Chris Prandoni

Coburn-Carper Postal Bill Misses The Mark

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, September 18th, 2013, 5:00 PM PERMALINK

With the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) $8 billion deficit driving Congressional action, Sens. Carper and Coburn have put forth a bill that protects a bloated union workforce and paves the way for consumer rate increases.

Rightsizing the workforce
Compared to the private sector, over 80 percent of the Post Office’s costs are labor related while FedEx and UPS spend 20-40 percent less. For years the USPS has acknowledged its excess capacity, yet S. 1486 delays necessary attrition by placing a two-year moratorium on plant closings.

If the Postal Service is to become profitable, it will need to reduce labor costs. Unfortunately, S. 1486 kicks the can down the road by perpetuating excess postal labor that the USPS can no longer afford. Additionally, the bill claws back private sector work sharing language that could reduce Postal Service costs.  

Overpaid workers
USPS employees are paid far above expected market rates: 34% more than their private sector counterparts. The average annual compensation (including benefits) of a postal employee is well in excess of $80,000. While S. 1486 allows the Postal Service to establish a new retirement plan for new employees, the legislation does little to address inflated employee wages. It is the combination of too many employees that are paid too much that is dragging USPS into the red. The solution to USPS’s self-identified problems is to address these labor issues head-on, not look for more revenue through rate increases.   

Raising rates
Unable to save enough money through necessary cuts, the USPS will be forced to raise postal rates. S. 1486 changes and then permanently removes the CPI based annual cap on postal rates. Without such a cap, USPS will have little incentive to reduce its workforce and rein in its costs. Instead of duking it out with the union, the USPS will likely raise rates on consumers.

Ultimately, increasing postal service rates forces customers to prop-up the continued inefficient operations of the postal service.

Rate increases would only cause more customers to flee the mail system and could exacerbate the USPS’s most obvious problem – mail volume dropped by 25 percent from 2006 to 2012, from 213 billion pieces of mail a year to 160 billion pieces of mail a year.

The legislation then shifts rate setting responsibilities from the independent oversight of the Postal Regulatory Commission to the USPS Board of Governors, the same entity that has overseen billion dollar losses year after year.

The USPS has acknowledged that its problems lay in its excess capacity, including workforce and facilities. While S. 1486 takes some steps to address healthcare costs for USPS employees – no small achievement – it does not do enough to fix USPS’s unnecessary overhead. Burdening ratepayers with USPS’s labor costs is not only unfair, but could undermine the entire system by driving more users out of it.

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176 Democrats Support Obama-imposed Carbon Tax

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, August 2nd, 2013, 10:35 AM PERMALINK

Passed with nearly all Republican votes, the House of Representatives today adopted Rep. Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) amendment to the REINS Act which would require a Congressional vote on any major regulation that taxes carbon. With President Obama explicitly ordering federal agencies to implement carbon reducing policies, the Scalise amendment provides taxpayers with a necessary safeguard against a carbon tax.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office described the negative effects of a carbon tax this way:
The higher prices it caused would diminish the purchasing power of people’s earnings, effectively reducing their real (inflation-adjusted) wages. Lower real wages would have the net effect of reducing the amount that people worked, thus decreasing the overall supply of labor. Investment would also decline, further reducing the economy’s total output.

An economic analysis by the National Manufacturers Association details how a carbon tax designed to reduce CO2 levels by 80 percent could:
•    Result in a loss of worker income equivalent to 1.3-1.5 million jobs in 2013 and 3.8-21 million jobs by 2053
•    Potentially raise gasoline prices by over $10 per gallon
•    Raise residential electricity prices by 40 percent
Yet, Democrats are willing to inflict these policies on the American people in order to fund a bloated government.  

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Even Obama's State Department Knows Keystone XL Is Not An Environmental Hazard

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, 12:55 PM PERMALINK

This Op-ed orginally appeared on

Kowtowing to radical environmentalists, President Obama has consistently ignored his own State Department’s analysis in an effort to kill the Keystone XL pipeline. Over the past month, President Obama has openly posited concerns about Keystone construction, concerns that the State Department has analyzed and answered.

The unnecessarily controversial Keystone XL project would carry over 800,000 barrels of crude oil from Alberta, Canada to American refiners in Oklahoma and Texas. Environmentalists have already pressured President Obama to delay construction of the Keystone pipeline for 1700 days. Given the President’s recent, misleading comments, it is looking increasingly likely that the White House will ultimately kill the project.

In a July 24 interview with the New York Times, President Obama pleads for an objective discussion about Keystone, and then immediately relies on partisan job estimates to undermine the project:

    My hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline…and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 [chuckles] jobs.

