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Cassandra Carroll

EPA Seeks Backdoor Regulation of Fracking

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Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Monday, September 8th, 2014, 4:32 PM PERMALINK


The EPA has released new ham-fisted and highly inaccurate set of White Papers regarding methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry. As is to be expected, the EPA seeks to lower methane emissions from the industry by mercilessly regulating them, primarily going after methane emissions from the process of hydraulic fracturing. Undoubtedly the agency is grasping at straws after failing repeatedly to prohibitively regulate fracking. In a recent open letter to EPA officials, Senator James Inhofe has this to say:

“I have serious concerns with these White Papers. First, the White Papers demonstrate that EPA lacks a fundamental understanding of the industry’s practices and inner workings. They also reveal that EPA believes it has the capacity to actually help oil and natural gas companies operate more efficiently and profitably by mandating more guidelines and regulations; no regulatory body should have this perspective.  Further, the White Papers are handicapped by inaccurate and outdated data estimates of industry-wide emissions. I have personally addressed this practice with Administrator McCarthy, yet the EPA’s use of faulty data persists and will yield nothing but inappropriate policy discussion and decisions by the agency. I urge the EPA to gather more information, revise the White Papers, and allow and official, robust comment period prior to engaging in any policymaking discussion that could impact the oil and natural gas industry.”

As Inhofe points out, the EPA even goes so far as to mis-define and misuse industry terms in order to help make the rate of emissions seem worse, such as by putting leaks, venting, and normal emissions all under the category of “leaks”.

“The same White Paper also inappropriately, and quite causally, labels unconventional resource development as hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing is a specific component of the completion process of many unconventional oil and natural gas wells; however, it cannot be used to refer to the entire process. It is also unclear whether EPA wants to use the data on methane emissions from the completion process to address new sources, existing sources, or recompletions. EPA’s definition of what actually constitutes a “leak” also needs revision; it is unclear whether the EPA is referring to leaking, venting, or normal emissions because all are referred to by EPA as leaks.

A lack of clarity over definitions raises questions about whether data sets within the White Papers overlap one another. If they do, it raises questions about EPA’s policymaking intent and whether it is interested in sound policy development or if it has predetermined to regulate methane and is simply building a case to do so, however crude it may be. EPA must revise its White Papers to reconcile any data overlaps and work with industry to clarify misunderstandings about standard industry practices.”

Inhofe hits the nail on the head: It really is hard to believe that the EPA is trying to create good policy when their own White Papers are full of inaccuracies that they’ve been informed of time and time again.

You can read Inhofe’s full comments to the EPA here. 

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Daniel Foster

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Bring CEA's Putting Policymakers To Work For You Panel to SXSW 2015

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Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Wednesday, August 27th, 2014, 2:51 PM PERMALINK


Friday, September 5th is the last day to cast your vote for the CEA's Putting Policymakers To Work For You panel at SXSW 2015! This pro-innovation regulation panel organized by Michael Petricone of the Consumer Electronics Association will feature four dynamic speakers including himself, ATR's Grover Norquist, Adrian Fenty from Perkins Coie, and Julie Samuels of Engine Advocacy. Don't forget to cast your vote and help make this happen! See here for details.

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Andrew Feinberg

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President of National Black Chamber of Commerce Lambasts EPA Clean Power Plan

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Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Tuesday, August 26th, 2014, 3:37 PM PERMALINK


Harry Alford, co-founder and president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce published a piece recently highlighting the damage the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan stands to inflict on African-Americans with small businesses and those with low incomes. It is already clear that the Clean Power Plan stands to drastically increase energy costs for all consumers. According to Alford’s piece, enrollment in LIHEAP (the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) has been steadily increasing each year already, even without the burden of the Clean Power Plan. It only stands to get worse if the plan is implemented.

