Mike Palicz

Tucker Carlson is Right, Trump’s Pro-Mining Agenda is Winning Support in Minnesota

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Posted by Mike Palicz, Alex Fried on Thursday, September 17th, 2020, 12:33 PM PERMALINK

In an interview earlier this month on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Mayor Andrea Zupancich, one of six Democrat mayors from Minnesota who have endorsed President Donald Trump for reelection, explained that her support is tied to the Trump administration’s pro-mining agenda. 

In the backdrop of the interview is a major decision awaiting the Trump administration as it's poised to make a permitting decision on Pebble Mine, the world’s largest undeveloped copper and gold mine. 

Mayor Zupancich stated her endorsement is due to President Trump’s strong support for mining rights and the hard-working individuals of mining communities. Zupancich also criticized the Democrat Party for failing to represent her community and for ignoring the importance of copper and other precious metals critical for developing cleaner energy. 

“We are sitting on billions of tons of copper, nickel, and precious metals. Everything that supports the green deal energy that everyone wants right now, and we are just not seeing the support on the other side,” Zupancich explained.

“You can’t have energy of any kind without copper,” host Tucker Carlson agreed. “And you supply it. That’s not a negotiable. You have to have it,” he continued.

Mayor Zupancich is not the only Minnesota politician touting the importance of the Trump administration’s pro-mining agenda. Congressman Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) recently stressed the importance of Polymet Mine, a proposed copper and nickel mine in Minnesota awaiting permitting approval from the Trump administration and estimated to generate more than $500 million in annual economic activity. Rep. Stauber told Forbes that opening the mine would be akin to “bringing the Super Bowl up to northeastern Minnesota every year.”

Rep. Stauber also urged the Trump administration to stay the course on permitting for critical mining projects such as Pebble Mine, explaining that Minnesotans are now watching what the Trump administration is doing on Pebble Mine and hoping that the President will reject pressure from the environmental left. 

Stauber noted that “to see the administration allow outside influences change the course of this potential project without going through the normal regulatory process, without allowing science, facts and the truth to dictate” would be cause for great concern in his state. Stauber also echoed Mayor Zupancich’s criticism of Democrats for not backing American mining. “Projects in Minnesota continue to be delayed by outside, well-funded political machines and it was a hallmark of the Obama-Biden administration,” exclaimed Stauber.

Minnesota, like many other states, has a strong mining community made up of small towns that provides copper and critical minerals for our entire nation’s energy grid. The elected leaders of these communities, regardless of their political party, are beginning to make it clear that they stand with the Trump administration’s pro-mining agenda.

The exchange between Tucker Carlson and Mayor Zupancich is below:

DEMOCRAT MAYOR ANDREA ZUPANCICH – BABBITT, MINNESOTA: “It’s not a matter of who we are supporting. It is a matter of what the Democratic party is representing right now. President Trump is actually supporting our mining ways, our rights, and everything else we stand for up here. We are hard-working individuals. We’ve got an amazing workforce up here. And we just don’t see the backing with the minerals that we have up here. We are sitting on billions of tons of copper, nickel, and precious metals. Everything that supports the green deal energy that everyone wants right now, and we are just not seeing the support on the other side.”

TUCKER: “Right. You made two good points. You can’t have energy of any kind without copper. And you supply it. That’s not a negotiable. You have to have it.”

MAYOR: “We don’t want to be getting our minerals from somewhere where they have child labor working and no safety standards. When we have it all right here. We have the strictest environmental standards and everything else going on. I would much rather drink the water out of my tap than down in other metro areas.”

TUCKER: “For 100 years the Democratic party was the party that represented people in your town who worked in the Iron Range. People who worked. Now they [Democrats] are not [representing the area]. What happened?”


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Ignore the Environmental Activists, Listen to the U.S. Army Corps on Pebble Mine

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, August 6th, 2020, 8:20 PM PERMALINK

Alaska's proposed Pebble Mine Project, one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits, is approaching the final stage of its permitting process. After recently receiving a positive environmental review from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the project is anticipated to receive a final Record of Decision from the Trump Administration in the coming weeks.

ATR and a coalition of conservative organizations have consistently argued that Pebble Mine, like all other proposed projects, should be evaluated based upon a proper and well-established environmental review process. Its approval would decrease America’s reliance on foreign nations for critical minerals while creating thousands of new jobs in a community that needs them, now more than ever. 

