Mike Palicz

President Trump Speeds Up Infrastructure Permitting with NEPA Reform

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, January 9th, 2020, 5:33 PM PERMALINK

The White House Council on Environmental Quality released a proposed rule this morning updating National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The proposed rulemaking would streamline outdated regulations that delay and block the development of critical infrastructure projects across the country as they await permitting.

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

 “NEPA regulations slowed down infrastructure projects under the Obama administration, creating an average delay of four years for needless paperwork--contrary to CEQ's guidance under the Reagan administration limiting the permitting process to one year.

It should never take four years for the government to issue a permit to build a bridge. Crucial infrastructure projects should receive their environmental review in a timely manner and be based solely on the merits of the project. Today’s proposal from CEQ is a significant step forward.”

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 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.

Photo Credit: The White House

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Warren’s GND Plan Spends $100 Billion on Other Countries’ Infrastructure

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Friday, December 20th, 2019, 6:08 PM PERMALINK

Elizabeth Warren’s plan for a Green New Deal will spend upwards of $100 billion of U.S. taxpayer money to build infrastructure in foreign countries, according to an analysis released today by the Warren campaign.

The analysis, conducted by the progressive think tank Data for Progress, provides further insight into a pillar of Warren’s Green New Deal plan which she titles the Green Marshall Plan. Warren has kept the details of her Green Marshall Plan vague, with her website stating only that it “includes a new federal office dedicated to selling American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy technology abroad and a $100 billion commitment to assisting countries to purchase and deploy this technology.”

However, today’s release of the new analysis makes clear that Warren seeks to achieve this goal mainly by using U.S. taxpayer dollars to pay for infrastructure projects in other countries.

Here it is straight from the Memo released by Warren’s own campaign:

“As with the original Marshall Plan, this may initially function largely as aid to countries rebuilding their infrastructure to address climate change.”

Using $100 billion in taxpayer funds to build infrastructure outside the United States should raise the eyebrows of every American taxpayer. For context, total revenues in 2018 to our own Highway Trust Fund only totaled $41 billion. Yet under a Warren presidency, the U.S. will spend twice this amount on infrastructure projects for foreign countries.

Given the U.S. Highway Trust Fund is currently projected to have a cumulative revenue shortfall of $74.5 billion by 2025, Elizabeth Warren should be asked to explain why her plan would use $100 billion on the infrastructure of other countries.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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ATR Joins Coalition Warning of New Railroad Price Controls

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, December 5th, 2019, 5:58 PM PERMALINK

Today, Americans for Tax Reform joined a coalition of free-market organizations warning Congress of potential new government price controls on America’s freight railroads.

In a letter, the coalition emphasized the importance of the upcoming Surface Transportation Board (STB) hearing on railroad revenue adequacy and urged Congress to provide “close oversight of the STB and its remaining authorities.”

Specifically, the signed groups raised concerns regarding the STB’s possible changes to revenue adequacy determinations that may be used to create new heavy-handed railroad regulations. Such changes could allow the government to determine that a railroad is earning excessive revenue and consequently serve as justification for instituting a new price control mechanism to set maximum freight weights. Using revenue adequacy in this manner would run counter to the deregulatory agenda that saved the private railroad industry from the brink of collapse during the 1970s.

The letter's signers point to comments submitted to the STB by authors of a 2015 study produced at the request of Congress. These comments highlighted several concerns with STB’s proposal including:

  • Arbitrary calculations: “The proposal would establish rate increase caps based on the relationship of a shipper’s rates to a benchmark calculated using costs derived from the inherently arbitrary Uniform Rail Costing System (URCS) and arbitrary allocations of profits that exceed the cost of capital.”
  • Divorced from economic reality: “We are deeply concerned that this approach creates a rate increase constraint that is divorced both from economic reality and from a well-articulated goal that the proposal is designed to achieve.”
  • Contrary to stated intent: “This proposal could move STB rate regulation in the direction of public utility regulation rather than the protection of captive shippers.”


To see the full content of the letter, please click here.

