Chris Prandoni

EPA Finalizes Yet Another Expensive Mandate

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Monday, October 15th, 2012, 12:44 PM PERMALINK

Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) codified their war on American drivers by finalizing new car mileage mandates, otherwise known as CAFÉ standards. Increasing the cost of new cars by thousands of dollars, new CAFÉ rules will require cars built in 2025 to get at least 54.5 miles per gallon. With current 2011 cars averaging 28.6 miles per gallon, the EPA is going to require automotive manufacturers to nearly double fuel economy standards in a little more than a decade.

While the Obama administration has made the 2009 Auto-Bailout one of the center-pieces of their re-election campaign, the reality is that these new rules will affect and cost consumers more money. Emily Wismer, Policy Analyst for Independent Women’s Forum writes:

While it sounds fantastic to drive twice as far on each tank of gas, this extra efficiency comes at a large, up-front cost to consumers: New cars are expected to cost about $2000 more because of this mandate. As a result, many potential new car buyers will be priced out of the market. The effects of higher new car costs will ripple into the used car market, as fewer families will be able to trade in old vehicles for a new car. That means less supply and more demand for used cars, and higher prices for used cars as well.

Ms. Wismer’s $2,000 figure might actually understate the actually cost of complying with the EPA’s newest mandate. Bill Underriner, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, estimates that the new regulations could increase the cost of new cars by $3,000 which would “shut almost 7 million people out of the new car market entirely and prevent many millions more from being able to afford new vehicles that meet their needs."

The Obama Administration hails new CAFÉ rules as a necessity to save consumers money at the pump. If higher mileage standards are inherently such a good deal, one has to wonder why the government must ratchet up CAFÉ rules. Consumers are more than capable of deciding what car they would like to drive and what they fill their car up with. Next time you hear about a government mandate coming to save you money, make sure to hold on to your wallet.

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Why New York State Should Lift its Hydraulic Fracturing Moratorium

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, 11:46 AM PERMALINK

As New York’s Department of Energy Conservation (DEC) prepares to issue a report on hydraulic fracturing, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens finds himself in a precarious position. As former founder of Catskill Mountainkeepers—your run-of-the-mill anti-energy, anti-hydraulic fracturing group—Martens spent most of his days making sure oil and natural gas producers were creating jobs in Pennsylvania, not New York.

Hydraulic fracturing is effectively banned in New York State (indefinite moratorium) which means that the Utica Shale play, the natural gas formation that stretches from West Virginia to New York, is off-limits. Were NY’s DEC to issue an objective report about the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing, the state might begin a measured conversation about increasing energy production, creating jobs, and reducing the state’s budget gap.

Unfortunately, given Martens’s background and predispositions, an objective report and subsequent adult conversation will never occur. What a shame. While New York’s unemployment level is 8.9 percent, it is certainly higher in the state’s rural regions where most of the New York’s energy reserves are found. While Manhattan may be recession proof, much of blue-collar New York is hurting.

Since 2010, development of shale reserves has supported an astounding 600,000 jobs, a number that is only increasing. Adding insult to injury for New York’s unemployed, many of these jobs are found in nearby states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. Hydraulic fracturing—a tried and true method of extracting oil and natural gas—coupled with horizontal drilling will continue to be a boon for America’s economy; an estimated 70 percent of natural gas development in the future will come from hydraulic fracturing.

But hydraulic fracturing is much bigger than the oil and natural gas industry. America’s abundance of natural gas has directly fueled a manufacturing renaissance in two ways. Natural gas is cheap, very cheap, which means that electricity prices will decrease. America’s manufacturers, what few are left, are under such immense pressure from globalization that a ten percent drop in electricity prices might make the difference between closing up shop and keeping the lights on. Secondly, chemical companies that use natural gas as a feedstock are literally closing shops abroad and reopening them in the United States.

With all the excitement surrounding American energy development, it is a shame to see New York State on the sidelines.

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Life without the PTC ain't that bad

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, August 1st, 2012, 12:44 PM PERMALINK

In 2002, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) lobbied for temporary extension of the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) arguing that wind was nearly competitive:

"I'd say we're going to have to do it for at least another five years, maybe for 10 years. Sometime we're going to reach that point where it's competitive [with other forms of energy]. I think the argument for any tax credit is to make the new source of energy economically competitive," Grassley said.