Revealing the President’s hypocrisy, the depressed 2,000 job creation figure is likely pulled from the Cornell University Global Labor Institute, well-known opponents of the Keystone Pipeline. It is telling that President Obama goes out of his way to ignore his own State Department’s job creation estimates, presumably because they further justify construction of the project. In the fourth, and hopefully final, Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the State Department writes:

    Including direct, indirect, and induced effects, the proposed Project would potentially support approximately 42,100 average annual jobs across the United States over a 1-to 2-year construction period.

42,000 jobs is not a number to chuckle about, as President Obama does in his interview with the Times. The American construction industry has been hit hard during this economic downturn, especially in the Midwest. With the unemployment rate hovering around 7.5 percent, the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs should be cheered, not belittled.

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Americans Want Congress to Stop Obama's Job-Killing Carbon Regulations

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, July 18th, 2013, 12:25 PM PERMALINK

This aricle first appeared in Townhall

During President Obama’s Climate Speech at Georgetown University, the leader of the executive branch warned opponents of his just announced EPA regulations that “sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it's not going to protect you from the coming storm" and that “we don't have time for a meeting of the flat-Earth society."

As it turns out, President Obama was patronizing a plurality of Americans: more people think that Congress should stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s forthcoming regulations than think Congress should allow these regulations to become law, according to a new National Journal poll. Even 35 percent of self-identified Democrats think that Congress should intervene and stop new carbon regulations.

Given the Left’s utilization of the bully pulpit and introduction of false choices – you are either for EPA regulations or are sticking your head in the sand – it is encouraging that so many Americans doubt the Obama Administration’s ability to effectively and fairly implement incredibly costly regulations. The American people’s skepticism is evident in Congress’s strong aversion to pass legislation that would punish carbon-based energy, thereby increasing its cost. It is because of Congress’s explicit refusal to raise electricity prices that President Obama has subverted the legislative branch and unilaterally proposed EPA regulations.

I suspect that the more Americans hear about President Obama’s carbon regulations, the more they will urge Congress to overturn them. While President Obama only publically touted new carbon emissions standards for power plants a few weeks ago, the regulations date back to last year when the EPA proposed carbon emission standards that would effectively banned construction of new coal-fired power plants.

According to the EPA’s own analysis, their new carbon regulation banning coal power plants wouldn’t cost anything, since no new power plants would ever be built. Indeed, the EPA’s draft proposal states that “there will be no construction of new coal-fired generation without CCS [Carbon Capture Storage] by 2030.”

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House to overturn Obama's anti-growth offshore drilling plan

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Thursday, June 27th, 2013, 11:39 AM PERMALINK

On Tuesday, President Obama ordered the EPA to issue even more job-killing regulations, once again advocated for huge tax hikes on oil and natural gas producers, and announced he will try to impede coal exports. And you wonder why more than 11 million Americans are unemployed. Looking to actually solve this failure of Obama’s presidency, House Republicans have introduced legislation that would allow oil and natural gas producers to develop America’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), the aptly named Offshore Energy and Jobs Act.

Here’s what President Obama’s “offshore plan” looks like today:

Energy production is prohibited of a whopping 85 percent of offshore areas under President Obama’s plan. And there’s a lot of oil and natural gas locked up under those red “do not drill” regions: 2.5 billion barrels or 7.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Republicans rightly think that hundreds of thousands of new jobs, increased energy security, and billion-dollar investments are a good thing. That is why, under the House’s offshore energy bill, the OCS map will look like this:

The Offshore Energy and Jobs Act has the potential to create over a million jobs and should become law as soon as possible.

This week’s action is indicative of both Parties’ energy platforms: Republicans think Americans deserve affordable, reliable energy. Democrats cheer the subversion of Congress to punish producers of carbon-based fuel.


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Mining Industry's Fate to be Determined by Anti-Mining EPA

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Friday, June 14th, 2013, 9:54 AM PERMALINK

Empowered by a recent court ruling, the Environmental Protection Agency is coopting arcane laws to inhibit economic development and kill thousands of jobs. In order for a mining operating to begin production, developers must apply for and receive a handful of permits. One such mandatory permit is the Section 404 permit required under the Clean Water Act. Production cannot begin without the Section 404 permit, effectively giving the EPA veto authority over any proposed mining project.

A few weeks ago, a federal appeals court upheld the EPA’s decision to retroactively revoke a 2007 Section 404 mining permit issued for the Spruce Mine in West Virginia.

Granting the EPA sweeping authority, Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson wrote that the Clean Water Act “empowers him [EPA Administrator] to prohibit, restrict or withdraw the specification 'whenever' he makes a determination that the statutory 'unacceptable adverse effect' will result."