Radical environmentalists bent on obstructing Pebble Mine’s permitting process have found no shortage of excuses to oppose the project, but the most commonly raised concern is the project’s alleged impact on the native salmon population.

This concern was rightly considered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Army Corps recently issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and directly contradicted claims that the mine posed a significant threat to the area’s salmon population. The final EIS concluded that “no long-term measurable changes in the number of returning salmon are expected, nor is genetic diversity expected to change.”

Pebble Mine cleared its final environmental review without issue. Any lingering claims from the environmental-left that the proposed mine poses a significant threat to salmon in the area are without merit, according to the Army Corps’ review. 

President Trump has rightly taken issue with the existing permitting process he inherited, a process that bogs down critical infrastructure and energy development projects with red tape. Last month, President Trump took action to speed up our nation’s permitting process by establishing time limits for an EIS to be conducted.

Pebble Mine is the poster-child of critical projects delayed by a broken permitting process. The Obama Administration went as far as issuing a preemptive veto to prevent the mine from even receiving a proper environmental review. Last year, the Trump Administration righted this wrong by withdrawing Obama’s preemptive veto, allowing the project to move through the standard review process.

President Trump can continue the restoration of a proper permitting process by ignoring the calls of environmental activists who oppose all development projects and instead allow for Pebble Mine’s final Record of Decision to be based upon the merits of the Army Corps’ review.

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

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Trump Continues Energy Dominance Agenda, Announces New Pipeline Permitting

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, July 30th, 2020, 8:41 PM PERMALINK

President Trump delivered remarks in Midland, Texas yesterday highlighting the success of the Trump administration’s energy dominance agenda while announcing new permits for pipeline and rail infrastructure.

In a push to further expand American energy production, President Trump announced the permitting of four projects on the border. Three of the permits will allow for increased American exports of crude oil to Mexico, while the fourth will allow the existing Keystone pipeline to raise the cross-border shipping limit to 760,000 barrels a day, from 590,000.

"With the tremendous progress we have made over the past three years, America is now energy independent," remarked President Trump

Yesterday’s announcement is just the latest effort of the administration to strengthen American energy independence and increase the availability of affordable energy for American consumers. 

Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has become the world leader in crude oil production while maintaining its role as the top producer of natural gas thanks to the fracking revolution. The deregulatory actions taken under President trump to increase energy production have increased the number of jobs in the energy sector while benefiting consumers through lower prices.

President Trump’s dedication to American energy independence and commitment to vital energy infrastructure projects is in stark contrast to the agenda offered by Democrats. Earlier this week, Joe Biden’s climate task force Co-Chair, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), introduced a measure that would establish a nationwide ban on new pipeline construction. Such heavy-handed policy would raise energy prices for all Americans while disproportionately harming poor households who spend a higher share of their income on energy bills and gasoline.

Americans for Tax Reform applauds the Trump administration for its commitment to affordable energy and American energy independence. Yesterday’s announcement from President Trump is further evidence of our country’s progress towards achieving these goals. 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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AOC Pushes Nationwide Pipeline Ban in Appropriations Bill

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Tuesday, July 28th, 2020, 12:20 PM PERMALINK

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced an amendment to an appropriations package on Monday that would create a nationwide ban on new pipeline construction.

Ocasio-Cortez’s amendment to the Energy and Water Development bill in the minibus (H.R. 7617) would prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from using any funding to issue permitting for new oil and gas pipelines, even for projects receiving positive Environmental Impact Statements. 

Here it is straight from the amendment's text:

None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Corps of Engineers to issue a permit under section 404 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1344) for the discharge of dredged or fill material resulting from an activity to construct a pipeline for the transportation of oil or gas.

Ocasio-Cortez’s ban on pipeline infrastructure is just one of a number of anti-energy amendments offered by House Democrats on the funding package.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) offered an amendment that would ban the Army Corps from using funds in the bill to issue a Record of Decision on Pebble Mine in Alaska, despite the Army Corps clearing the mine in its final environmental review just last week. The action is the latest effort from Congressional Democrats to skirt the normal permitting process for the Pebble Mine Project, which had been blocked from even receiving an environmental review under the Obama administration. 