Photo Credit: Luke Jones

10 Times the Wind Industry Claimed it Supported Ending Tax Credits for Wind Energy

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Tuesday, November 19th, 2019, 6:09 PM PERMALINK

Today, House Democrats released a green energy tax extenders package filled with various wasteful and distortionary tax provisions. Among the list of green giveaways Democrats expect taxpayers to pay for is the extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy. House Democrats’ attempt to extend these wind subsidies is in violation of the 2015 bipartisan agreement, known as the PATH Act, which phased out these tax credits in 2019.

The Democrats’ decision to extend these tax credits comes after an intense lobbying effort by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the national trade association for the wind industry. The effort to maintain the industry’s tax credit is a complete reversal of AWEA’s public position, as the association maintained that the industry did not need the continuation of federal tax credits as recently as last November.

Unsurprisingly, the wind industry has gone back on its word and is once again begging for corporate welfare.

Here are ten times the wind industry publicly supported an end to their federal tax credits:

  1. October 10, 2019 - “When we did the phaseout, I strongly supported it," - Mark Goodwin, CEO of developer Apex Clean Energy.
  2. September 20, 2019 - “In terms of PTC, I agree [that it “should go away completely”]. I think that the boom-and-bust cycle of the PTC has done the most damage to the stability of the market, and the suppliers also capitalize on that.” – Jonathan Word, Director, Eolus North America.
  3. June 14, 2019 – AWEA told Greentech media that rather than seeking a wind-specific incentive, “AWEA is encouraging a widely applicable, transferable technology-neutral tax credit based on carbon emissions” - Bree Raum, AWEA’s Vice President of federal affairs.
  4. June 14, 2019 - “I think phasing down the PTC and ITC at a point where we don’t need them anymore is the right choice, the right decision.” - Jose Antonio Miranda, CEO for the Americas at turbine supplier Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy.
  5. June 14, 2019 - “Can we compete without it? Yeah. In the rest of the world we’re not provided with that incentive.” - Chris Brown, president of sales and services in the U.S. and Canada at wind turbine supplier Vestas.
  6. November 15, 2018 - “Utilities make 20- and 30-year decisions, and they’ve kind of voted with their pocketbook. We’re ready to compete in a subsidy-free world.” - Chris Brown, President of turbine maker Vestas North America.
  7. November 17, 2017 – AWEA applauded the Senate tax proposal for adhering to the 2015 PATH Act which phases out PTC and ITC in 2019. “The wind industry tax reformed ourselves with bipartisan agreement in 2015. The Senate tax proposal gets it right by respecting those terms.” - Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)
  8.  December 20, 2012 - While advocating for the extension of its tax credit in the 2012 fiscal cliff deal, the American Wind Energy Association told CNN that “the industry can compete against other power sources like coal and natural gas by 2018, so long as the credit doesn't disappear before then.”
  9.  December 20, 2012 - “By offering to give up the tax credit eventually, the wind industry is doing its part to reduce the deficit. We need to be leaders in the fiscal challenge facing our country.” - Ellen Carey, a spokeswoman for AWEA.
  10. December 12, 2012 - "The industry believes it can achieve the greater economies of scale and technology improvements that it needs to become cost-competitive without the PTC." – AWEA press release supporting 2012 deal to phase out tax credits.

BONUS: At the time of this writing, AWEA’s tax policy page on their website still states that the wind industry is prepared for the current phase-out schedule of the ITC and PTC. “Growth in the wind industry is expected to remain strong when the PTC is fully phased-out. Because the PTC has been successful in helping establish a reliable, competitive domestic wind industry, wind will continue to expand capacity and deliver economic benefits for Americans and their communities.”

Photo Credit: Wind Denmark

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D.C. City Council proposes massive soda tax that even Bernie Sanders opposes.

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Tuesday, October 8th, 2019, 4:54 PM PERMALINK

A majority of the D.C. City Council wants to impose one of the highest taxes on sugary drinks in the country, a move that will raise the cost of soda and disproportionally hit low-income individuals.

The tax hike is the latest nanny-state effort from the D.C. City Council which intends to force consumers to purchase alternative beverages the city council deems more acceptable. “We need a little bit of stick in addition to the carrot,” said Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1), the bill’s author.

