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The Obama EPA’s Attack on Coal

Henry Payne
March 29th, 2012
National Review Online

Detroit – "These regulations lock out coal for a long time to come," DTE Energy Vice President of Environmental Management Skiles Boyd told WJR-Radio Detroit Thursday about the Obama administration's new global warming rules. So much for the "all of the above" energy strategy that the president has been touting this month to counter rising energy prices.

Boyd, whose employer services Southeast Michigan's vast industrial market, says that EPA's rule of radically reducing — by three-quarters — utility CO2 emissions to 1,000 pounds per megawatt of electricity (a standard only natural gas meets) effectively bans new coal-fired plants and will inevitably lead to higher energy costs as the country is forced to switch to natural gas for base-load supply. Coal is America's cheapest energy source and the United States — the so-called "Saudi Arabia of coal" — sits on some the world's largest coal deposits and is the world's second largest producer of coal behind China.

The reaction to Obama's edict was swift from coal-producing states.

"This move by the EPA can lead to only one conclusion — the Obama administration is trying to end the use of coal as we know it," said West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in a press release. "This regulation will devastate West Virginia and our region by reducing jobs and unnecessarily increasing the cost of power for our citizens. I will not stand for it."

And that's a Democrat talking.

What Tomblin describes as EPA's "attack on coal" comes from a Democratic EPA headed by Green religious zealout Lisa Jackson. Telegraphing the Obama administration's legislation-by-executive-branch-fiat after Democrats lost Congress in November, 2010, Jackson told a National Council of Churches convention in December of that year that the EPA had a "moral obligation" to heal the planet and "build on the religious and moral reasons for being good stewards of our environment."

Read the full article here.

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Get the Government Out of Solar

Adam Peshek
RealClearMarkets
March 29th, 2012

Could even higher energy prices be on the way for Americans?

During his two-day, four-state energy tour last week, President Obama reiterated his strong support for tax-subsidized solar energy. The president has repeatedly vowed the U.S. would not cede the solar industry to "China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here." But with Germany's recent cuts to solar subsidies and the U.S. Commerce Department's decision to impose tariffs on Chinese solar imports, the U.S. could be headed towards higher energy prices and wasted tax dollars thanks to the very policies created to compete with these nations.

Germany is home to nearly half of the world's solar panels that only power 3 percent of the country's electricity. Solar can go weeks without producing significant amounts of energy and has cost German taxpayers more than $130 billion in subsidies, including more than $10 billion last year. These subsidies have had a direct impact on energy markets. Higher energy costs are passed on to German consumers, who pay the second highest electricity bills in Europe and can expect to pay $250 more this year. The country's vast solar facilities still produce less electricity than two of the country's nuclear plants, and despite a history of lavish subsidies, not a single German solar firm is profitable today.

For comparison, the average price that Americans pay for a kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity is 10 cents and rising, according to the Energy Information Administration. Germans pay a whopping 36 cents per kWh – costs that are forcing businesses out of Germany. The president of the Association of German Chambers of Industry recently said that energy supply is now "the top risk for Germany as a location for business." Bernd Kalwa, a member of the general works council at ThyssenKrupp, added that "Some 5,000 jobs are in jeopardy within our company alone, because an irresponsible energy policy is being pursued in Dusseldorf and Berlin."

It's no wonder, then, why German officials have decided to slash subsidies to solar – with a 15 percent cut earlier this year and a 29 percent cut due by the end of this month. Spending reductions will continue, with subsidies ending for some plants as early as June.

Despite this warning, Washington is starting to go down Berlin's unsustainable path. A new report from the Congressional Budget Office shows that over the past few years, U.S. subsidies for renewables have skyrocketed while subsidies for all other energy sectors have remained constant. Last year, 78 percent of federal energy tax preferences ($16 billion) went to the renewable and energy efficiency sectors. Add in state-driven renewable policies and billions in government-backed loans, like solar boondoggle Solyndra received, and there seems no shortage of handouts for solar despite its limited production value.

Standing in front of the country's largest solar facility last week, President Obama challenged those who want to end public entitlements for solar, comparing dissenters to "members of the Flat Earth Society" during the days of Columbus. But according to the Nevada Policy Research Institute, the Nevada facility is far from a pioneering, world changing endeavor. With construction costs of $141 million, it was built a year-and-a-half ago with $42 million in federal tax credits and $12 million in state tax-rebates – more than a third of the entire cost. Despite its cost to Nevada's taxpayers, most of the electricity will go to California, where utilities are required to receive 33 percent of their energy supply from renewable sources by 2020.