Other amendments offered by House Democrats include subsidies for renewable energy including an amendment offered by Rep. Tom Malinovski (D. N.J.) to use taxpayer funds to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

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Trump Unveils Final Rule to Accelerate Infrastructure Permitting

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Wednesday, July 15th, 2020, 5:20 PM PERMALINK

President Trump announced today that the Administration is issuing a final rule expediting the permitting process for infrastructure projects by streamlining the environmental reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The final rule will update NEPA regulations to impose time limits of two years for projects to receive an environmental impact statement (EIS) and one year for an environmental assessment (EA). The announcement is welcome news for taxpayers as NEPA regulations have contributed to a backlog of critical infrastructure projects delayed by bureaucratic red tape.

Prior to today’s announcement, the average time for federal agencies to conduct NEPA reviews had ballooned to four and half years, contrary to guidance issued by Council on Environmental Quality under the Reagan Administration limiting the permitting process to one. Several projects have been delayed much longer, with federal highway projects waiting over seven years on average to receive an EIS.

Reaction from Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform:

"Under the Obama administration, NEPA regulations were used as a political weapon to delay infrastructure projects with endless paperwork and litigation. It should never take 7 years for the government to issue a permit for building a bridge. Yet this is the average time it currently takes the Federal Highway Administration to complete an Environmental Impact Statement. Today's announcement from CEQ is an important step towards fixing a broken permitting process. This final rule rightly recognizes that infrastructure projects should receive their environmental review in a timely manner and based solely on the merits of the project." - Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform.

Key provisions of proposed rulemaking:

  • Establishing time limits for completion of environmental impact statements (EISs) to two years and completion of environmental assessments (EAs) to one year.

  • Allows applicants to assume a greater role in preparing EISs under agency supervision.

  • Requires a single record of decision (ROD) for EISs involving multiple agencies.

  • Provides a new direction on whether NEPA applies to a project.

  • Provides a clarifying definition that a proposed project’s effects must be “reasonably foreseeable” and have a reasonably close relationship to the proposed action that is casual.

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KEY VOTE: ATR Urges a “NO” Vote on H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act. 

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Wednesday, July 1st, 2020, 3:44 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform is issuing a Key Vote Alert in opposition to H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act. 

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives will hold a vote on Speaker Pelosi’s $1.5 trillion green infrastructure bill. Entirely debt-financed, this reckless spending bill proposed by House Democrats is being sold to the public as a coronavirus “stimulus” bill, despite the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently reaffirming that government spending on infrastructure programs is a poor form of economic stimulus. In a May report, CBO concluded that after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, “seven and a half months after the legislation was enacted, less than 10 percent of the infrastructure funds provided by ARRA had been spent.”

In reality, this legislation is a sweeping expansion of green energy subsidies and handouts to industries politically favored by Democrats. House Democrats have taken the normal bipartisan process of a surface transportation reauthorization bill and turned it into a progressive wishlist of Green New Deal priorities.

As House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio himself stated, this proposal is “a radical departure from highway-focused transportation bills” and instead places “climate resilience at the center.”

Below are key non-highway related provisions included in H.R. 2 that lawmakers should be aware of prior to the full House vote:

  • Includes a $25 billion bailout for the Postal Service including a mandate to purchase electric vehicles and requires every postal facility in the country to have electric vehicle charging stations by 2026. 

  • Extends the investment tax credit (ITC) for wind and solar energy through 2025, contradicting the bipartisan agreement reached in December of 2019 to phase these tax credits out permanently.

  • Expands the electric vehicle tax credit by tripling the cap from 200,000 to 600,000 vehicles per manufacturer.

  • Creates a new tax credit for used electric vehicles capped at $2,500.

  • Authorizes $2 billion per year through 2025 to build electric vehicle charging stations. 

  • Allocates $1 billion in credits annually to colleges and universities that establish an environmental justice program. 

  • Includes a $325 million program for electric school buses.

The inclusion of such provisions clearly demonstrates that H.R. 2 is a performative measure meant to appease progressive constituencies and politically-favored industries rather than a serious attempt to fund our nation's roads and bridges. 

Americans for Tax Reform urges lawmakers to vote “NO” on H.R. 2, which would add roughly $700 billion to the national debt while prioritizing the progressive initiatives of the Green New Deal over the infrastructure needs of the country.

Photo Credit: Marnie Webb

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Democrat’s Climate Action Plan Backs Carbon Tax & Handouts for Wind, Solar & EVs

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Tuesday, June 30th, 2020, 12:17 PM PERMALINK

Today, Democrats on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis released a new climate action plan calling for a national carbon tax and a dramatic expansion of taxpayer subsidies for “green” industries favored by Democrats. 

