Federal Gov’t Halts Sand Berm Dredging

Federal Gov’t Halts Sand Berm Dredging

Nungesser Pleads With President To Allow Work To Continue

 

POSTED: 5:37 pm CDT June 22, 2010
UPDATED: 9:21 am CDT June 23, 2010

 

NEW ORLEANS — The federal government is shutting down the dredging that was being done to create protective sand berms in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The berms are meant to protect the Louisiana coastline from oil. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department has concerns about where the dredging is being done. 

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who was one of the most vocal advocates of the dredging plan, has sent a letter to President Barack Obama, pleading for the work to continue. 

Nungesser said the government has asked crews to move the dredging site two more miles farther off the coastline. 

“Once again, our government resource agencies, which are intended to protect us, are now leaving us vulnerable to the destruction of our coastline and marshes by the impending oil,” Nungesser wrote to Obama. “Furthermore, with the threat of hurricanes or tropical storms, we are being put at an increased risk for devastation to our area from the intrusion of oil. 

Nungesser has asked for the dredging to continue for the next seven days, the amount of time it would take to move the dredging operations two miles and out resume work. 

Work is scheduled to halt at midnight Wednesday. 

The California dredge located off the Chandelier Islands has pumped more than 50,000 cubic yards of material daily to create a sand berm, according to Plaquemines Parish officials. 

Nungesser’s letter includes an emotional plea to the president. 

“Please don’t let them shut this dredge down,” he wrote. “This requires your immediate attention!” 

 

More misdirection from the White House

More misdirection from the White House

Aaron Gee

The headlines this morning are all about General McChrystal and an article in Rolling Stone.  My prediction is that this episode will extend far longer than it should, and will be used as much and as often as possible to separate Obama from his failures in Afghanistan.  It also serves to remove the oil soaked pelicans from the front pages of the major news site this morning.  

This mornings headlines follow this Administration’s pattern of continually moving from “crisis” to “crisis”, real or imagined, in an effort to stay ahead of the perception that our President views his time in office as just an extended golf getaway from teaching in Chicago.

For those of you that think my criticism is unfair, I would remind you that the President didn’t take any interest in the gulf oil crisis until commentators started asking too many  questions on the White House’s role in offering Federal jobs to primary candidates.  Obama suddenly had to take charge of the gulf oil spill.  The problem was that Obama simply seems incapable of taking charge of anything more strenuous than a tongue lashing or an apology. 

To date the US administration has turned down offers from 13 countries to help with the clean up.  The Administration has refused to wave environmental regulations or streamline the process to allow building protective barriers.  The reliance on a bureaucratic apparatus has halted clean up efforts, and forced BP at great expense in time and money to modify clean up ships to not run afoul of the protectionist twenties era legislation known as the ‘Jones Act‘. 

With this kind of action, it’s no wonder that General McChrystal was called to Washington.  Obama can use the distraction for the next few news cycles to keep people’s eyes off from the disaster in the Gulf and a corrupt Congress.  Talking to McChrystal plays to Obama’s one strength, and we will know if Obama’s really on top of his game if he dresses down the General without a teleprompter.

The BP Oil Disaster: Big Government’s Dream Come True

The BP Oil Disaster: Big Government’s Dream Come True

Posted By Rich Trzupek On June 17, 2010 @ 12:59 am In FrontPage | 52 Comments

If you thought President Obama’s address to the nation this week would have focused on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that is destroying the Gulf Coast economy, you would have been only partially correct. The president did mention what he called the “menacing cloud of black crude,” but the heart of his remarks was a political speech that attacked the president’s political enemies while pushing for a stock “green” agenda, including cap-and-trade legislation, that had no obvious connection to the menace in the Gulf Coast. What was supposed to be a leveling with the American people about the oil crisis became an impromptu pitch for Big Government.

The president’s political feint, while disappointing to anyone who was hoping for solutions to contain the ongoing disaster, was not entirely surprising. A significant portion of the Left is almost giddy about the disaster, because in their minds it demonstrates that industry is dangerously under-regulated and thus provides the all the evidence they need to further extend the long arm of government into aspects of the economy and industry that aren’t even remotely related to oil drilling.