Alford also points out that the Clean Power Plan will destroy many thousands of jobs in one fell swoop, without much promise for creating new ones. With unemployment rates for African Americans already averaging at double the rate for whites, the plan will disproportionately harm many African Americans who are already down on their luck. In closing, Alford ponders, and justifiably so, the investments that African-Americans have made, and how the Clean Power Plan hints at a distinct unwillingness on the government’s part to give back;

“African-American businesses were being created at a steady rate prior to the economic crash in 2008. We have worked to get back to that level of growth, driven by both the desire to both contribute to our own communities and to help rebuild the broader U.S. economy, but not without sacrifices or toil. However, even before any action has been taken by the EPA on their latest proposal, energy costs continue to increase, while the median household income has decreased for African-American families. Our members have invested in their businesses, and in their employees; shouldn't our government be willing to make the same investments in us?”

You can read his entire piece here.

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Dan Lurie

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Grover Norquist Files Comments With FCC on TWC-Comcast Merger

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Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Monday, August 25th, 2014, 4:58 PM PERMALINK


The following comments can be attributed to Grover Norquist, regarding the Comcast-TimeWarner merger: 

"The marketplace is adjusting to consumer demand, the government should not meddle beyond antitrust concerns in a free-market transaction."

Americans for Tax Reform President, Grover Norquist, and Executive Director of Digital Liberty, Katie McAuliffe filed comments with the FCC regarding the TWC-Comcast merger.

They spoke out strongly against the FCC interfering or adding any further conditions to the merger. In their comments, they make the case that the TWC-Comcast merger presents neither horizontal nor vertical anti-trust issues, stating that it will not result in any significant loss of competition. They also argue that the FCC has disregarded the limits of its own authority and used public interest to justify adding numerous, excessive, coercive conditions to the merger review, seeming to be aimed toward forcibly equalizing both competitors rather than being aimed at benefiting the consumers. As a final crushing blow to the FCC’s draconian review, they note that TWC and Comcast have already agreed between themselves on many of the FCC’s previously imposed conditions, before the FCC had even shoved itself in the middle.

Read the comments in full here.

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Stephen P.D

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Alaskans Reaffirm Energy Tax Cut in August Referendum

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Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Friday, August 22nd, 2014, 3:03 PM PERMALINK


Earlier this week, Alaska voters rejected liberal attempts to repeal Senate Bill 21, The More Alaska Production Act, which was passed in 2013 by a narrow 11-9 vote and gives a tax cut to oil companies in Alaska. If Senate Bill 21 was repealed, previous egregiously high taxes on Alaskan oil producers would be reinstated, placing strain on the companies and killing jobs for Alaskans. The campaign to keep the tax cut won by only 6,800 of 153,000 votes.  While there are still 14,000 absentee ballots yet to be counted, the margin was wide enough on early Wednesday for supporters of the tax cut to call it a win.

The campaigns for repealing the tax cuts were based mostly on emotion with very little fact: The Vote Yes campaign attacked the oil industry as being untrustworthy and unlikely to keep their promises to Alaskans, and called the tax cut a “giveaway”. Ultimately the facts won, with the Vote No side, supported by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Dem. Senator Mark Begich claims to have an opinion, but offers a weak excuse for his refusal to take a public stance on the issue.)  presenting solid arguments that repealing the More Alaska Production Act would be bad for Alaskans: An over-taxed corporation has to produce less, charge more for their product, and hire fewer people. 

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Tori Middelstadt

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Grover Norquist's Statement on FCC Involvement in Municipal Broadband

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Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014, 12:40 PM PERMALINK


Today, in an address to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Mathew Berry, Chief of Staff to FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, made clear that states asking the FCC to preempt state law would violate the Constitution, and has no basis in legal precedent. 

In response, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist issued the following statement:

The bipartisan NCSL has said that it will take the FCC to court to stop any attempt by the Commission to preempt state regulation of taxpayer-funded broadband networks.  The FCC should not waste valuable time and taxpayer dollars in futile legal wrangling.  It’s none of the FCC’s business if state governments forbid cities from wasting taxpayer dollars.

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Keep Internet Access Tax Free!

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Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Tuesday, August 12th, 2014, 1:14 PM PERMALINK


Keep Internet access tax free!  Sign the petition!

