Obama’s Energy Power Grab

Obama’s Energy Power Grab

Posted By Rich Trzupek On December 30, 2010 @ 12:43 am In FrontPage | 9 Comments

The USEPA announced its intention to deliver yet another body blow to the power and petrochemical industries, piling on another layer of unneeded, unwanted and economically disastrous regulations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the United States. Before we consider the agency’s latest move, let’s take a moment to consider all that has been done and will be done in the name of fighting the non-existent problem of global warming. States and the feds are already moving forward with at least six major regulatory programs designed to reduce the use of fossil fuels and thus decimate the energy sector:

  • New CAFÉ  Standards – This is arguably the least bad of the bunch, because the due date for the new 35.5 miles per gallon Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard is at least a few years out (2016). Nonetheless, the new CAFÉ standard [1] will make automobiles more expensive – as even the White House admits – less safe (lighter cars don’t do as well in accidents as compared to heavier ones) and will do almost nothing to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Renewable Portfolio Standards – More than thirty states, encompassing about three quarters of the population of the United States, have adopted Renewable Portfolio Standards [2]. These standards require using ever decreasing amounts of electricity generated by the combustion of fossil fuels.
  • Regional Trading Programs – States in three parts of the country, the east coast, the west coast and the midwest, have formed partnerships to create regional cap and trade programs. The east coast cap and trade program [3] has been up and running for two years. The west coast and midwest programs will “go live” in the near future.
  • Permitting of Greenhouse GasesRecent USEPA guidance [4] directed state permitting authorities to treat greenhouse gases as regulated pollutants when considering the construction of new major sources and major modifications to existing sources. Permitting authorities are further directed to apply the Best Available Control Technology standard to the control of greenhouse gases from these sources.
  • New Ambient Air Standards – The USEPA’s new ambient air standards [5] for “traditional” air pollutants are so ridiculously low that it’s virtually impossible for any new facility to comply with them. This is thus a back-door way of ensuring that no new fossil fuel fired power facilities can be built.
  • New Hazardous Air Pollution Rules – The USEPA’s new rules limiting emissions of hazardous air pollutants from industrial boilers [6] are also draconian. Again, the net effect will be to ensure that new industrial boilers powered by fossil fuels are just about impossible to construct.

So, contrary to what environmental groups and leftist politicians would like you to believe, we’re already doing an awful lot to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use – far too much in my opinion – and we will continue to pay the economic price for these disastrous policies. Yet, the USEPA isn’t content. They have decided to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act and that legislative framework demands the construction of even more regulatory layers. The latest will be New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) which will, for the first time, create numerical limits on greenhouse gas emissions generated by fossil fuel burning power plants and oil refineries.

Despite the use of the adjective “New” in the acronym, NSPS standards apply to both new and existing sources of air pollution emissions. Typically, the agency uses a specific date in time to distinguish between new and existing sources. Sources built before the cut-off date have one emission limit to meet and sources built after have a different, more stringent limit. Given the record of Lisa Jackson’s USEPA so far, we can expect that the agency will adopt greenhouse gas emission limits on existing sources that will force some facilities to close and the rest to spend billions in retrofits. And the new source limit? Expect that to be so ridiculously low that nobody will even think of building a fossil fuel fired power plant or new oil refinery in the United States ever again. Of course, given the list of the other onerous regulatory initiatives provided above, building new energy or petrochemical infrastructure is no longer a feasible option anyway.

USEPA announced its intention to develop greenhouse gas emission limitations for the power sector and oil refineries as part of two proposed settlement agreements [7] between the agency and several states and environmental groups who filed suit against the USEPA over greenhouse gas issues. As part of the settlement agreements, USEPA promises to have greenhouse gas emission limitations in place for the power industry by May 2012 and limitations on petroleum refineries in place by November 2012. The agency describes this as a “common sense approach” to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and maintains that it is setting “a modest pace” in developing this massive new regulatory structure. More amazingly, USEPA administrator Lisa Jackson had this to say [8] about developing new greenhouse gas standards:

 

 

We are following through on our commitment to proceed in a measured and careful way to reduce GHG pollution that threatens the health and welfare of Americans, and contributes to climate change,” Administrator Lisa Jackson said. “These standards will help American companies attract private investment to the clean energy upgrades that make our companies more competitive and create good jobs here at home.

