Radical environmentalists are urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to heavily regulate or ban hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”), the process employed to extract shale oil and natural gas from underground sources, which could undermine a thriving part of the post-recession economy.
The fracking boom has been one of the success stories in an otherwise tepid American economy, which is still trying to recover five years after a deep recession. Just last month Bloomberg Businessweek covered a recent study by IHS CERA that showed the significant economic benefits of fracking.
“In 2012, the energy boom supported 2.1 million jobs, added almost $75 billion in federal and state revenues, contributed $283 billion to the gross domestic product and lifted household income by more than $1,200,” noted Bloomberg Businessweek. “The competitive advantage for U.S. manufacturers from lower fuel prices will raise industrial production by 3.5 percent by the end of the decade, said the report from CERA, which provides business advice for energy companies.”
The Wall Street Journal noted last week that the United States is “overtaking Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas,” producing the “equivalent of about 22 million barrels a day of oil, natural gas and related fuels in July” compared to the 21.8 million barrels produced by our former Cold War foe.
I was one of the millions of people who had seen the footage of the “flaming water” supposedly caused by fracking in Pennsylvania, but had never seen Gasland or really studied the issue in depth. When the opportunity to attend the Los Angeles premiere of Frack Nation arose, I decided to see what the fuss was about. Cinematically and content-wise, Frack Nation did not disappoint.
Frack Nation starts with the same flaming water shot from Gasland that has alarmed environmentalists and the masses and describes the anti-fracking movement’s complaints. What was helpful for a newbie like me was to have the fracking process described in detail.
McAleer interviewed many of the farmers of Dimock, Pennsylvania, the “ground zero” of this issue. The farmers almost unanimously want the ability to lease their mineral rights to the gas companies for fracking. Many of them are dairy farmers whose land has been in the family for generations. They passionately tell McAleer that they need this money to be able to survive, as farming is a money-losing proposition these days. It is what they love to do, and leasing mineral rights will allow them to do that instead of joining the ranks of the unemployed.
Just as passionately, they state they would never allow anything on their land that harms the environment. Their homes are on this land. Their dairy cows graze on this land. They’ve tilled this land for a lifetime. They are believable – they would not allow any process that harms their asset, the land, just for money.
Senate candidate Tom Smith, a former Democrat, is an accomplished businessman and a Tea Party conservative. Tom still lives on the farm in Armstrong County where he grew up. After high school, he postponed college to help his father tend that farm and supplemented his income by driving a school bus. After a few years, Tom married his high school sweetheart, Saundy, started a family, and went to work in a local surface coal mine.
In 1989, Tom entered the coal business himself. He succeeded, building a series of companies in a highly regulated industry. When he sold the companies in 2010, they were mining more than a million tons of coal each year.
Now, Tom wants to re-claim for Republicans the seat Sen. Bob Casey took from Rick Santorum in 2006. Follow him on Twitter @TomSmithforPA.
Matt Naugle: You were a registered Democrat from age 18 until August 2011. As a Democrat, you were elected official Plumcreek Township and were a member of the United Mine Workers. Now, you’re a major donor to Republican candidates and a Tea Party leader. How did you become a conservative?
Tom Smith: I’ve always been a conservative and supported pro-growth and pro-freedom candidates and causes. My father and mother were registered Democrats, so when I was 18 I registered the same out of respect for them. It was over the years, while building a family and starting a business I became more and more vocal with my conservative views.
MN: You went from working on your father’s farm and driving a bus to running a 100,000 tons/month coal mining operation. Do you agree with President Obama that you did not build the company?
It seems a day doesn’t go by that I don’t see or hear someone complaining about jobs going overseas. They invariably want the government to do something to keep jobs on American shores. They blame “greedy corporations” for seeking profit and not looking out for the interests of Americans who desperately need jobs.
Well, those Americans really do need jobs, so here are some helpful tips to help bring those jobs back to American shores.
1. End the unions
Unions are a large chunk of the reason many companies have looked overseas for labor. Unions, which once existed as a way to deal with abusive management, now seek to line pockets. Not just theirs, but those of their members. Through collective bargaining, they have jacked up wages for what are often unskilled positions to a point that borders on the ridiculous. In some cases, that border is crossed. Reports of auto workers with high school educations making six figure incomes while not filling any kind of management role are a prime example.
The thing is, non-union shops in the same industries often pay comperable wages. They simply expect more work out of their employees, minimizing the number of people required. Companies want the best workers they can get, and even without unions you won’t see wages plummet. The best and brightest want to be compensated, and they will be.
However, if unions continue to push for more and more, then more and more companies will seek to move their operations overseas.
2. End the EPA
Joel Aaron, Grassroots Director for the Georgia chapter of Americans for Prosperity, sent along this piece about the REINS Act, which would curtail regulations placed businesses and, ostensibly, consumers. It’s tailored to Georgia, but this is an issue that Democrats in swing districts across the country may have to contend with in 2012.
Last week, Georgia Democrats John Barrow and Sanford. D. Bishop, Jr. casted votes in favor of alleviating excessive regulatory burdens with minor procedural hindrances. Today, Georgia legislators have the opportunity to confront Washington’s over-regulation problem head-on, by supporting the Regulation from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act.