The House recently passed a permanent extension of the internet tax moratorium, H.R. 3086,  Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA). PITFA would permanently prevent state and local governments from imposing taxes on internet access. (This should not be confused with the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow sales tax to be collected from e-commerce.) The Senate has not yet passed the moratorium, but it is of great importance that they pass it before the current moratorium expires on November 1st.  

The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act is the only thing stopping state and local governments from taxing internet access and making it significantly less affordable. If internet access is less affordable, fewer people will have it, and if fewer people have internet access, there is less investment in broadband infrastructure and overall less people using the internet as the amazing tool for innovation and entrepreneurship that it ought to be.

There is very little doubt that states and cities would impose taxes as soon as they were allowed.  Using cellular phone access as an example, an average of 17% of the average American cellular phone bill is now comprised of taxes.

Please do your part to keep internet access tax-free by signing our petition telling Congress to pass PITFA!

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Proposed EPA Rules Promise Devastating Losses, Negligible Benefits

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Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Tuesday, July 29th, 2014, 10:18 AM PERMALINK


The EPA is holding public hearings on their new proposed Clean Power Plan in Atlanta, GA, Denver, CO, Pittsburgh, PA, and Washington, DC this week so that people who are concerned or interested can present comments, data and arguments about the plan. (Note that even though an event near you might be fully booked, you can still post, email, mail, or fax your comments.) If you’d like to attend and have your voice heard, you can register and find more information here.

The Clean Power Plan is a disastrous and unprecedented new set of rules that the EPA has billed as a way to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by a total of 30% (The actual goal is 30% less carbon than 2005 levels, a detail the EPA has mostly downplayed when selling this plan to the public.) over the next two decades. On the surface, this might sound like a great idea, but it starts to fall apart as soon as you begin to examine the methods and costs that would go into complying with the rules. 

Using a series of ridiculously complicated and arguably arbitrary formulas, the EPA has come up with a goal for each individual state to reduce its carbon emissions by, claiming to have based these goals on each state’s ability to reduce emissions. The agency intends to leave it up to the states themselves to come up with and implement plans to meet the goals they were assigned, offering only four “building blocks” (heat rate improvements, lower-emitting power plants, end-user energy efficiency, and zero-carbon generation) as suggestions.

Not only are the rules and deadlines unfair, unequal, and potentially problematic to varying degrees for different states, the EPA bypassed congress completely in implementing them, using their dubious power under the Clean Air Act to circumvent the normal process that would be involved in making such rules. The agency has never done this before, and it is already questionably legal, as the Clean Air Act states that the EPA may require states to adopt new standards, and to guide states in how to do so, but that the ultimate power of deciding what the standards would be lies with states. The EPA adds insult to injury by calling this a “federal-state partnership”, using a broad definition of the word “partnership” that eschews the popular idea that partnerships are typically voluntary. 

Along with being a massive overreach of authority, the new rules stand to destroy jobs and sharply drive up electricity prices, all while putting a negligible dent in our country’s overall carbon emissions. Even if, by some miracle, these rules didn’t cause widespread economic trouble, allowing the EPA to implement them will set a new precedent for them to unilaterally impose even more demands on individuals and industries later, without Congress stepping in to help ensure new rules are sensible, fair, and not outside the bounds of the EPA’s authority. 

Industries are still considering what all of this will mean for them, but from what we can see already, it doesn’t look promising.

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Alison Christine

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ATR on PBS: Unchecked Spending Draining Highway Trust Fund

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Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Thursday, July 24th, 2014, 12:55 PM PERMALINK


The Federal Highway Trust Fund, which provides the funds used to build and maintain many highways and bridges in the US, is projected to run dry in August, causing politicians in Washington to rush to find a way to keep the fund afloat before leaving for their August recess.