This policy took a predictably bizarre turn last week when California regulators forced utilities to prop up a gas plant facing closure. Their reasoning: as the state continues to scale up renewable energy, affordable fossil fuels need to be there as back up (since the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow). Generating 33 percent of your electricity from renewables requires a lot of backup. So, California now forces taxpayers to subsidize uneconomical forms of energy to replace less popular, more profitable forms – but at the same time refuses to allow the unpopular forms of energy to fail.

Read the full article here

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King Dollar Will Cut Oil Prices

Larry Ludlow
National Review Online
March 16th, 2012

No matter how much President Obama protests, the simple fact is that he continues to oppose and mock and disparage oil and gas drilling. He is a prisoner of the environmental left, and he remains on the wrong side of energy history.

And that's exactly why he has a 59 percent negative rating on the economy, according to a recent poll, even though jobs and other indicators have actually picked up. It's about $4 or higher gas at the pump. Polls overwhelmingly show that Americans want drilling in ANWR and offshore, and that they want hydraulic fracturing of shale for oil and gas. They also overwhelmingly want the Keystone Pipeline (by roughly 70 percent). And they believe the government can act quickly to lower gas prices in the short run.

But the president scoffs at all this. In his energy speech this week, he suggested that the drill, drill, drill crowd (of which I have long been a member) would have founded the Flat Earth Society. He says we might even have sided with 19th-century president, Rutherford B. Hayes.

Ha, ha, ha. Very funny.

But the reality is, oil, gas, and coal — not wind, solar, geothermal, and algae — are going to be crucial to America's transportation, electricity, and economic growth for many decades to come.

What's particularly galling about Obama's riff is his constant use of a false statistic. The president argues that America uses more than 20 percent of the world's oil, although "even if we drill in every square inch of this country, we still only have 2 percent of the world's known oil reserves."

This is just patently untrue. According to the Institute for Energy Research, when you include oil shale, the U.S. has 1.4 trillion barrels of technically recoverable oil. That is enough to meet all U.S. oil needs for about the next 200 years, without any imports.

Read the full article here

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Extremism in the Defense of Big Government

By Ammon Simon
National Review
March 22, 2012

The Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, has been accused of politicizing the department, for example pressuring the City of St. Paul to drop a lawsuit challenging "disparate impact" litigation because it feared the lawsuit's success. It has also seen its positions soundly rejected by the Supreme Court, as in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. EEOC, where the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the department's extreme position that the federal government has the authority to tell religious organizations who they can hire and fire. The case of Sackett v. EPA demonstrates both problems, wrapped into one unanimous (9–0) opinion.

Sackett rejects the Obama administration's extreme position that property owners should not have a right to judicial review of the Environmental Protection Agency's determination that their use of their property violates the Clean Water Act.The plaintiffs were Michael and Chantell Sackett, a couple who tried to build a house on their two-thirds-of-an-acre residential lot in Idaho. The EPA ordered them to stop development and "immediately undertake activities to restore the Site in accordance with [an EPA-created] Restoration Work Plan." According to the EPA, their property contained wetlands and when they filled part of their lot in with rocks and dirt in preparation for construction they "engaged, and are continuing to engage, in the 'discharge of pollutants' from a point source" in violation of the Clean Water Act.

Not surprisingly, the Sackett's sought to appeal the EPA's decision rather than go through with the construction of the house and risk a fine of up to $75,000 per day. The Obama administration maintained that they did not have a right to judicial review, and the case made its way to the Supreme Court. Not surprisingly the Court rejected the EPA's self-serving opinion that it could take away the Sackett's property rights, while threatening coercive heavy fines for non-compliance, without providing for judicial review; the Obama administration's position was too extreme for even President Obama's appointees to the Court. I doubt anyone outside of DOJ is shocked that the decision was unanimous. As Justice Scalia stated in his opinion for the Court:

Click here to read the rest of the article from the National Review.

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Big Green’s True Colors

Environmental extremists are putting America's energy and food supply at risk

They've become foes of commonsense itself. The Sierra Club and EarthJustice are standing in the way of job-creation, energy independence and commonsense water policy for working families.

