regulatory fiat

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:

Justice Anthony Kennedy is not a libertarian

Anthony Kennedy

Over the last few years, there has been much discussion about the philosophical leanings of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Long considered a moderate on the High Court, Kennedy has been the deciding vote in many 5 to 4 decisions, leading John Tabin of The American Spectator to note that “[i]t’s Anthony Kennedy’s world; we’re just living in it.”

Some legal scholars have surmised that the Supreme Court may be in some sort of “libertarian moment,” thanks in part to Kennedy. This is not necessarily a new theory. Shortly after the Court issued its decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), a ruling that struck down sodomy laws in 13 states based concerns over privacy, Randy Barnett praised Kennedy’s “presumption of liberty” approach.

Kennedy’s ideology was again the topic of discussion in 2012 after he sided with the minorty in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, in which the majority upheld the individual mandate in ObamaCare.

After the Court’s decision last month in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the federal provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act, Kennedy’s ideological views are, once again, being discussed by legal scholars.

McConnell slams Obama’s war on coal

The coal industry is a pretty big deal in several states that could serve as electoral battlefields next year. Kentucky is among them.

Even though Democrats believe that have a chance to pickoff Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell next year, President Barack Obama handed him a huge gift last week when he rolled out his anti-consumer energy plan, which is being labeled by opponents as a “war on coal.” Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, another coal producing state, took it even further, calling President Obama’s a plan a “war on America.”

McConnell is seizing on President Obama’s energy plan, which completely bypasses Congress. In an op-ed to the Hazard Herald, a Kentucky-based newspaper, the Senate Minority Leader slammed the “barrage of job-killing regulations” pushed by the Obama Administration and warned Democrats of alienating “entire regions of the country” with the new environmental regulations.

Regulatory State Gone Wild

Ten Thousand Commandments

Americans spend $1.8 trillion each year — nearly $15,000 per family — complying with regulations passed down by the federal government. That’s the estimate given by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) in the latest edition of Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State.

“The 2012 Federal Register ranks fourth all-time with 78,961 pages, but three of the top four years, including the top two, occurred during the Obama administration,” noted the statement accompanying the report. “The 2010s are on pace to average 80,000 pages per year—up from 170,000 in the 1960s and 450,000 in the ‘70s.”

“There are more federal regulations than ever—the Code of Federal Regulations, which compiles all federal regulations, grew by more than 4,000 pages last year and now stands at 174,545 pages, spread over 238 volumes. Its index alone runs to more than 1,100 pages,” CEI added. “Government has added more than 80,000 regulations in the last 20 years—3,708 in the last year alone. That’s one new rule Americans must live under every 2½ hours. Today, 4,062 sit in the pipeline. Those will add at least $22 billion in compliance costs and probably much more.”

The cost to Americans as result of the regulations is perhaps the troubling aspect of the report. But another startling point is the way in which these rules and regulations are being imposed on Americans. Because the Obama Administration cannot pass many of these regulations through Congress, it is bypassing the legislative branch altogether, meaning that there is little to no oversight by Congress.

The report also notes that there has been a jump in “economically significant rules” — those that bring $100 million or more in compliance costs — on President Obama’s watch.

Reining In Out-Of-Control Bureaucrats

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.

There they go again: Power-hungry IRS plans new anti-speech regulations aimed at nonprofits

The Internal Revenue Service will rollout new regulations aimed at curbing political speech at the beginning of 2015, according to a report from Center for Public Integrity, a left-leaning nonprofit funded by billionaire George Soros.

The IRS scrapped proposed guidance earlier this year after receiving more than 150,000 comments. The proposed rules would have required that nonprofit groups disclosure donors and severely limited their ability to educate the public on policy issues, including issue ads and legislative scorecards.

In an interview with the Center for Public Integrity, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said that the powerful tax agency will introduce new draft guidance in early 2015.

“Such rules could curb the influence of ‘dark money’ nonprofits engaging in overt political activity that proliferate dafter the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision in 2010,” Julie Patel of the Center for Public Integrity wrote last week. “The new rules would seek to define what constitutes political activity. The new regulations could also further regulate labor unions and trade associations — two kinds of politically active nonprofits that the IRS didn’t address in a highly contentious rulemaking attempt the agency itself short-circuited in May.”