While some lawmakers have suggested plowing new and higher taxes into the trust fund to make it whole, ATR's Mattie Duppler sat down with PBS Newshour to discuss why more revenue can't keep the fund from going bankrupt. She highlighted the importance of not just spending money on infrastructure, but spending it wisely.  And she’s right: For example, according to Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute, inflation and improved fuel efficiency aren’t the culprits that have reduced the HTF to nearly nothing. To see what really ran the fund dry, you need only look at federal highway and transit spending in the last approximately four decades. Highway spending has doubled in the last twenty years, and an increasing number of non-highway projects – such as mass transit, bike paths and landscaping efforts – have been getting a bigger part of the pie.  You can read more of ATR's thoughts on this looming catastrophe here. 

 

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EPA Moves to Scuttle Alaskan Pebble Mine

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Posted by Cassandra Carroll on Monday, July 21st, 2014, 2:43 PM PERMALINK


Underneath picturesque Bristol Bay in Southwestern Alaska sit vast deposits of an estimated $300 billion worth of molybdenum, copper and gold. The waters of Bristol Bay hold the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the entire world, as well as huge populations of silver, chum, and king salmon. It is obvious that Bristol Bay is home to unbelievably valuable natural resources which could be used to create prosperity for Alaska as well as the rest of the country. Certainly, the area is delicate; a large number of local jobs rely on fisheries, and many of the residents rely on wild resources such as salmon, caribou and moose to survive. All this being said, you’d think the federal government and EPA would be interested in fostering cooperation between itself, industry, and the residents of Bristol Bay and the surrounding areas to take advantage of all this opportunity while protecting the local people and ecosystem, right? Well, not necessarily.

The Pebble Mine is a project proposed by the Pebble Partnership that would make use of the currently unutilized deposits of gold, copper and molybdenum in Bristol Bay. Before the project can start, however, Pebble Partnership will have to spend a lot of time and money acquiring permits, which is where the EPA comes into the story. Normally, when a mining project is proposed, the company who plans to do the mining applies to the Army Corps of Engineers for a permit that certifies the project complies with section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Assuming the Corps of Engineers grants the permit, the EPA then has the authority to veto it if they deem the project to be too great a risk to the environment, or, more recently, too great a risk to the EPA’s increasingly partisan politics.

And it looks like Pebble Mine’s permit might be well upon its way to being denied before it’s even applied for. The EPA has already begun to propose drastic restrictions on how the land can be used. Technically this is not a preemptive strike, but it certainly looks like one in effect. The restrictions are based on a precarious report that made a number of false assumptions about the Pebble Mine. The House Oversight Committee even has reason to believe that Philip North, a former EPA employee, had already been making plans with colleagues in 2009 to deny Pebble Partnership a permit before they even applied for it, and even before the research on the mine’s potential impacts had begun. This is currently being investigated, but Philip North has not been reached for comment, citing a number of excuses, such as a one-year boat trip around the world with his children. When subpoenaed for North’s emails, the regional EPA office conveniently claimed that they’d been lost in a hard drive crash. Sound familiar? (http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/210564-epa-says-hard-drive-crashed-emails-lost )

Speaking about the potential mining project, EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran said, “The science is clear that mining the Pebble deposit would cause irreversible damage to one of the world’s last intact salmon ecosystems.” That doesn’t sound like someone who wants to have an objective discussion. It also presumes that there’s nothing the Pebble Partnership can do to sway the agency, even though they are yet to submit their permit application.   

Pebble Mine has potential to be a great benefit to local Alaskan communities, particularly the native population. Maybe the mine would work in harmony with the locals and wildlife, and improve the lives of thousands of Americans. Maybe the mine really would be too great a risk to the environment, and should be abandoned. Either way, we all knew when our parents said things like “You can’t because I said so, and that’s the end of this conversation!”, it was often because they knew their arguments wouldn’t stand up to even a child’s scrutiny. So when the EPA essentially does the same thing to a mining company, it leaves us all to wonder. Why are they so afraid of a little discussion?

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lkharter

Alaskans do NOT want Pebble Mine. The developer, a Canadian company has NO experience mining. Two prior supporters have REVERSED their positions, and have withdrawn. Do some research - Get the FACTS. PEBBLE MINE WILL NEVER EXIST.


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