Soda taxes are so harmful, even Bernie Sanders opposes them.

During his 2016 presidential bid Bernie Sanders slammed Hillary Clinton’s endorsement of a soda tax. As reported by The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross, Sanders said:

“The mechanism here is fairly regressive. And that is, it will be increasing taxes on low income and working people.”

Sanders went on to note that Clinton’s embrace of a soda tax violated her pledge to the American people not to support any tax increase on Americans making less than $250,000 per year.

"Frankly, I am very surprised that Secretary Clinton would support this regressive tax after pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000. This proposal clearly violates her pledge," Sanders said.

How Regressive is a soda tax?

According to a 2018 report from the Tax Foundation, 47 percent of the tax collections from an excise tax based on fluid ounces would come from households with income under $50,000. Additionally, 78 percent of tax collections would come from households earning less than $100,000.

How large is the proposed soda tax?

A bill announced yesterday would levy a 1.5 cent-per-ounce sin tax on sweetened beverages with the stated goal of discouraging sugar use. For context, the tax hike would add a full dollar to the cost of a two-liter bottle and an extra $2.16 on a 12-pack of soda.

What drinks are impacted?

The tax applies to sugary drinks with any “natural common sweeteners,” meaning beverages such as Gatorade, sweetened iced coffee and orange juice with added sugar are also subject to the tax.

Photo Credit: Bernie Sanders

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New Carbon Tax Bill Threatens 300% IRS Fines

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, September 26th, 2019, 5:02 PM PERMALINK

Today, a group of four congressmen introduced a carbon tax bill that will impose a 300% IRS penalty for noncompliance.

The bill calls for a steep, automatically ratcheting tax increase on the American people which will increase household costs and the price of gas. The new tax could extract over $150 billion per year.

And consider yourself warned: The IRS will come knocking for a 300% penalty on "any person who fails to comply."

Yes, you read that correctly: Three hundred percent.

Let's go straight to the bill, so you can see for yourself. Section 9906 reads as follows:


"Any person who fails to comply with the requirements of section 9901, 9902, 9903, or 9904 shall be liable for payment to the Secretary, without demand, of a penalty in the amount equal to 3 times the applicable amount specified by those sections for the same tax year as the year in which the person failed to comply with such requirements."

An IRS Enrolled Agent interviewed for this article noted the unusually harsh -- perhaps unprecedented -- IRS penalty. “As an Enrolled Agent who has run his own tax prep firm for over a decade, I’ve never run into anything close to a 300 percent tax penalty. The biggest one I can think of is 50 percent, and most are far smaller than that," said Ryan L. Ellis.

The new carbon tax hike bill imposes a massive tax on American manufacturing and employers, encourages the creation of state carbon taxes, creates a long list of products to be carbon-taxed and gives the EPA chief unfettered power to add to that list.

The bill also creates a UN-style “National Climate Commission” which will be given the power to access data and documents from any federal government entity.

Taxpayer-funded federal employees will be detailed to the Commission while continuing to receive their salary. The Commission will arrange for travel expenses, have the ability to hire "experts and consultants" and even have postal franking privileges.

The commission will create a new federal bureaucracy seeking to create even more climate regulations.

In classic Washington-speak, the name of the bill is the MARKET CHOICE ACT. The bill sponsors are Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Francis Rooney (RINO-Fla.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.)

See also:

Hillary Clinton Memo Shows Carbon Tax Devastating to Low Income Households

Center for American Progress Founder: "We have done extensive polling on a carbon tax. It all sucks.” 

Carbon Tax Pushers Beware: Australia’s Carbon Tax Politicians Were Quickly Voted Out of Office





Photo Credit: Saturnism

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Sanders and AOC lie about striking auto workers losing healthcare to push Medicare for All

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Friday, September 20th, 2019, 9:49 PM PERMALINK

Never let a serious crisis go to waste was the left’s maxim throughout the Obama years. Now Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are dusting off the old playbook and using the autoworkers’ strike against General Motors to push Medicare for All. Unsurprisingly, they’re doing so by falsely claiming thousands of workers have been stripped of healthcare by a greedy and nefarious corporation.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union called a nationwide strike Monday after union leadership failed to reach an agreement with General Motors during contract negotiations. Almost 50,000 workers are now on strike. The following day, in accordance with the contract terms agreed upon by UAW leadership, GM revealed that it would cease healthcare coverage for striking workers.

