slow walked through the red tape of the government approval process.

More than 8,000 megawatts of coal-fired generation capacity has been retired in the U.S. since 2005, according to data from industrial software company Ventyx. Generators have announced they plan to retire another 21,000 megawatts in the near future, and some industry consultant studies estimate 60,000 megawatts of power, enough for 60 million homes, will be taken offline by 2017.

This in the midst of projected energy shortages as demand increases while we shut down power generation assets.

Certainly we may want to, at some time in the future, shut down all coal fired plants.  We may collectively wish to see other energy sources used as well.  But that would require a coherent transition plan, viable alternatives, phasing and a little common sense (or essentially being in touch with the reality that one finds around them).

This is  a agenda driven, safely-after-the-election, regulatory fiat that will cost workers their jobs and consumers a higher portion of their earned income in poor economic times.

Another, among a myriad of reasons why the man in the White House needs to be in his own house come 2014.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Your global warming, er, climate change update

The Gorebots are not in a happy place today and the latest update on our warming changing climate are posted:

The global temperature has fallen .653°C (from +0.554 in March 2010 to -0.099 in March 2011) in just one year. That’s a magnitude nearly equivalent to the agreed upon global warming signal agreed upon by the IPCC. It is quite a sharp drop.

According to the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global surface temperature increased by 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the 20th century

Oh noes.

For those who prefer charts, try this:

uah_march2011

So when they try to limit the EPA’s power to "regulate" Greenhouse gasses today in the Senate via the McConnell/Inhofe amendment, tell your Senator to vote for the amendment.

~McQ


Why EPA’s attempt at regulatory overreach would end up killing the recovery

I think we all know that the recovery, such that it is, is very fragile.  And, of course, the job picture remains very poor.  Any GDP growth numbers we’ve seen over the past few months have been fueled mostly by government deficit spending.

So a government that was concerned about jobs and economic growth in the private sector should be concerned with getting out of the way and ensuring that growth is allowed to go forward unimpeded.  Instead, we see any number of roadblocks, such as the drilling moratorium, banking regulations and the like being imposed that are having the opposite effect.

Another example of that is the EPA’s attempted usurpation of powers only Congress should wield.  It is a classic example of a bureaucracy now attempting to make the law instead of follow it.

The EPA has chosen to interpret the 1970 Clean Air Act as a mandate for it to regulate Green House Gasses (GHG), not only in automobiles, but in stationary sources as well.  In fact, as the EPA has testified, it would effect up to 6.1 million stationary sources.    The Clean Air Act gave the EPA the ability to regulate air pollutants that effect health, such as soot, but not the ability to regulate GHG which are not considered to be pollutants as defined by the Clean Air Act. 

The obvious solution here, if that is a concern of the administration, is to have Congress address the Clean Air Act with an eye on updating it to deal with the perceived pollution problems today.  But there’s a very good chance that such changes wouldn’t be made given the present makeup of Congress.  In fact, even when Democrats had an overwhelming majority these past two years, they were unable to pass a Cap and Trade bill. 

Given that reality, it seems the Obama administration has chosen to bypass Congress and allow the EPA to arbitrarily assume the power to regulate GHG.

The impact of such regulation would be economically devastating.  And, in an era of uncertainty, it would only add to the uncertainty.  James Pethokoukis noted that, “the only thing certain about the EPA [greenhouse gas] ruling is more regulatory uncertainty leading to less economic growth and fewer jobs.”

For instance:

Consider Nucor Steel.  The company planned a $2 billion investment that would have created 2,000 construction and 500 permanent jobs.  But the project was curtailed-by more than 50%-largely because of the EPA’s regulations.  Lion Oil, a refinery based in El Dorado, Ark., faced a similar fate:  The EPA’s cap-and-trade agenda was, according to the company, a "critical factor" that delayed a "several hundred million" dollar refinery expansion, slated to create 2,000 jobs.

Add that to this sort of economic impact on one industry:

The American Forest and Paper Association estimates that, “about two dozen new regulations being considered by the Administration under the Clean Air Act, if all are promulgated, potentially could impose on the order of $17 billion in new capital costs on papermakers and wood products  manufacturers in the next five to eight years alone.”

EPA’s proposed regulation would hit everyone, especially small businesses:

The burden of EPA’s regulations will fall disproportionately on small businesses, according to a new study released by the Office of Advocacy in Obama’s Small Business Administration. The study, titled “The Impact of Regulatory Costs on Small Firms,” small businesses, defined as firms  employing fewer than 20 employees, “bear the largest burden of federal regulations.” Specifically, the report found that “as of 2008, small businesses face an annual regulatory cost of $10,585 per employee, which is 36 percent higher than the regulatory cost facing large firms (defined as firms with 500 or more employees).”