Thirty one years ago the Three Mile Island incident, which didn’t actually hurt anyone [1], effectively shut down the nuclear power industry in the United States. Environmental activists hope to achieve much more in the wake of Deepwater Horizon: to not only stop American off-shore drilling, but to use the disaster to apply a bureaucratic strange-hold on American industry in general. The focus of the president’s address to the nation about the spill proves the point. He didn’t appear half as worried about the disaster in the Gulf as he did about passing cap and trade.

He probably won’t get that legislation, judging by the disgusted reaction of lawmakers [2] on both sides of the aisle, but there are other ways to sabotage the energy sector and the administration is hard at work doing just that. Last week, the Obama administration’s already over-the-top Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules to regulate non-utility power generation that go beyond extreme and enter the realm of the ludicrous. But, with the shadow of Deepwater Horizon hanging over America, the EPA has a very good chance of pushing them through. An oil spill, it seems, excuses every bureaucratic excess that progressives can imagine. Scores of sources – from the boilers that provide heat to college campuses to the boilers that power ethanol plants, paper mills and food processing plants – will find it impossible to comply with EPA’s proposed boiler regulations and these rules will give bureaucrats unprecedented authority to decide how these industries are run.

The proposed rules are supposed to set new limits on emissions of potentially toxic materials from power plants. The regulation is generically known as “Boiler MACT [3],” with the acronym standing for “Maximum Achievable Control Technology.” However, what USEPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has proposed goes well beyond the toxic realm, with the Agency attempting to use these rules as a back-door way of regulating greenhouse gases and to give Big Government a role in making operational decisions.

A little history is in order. When the Clean Air Act first came into being in its present form in 1970, the EPA was directed to develop rules limiting potentially toxic emissions based solely on risk. That is, if the Agency determined that a particular compound was being emitted in quantities sufficient to present an actual health hazard, then the EPA should develop rules to limit emissions of such a compound. Using this approach, the EPA developed rules to limit emissions of seven potentially toxic materials. This upset environmental groups, who accused the EPA of shirking their responsibilities. That wasn’t true, the Agency simply couldn’t find significant risk anywhere else, but not matter: the environmentalists demanded change, and change they got.

When the Clean Air Act was amended in 1990, the EPA was directed to limit emissions of 188 potentially toxic materials [4], using a technology-based approach. Very little actual science went into selecting those 188 (now 187) compounds, but the list made the Sierra Club and similar groups happy and that’s all that mattered. Under the new approach, the Agency was directed to evaluate how industries were controlling toxics, to determine the top twelve per cent doing the best job and to use these top twelve per cent to set the standard for each compound. Thus, the philosophical question behind controlling potentially toxic air pollutants shifted from “what should we do?” to “what can we do?” The EPA calls those the requirements developed using the top twelve per cent approach “MACT” and scores of industries [5] have their own MACT, outlining the way each is supposed to control potentially toxic materials and setting numerical emissions standards.

Boiler MACT, covering the industrial sector, was first proposed in 2003 under the Bush Administration. The Sierra Club challenged it in court and EPA was directed to rewrite it. The problem that the Sierra Club had with Boiler MACT did not so much involve substance as it did style. They weren’t happy with the form of the regulation, or how the universe of regulated sources was defined. No surprise there, George W. Bush’s EPA could have proposed shutting down every coal-fired power plant in the United States and the Sierra Club would have still said that he didn’t “go far enough” to protect the environment. That’s always the green mantra when a member of the GOP occupies the White House. None-the-less, everyone expected that the “new” version of Boiler MACT would look a lot like the old one, just with more data to back it up, more justification with regard to affected sources and reformatted (but still impossible for an average Joe to understand) language. And, up until recently, that’s what EPA staffers led the regulated community to believe would happen.

But Jackson’s EPA proposed something quite different and disturbing. It effectively abandoned the “top twelve percent” formula, choosing instead to use laboratory detection limits to set limits in many cases. In other words, under EPA’s proposal industrial boilers many potentially toxic pollutants will have to be controlled so tightly that they won’t be able to find what they’re looking for. That’s one step removed from setting emissions limits at zero, and just about as unrealistic and unachievable a goal.