Following the announcement, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez seized the opportunity to rail against GM and push for government-run healthcare. “This is straight barbarism,” the representative tweeted. “Yet another reason we insist on #MedicareforAll: so your healthcare won't be held hostage to negotiate lower wages."

Not to be outdone by his fellow socialist, Sen. Sanders weighed in by calling GM’s decision “cruel, outrageous” and the “type of corporate greed that the American people are sick and tired of.” At a campaign event that same day, Sanders criticized General Motors while plugging his signature healthcare policy. "Under Medicare for All, every American -- whether you're working, whether you're not working, when you are going from one job to another job -- it's there with you," said Sanders.

Of course, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez fail to mention that UAW union leadership rejected GM’s publicly disclosed proposal which offered the union $7 billion in new investment at existing plants, would spare the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant from closure and create 5,400 more jobs. Workers would receive annual wage increases over the next four years, an $8,000 signing bonus per worker and an increased profit-sharing formula. Before talks broke down, GM had even agreed to maintain low healthcare premiums at 3% - a walk-back of the company’s earlier attempt to reportedly raise premiums to 15%.

Putting these facts aside, as Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are wont to do, did some 50,000 workers really lose healthcare coverage as the two Democrats claim? Of course not.

In reality, GM’s decision to stop providing healthcare benefits to striking workers should come as a surprise to no one, least of all UAW’s members. During a strike, workers' healthcare benefits shift to being funded by the union’s strike fund. This is a primary reason workers pay union dues in the first place. In fact, UAW leadership has spent the summer educating its members on this point in preparation for a strike. A Frequently Asked Questions section on UAW’s website even details the benefits workers are provided from the union’s strike fund including medical coverage and prescription drugs. For workers enrolled in COBRA coverage, benefits are even made retroactive to the beginning of the strike.

Despite autoworkers maintaining medical benefits throughout the strike, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez still spread the lie that GM is holding the healthcare of its workers hostage in order to push Medicare for All. All considered, UAW members have a fairly generous arrangement for employees refusing to work. Individuals working non-union jobs in the private sector would be shocked to receive healthcare benefits from their employer while declining to show up for work.

The great irony here is that the government-run healthcare plans that Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez tout as solutions for striking workers would actually take away the very benefit packages UAW members are striking to improve and eliminate their health insurance plans from the marketplace entirely. Any gains achieved by the autoworkers to their medical benefits would be forfeited under a Sanders presidency.

But why let the facts get in the way? Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez have a crisis on their hands, and they can’t let it go to waste.

Photo Credit: Bernie Sanders

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Romney flip-flops, sides with California over Trump on auto waiver

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, September 19th, 2019, 8:46 PM PERMALINK

Mitt Romney is now criticizing President Trump for actions he claimed he would have carried out as president, had his own campaigns not failed.

Today, in a complete reversal of his previous stance on auto fuel efficiency standards, Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) publicly criticized President Trump’s decision to revoke California’s waiver allowing the state to set separate greenhouse-gas standards for cars, calling Trump’s action a “big mistake.”

According to Politico, Romney went on to advocate for increasing the Obama-era mandate that would require auto manufacturers to produce cars averaging nearly 55 miles per gallon by 2025, stating “we should encourage more strict fuel economy standards, not weaken them."

Romney’s harsh remarks of President Trump come as a shock given his past statements, including those given as a presidential candidate in both 2008 and 2012, were strongly critical of fuel economy standards and California’s ability to operate beyond federal requirements.

Romney on the Campaign Trail in 2008 says CAFE Standards drop an “anvil on Michigan”

According to reports after a Presidential Primary debate in 2008, Romney “talked up his roots in the auto industry and criticized fuel economy standards, saying the 35 miles-per-gallon target by 2020 passed by Congress in December ‘dropped yet another anvil on Michigan.’"

