environmentalism

Obama’s ludicrous, anti-consumer cap and trade regulations aren’t actually about the environment

It’s been overshadowed by the continuing coverage of the Bergdahl-Taliban five swap, but reports began to surface this week that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at the direction of the White House, has begun pushing new carbon rules on existing coal plants that aim to reduce their emissions by 30% from 2005 levels.

Call it cap and trade by regulatory fiat:

Analysts widely expect the final rule to give states the option of joining or creating cap-and-trade programs, which allow companies to trade credits for emissions. The draft released on Monday does not discuss that possibility.

“There are no commercially viable [carbon capture and storage methods]. That’s why we expect cap-and-trade,” said Michael Ferguson, an associate director at S&P who covers merchant energy producers.

At risk of drawing the ire of the climate change true believers, there was a reason the climate change cap and trade legislation failed a few years back, and it wasn’t because evil, bible-thumping conservatives are convinced mankind has no effect on the environment (for the record, we do. But our carbon emissions, for example, are pretty negligible compared to things like decaying organic matter and volcanoes).

No, it was defeated in the Senate because many Democrats that voted against hailed from states that relied on jobs related to the coal industry. And if there’s one thing that moves a politician, it’s the voice of a united constituency.

But not to be deterred, the Obama administration used the EPA and the Clean Air Act to declare carbon emissions a health hazard that must be regulated:

Ronald Reagan’s Free Market Environmentalism

Ronald Reagan was probably the last really great leader to serve as president of the United States. Although disdained and considered a dangerous ideologue by most elites while he was in office, history has given him a pretty good verdict. Reagan restored growth, won the Cold War and, when circumstances forced him to, even stabilized a Social Security system that was on the brink of collapse.

Even among Reagan fans, however, his environmental record rarely gets much credit. Many of my fellow conservative Reagan fans are dismissive of environmental concerns and a roughly equal proportion of environmentalists are disdainful of the conservative goals that Reagan himself emphasized.

This is a shame, because Reagan’s record on the environment, although far from perfect, is a pretty good model for a conservation agenda that just about everyone should embrace. As I describe in the Weekly Standard, the Reagan administration took major steps to end subsidies for environmentally destructive activities, pushed for and negotiated a smartly designed agreement to phase out harmful chlorofluorocarbons and did a good job balancing conservation, recreation, and resource extraction on public land. This agenda saved money while still making very real environmental progress.

David Attenborough: Soylent Green is made out of people

Written by Marian Tupy, a policy analyst, Center for the Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

According to Sir David Attenborough, the famous British broadcaster and naturalist, “humans are threatening their own existence and that of other species by using up the world’s resources.” In a recent interview, Attenborough said that “the only way to save the planet from famine and species extinction is to limit human population growth.”

We are a plague on the Earth,” he continued. “It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now… We keep putting on programmes about famine in Ethiopia; that’s what’s happening. Too many people there.

In 2006, Sir David Attenborough was voted Britain’s greatest living icon. Popularity, however, is no substitute for wisdom. As I have explained in a previous blog post, “[The] rate of global population growth has slowed. And it’s expected to keep slowing. Indeed, according to experts’ best estimates, the total population of Earth will stop growing within the lifespan of people alive today. And then it will fall… the long-dreaded resource shortage may turn out not to be a problem at all.”

LOST should be sunk by the Senate

LOST

Have you been following the debate over the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST)? If you haven’t perhaps you should. This UN-backed treaty, which requires ratification by the United States, may not seem important since it deals with a rather mundane issue. However, it could become a vehicle for more nefarious propositions; including backdoor cap-and-trade, a policy that was defeated in Congress back in 2009.

LOST has some powerful supporters in the Senate and among special interests, for example, the United States Chamber of Commerce supports its ratification. However, a number of Republicans in the Senate are looking to derail it, permanently:

The Obama administration’s all-out push to join the United Nations international maritime treaty is just four votes short of being doomed after two more senators this week added their names to the list of lawmakers who have vowed to oppose it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) are the two latest senators to sign on to the letter, The Hill has learned, bringing the total to 30. Treaties need a two-thirds majority to pass in the Senate, meaning 34 signatures would effectively kill it.

Accession to the treaty is championed by a powerful coalition that includes the U.S. Navy, the business community and the oil industry but that hasn’t been enough to assuage concerns that the convention would impinge on U.S. sovereignty.

A Global Warming Challenge for Liberals

For several years now there has been an ongoing debate regarding the impetus for President Obama’s economic policies. Were they the work of the smartest president in history, a man so intelligent that his wisdom could supplant the collective experience and choices of 300 million Americans, and in so doing restore our economy? Were they the well-intentioned but errant contemplations on an Ivy League egghead with lots of “book learnin’”, but without a shred of private sector experience that is the proving grounds for such ideas, being exposed to the unmerciful judgment of markets?

At this point I have come to the conclusion that it is an intentional effort to replace America’s free-enterprise system with a democratic-socialist style, centrally-planned, government run economy. Look at the evidence…the massive stimulus package which failed spectacularly, the auto union bailouts, government employee bailouts, Cash for Clunkers, Son of Stimulus, and myriad other economic “remedies”. Combine this with calls for increased taxes of “the rich”, more regulation and more government intervention in the market, and we end up with a long-term stagnant economy. One can no longer chalk it up to pure stupidity. If it were pure stupidity then the law of probabilities would dictate that Obama would have made the right decisions, even if only by accident, somewhat approaching fifty percent of the time.