Taking Sen. Grassley (R-Iowa) at his word, 2012 would be the last year the federal government allowed wind producers to claim the PTC. Yet, Sen. Grassley (R-Iowa)—the 1992 original author of the PTC—and other Midwest Republican Senators are again arguing for a one-year or four-year extension of the PTC.

But will allowing the wind PTC to expire be a deathblow to the wind industry in states like, oh say, Iowa? Hardly.

Wind producers will employ the PTC until 2022
The wind PTC allows wind producers to employ the 2.2 cents per KWh tax credit for the first ten years they are operating; meaning that a wind producer who began employing the PTC this year will be able to utilize the credit until 2022. Far from pulling the rug out from under the wind industry, allowing the PTC to expire will have no impact on current wind producers.

105 MW of Iowa’s electricity must come from renewable sources
One of 33 states that has either a Renewable Portfolio Standard (renewable electricity mandate) or renewable target, a large portion of Iowa’s electricity must effectively come from wind production. Iowa’s RPS, for better or worse, ensures that wind will be a critical component of Iowa’s energy mix.

Choosing instead to cite spurious numbers about impending job losses, wind PTC proponents conveniently ignore government policies that already buttress the industry. If you offered a non-wind retailer the opportunity to have a mandated consumer base and then the ability to lower their tax liability every time they sold their product, they would take that deal—and sell a lot of widgets.

Justified as a temporary tax provision by its advocates, it is time to allow the wind PTC to expire at the end of 2012, as Sen. Grassley promised. 

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Romney vows to cleanup America's electricity market, let wind PTC expire

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 12:26 PM PERMALINK

Showing reverence for the free market and transparent electricity prices, Governor Romney vowed to let the Wind Production Tax Credit expire at the end of 2012. Yesterday, the campaign condemned the PTC correctly characterizing it as a distortive, liberal policy:

"President Obama's promise to 'easily' create 5 million green energy jobs has become a particularly depressing punchline amidst the endless disappointments of the last four years. The President spent $90 billion in taxpayer stimulus dollars, some of which went to his donors and political allies or was sent to create jobs overseas instead of here in America. Now we have American wind and solar energy sectors that combine to produce only one percent of our energy - and our wind industry has actually lost 10,000 jobs."

"The President may believe that his economic plan 'worked' and that America wants to repeat the experience for another four years, but the facts don't back that up. Mitt Romney believes it is time for a new approach to ensure our nation's energy independence. He will allow the wind credit to expire, end the stimulus boondoggles, and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits. Wind energy will thrive wherever it is economically competitive, and wherever private sector competitors with far more experience than the President believe the investment will produce results."

ATR couldn't agree more. Only in a world of loan guarantees, mandates, and Environmental Protection Agency regulations are Americans forced to employ an inefficient, expensive energy source - wind. Gov. Romney's decision to let the wind PTC expire shows that he is serious about cleaning up America's tax code and energy market.

It is important to note that Governor Romney's decision took political courage; Colorado and Iowa are heavy consumers of wind energy - both are pivotal swing states. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying Midwest Republican and Democrats to support the Wind PTC. Now dependent on the PTC, the wind lobby will likely set its sights on the Romney campaign. Certainly aware of this reality, Gov. Romney chose policy over politics and will be making the case for full expiration of the PTC.

Americans for Tax Reform has long advocated for complete expiration or immediate repeal of the PTC on the condition that the corresponding tax increase is offset (Rep. Pompeo bill).

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Center-right Groups Urge Congress to Oppose EPA's GHG Regulation

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, July 17th, 2012, 10:17 AM PERMALINK

Conservative groups urge Congress to oppose the EPA's onerous GHG regulation--a rule which would effectively ban the construction of new coal-fired power plants.

Click here for a PDF version of the below letter or here for further insights from CEI's Marlo Lewis.