This is of course the same Lisa Jackson who believes that the Clean Air Act is solely responsible for American economic growth [9] over the last forty years. This latest statement by the delusional director shows that she’s drifted even farther into a green fantasyland. Eliminating America’s ability to use a cheap, domestically plentiful source of energy to power industrial growth isn’t going to attract a dime of private investment. Undercutting America’s ability to turn crude oil into refined products isn’t going to create one good job at home. Jackson is spinning yarns, utilizing all the right buzzwords, like threats to “health and welfare,” “attract[ing] private investment,” and “creat[ing] good jobs,” but those words are as hollow and meaningless as any ever uttered by the most cynical of professional politicians. The actions of Jackson’s USEPA and Congress’s continued unwillingness to rein her agency in guarantee that economic recovery and job creation will continue to be an impossibility as long as the Obama administration is in charge.

The 100 Worst Cases of Government Waste in 2010

The 100 Worst Cases of Government Waste in 2010

December 30th, 2010

Ben Johnson, FloydReports.com

Although the United States is $13 trillion in debt, mandatory spending alone exceeds tax revenues, and the Congressional Budget Office is warning of a coming U.S. “fiscal crisis,” Congress felt no need to trim spending. The just-adjourned 111th Congress headed by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi added more to the national debt than the first 100 U.S. Congresses combined. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, has published his collection of the 100 most wasteful projects his colleagues deemed worthy of your hard-earned tax dollars this year. Among the most offensive, ridiculous, and startling examples of pork in the Year of our Lord 2010, he found:

  • Nearly $5,000 of stimulus money to hire goats to graze the weeds at Idaho’s Heyburn State Park;
  • $6 billion for ethanol subsidies, which raise food costs;
  • $177,000 for Ohio teachers to travel to China to learn about the Chinese “education” system;
  • $137,530 for a Dartmouth professor to develop “Layoff,” a video game that encourages its players to fire as many people as quickly as possible;
  • $700,000 for New Hampshire researchers to examine “greenhouse gas emission from organic dairies,” which are cause by “cow burps, among other things”;
  • $442,340 to study male prostitutes in Vietnam;
  • $823,000 to teach South African men how to wash their genitals after sex. (We reported this one earlier this year);
  • $55,000 to celebrate HIV Vaccine Awareness Day. Of course, there is no anti-AIDS vaccine, but the “observance is a day to recognize and thank” the professionals “who are working together to find” a cure

Read more.

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Print Edition

Photo by: AP
Obama bypasses Senate, appoints envoy to Syria
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
30/12/2010
 
Robert Ford to become first US ambassador to Damascus since 2005; opponents say move rewards Syrian regime for bad behavior.
 
WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama has bypassed the US Senate and directly appointed four new ambassadors, including Robert Ford, who will become the first US envoy to Syria since 2005.

Specific senators had blocked or refused to consider the confirmations of the nominees for various reasons, including questions about their qualifications. But in the most high-profile case, that of the new envoy to Syria, a number of senators objected because they believed sending an ambassador to the country would reward it for bad behavior.

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“Making undeserved concessions to Syria tells the regime in Damascus that it can continue to pursue its dangerous agenda and not face any consequences from the US,” Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the incoming chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “That is the wrong message to be sending to a regime which continues to harm and threaten US interests and those of such critical allies as Israel.”

The administration had argued that returning an ambassador to Syria after a five-year absence would help persuade Syria to change its policies regarding Israel, Lebanon and Iraq as well as its willingness to support extremist groups. Syria is designated a “state sponsor of terrorism” by the State Department.

Former President George W. Bush’s administration withdrew a full-time ambassador from Syria in 2005 after terrorism accusations and to protest the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, killed in a Beirut truck bombing that his supporters blamed on Syria. Syria denied involvement.

Obama nominated Ford, a career diplomat and a former ambassador to Algeria, to the post in February but his nomination stalled after his confirmation hearings and was never voted on.

The White House announced Wednesday that Obama would use his power to make recess appointments to fill envoy posts to Azerbaijan, Syria and NATO allies Turkey and the Czech Republic.

Recess appointments are made when the Senate is not in session and last only until the end of the next session of Congress. They are frequently used when Senate confirmation is not possible.

The other Obama nominees announced Wednesday are Matthew Bryza for Azerbaijan, Norman Eisen for the Czech Republic and Francis Ricciardone for Turkey.