King Obama’s insane backdoor cap and trade scheme could put vulnerable Senate Democrats out of a job

The Obama administration is about to launch another attack in its war on coal. President Barack Obama is set to announce another round of EPA regulations next week that will curb carbon emissions from coal-fired plants. Because, you know, that whole Legislative Branch thing in the Constitution is just a suggestion:

President Obama will use his executive authority to cut carbon emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants by up to 20 percent, according to people familiar with his plans, which will spur the creation of a state cap-and-trade program forcing industry to pay for the carbon pollution it creates.
[…]
Cutting carbon emissions by 20 percent — a substantial amount — would be the most important step in the administration’s pledged goal to reduce pollution over the next six years and could eventually shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country. The regulation would have far more impact on the environment than the Keystone pipeline, which many administration officials consider a political sideshow, and is certain to be met with opposition from Republicans who say that Mr. Obama will be using his executive authority as a back door to force through an inflammatory cap-and-trade policy he could not get through Congress.

Tea Party stopped an IRS power grab and scored a huge victory for free speech

A month after the Internal Revenue Service postponed proposed rules that would have severely restricted the activities of nonprofit groups, ostensibly codifying a Democratic Party wishlist of restrictions on free speech, the powerful tax agency announced yesterday that it will rewrite the regulations:

The IRS said it will start writing a revised regulation amid criticism from both the left and especially the right, on the proposal to tighten rules governing the tax-exempt status of so-called social welfare organizations.

“Given the diversity of views expressed and the volume of substantive input, we have concluded that it would be more efficient and useful to hold a public hearing after we publish the revised proposed regulation,” said an IRS statement to reporters Thursday.

That’s a significant win for conservative groups targeted by the IRS as well as groups from all ideological stripes — including the ACLU, FreedomWorks, that fought against them. The new rules will not be finalized until at least next year. The catch, however, is that the IRS isn’t scrapping the rules, entirely:

The agency says the rule will keep many of the same elements as the original proposal but will take the record number of comments into consideration for a new version. Some 150,000 written comments poured in, a record for the Treasury Department.

The new rule, an IRS official said the move “certainly is not starting over and certainly not starting from scratch.”
[…]
The IRS would not say how much of the rule would be re-written, nor what would change specifically, nor when to expect the new draft.

Resolution to Stop President’s Overreach Introduced by Tom Rice

Some of us assume that the United States Constitution is strong enough of a document to ensure that the Executive branch does not overstep its authority, but several House Republicans do not seem to think President Barack Obama got the message.

A new resolution that has been introduced by Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) would target the President for, amongst other things, allowing a year extension to health care policies terminated as a result of the implementation of Obamacare. Republicans co-sponsoring this resolution includes Reps. Steve Stockman (R-TX), James Lankford (R-OK) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), who claimed that “we have a president who once taught the Constitution who has now forgotten the Constitution.”

According to Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), another co-sponsor of the “Stop This Overreaching Presidency Act (STOP),” nobody is entitled to rule by fiat. The Michigan conservative decided to co-sponsor the resolution “because I have watched this president overreach.”

Republican Study Committee’s chairman Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) said that the American people have been insulted by this administration for its willingness to write laws without Congress.

“Our country rejects the concept of dictatorship,” said Scalise.

Some of Obama’s doings tackled by this motion would be reversed if the resolution advances, including the president’s end to part of the welfare work requirements, enactment of the DREAM Act and the delay of the employer mandate.

Kentucky Republicans file brief at Supreme Court, seek to end Obama’s war on coal

Republican members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation have filed an amicus brief in a pending case at the Supreme Court which could have big implications on the Commonwealth’s coal industry and, by extension, its economy.

The case, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, deals with regulations enacted by the Obama Administration in 2010 that would impose stricter limits on emissions from “stationary sources,” such as coal-fired plants. The EPA claims this authority through a 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, which allowed the agency to regulate vehicle emissions.

The problem is that the EPA essentially re-wrote provisions of the Clean Air Act to raise the emissions threshold to 75,000 tons per year from 100 tons, which, as the Wall Street Journal recently noted, “would require some six million buildings to get environmental permits, including such grand polluters as churches and farms.”

“Recognizing that such a rule would create ‘absurd results’ like shuttering the entire economy, the EPA rewrote Congress’s numbers and adjusted the threshold to 75,000 tons from 100 tons,” the Journal explained. “EPA’s clear political purpose was to escape a large political backlash to its new rules by unilaterally limiting their reach.”

Kentucky Republicans argue that the EPA has overstepped its bounds by trying to re-write the law, thus usurping power from the legislative branch, and promulgate new rules that would hurt the coal industry.

 


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