Judge Henderson’s ruling may have granted the now blatantly partisan EPA the ability to kill any mining project “whenever” it sees fit. Given the EPA’s job killing regulations and attempts to scuttle the Keystone XL pipeline, it is easy to predict how the EPA will use its newly codified authority.

It is not surprising that President Obama’s EPA is pushing legal barriers to shut down a coal mine in West Virginia. What is surprising is that a federal judge endorsed such a move, especially after a district court argued that the EPA "exceeded its authority under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act when it attempted to invalidate an existing permit by withdrawing the specification of certain areas as disposal sites."

Most mining projects require years of preparation. Before developers can even begin mining, they first must identify economically viable resources, either buy or lease land from the government or private individuals, and then apply for drilling permits from a handful of different agencies. Arch Coal received its first Spruce Mine permit in 1998 and received its Clean Water Act permit in 2007. All in all, this process requires millions of dollars, lawyers, and years of paperwork.

After the Spruce Mine ruling, job creators will have to go through this expensive, time-consuming process knowing that the EPA can pull the rug out from under them at any point during production.

Every mining investment just got a whole lot riskier.

But this is nothing new. With Congressional Republicans blocking Democrats’ anti-growth legislation, environmentalists have enlisted the EPA to inhibit domestic energy and mineral production.

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ATR endorses McConnell's Coal Jobs Protection Act

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Monday, April 29th, 2013, 11:15 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform sent the following letter to the Senate:

26 April 2013

Dear Senator:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and millions of taxpayers nationwide, I urge you to support Sen. McConnell’s Coal Jobs Protection Act, which looks to streamline the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) broken permitting process.     
Since assuming office, President Obama has tasked the EPA with diminishing American coal production and consumption. After all, it was candidate Obama who, estimating his potential presidency, said “If somebody wants to build a coal fire plant… it will bankrupt them.”  

Sen. McConnell’s Coal Jobs Protection Act looks to rebuff this Administration’s attacks on an industry that is responsible for tens of thousands of jobs and supplies Americans with affordable, reliable energy.  

The consequences of candidate Obama’s threats are now evident: last year coal production in Kentucky dropped by over 16 percent and direct employment fell 22 percent, according to the Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence. In eastern Kentucky, over 4,000 miners lost their jobs and coal production is operating at its lowest level since 1965.

While the EPA is depressing American employment through a variety of procedures, Sen. McConnell’s legislation looks to streamline the agency’s broken permitting process. Sitting on permits that were submitted in 2008, the EPA is using the permitting process to effectively shut down Kentucky coal mines.

The Coal Jobs Protection Act reforms the EPA’s unreasonable permitting rules by requiring the agency to approve or veto 402 applications within 270 days.  If the EPA doesn’t act, the permit is automatically approved. Additionally, this legislation gives the EPA 90 days to begin the authorization process for 404 permits.

Allowing the EPA to postpone thousands of jobs indefinitely, through inaction, is unacceptable. Sen. McConnell’s Coal Jobs Protection Act would give Kentuckians a reprieve from the Obama Administration’s crushing regulatory agencies.

It is for these reasons that I urge you to pass the Coal Jobs Protection Act.

Grover Norquist

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Conservative groups to Gina McCarthy: EPA must be more transparent

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Monday, April 22nd, 2013, 2:41 PM PERMALINK

Dear Environment and Public Works Committee Member:

The below groups and the millions of activists we represent, strongly support Senate Republican calls for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transparency.

For too long the EPA has effectively evaded oversight from Congress and the American people.

The Windsor-gate scandal that precipitated Lisa Jackson's departure was only the latest example.  The agency has also refused to release the underlying data for benefit claims for rules that impose billions of dollars of economic costs, skirted FOIA requests, and evaded public participation by entering into secretly-negotiated settlement agreements with left-wing interest groups.

With the EPA now regularly making decisions that carry enormous consequences for energy consumers and the U.S. economy, we are seriously concerned that the agency continues to operate with a lack of adequate transparency.

President Obama has nominated current EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy to succeed Lisa Jackson as EPA Administrator. Serving in the EPA for the past four years, Ms. McCarthy has intimate knowledge of the EPA's procedures.

Before the Senate can begin considering Ms. McCarthy as a nominee for EPA Administrator, the American people must be assured that the agency she will run will be accountable to the people affected by its policies.

To this end, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Republicans sent Ms. McCarthy a letter on April 10, 2013 requesting her to resolve five past instances of EPA obstruction or evasion (a copy of this letter can be found after the signature line).

We believe that the American people deserve answers to the five questions outlined in the April 10 letter.

We look forward to working with you to illuminate the EPA's precarious policies.