July 16, 2012

Dear Representative
On behalf of the millions of members and followers of our organizations, we urge you to oppose the EPA’s new greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions regulation for coal power plants.
Requiring new fossil-fuel plants to achieve emissions standards that only natural gas power plants can meet, the EPA’s proposal will effectively ban construction of new coal-fired power plants. While hundreds of thousands of Americans are directly and indirectly employed by the coal industry, tens of millions of Americans enjoy the affordable and reliable energy produced by coal-fired power plants.
Twisting the Clean Air Act to achieve its partisan ends, Obama’s EPA is utilizing the arcane law in ways its authors never intended. Congress never authorized the EPA to ban the construction of coal-fired power plants; the EPA is appropriating powers never bestowed to it.
The result of the EPA’s power grab will be increased energy prices and fewer jobs as American companies and families are forced to pay higher electricity bills.
That cheap coal power is in jeopardy should come as no surprise. In 2008, then Candidate Obama publicized his true intentions saying that, “if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them.” Indeed, the EPA’s new GHG rule is the culmination of Obama’s promise “to make electricity rates skyrocket” under his Administration.
Distorting America’s energy market by prohibiting the construction of coal power plants will unnecessarily cause the cost of electricity to increase for nearly every American. It is for these reasons we urge you to oppose the EPA’s new GHG regulation.

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Obama's bogus 5-year drilling plan

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, June 29th, 2012, 12:00 PM PERMALINK

Earlier this week, the Department of the Interior released its expected disappointing 5-year lease plan.

A graphic from the good people of the House Natural Resources Committee tells you all you need to know about Obama's lease (or lack thereof) plan. This from their website:

Offshore Areas Open for Drilling when President Obama Took Office

Click to enlarge image

Offshore Areas Blocked for Drilling under President Obama's
Final 2012-2017 Plan

Click to enlarge image

Enough said.

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Will the EPA ban coal-fired power?

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, June 28th, 2012, 11:15 AM PERMALINK

The EPA has announced a proposed rule called the Carbon Pollution Standard. While sounding innocuous, the new regulation would effectively ban construction of new coal-fired power plants. Requiring emissions to be so low that “no existing coal power plants come close; even the most efficient,” new power generation is likely to come from natural gas power plants.

Back in March of 2011, the EPA said they wouldn’t be forcing anyone to switch from coal to natural gas, but with this new rule, they have accomplished their long term goal of making coal extinct. In 2008, a candid candidate Obama said that “if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them…” Since coming into office, President Obama and his radical EPA have been trying to eliminate out coal fired plants with regulations like the Utility-MACT.

CEI’s Marlo Lewis explains how the EPA deems natural gas to be an appropriate power source but effectivley bans coal-fired power.

The Carbon Pollution Standard may be among the weirdest regulations ever proposed. This dubious distinction is no doubt related to the fact that the EPA is attempting to regulate GHGs through a statute neither designed nor intended for that purpose. The proposal is bizarre in at least five ways.

(1)    The EPA classifies natural gas combined cycle — a type of power plant — as a “control option” or “system of emission reduction” for coal-fired power plants.

The EPA picked 1,000 lbs CO2/MWh as the “standard of performance” for new fossil-fuel EGUs because that is the “degree of emission limitation achievable through natural gas combined cycle generation.”20 But consider how the CAA defines “standard of performance” *CAA § 111(a)(1)]:

The term “standard of performance” means a standard for emissions of air pollutants which reflects the degree of emission limitation achievable through the application of the best system of emission reduction which (taking into account the cost of achieving such reduction and any non-air quality health and environmental impact and energy requirements) the Administrator determines has been adequately demonstrated.21

Performance standards are supposed to reflect the best “system of emission reduction.” But natural gas combined cycle is not a system of emission reduction. It is a type of power plant. EPA is not proposing that new coal power plants install emission reduction systems that have been “adequately demonstrated.” Rather, EPA is proposing that new coal power plants be new natural gas plants.

The Carbon Pollution Standard is another market distorting regulation that will inevitably increase natural gas consumption, causing the price of the fuel to rise. While America is endowed with enormous natural gas reserves, we have even more coal. It would be wise to develop and utilize both resources, if only the EPA would let us.

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Vote YES on Rubio's RAISE ACT Amendment #2166

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, 5:26 PM PERMALINK

Link to full PDF of Letter

Teamsters President James Hoffa said it best in his vote alert urging Senators to oppose the RAISE Act “which seeks to allow employers to grant wage increases unilaterally to workers of their choosing.” That’s the point—employers should be allowed to give their unionized employees monetary compensation for increased productivity. 

Unfortunately, current law governing collective bargaining agreements requires employers to first seek union-approval before “granting wage increases.” Simply giving a unionized employee an individual bonus constitutes “direct dealing” and is illegal. The RAISE Act would remove this anti-worker wage cap and allow employers to pay their unionized employees more. 