The Sierra Club hides behind the veneer of environmentalism. But they are not environmentalists—they are opportunists. They abuse the legal system to halt job-creation, shut down domestic energy production and, too often, send taxpayers the bill for their legal shenanigans.

The Sierra Club's primary mission appears to be one of nonstop litigation and regulation. The Sierra Club engineered EPA's attempt to saddle Florida taxpayers with a multi-billion-dollar-boondoggle called "numeric nutrient criteria"; they stand in the way of commonsense domestic energy production whether it's coal, oil or natural gas. Their reckless litigation even threatens America's food supply by targeting phosphate production, while it's partners at EarthJustice target America's infrastructure by litigating rock mining.

Many Americans fear that our nation is in decline. We firmly believe that decline is not inevitable—it is optional. And that's what this ad is about. If the Sierra Club's agenda prevails, it promises to leave America a second-tier economy, hasten the rise of our nation's economic rivals and leave individual Americans, quite literally, in the dark.

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Enough is Enough

 

Free Market America launches a new 30-second spot calling on Americans to tell the EPA "Enough is Enough".

When EPA rolls out the red tape, small businesses often get tangled in the mess. Several weeks ago, we reported on the true costs of ballooning environmental regulation, which is draining billions out of America's small businesses. And we've raised this issue again and again in the press.

Now we need your help to take this message directly to the people. This holiday season, please consider sharing this short :30 second spot with friends, family members and colleagues who share your concern for economic freedom and individual enterprise. Encourage them to tell EPA: Enough is enough — we need less burdensome regulation and more economic freedom.

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Tribute to Milton Friedman and the Humble Pencil

We're Milton Friedman fans.

And we're believers in powerful but simple videos, too.

Professor Friedman's famous video, entitled "I, Pencil," (based on Leonard Reed's essay of the same name) inspired us to take a closer look at the humble pencil.

Nobel Prize-Winning economist Milton Friedman inspired a generation of free market thinkers with a simple video message. He explained simply and elegantly how market forces created the highest and broadest level of prosperity in human history. Based on the ground-breaking essay by Leonard Read ("I, Pencil"), Friedman's video became a driving force for the free market movement and continues to inspire people today.

Professor Friedman's message was simple: The free market has created more prosperity for more people than any government program to date. His video, which inspired a free market movement, revealed that the market produces for pennies, what no single individual could produce alone: A simple pencil.

In an age of government economic engineering and intensive federal regulation, Professor Friedman's message is even more timely. To this day, we're inspired by his work and energized by the elegance of his message. Our video—which is based on Professor Friedman's original message—is a tribute his life and work. We hope you enjoy it.

Click here to watch Professor Friedman's original video.

Click here to read the essay that inspired it all, Leonard Read's original "I, Pencil"

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Free Market Florida Begins New TV Ad Campaign

Watchdog group fires first salvo in new advertising campaign aimed at environmental regulation run amok.

(Tallahassee, FL – February 8, 2012) On the heels of unanimous passage of a sensible state-level alternative to EPA's "numeric nutrient criteria" in the Florida House of Representatives, Free Market Florida today kicked off the first in a series of 30-second TV spots aimed at exposing nonsensical and costly environmental regulations. The first ad, entitled "Water Tax," targets proposed federal water regulations and will run on public affairs programming throughout Florida this weekend.

"Florida is not only a political battleground, it's a regulatory battleground," said Ryan Houck, executive director of Free Market Florida. "Environmental interests are prosecuting a no-holds-barred campaign to block economic progress throughout Florida and across the country. This series of ads will draw attention to the job-killing consequences of excessive federal regulation and litigation under the guise of environmentalism."

The first ad, "Water Tax," takes aim at the U.S. EPA's "Numeric Nutrient Criteria." Prompted by a 2009 lawsuit filed by Earth Justice, the proposed regulations would require that the water in many manmade drainage canals adhere to the same standards as some of Florida's pristine rivers and streams. Florida lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have coalesced around efforts to expedite adoption of more reasonable water standards in the Sunshine State, as an alternative to EPA's multi-billion dollar boondoggle. Legislation to do just that (H.B. 7051) passed unanimously in the Florida House of Representatives on Monday.

Free Market Florida is a free market watchdog group. The organization works with a coalition of business and civic leaders and, in 2010, led the successful "Vote No on 4" campaign, garnering 67 percent of the vote.

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