American Commitment
American Conservative Union
Americans for Tax Reform
Americans for Prosperity
Center for Individual Freedom
Citizens for Limited Taxation
Citizen Outreach
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Council for America
Freedom Action
Freedom Works
Frontiers of Freedom
Liberty Guard
National Center for Public Policy Research
Wyoming Liberty Group
60 Plus

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Obama proposes $94 billion energy tax hike in new budget

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Wednesday, April 10th, 2013, 1:24 PM PERMALINK

PDF copy of this document
Obama Energy Tax Proposals  
The President’s FY 2014 budget contains billions in tax increase on energy production and consumption. These taxes will result in higher prices at the pump, increased utility bills, and fewer American jobs as companies flee the U.S. and companies cannot recover their investments. Below is a breakdown of energy taxes Obama put forth in his 2014-2023 budget:

Tax Increase

FY 2014

FY 2014-2023

Industry Impact

Increase Amortization Period for G&G

$60 million

$1.4 billion

$1.4 billion

Double-taxing Dual-Capacity taxpayers

$550 million

$11 billion

$11 billion

Repeal Percentage Depletion:

  • Oil and Natural Gas
  • Hard Minerals


$1 billion

$113 million


$10.7 billion

$2 billion


$10.7 billion

$2 billion

Repeal Intangible Drilling & Expensing of Exploration Cost for Coal

  • Oil and Natural Gas
  • Hard Mineral


$1.7 billion

$25 million


$11 billion

$430 million


$11 billion

$430 million

Section 199

  • Oil and Natural Gas
  • Hard Mineral


$1.1 billion

$33 million


$17.4 billion

$400 million


$17.4 billion

$400 million

Repeal Tertiary Injectants

$8 million

$100 million

$100 million


$1.4 billion

$20.2 billion

$10.1 billion


$3.5 billion

$80 billion

$28.3 billion

Passive Loss

$7 million

$74 million

$74 million

Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund

$64 million

$1 billion

$1 billion

ATR Recommendation
Allow all employers to deduct all of their business expense in the year they are incurred. In the same budget President Obama argues for full business expensing for small businesses, he looks to lengthen – or eliminate entirely – cost recovery mechanisms for America’s energy producers. This sort of duplicity is not only inequitable, but hamstrings the American economy.

Investment is essential to economic growth. The easiest and fairest way to ensure businesses spend money is to allow them to recoup their expenditures immediately, not depreciate or amortize expenses over arbitrary periods of time. Needlessly tying up capital in strange depreciation tables only exacerbates our current economic morass; yet, this is exactly what President Obama is advocating for.  

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EPA releases new regulation increasing the price of gasoline by 9 cents per gallon

Posted by Chris Prandoni on Monday, April 1st, 2013, 2:20 PM PERMALINK

Last Friday the Office of Management and Budget finalized the Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier 3 gasoline regulation. Even if you aren’t intimately familiar with the rulemaking process, that last sentence should sound some internal alarm bells:

1)    EPA – nothing good comes out of this EPA. Nothing.
2)    Regulation – how the Obama Administration implements policies Congress rejects
3)    Friday – the day politicians/governments/businesses announce bad things. If you are going to fire someone, you do it on a Friday. If the EPA is going to increase the cost of gasoline for every American…they do it on a Friday. Fridays are scary.

EPA just increased the price of gasoline by 9 cents
As you would imagine, gasoline is a heavily regulated fuel.

EPA determines much of the manufacturing process by requiring strict emissions standards for refiners. EPA also determines the makeup of gasoline by setting numerous blending requirements refiners must meet. For example, EPA makes refiners annually put over 13 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol in gasoline – this mandate, known as the Renewable Fuels Standard, means that about 10 percent of every gallon of gasoline is corn-based ethanol.

EPA also determines the emissions byproduct of gasoline, like how much sulfur can be released into the air. More formally, the sulfur emission regulations are called “Tier rulemakings” with the EPA just releasing its third installment titled, Tier III.

The previous – and recent – Tier II rulemaking reduced sulfur emissions by 90 percent from 300 ppm (parts per million) to 30 ppm. Now, with persistently high gasoline prices, the EPA has decided to once again ratchet down already low sulfur emissions from 30 ppm to 10 ppm.

The American Petroleum Institute has said that this new sulfur regulation will increase the cost of producing gasoline by 9 cents, costs which consumers will bear. A Baker and O’Brien analysis calculates that the regulation will force refiners to spend around $10 billion to comply with the rule and an additional $2.5 annually to maintain compliance. All of this means higher gasoline prices for drivers.

Additionally, the EPA writes that the regulation is “is expected to decrease employment in the vehicle manufacturing sector.” That doesn’t sound good, either.  

Next time you hear the EPA, or any other federal agency for that matter, is going to tell you something on a Friday, reach for your wallet.



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