The proposal also requires industrial boiler operators to implement a government-approved energy management program. This program will contain multiple elements, including: a review of available architectural and engineering plans, facility operation and maintenance procedures and logs, and fuel usage; a list of major energy conservation measures; a comprehensive report detailing the ways to improve efficiency, the cost of specific improvements, benefits, and the time frame for recouping those investments; and a facility energy management program developed according to the EPA’s Energy Star [6] guidelines for energy management.

One can argue, and Lisa Jackson’s EPA surely will, that getting the government involved in energy efficiency – i.e., how boilers are run – can affect the amount of potentially toxic emissions a facility puts out, but that’s a very thin argument, especially when the rule in question already contains draconian limits. Energy efficiency requirements are rather a backhand way of achieving the Obama administration’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, without having to go through the tiresome process of addressing “climate change” directly. Further, we’re only talking about industrial boilers here. The EPA is still formulating MACT rules that will affect the big, electricity-producing utility boilers [7] that are far more significant in terms of size and greenhouse gas emissions than the industrial sector.

Can there be any doubt that this radical EPA will ask the power industry to accept equally unachievable limits and submit to even more government control? As far as this administration and progressives are concerned, the disaster in the Gulf is justification enough for every excess that Big Government can dream up.

$7-a-gallon gas?

$7-a-gallon gas?

By BEN LIEBERMAN

Last Updated: 4:22 AM, June 18, 2010

Posted: 12:02 AM, June 18, 2010

President Obama has a solution to the Gulf oil spill: $7-a-gallon gas.

That’s a Harvard University study’s estimate of the per-gallon price of the president’s global-warming agenda. And Obama made clear this week that this agenda is a part of his plan for addressing the Gulf mess.

So what does global-warming legislation have to do with the oil spill?

Good question, because such measures wouldn’t do a thing to clean up the oil or fix the problems that led to the leak.

The answer can be found in Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s now-famous words, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste — and what I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

That sure was true of global-warming policy, and especially the cap-and-trade bill. Many observers thought the measure, introduced last year in the House by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), was dead: The American people didn’t seem to think that the so-called global-warming crisis justified a price-hiking, job-killing, economy-crushing redesign of our energy supply amid a fragile recovery. Passing another major piece of legislation, one every bit as unpopular as ObamaCare, appeared unlikely in an election year.

So Obama and congressional proponents of cap-and-trade spent several months rebranding it — downplaying the global-warming rationale and claiming that it was really a jobs bill (the so-called green jobs were supposed to spring from the new clean-energy economy) and an energy-independence bill (that will somehow stick it to OPEC).

Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) even reportedly declined to introduce their new cap-and-trade proposal in the Senate on Earth Day, because they wanted to de-emphasize the global-warming message. Instead, Kerry called the American Power Act “a plan that creates jobs and sets us on a course toward energy independence and economic resurgence.”

But the new marketing strategy wasn’t working. Few believe the green-jobs hype — with good reason. In Spain, for example, green jobs have been an expensive bust, with each position created requiring, on average, $774,000 in government subsidies. And the logic of getting us off oil imports via a unilateral measure that punishes American coal, oil and natural gas never made any sense at all.

Now the president is repackaging cap-and-trade — again — as a long-term solution to the oil spill. But it’s the same old agenda, a huge energy tax that will raise the cost of gasoline and electricity high enough so that we’re forced to use less.

The logic linking cap-and-trade to the spill in the Gulf should frighten anyone who owns a car or truck. Such measures force up the price at the pump — Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs thinks it “may require gas prices greater than $7 a gallon by 2020” to meet Obama’s stated goal of reducing emissions 14 percent from the transportation sector.

Of course, doing so would reduce gasoline use and also raise market share for hugely expensive alternative fuels and vehicles that could never compete otherwise. Less gasoline demand means less need for drilling and thus a slightly reduced chance of a repeat of the Deepwater Horizon spill — but only slightly. Oil will still be a vital part of America’s energy mix.

Oil-spill risks should be addressed directly — such as finding out why the leak occurred and requiring new preventive measures or preparing an improved cleanup plan for the next incident. Cap-and-trade is no fix and would cause trillions of dollars in collateral economic damage along the way.