The REINS Act was inspired in 2009 when Kentucky activist Lloyd Rogers approached U.S. Representative Geoff Davis after EPA water regulations had doubled his county’s taxes without so much as a congressional vote. Unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats should not have the power to make laws in this country, plain and simple. This basic, founding principle is given to lawmakers who must account for their votes and listen to the voice of the people they represent.
Rogers challenged Rep. Davis with language from the U.S. Constitution which says “all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Rep. Davis took this challenge to Washington and thus H.R. 10, the REINS Act, has become a centerpiece of the Republican House agenda.
Personally, I wouldn’t trust government officials to lock a barn door (unless the horses already got out, that is.) There’s a good reason for that. From the Washington Times’ front page:
Federal authorities responsible for granting security clearances to government employees and contractors are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars investigating the investigators.
Government inspectors say they have undertaken a broader campaign in recent years to root out fraud in background checks as more national security clearances are being sought than ever before.
Overall, court records reviewed by The Washington Times show at least 170 confirmed falsifications of interviews or record checks and more than 1,000 others that couldn’t be verified. The background investigators, whose work helps determine who gets top-secret security clearance, were submitting forms saying they conducted interviews or verified official documents when they never did.
“The monetary loss sustained by the government does not, nor cannot, represent the cost associated with potential compromise of our nation’s security and the trust of the American people in its government’s workforce,” Kathy L. Dillaman, associate director in charge of investigations at the Office of Personnel Management, wrote in a victim-impact statement for a recent court case involving a convicted investigator.
Just in time for Christmas, Washington has a gift for all of you feeling the joy and optimism of the season… a giant, economy killing, power grab by the EPA. Rejoice! Rejoice! The polar bears will continue to thrive while Americans suffer record unemployment and poverty!
In a perfectly timed press release, the EPA announced their intention to begin limiting emissions from coal-fired power plants to combat so-called climate change late last night. While most people aren’t going to pay much attention to this story, it’s going to have significant affects for all of us. Almost half of the electricity generated in this country comes from coal-fired power plants, so even if your personal power bill doesn’t see an immediate and significant increase, you can certainly expect the price of many of your “Made in the USA” products to increase substantially. Until the exact provisions are released to the public, however, we can only speculate how much this massive power grab is going to cost each of us, but know that it is going to cost you.
Obviously, if these regulations are adopted, they certainly aren’t something that will aid our economic recovery, to say the least. It is going to be sadly interesting, however, to see how detrimental these new regulations will be to the economic recovery in specific regions of the country. For example, why would a company that is building a new factory ever consider an area where the cost of electricity has been artificially and unnecessarily inflated by the geniuses in Washington?
This video is hilarious.
It reminds me a bit of an experience I had as a kid. I was at Wendy’s with my mom and a guy in front of us in the line was harassing the people working there. He kept asking them if they had video of them washing their hands, if they had been inspected, and threatened to contact someone to shut them down. He had apparently been there before and made the same threats for a long time. My mom and I both agreed that he was a monumental @$$hole.
The elimination of the filibuster for most federal court nominees has made its way into the Louisiana Senate race via a new ad released yesterday by the Judicial Crisis Network which slams Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) for backing President Obama’s court appointments.
“Mary Landrieu voted for every one of Obama’s liberal activist judges. Every single one. Even the liberal justices who rubber-stamped Obamacare and voted against your Second Amendment right of armed self-defense,” says the narrator in the ad, listing names of court nominees for whom she has voted to confirm.
“Landrieu even helped change the rules to pack a key court with new liberal judges who will review Obamacare, the EPA, the IRS, and agencies is using to push his unconstitutional, job-killing agenda,” the ad continues. Tell Mary Landrieu to go to work for Louisiana, not Obama.”
Landrieu was one of 52 Democrats who voted for the filibuster rule change so that the Senate would confirm three of President Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most influential court in the country.
The court’s influence is due to the fact that it has broad authority to review executive-level rules and regulations. This would include regulations written by the EPA, IRS, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
A broad coalition of conservative and free market groups are urging members of the Senate to support a measure — the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act,” better known as the REINS Act — that would require congressional approval of executive-level agency rules that will have a costly economic impact.
“This bill restores legislative control and accountability to the federal regulatory process by providing for meaningful congressional oversight over new regulations agencies impose on the American people,” wrote the coalition of organizations to individual members of the Senate.
“It requires both houses of Congress to approve any proposed ‘major rule’ — that is, any rule likely to affect the economy by $100 million or more — before such a rule goes into effect,” the letter continues. “The REINS Act already passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a sizeable margin. It is now time for the Senate to follow suit.”
Policymakers and bureaucrats tend not to be concerned about the implications of rules created by executive-level agencies, like the EPA, for example. But these regulations create a costly compliance burden for consumers and business, which are already facing tremendous strains on their finances as the economy has limped along after the recession, with next to no accountability and only marginal oversight.
In March, the Competitive Enterprise Institute released its annual regulatory snapshot, Ten Thousand Commandments, which found that compliance cost with these rules and regulation cost $1.8 trillion in 2012, roughly $14,678 per American family. Those compliance costs, the coalition letter notes, “was more than half of all federal outlays ($3.4 trillion)” for that year.