Some of the regulations EPA is attempting to enforce deal with boilers.  “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Major Sources: Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters.” This proposal is referred to as the “Boiler MACT.”  Boilers are ubiquitous in the commercial market:

The Boiler MACT (maximum achievable control technology) proposal would impose stringent emission limits and monitoring requirements for eleven subcategories of boilers and process heaters. This proposed rule covers industrial boilers used in, among other industries, manufacturing, processing, mining, refining, as well as commercial boilers used in malls, laundries, apartments, restaurants, and hotels/motels.

So obviously imposing new stringent emission limits on boilers is going to effect a broad and deep swath of the economy, correct?  How deep and how broad? 

A recent study by Global Insight estimates that, depending on the policy EPA chooses, the Boiler MACT could put up to 798,250 jobs at risk. The study found that every $1 billion spent on upgrade and compliance costs will put 16,000 jobs at risk and reduce US GDP by as much as $1.2 billion.

Facing that, would you save  your money to upgrade or expand?  Expansion, of course, means more jobs.  Upgrading, however, means less.  And that’s where the EPA would take us.

Then there’s ozone.  The EPA wants to tighten the already stringent standard on ozone.  What the EPA has proposed is to change the standard from 75 ppb to a range of 60-70 ppb.  Here’s a clue as to how preposterous that is – Yellowstone National Park has 67 ppb of ozone as we speak.  So yes, Yellowstone would go from an “attainment” area to a non-attainment area.  That means it gets shut down until it comes into compliance.

That would also be the same for any area.  What does that mean?

Based on 2008 air quality data, a standard of 65 ppb would create 608 new non-attainment areas, while a standard of 70 ppb would create 515 such areas. These areas would be highly concentrated in manufacturing regions and states relying on coal for electricity.

Those counties and cities deemed to be in a non-attainment area would then have to put together a plan as to how to reach attainment (buy offsets from neighboring areas which are in “attainment”) and submit that to EPA.

But here’s the problem.  The new standard would most likely remove from the attainment list many who are now there and move them to the non-attainment list.  Result?  No offsets available to buy:

Consider the case of Ohio. Many areas of the state are still trying to meet the 1997 standard. A further revision now would greatly complicate state efforts to achieve attainment. Bob Hodanbosi, Ohio EPA’s Air Pollution Division Chief, estimates that if the ozone standard is set at 70 ppb, 47 of 49 monitors in Ohio would exceed it; if it were set at 65 ppb, all 49 monitors would exceed it.

In case you’re wondering it takes about 100 ppb of ozone to begin to effect your health.  So there’s really no need to move it from 75ppb.  And, as you can see in the case of Ohio, moving it down 5 points would put most of the state in “non-attainment” and moving it down 10 points would put the entire state in “non-attainment” and require exceedingly costly fixes.

Result?

The costs to Ohio workers and consumers could be severe. For example, in the Cincinnati-Dayton region, assuming an ozone standard of 70 ppb, production would decline by $14.8 billion, killing 91,700 jobs in 2030.  If EPA chooses 65 ppb, the costs in 2030 would nearly double, and 165,000 workers would lose their jobs.

And that’s in one state.

This is the threat posed by the EPA’s attempt at regulating something they have no authority to regulate.  It is being imposed by regulatory fiat.  

There’s a bill in the Senate right now that will prevent the EPA from usurping those powers and imposing those regulations.  It’s the Inhofe-Upton Energy Tax Prevention Act (S. 482).  It is also known as the McConnell amendment.  It is worth supporting.

Not worth supporting are the Rockefeller amendment which only delays the inevitable (and essentially cedes the premise that the EPA can do this) by two years.   No-go.

Neither is the Baucus amendment.  Here’s how Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) describes the smoke and mirrors in that amendment:

The amendment is modeled on the EPA’s "tailoring rule," which temporarily exempts smaller sources-schools, hospitals, farms, restaurants-from the EPA’s cap-and-trade regulations.  That sounds good, but the rule blatantly violates the law, as the EPA changed the emissions thresholds established by Congress.

Hence the Baucus amendment:  It would codify the EPA’s permitting exemptions for stationary sources that emit fewer than 75,000 tons a year of greenhouse gases.  This exemption, which is actually more stringent than the EPA’s, purportedly is designed to help farmers and small businesses.  But as with the Rockefeller bill, it allows the rest of the EPA’s cap-and-trade agenda to move forward.  So businesses and farmers would still face higher costs for diesel and fertilizer, while small businesses would face higher electricity costs. 

The American Farm Bureau is wise to the false charm of the Baucus amendment.  It testified recently that, even with limited permitting exemptions, "Farmers and ranchers would still incur the higher costs of compliance passed down from utilities, refiners, and fertilizer manufacturers that are directly regulated as of January 2, 2011." 

Or said another way, the Baucus amendment also validates the premise that the EPA has the power to regulate GHG and just sneaks it up on us over a longer time period. Both are unacceptable. These amendments are supposed to come up for votes very soon. If you are an activist type and want to weigh in on this with your Senator, I’d recommended you push for passage of the Inhofe-Upton Energy Tax Prevention Act (aka McConnell amendment).