Emanuel was wrong. The administration shouldn’t view each crisis — including the oil spill — as an opportunity to be exploited, but as a problem to be addressed. And America can’t afford $7-a-gallon gas.

Ben Lieberman is senior anal yst of energy and environmental policy in The Heritage Founda tion’s Roe Institute.

The Alarmist Presidency

The Alarmist Presidency

Posted By Rich Trzupek On May 13, 2010 @ 12:03 am In FrontPage | No Comments

There’s a school of thought among conservatives and libertarians that liberals knowingly seed and fertilize phony crises in order to cultivate even more big government. While I don’t wholly discount that point of view, I think the sky-is-falling mentality that permeates the Obama administration’s approach to environmental issues is more the result of living within the liberal echo chamber for so long.

Environmentalists and their Democrat allies spent eight years screaming that the Bush administration and corporate America were destroying the environment and putting our lives at risk. Having been handed the keys of state, Obama naturally embraces those voices that offer “solutions” to a problem that never actually existed. Democrats being Democrats, those solutions naturally involve benevolent government intervention.

It’s a chicken and egg argument in any case. Does the liberal desire for socialism consciously create phony problems, or does it merely exploit crackpot ideas that fit in with the program? Either way, this administration hasn’t yet met an environmental “crisis” it isn’t willing to address by rolling up its sleeves and getting down to the dirty work of drawing up more rules that will protect the ignorant masses who have been exploited by big businesses for so long. The latest example of this phenomenon is a report from the President’s Cancer Panel [1] which attributes cancer to the supposed poisoning of America. Entitled “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now,” the report was prepared by a couple of academics: LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., M.D. of the Howard University College of Medicine and Margaret L. Kripke, Ph.D. of the University of Texas. A couple of paragraphs from the letter that accompanies the report, signed by Leffall and Kripke, gives you the flavor:

“The Panel was particularly concerned to find that the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated. With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are un- or understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is widespread. One such ubiquitous chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), is still found in many consumer products and remains unregulated in the United States, despite the growing link between BPA and several diseases, including various cancers.

Environmental exposures that increase the national cancer burden do not represent a new front in the ongoing war on cancer. However, the grievous harm from this group of carcinogens has not been addressed adequately by the National Cancer Program. The American people—even before they are born—are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures. The Panel urges you most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.”

When somebody trots out bisphenol A as their showpiece problem, what follows isn’t going to be pretty. The evidence linking BPA to adverse health effects of any kind is remarkably weak [2], much less to cancer. But this is a chemophobic administration and Leffall and Kripke dutifully deliver a report that raises chemophobia to new heights. The report was so hysterical and full of unsubstantiated conjecture that even the American Cancer Society rolled their eyes. Consider this from a New York Times’ piece [3] that was surprisingly critical of the Cancer Panel’s report:

“Dr. Michael Thun, an epidemiologist from the cancer society, said in an online statement [4] that the report was “unbalanced by its implication that pollution is the major cause of cancer,” and had presented an unproven theory — that environmentally caused cases are grossly underestimated — as if it were a fact.”

Leffall and Kripke’s underlying assumption – that the 80,000 chemicals in use in America are “unregulated or virtually unregulated” – is utter nonsense. Every chemical is evaluated by the EPA as part of the Agency’s obligations under the Toxic Substances Control Act [5] (TSCA) in order to determine if the chemical presents a possible threat to the environment or human health. If the Agency determines that there is a potential problem, it is charged with regulating said chemical appropriately. Further, the vast majority of those 80,000 chemicals are used in small quantities and could not therefore effect the environment on a macroscopic scale in any case. The EPA goes beyond the requirements of TSCA when it comes to the 3,000 or so chemicals that are used in large quantities. The Agency has gathered and continues to gather even more information on the health and safety effects under its “High Production Volume [6]” chemicals program.

Beyond that, we have EPA rules covering chemical discharges to the air, to surface water, to ground water and in the soil. We’ve got OSHA, NIOSH and the American Conference of Governmental and Industrial Hygienists, all of whom spend a great deal of time looking at the effects of chemicals on human health and environment. Rather than proposing new studies, new restrictions and new regulations, Leffall and Kripke would do better to propose a study that would study the huge pile of studies we already have. That would serve the dual purposes of keeping academics happily engaged in a pointless task, and allowing the rest of us could to avoid further benevolence from Big Brother.