Among a litany of taxpayer-funded handouts included in the plan, House Democrats would extend and expand subsidies for the wind and solar industries as well as tax credits for electric vehicle owners. Unsurprisingly, the plan is also filled with unrelated treats for labor unions such as prevailing wage requirements meant to satisfy Democrat constituencies. 

Below are just some of the costly provisions included in the report.

Creates of a massive national carbon tax

“Congress should establish a carbon pricing system designed to achieve America’s economywide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of net-zero by no later than 2050.” 

House Democrats also dispel the often-repeated myth that a carbon tax would be introduced in exchange for a reduction in existing regulations on emissions.

“Congress should not offer liability relief or nullify Clean Air Act authorities or other existing statutory duties to cut pollution in exchange for a carbon price.”

Subsidies for the Wind Industry

The action plan recommends that  “Congress should extend the Section 45 PTC for wind energy.” 

The plans specifically references the GREEN Act of 2020 (H.R. 7330), which would “preserve the Section 45 PTC at existing phaseout levels through 2020 but would extend the tax credit at 60% through 2025.

The plan also calls for specific subsidies for offshore wind:

“Congress should provide a long-term extension of the Section 48 ITC for offshore wind energy projects. Congress should provide a direct pay option for clean energy tax credits.” 

Subsidies for the Solar Industry

“Congress should extend the Section 48 ITC for solar energy generation. Congress should provide a direct pay option for clean energy tax credits.“

House Democrats also include unrelated provisions meant as a handout to politically favored labor unions. Under their plan to “Expand Low-Income Residential Solar” Democrats mandate that “Federal support for projects should be conditioned on recipients meeting strong labor standards (including Buy America/n and Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements), complying with all labor, environmental, and civil rights statutes, and signing community benefit agreements and project labor agreements, where relevant.”

Expanding Electric Vehicle Tax Credits

Democrats recommend Congress “raise the per-manufacturer cap on the electric vehicle tax credit to support the deployment of these vehicles” while also highlighting legislation that would double the value of existing tax credits for EV owners. Specifically, the action plan highlights legislation (H.R. 5393) from Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) that “increases the electric vehicle tax credit to $15,000 for cars costing less than $35,000.”

New $5,000 Tax Credit for Used Electric Vehicles.

“Congress should enact a federal tax incentive and/or create a grant program to facilitate the consumer purchase of used electric vehicles.” 

The plan again highlights legislation from Rep. Speier that “creates a $5,000 tax credit for the purchase of a used electric vehicle.” This means that Democrats are proposing taxpayers foot the bill for up to to $20,000 of the original cost of a $35,000 electric vehicle when combining Rep. Speier’s tax credits for new and used EVs.

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ATR Opposes Government Power Grab of Airfare Refund Policy

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Friday, June 26th, 2020, 5:09 PM PERMALINK

Senate Democrats are renewing their push for greater regulation and increased price controls on commercial air travel. Five Senate Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Sen. Edward Markey (MA), have recently introduced legislation that would require major carriers and third-party ticket sellers to offer full refunds, in cash, for any reservation cancelation during the Coronavirus outbreak, even if that cancelation results from an individual deciding not to travel.

The effort is only the latest attempt from Congressional Democrats to assert greater control over the cash-strapped airline industry through regulation and price controls. In March, Senate Democrats delayed the Coronavirus relief package over a host of provisions unrelated to the pandemic. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) insisted that “carbon offsets,” which would deliberately raise airfare costs during a demand crunch, be a prerequisite of any deal. Sen. Markey withheld his support of a deal while publicly insisting on a new batch of regulations ranging from price controls on baggage fees to government mandates on passenger seat size. 

Ultimately, the relief package passed and provided financial assistance to airlines suffering from a dramatic decrease in passenger volume largely due to government-imposed travel bans and stay at home orders. However, this relief did not come without significant strings attached. In order to qualify for assistance, airlines must refrain from involuntary furloughs or reductions in compensation until the end of September, refrain from performing stock buybacks, or issuing dividends for 18 months and must freeze the compensation of company executives. These limitations were the result of a bipartisan agreement meant to cover airline operating costs and keep airline employees on payroll and off of unemployment lines.

Now Senate Democrats are abandoning this agreement and pushing for more regulation. 

While Democrats claim their bill is pro-consumer, the reality is that such legislation will only increase the cost of airfare and reduce the number of flights available. All while increasing the likelihood that taxpayers would be on the hook for an additional round of airline relief funding. 