Most union collective bargaining agreements allot raises or bonuses on the premise of tenure or seniority, not on merit. Under this system, workers are beholden to the union for increased compensation. The RAISE Act empowers workers by allowing for fair wage increases and ensures that all employees have an equal opportunity to earn raises.

Allow unionized employees to earn more money, vote YES on Amendment #2166

Alexander-Pryor Introduce EPA Cover Bill

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012, 11:36 AM PERMALINK

Midwest Senate Democrats’ political survival is predicated on tricking their constituents. Surely the average voter in Ohio or Missouri does not want the government spending at historic highs, taxes to increase, or the Environmental Protection Agency to dictate the American economy—yet this is what their Senators stand for.   

Ruling the Senate with an iron fist and blocking problematic votes, Majority Leader Harry Reid has largely masked Midwest Democrats’ liberal ideology. But every now and then conservatives bring a bill to the floor that exposes who these Midwestern Democrats really are—California Senators with a twang. This week’s revelatory bill is Senator Inhofe’s Congressional Review Act (CRA) which would overturn the EPA’s Utility-MACT regulation, a deathblow to the coal industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs the industry supports.   

Costing an estimated $10 billion annually by 2016, the U-MACT wins the EPA’s pernicious accolade of most expensive regulation ever written for power plants. The U-MACT requires coal power plants to spend millions of dollars retrofitting their facilities or shutdown entirely. Unable to afford costly upgrades, many power plants will close their doors causing electricity prices and unemployment levels to rise.

Only requiring 50 votes to nullify the EPA’s regulation, there is a real chance Senator Inhofe’s CRA will become law. The lines are clearly delineated: Senators can side with their state’s job creators or Obama’s out of control EPA; Senators can support the CRA or oppose it.

This puts in-cycle Democrats in the proverbial pickle—they need votes come November but also want to kill the American coal industry. Coming to their rescue, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is planning on introducing a toothless bill with Democrat Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

Politico has the details:

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) will introduce legislation as early as Wednesday to allow six years to comply with EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants, according to a Senate GOP aide. The Clean Air Act allows EPA to provide three years for compliance with the rule, and for states to add one more (which they've been encouraged to do). A fifth year is possible if there are reliability concerns, but not for cost or any other reasons. The Alexander-Pryor legislation would allow an across-the-board longer compliance time for all utilities.

This new bill, which has zero chance of becoming law, is meant to justify Democrat opposition to Inhofe’s CRA. Nor would it significantly mitigate the U-MACT’s job killing, electricity increasing effects, simply delay them.

The only opportunity the Senate has to overturn the U-MACT, and all of its disastrous consequences, is to pass the Inhofe CRA. The Alexander-Pryor bill is dead-on-arrival rendering its hypothetical benefits irrelevant. Nothing more than a cover bill, the Alexander-Pryor bill’s intent is to blur the lines so clearly drawn by the Inhofe CRA and confuse voters. This can’t be allowed to happen.

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Over a Dozen Conservative Groups urge Congress to Include Keystone in Highway Bill

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 11:54 AM PERMALINK

For a PDF version of this letter, click here.

June 5, 2012

Dear Conferee,

On behalf of the millions of members and followers of our organizations, we urge you to ensure that Keystone XL Pipeline approval language is included in the final version of the Highway Bill. 

Given President Obama’s successive moves to block construction of the pipeline—and the thousands of jobs, increased energy security, and economic activity tethered to the project—Congress must override the President and approve the Keystone Pipeline. 

Constructing the Keystone pipeline would safely and immediately create 20,000 construction jobs, buttress America’s refining industry, and increase American energy security. Remarkably, these benefits remain in limbo with Obama scared to affront radical environmentalists during this election year.

The Keystone Pipeline has been thoroughly vetted by numerous federal agencies and successfully made its way through the federal rigmarole only to be killed in the 11th hour. Past concerns from the state of Nebraska have been assuaged; the governor recently signed a bill into law that resumes the review process of a new route.

Facing persistently high unemployment and a stagnant economy, Obama’s inhibitive policies necessitate Congressional remedy. Again, we urge you to jumpstart the American economy by ensuring the Keystone XL Pipeline is included in the final version of the transportation bill.


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