 

Preventing development of domestic oil resources

Preventing development of domestic oil resources

Peter Wilson

The New York Times editorial, A New Day for Wilderness, describes the Department of Interior’s reversal of a Bush administration agreement that barred 250 million acres administered by the Bureau of Land Management from being given wilderness status (“one of the sorrier blots on George W. Bush’s sorry environmental record,” writes the Times.) 
The Times paints this action as a victory for “Utah’s fragile wild lands” and describes Interior as “an agency that historically has been sympathetic to oil and gas companies and other commercial interests.”   No mention is made of the trend under the Obama administration of using federal agencies to circumvent the wishes of Congress, the courts and the people.  The Heritage Foundation describes it well in its Morning Bell:
The ability of the Obama Administration to step up their leftist agenda even after it was thoroughly “shellacked” at the polls is not an accident….This will be the fight of 2011: the unelected central planning “experts” of the Obama Administration versus the newly elected House of Representatives and state and local governments.
Heritage describes the actions of three agencies: HHS’s price controls, the EPA’s carbon finding, the FCC’s net neutrality regulations.  We can add Interior to this list. 
What is worrisome about the deal is that in Utah and Wyoming 70% of the Green River Formation oil shale deposits are on federal land.  These reserves are the largest oil shale deposits in the world, holding an estimated 1.5 trillion barrels of oil equivalent.
Although it takes an act of Congress to designate a wilderness, Interior has a tool at hand that does not require Congressional approval; it can designate a “Wilderness Study Area,” which places the land off-limits until Congress comes to a decision about its status.  Interior could potentially close off Green River to any commercial activity unless Congress takes action.  Furthermore, the Times reports, leases already granted on federal lands might be rescinded, adding insecurity to companies considering investing in oil shale development.
Our National Parks and wilderness areas are national treasures that ought to be protected.  Adding millions more acres of high plains to the lands that are forever wild, locking up their enormous resources, would impose enormous economic costs that our nation can ill afford.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/12/preventing_development_of_dome.html at December 30, 2010 – 11:22:56 AM CST

President and family on multi-million dollar Christmas vacation in Hawaii

President and family on multi-million dollar Christmas vacation in Hawaii

President Obama and his family are enjoying a delightful Christmas vacation with friends and family in the chief executive’s home state of Hawaii.

Nobody questions a president’s right or need to take take away from the White House, but an investigation by Hawaii Reporter has turned up some eye-opening information about the costs and other aspects of the Obama get-away.

Just consider these estimates on part of the costs of the latest Obama Hawaii trip:

* Mrs. Obama’s early flight to Hawaii: $63,000 (White House Dossier)

* Obama’s round trip flight to Hawaii: $1 million (GAO estimates)

* Housing in beachfront homes for Secret Service and Seals in Kailua ($1,200 a day for 14 days): $16,800

* Costs for White House staff staying at Moana Hotel: $134,400 ($400 per day for 24 staff) – excluding meals and other room costs

* Police overtime: $250,000 (2009 costs reported by Honolulu Police Department)

* Ambulance: $10,000 (City Spokesperson)

TOTAL COST: $1,474,200

But that $1.47 million figure leaves out a number of signficant costs that simply could not be calculated by Hawaii Reporter:

* Rental of office building in Kailua on canal

* Security upgrades and additional phone lines.

* Costs for car rentals and fuel for White House staff staying at Moana Hotel (Secret Service imports most of the cars used here to escort the president).

* Surveillance before the president arrives.

* Travel costs for Secret Service and White House staff traveling ahead of the President.

White House spokesmen insist Obama’s vacation expenses are in line with those of previous presidents, which may well be true, but, since the government refuses to disclose many important details about any presidential journey, nobody can know for sure.

There appear to be reasons to suspect the Obamas’ trip could have been done for less, according to Hawaii Reporter.

“They could have chosen a less expensive and more secure place to stay such as a beachfront home on the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station – just a two-minute drive away from the Kailuana Place property where they are now,” according to Hawaii Reporter.

“The president visits the military base daily to workout, bowl with his kids or enjoy the more private beach there. He also could have stayed at a home 15 minutes away on the beach fronting Bellows Air Force Base as President Bill Clinton did.”

But Obama and friends opted instead to secure use of three luxury beachfront places, including the “Winter White House” – or Kailua home that the president rents two weeks a year.

That facility, Hawaii Reporter, noted, normally rents for an estimated $3,500 a day or $75,000 a month, according to the web site Gadling.com.

The latter describes the place as a “7,000 square foot home [that] features 5 bedrooms, 5 ½ bathrooms, a media room with surround sound, a kitchen suited for a master chef, a dining room and great room, a secluded lagoon-style pool with tropical waterfalls and a lavish island spa. The ocean lanai and garden lanai showcase ornate landscaping and stunning views of Kailua Bay and Mount Olomana.”

For more from Hawaii Reporter, go here.