In reality, market forces have already driven airlines to address the concerns of their customers. Carriers have greatly increased consumer flexibility during Coronavirus, including waiving change and cancelation fees, offering credits for the full value of a reservation, and even extending the life of previously purchased tickets, meaning flights can be rescheduled or used towards future travel. 

Just this week, the largest airline trade association for U.S. airlines announced that its members will fully refund tickets for any passenger who is found to have an elevated temperature during the pre-boarding screening process. These offers from airlines, paired with lower ticket prices from reduced demand and waived ticket taxes, are successfully addressing the concerns of customers as passenger volume begins to increase

Americans for Tax Reform opposes the effort to have the federal government insert itself into the refund policy of private companies and urges Members of Congress to reject this legislation.

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Pelosi Plan Bails Out Ethanol Producers

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Friday, May 15th, 2020, 3:26 PM PERMALINK

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recently released $3 trillion Coronavirus relief package would provide cash payments to ethanol producers.

The bailout, thinly disguised as a “reimbursement program,” would send $0.45 in taxpayer money for each gallon of qualified fuel produced between January 1 and May 1, 2020. Qualified fuels include renewable fuel or advanced biofuels outlined in the Clean Air Act, including renewable fuel from corn starch feedstock. 

Pelosi’s legislation would also extend financial assistance to biofuel producers who failed to produce any quantities of qualifying fuel in this timeframe by paying them for 50 percent of the number of gallons produced in the corresponding month of 2019 at the same rate of $0.45 per gallon. Meaning, House Democrats are proposing to “reimburse” ethanol producers for fuel they never even produced during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Here it is, straight from the bill’s text:

“If the Secretary determines that the eligible entity was unable to produce any qualified fuel throughout 1 or more calendar months during the applicable period due to the COVID–19 pandemic, $0.45 multiplied by 50 percent of the number of gallons produced by the eligible entity in the corresponding month.”

This taxpayer handout to the politically favored ethanol industry was one of few energy provisions included in the House Democrats’ relief package. Other energy provisions were primarily directed towards providing financial assistance to consumers unable to pay their utility bills. 

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Good News: EPA Considers Waiving Ethanol Blending Requirements to Aid Recovery

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, April 23rd, 2020, 11:14 AM PERMALINK

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reportedly considering a temporary waiver of ethanol blending mandates as part of its response to collapsing oil prices caused by the Coronavirus outbreak. 

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is a market-distorting regulation that requires fuel blenders to use an amount of biofuel beyond consumer demand while raising costs and imposing economic harm, a reality highlighted by the Coronavirus outbreak.

The energy industry is in the midst of a severe demand crunch as travel restrictions and government-imposed stay at home orders have severely curbed consumer need for fuel as gasoline demand has fallen by over 30%. The crisis was only exacerbated by a Russia-Saudi Arabia oil price war that sought to leverage the pandemic to kill off competition. As the sharp demand cut causes production to slow and workers to be furloughed, the RFS forces refineries to comply with standards by using costly biofuels or by purchasing credits based on projected consumption - projections that are now entirely off base for 2020. The cost of compliance with RFS requirements in the face of rock-bottom demand from consumers threatens to push some refineries towards shutting down production entirely, costing thousands of workers their jobs in the process. 

Americans for Tax Reform urges the Trump EPA to use its authority to waive biofuel requirements for the remainder of 2020 and allow blending volumes to match consumer demand. Issuing waivers from RFS requirements is well within EPA’s existing authority under Section 211(o)(7) of the Clean Air Act. Temporary suspension of RFS requirements will reduce artificially added costs for fuel producers (which ultimately get passed on to consumers) and will help them maintain production and keep workers on payroll.

News that the EPA is considering waiving biofuel requirements under the RFS for the remainder of 2020 comes after a bipartisan group of governors urged the EPA to take action in a letter sent last week. 

 The letter, signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R), Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), argues that "the macroeconomic impacts of COVID-19 have resulted in suppressed international demand for refined products, like motor fuels and diesel.” Having to add ethanol “present[s] a clear threat to the industry under such circumstances,” the governors added.

Temporarily waiving RFS requirements is in line with the host of deregulatory actions taken to remove regulatory burdens dragging down American economic growth – now all the more important in the face of the current global crisis. ATR urges the Trump Administration and the EPA to temporarily suspend RFS requirements and to continue removing barriers to America's economic recovery.

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