Require those types of decisions be made by elected officials who are accountable to their constituencies, not appointed officials accountable to no one.

~McQ


GOP plans on reining in the EPA

Between screaming birthers, edited Constitutions and not-yet members of the House voting, the House of Representatives under GOP rule got off with some fits and starts.

However, there was something of note besides the mostly symbolic attempt to repeal ObamaCare  (something that the CBO says would “cost” us about 230 billion  – well at least until they further revise it down to nothing after it fails), something of actual importance seems to be emerging:

Dozens of Republicans used the opening day of the new Congress on Wednesday to introduce legislation that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions.

48 Republicans and one Democrat (Boren- OK) are co-sponsoring the effort (that one Democrat makes it a “bi-partisan” effort under the definition of the term last Congressional session /sarc).    Read the next part carefully:

The bill would amend the Clean Air Act to declare that greenhouse gases are not subject to the law, according to a brief description in the Congressional Record.

What that’s not saying is “greenhouse gases are not subject to the law” – it is saying greenhouse gases are not something that the Clean Air act has the jurisdiction to legislate.  What Congress is trying to say to the EPA is “you stay out of the greenhouse gas business until we pass a law authorizing you to be in it”.

This is actually good news for the taxpayer.  If passed it will prevent EPA from unilaterally imposing emissions standards and defacto taxes on emitters via fines and fees.  The EPA’s primary targets would have been large emitters like power companies.  And any “fees” charged would have gone directly to power customers.  Effect?  It would have hit those who can afford it least the hardest.

Of course, the other good news is the incoming GOP majority is less enthralled with the pseudo-science of climate change and thus less likely to impose economic penalties than was the former Congress.  So we should see some backing away from the former trend of trying to tie energy and climate change together.  Or as the Hill notes:

While GOP leadership’s specific legislative approach to attacking EPA remains to be seen, the quick introduction signals that blocking climate rules is plainly on the agenda for the new GOP majority.

That gets a hearty “good” from me.

This also signals – or at least I hope it does – some intent on the part of the House to do some regulatory oversight.  You know, actually make the bureaucrats justify their regulations and their existence.  If you want an area that is fat for reduction, many of the bureaucracies are a wonderful place to start.

~McQ


Progress by fiat

The Obama administration is considering requiring US car makers to meet a CAFE requirement of 62 MPG by 2025. That is, of course how progress usually works: A beneficent, wise, all-knowing, government authority makes a decree, and the world magically changes to accommodate the desires of our political overlords.

Of course, it’s perfectly possible to make 62 MPG cars now. They just have to have tiny engines, and be extremely small and light. Who wouldn’t want that?

On the other hand, maybe steam-powered vehicles will make a big comeback.


If you can’t do it by law, do it by regulatory fiat

And the EPA seems to be the regulatory agency most bent on doing just that.   Attempting to regulate carbon emissions, apparently, isn’t enough for the EPA.  Now, it has decided, it may want to ban lead ammunition:

With the fall hunting season fast approaching, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Lisa Jackson, who was responsible for banning bear hunting in New Jersey, is now considering a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) – a leading anti-hunting organization – to ban all traditional ammunition under the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976, a law in which Congress expressly exempted ammunition.  If the EPA approves the petition, the result will be a total ban on all ammunition containing lead-core components, including hunting and target-shooting rounds. The EPA must decide to accept or reject this petition by November 1, 2010, the day before the midterm elections.

Note the emphasized portion of the cite (emphasis mine).  Now that would tell me, as a regulator, that this is outside the scope of my regulatory power to ban, or even address in any meaningful way.

Yet the EPA has decided that it does indeed have the power to do what the law forbids.

It is yet another example of government refusing to obey its own laws (ICE’s refusal to detain and deport illegal aliens found in traffic stops being another recent example).

This is being driven by an agenda, not law.  And this goes to the heart of the question of whether we’re a nation of laws or a nation of men who can arbitrarily deicide what laws to follow or not, according to their agenda (and the power they hold).

The National Shooting Sports Foundation points out:

* There is no scientific evidence that the use of traditional ammunition is having an adverse impact on wildlife populations.

* Wildlife management is the proper jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the 50 state wildlife agencies.

* A 2008 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on blood lead levels of North Dakota hunters confirmed that consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition does not pose a human health risk.

* A ban on traditional ammunition would have a negative impact on wildlife conservation. The federal excise tax that manufacturers pay on the sale of the ammunition (11 percent) is a primary source of wildlife conservation funding. The bald eagle’s recovery, considered to be a great conservation success story, was made possible and funded by hunters using traditional ammunition – the very ammunition organizations like the CBD are now demonizing.

* Recent statistics from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service show that from 1981 to 2006 the number of breeding pairs of bald eagles in the United States increased 724 percent. And much like the bald eagle, raptor populations throughout the United States are soaring.

The EPA is accepting comment on this petition now.

If you’re so inclined you can include yours here.

Be respectful but be blunt – the law forbids this – back off.

~McQ

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