Leftists Shouldn’t Complain about Corporate Rent-seeking when Leftists Encourage Corporate Rent-seeking

A notice in this morning’s Federal Register gives us insight about how regulatory capture begins.

The Department of Energy is looking to create a a regulatory subcommittee of vetted stakeholders to develop energy efficiency standards for electricity distribution transformers:

SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE or the Department) is giving notice that it intends to establish a negotiated rulemaking subcommittee under ERAC in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and the Negotiated Rulemaking Act (NRA) to negotiate proposed Federal standards for the energy efficiency of low- voltage dry-type distribution transformers. The purpose of the subcommittee will be to discuss and, if possible, reach consensus on a proposed rule for the energy efficiency of distribution transformers, as authorized by the Energy Policy Conservation Act (EPCA) of 1975, as amended. The subcommittee will consist of representatives of parties having a defined stake in the outcome of the proposed standards, and will consult as appropriate with a range of experts on technical issues. DATES: Written comments and requests to be appointed as members of the subcommittee are welcome and should be submitted by August 29, 2011.

So the government is looking for parties with “a defined stake” — meaning entities operating in distribution transformer space, from electricity companies and device manufacturers to green groups and (probably) well-heeled and connected Democratic donors — to appoint (not elect) to a committee responsible for promulgating efficiency criteria that will eventually have the force of law.

Obama’s EPA rolls out ‘most expensive regulation ever’

Obama's EPA

President Obama is showing no signs of slowing down his big govenrment liberal agenda on the heels of the 2014 midterm elections, where Republicans re-captured the Senate for the first time since 2006 and increased their majority in the House. The day before Thanksgiving, Obama proposed a new EPA regulation that business groups are calling “the costliest regulation of all time,” according to POLITICO.

From their account:

President Barack Obama has already blinked once on the rule, which aims to limit smog-creating ozone pollution after 2020 from power plants and factories: Just before Labor Day in 2011, he forced the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw an almost-final version of the rule, infuriating green groups that accused him of capitulating to industry pressure to ease his reelection. Obama said he was acting to “underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty.”

Uber’s “Vision for the City of the Future” uses the free market to solve environmental worries

Uber Logo

Liberal environmentalists believe government force is the best way to protect our environment. From empowering heavy-handed government bureaucracies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to crack down on farmers and small businesses to using down-right radical tactics to shut down various industries, the Left would have you believe the only way to a cleaner Mother Earth is by eschewing development and progress and regressing to the time before the combustion engine.

Fortunately for environmentally-friendly conservatives, there are policy organizations and business entities that are doing their part to chart a path toward free market-friendly environmentalism.

Policy organizations like R Street Institute and the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) are developing conservative ideas to protect our air, land, and water. Many of these policies are deeply rooted in property rights — the notion that it is our own responsibility to care for and protect our own property, and in doing so, keeping our environment free of pollutants.

For capitalists in the logging industry, it’s important to have a steady supply of mature wood to be harvested. For capitalists in the fishing industry, it’s important to have enough fish to turn a profit. In both of these industries and others, it’s important the air is clean enough to breathe and the water is clean enough to support life. In fact, there is no economic incentive to pollute air, land, or water.

Enter Uber with their long-term vision to take cars off the road in congested cities.

Obama costing America coal jobs just to court environmentalists

Patriot Portraits/George Neat - Used with permission

It isn’t any secret that Obama has no love for the fossil fuel industry, and the political math involved is simple enough. Environmentalists have gotten votes for him, and the coal, oil, and gas industries haven’t. Energy policy, such as it is in this administration has absolutely nothing to do with our economy, resources, or the marketability of energy sources. Honestly, it doesn’t have anything to do with preserving the environment either.

While Obama and his environmentalist cronies would like to say that global warming is “settled science,” it seems that’s disputed more and more all the time. The latest is the contention that environmentalists were fiddling with the numbers to fit their theories. That makes much more sense, given their habits these days. The level of hypocrisy involved is astounding when one considers that a Greenpeace executive uses a jet to commute to work.

Then there are the liberal members of the media that are helping Obama preach the false narrative - not only about the true environmental impact of fossil fuels on our climate, but also about the impact of his policies on our economy. There is no reason we should take anyone seriously when they claim that the loss of coal as a fuel doesn’t have far-reaching implications in this economy.

California’s plastic bag ban isn’t about protecting the environment; it’s about lining the pockets of Big Grocers

Plastic Grocery Bags

Plastic bag bans have spread to more than 130 cities and counties across the U.S. In some jurisdictions (like Washington, D.C.) governments have instituted taxes on the use of plastic bags, rather than outright bans to generate revenue for “environmental efforts” to curb pollution or encourage recycling.

California legislators are currently considering S.B. 270, a bill that ”prohibits retail stores from providing single-use carryout bags to customers, and requires retail stores to provide only reusable grocery bags for no less than 10 cents per bag.”

But unlike Washington, D.C., where the 5-cent tax levied on individual plastic bags goes toward government-funded environmental efforts, the proceeds from California’s proposed no-less-than-10-cent fee will fill the coffers of the California Grocers Association (CGA).

Jon Berrier, spokesman for the American Progressive Bag Alliance, said of S.B. 270, “This is one of the single greatest government transfers of wealth from private citizens to private corporate grocery interests that anyone has seen.” In fact, if S.B. 279 becomes law, the CGA could rake in nearly $190 million annually from fees.

A Reason Foundation study revealed S.B. 270 will:


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