We haven’t even gotten to cap and trade yet and already Obama’s EPA is working up the most restrictive air quality standards in history, creating new ways to regulate vast swaths of oceans, pushing for sweeping new stormwater regulations and now this. A rational president would take one look at the President’s Cancer Report and quietly deposit it in the circular file. But Barack Obama? This kind of hysterical alarmism is just the kind of excuse this president needs to regulate, well – everything.

American Fossil Fuels: The New Alternative Energy Source

American Fossil Fuels: The New Alternative Energy Source

By Ben Voth

The explosion of the Gulf oil platform this past week is a useful crisis for those advocates who hope to further restrict and prevent the extraction of fossil fuels in the United States. The recent coal mining accident in Virginia is another opportunity to shut down vital energy extraction activities in the United States. Fossil fuel extraction in the United States remains a vital and most useful opportunity for solving a wide range of human problems around the world for a number of reasons:

1. The U.S. has an abundance of fossil fuels. Most Americans are surprised to find out that the two largest suppliers of oil to the United States are Canada and Mexico. Each nation draws billions of dollars in economic activity from the United States to provide these vast supplies. Is it not logical to conclude that the United States, lodged between these two massive suppliers, has resources of its own that remain untapped? Of the three major fossil fuels, the United States is in the top ten of two of the fossil fuels’ proven reserves globally. The U.S. has the largest proven reserves of coal and the fifth-largest proven reserves of natural gas. At current prices, oil can also be a major source using shale extraction techniques and expanding the available regions of exploration in the coastal waters of the United States. The rabid advocacy of environmental groups creates an unstable environment for oil exploration here since companies have little idea whether their finds will be shut down or regulated out of existence by the latest scandal. This hostile economic environment has damaged our national energy security.
2. Environmental jingoism increases global pollution. The American obsession with stopping energy production has reduced jobs in this industry and produced cleaner air and water in the United States. But if pollution is indeed a global phenomenon, then the energy regulations of America may have actually increased global pollution. As energy consumption has continued to increase dramatically in the U.S. and worldwide, energy production has moved from the overregulated United States into locations with vastly inferior environmental regulations. While Americans obsess about the latest spill in the gulf, Nigeria announces casually the 14,000 tons of oil lost in its ecosystems this past year due to accidents and sabotage. That number has increased dramatically in the last few years, and there is little indication that any sort of public outcry will reduce or even modify energy extraction in a major producer such as the country of Nigeria. Similar observations can be made about dozens of other oil-producing states, including Russia and Mexico. Moreover, the shift from domestic production increases the risk of oil spills related to the traffic of tankers that must transport these vast amounts of oil back to the United States. The spills and the ships themselves contribute greatly to global pollution. 
3. Foreign oil trade funds dangerous anti-American activities that increase costs for everyone and result in catastrophic human harms. For the past thirty years, the oil trade has transferred approximately $1 trillion a year from the U.S., Europe, and Japan to some of the most dangerous governments in the world. Among the top ten nations in proven reserves are Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Venezuela, Russia, Libya, and Nigeria. Only Canada stands as a solitary island of political docility in this list. It is difficult to calculate the immense costs associated with funding the radical anti-American and anti-human agendas of these oil super-states. The genocides of Sudan are funded by oil sold to China. Even higher-priced crude extracted in the United States would reduce our costs in counteracting these states, who take their oil-funded largess and make extravagant weapons purchases, WMD programs, nuclear weapons, genocidal militias, and terrorist training facilities. The oil trade represents the largest transfer of wealth from rich to poor societies in human history. Despite that egalitarian premise, it is difficult to see anything ideal about the social ramifications of the oil trade. Both the giver and the receivers of this cash have been damaged by the transactions. 
For those looking for a cheap alternative to our current fossil fuel addiction, you may do well to look in your own backyard. America’s fossil fuels may be the best way to restore economic vigor, fight the war on terrorism, and protect the global environment. The proud displays of jingoistic environmental nativism have painted our nation into an ugly corner. Kermit the frog was right — it’s not easy being green. 
Ben Voth is an associate professor of communication and director of speech and debate programs at Southern Methodist University.