Romney is now calling for “more strict fuel economy standards” than Obama’s 55 miles per gallon requirement.

Romney backs stripping California’s waiver in 2008 press release

"When Michigan makes the same cars and trucks regardless of whether they are bound for California, Vermont or (even) Massachusetts, it makes more sense to have one set of federal rules to address CO2 emissions from vehicles rather than a patchwork of different state regulations."

While campaigning for President In 2012 Romney calls CAFE standards “disadvantageous” and says “we need to get the government out of these companies’ hair.”

“The government put in place CAFE requirements that were disadvantageous for domestic manufacturers. We need to get the government out of these companies’ hair and let them go to work to become competitive — not only in the U.S. but globally. The world is changing in the auto industry and we’ve got to get these companies on a global footing as opposed to kowtowing to Washington.” 

Romney and Campaign called CAFE Standards "extreme" and cause consumers to "pay thousands of dollars more upfront for unproven technology."

In June of 2012, Romney called told The Detroit News that he'd seek "a better way of encouraging fuel economy" than the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements. A campaign spokesperson reiterated Romney's opposition, saying that CAFE will force consumers to "pay thousands of dollars more upfront for unproven technology that they may not even want."


Photo Credit: Joeff Davis

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In major win for consumers, Trump revokes California’s waiver on auto emissions standards

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Wednesday, September 18th, 2019, 4:47 PM PERMALINK

This morning President Trump announced that his administration will revoke California’s waiver that permits the state to set its own fuel economy regulations separate from national standards. This action from the president brings the U.S. closer to a single, unified fuel economy standard.

“The Trump Administration is revoking California’s Federal Waiver on emissions in order to produce far less expensive cars for the consumer, while at the same time making the cars substantially SAFER,” The President stated on twitter. “Many more cars will be produced under the new and uniform standard, meaning significantly more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business.”

Issued under President Obama, the California waiver forces auto manufacturers to build more expensive cars in compliance with California’s regulations. Under the waiver, auto manufacturers can comply with federal standards yet still barred from marketplace in California.

However, no other state is permitted a waiver from federal rules, meaning if another state would like to set less stringent fuel economy rules compared to federal requirements, it does not have that option. As auto manufacturers can’t economically build two separate vehicle fleets, the waiver effectively allows California to dictate national requirements for vehicles in 49 other states.  

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s announcement:

"Today’s decision by President Trump is a major win for consumers and the US economy. Letting California dictate emission standards for the 49 other states is a proven disaster for jobs, vehicle safety and affordability. 

No one living in Ohio, Michigan or Florida voted for California’s nanny state politicians. Gavin Newsom’s bureaucrats have no business telling them what car they can or can’t drive. That decisions rightly belongs to consumers. Americans for Tax Reform applauds President Trump for revoking California’s waiver and freeing consumers from Californian bureaucrats."

Revoking California's waiver is step one of the administration’s anticipated reform to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, with step two expected to be finalized later this year.

The administration’s proposed rule to freeze CAFE standards at 2020 levels is projected to save American consumers nearly $2,500 on the price of a new vehicle, putting more Americans behind the wheel of newer and safer cars. If finalized, the Department Transportation projects the rule would lead to a reduction of up to 1,000 lives lost annually in fatal vehicle crashes.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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Trump repeals Obama's Waters of the U.S. regulation

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Posted by Mike Palicz on Thursday, September 12th, 2019, 6:02 PM PERMALINK

President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule today repealing the Obama Administration's 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, an overreaching federal regulation which defined what natural features are considered federal waters. The new rule is projected to deliver $1.3 billion in regulatory savings and is in line with President Trump’s Executive Order directing the EPA to review and possibly replace the Obama administration’s definition.

The previous administration’s regulation went beyond the intended purpose of the law and amounted to a power grab designed to place control in the hands of the government over private landowners and developers.

Under the Obama rule, regulation expanded to include ephemeral features in its definition of federal water, meaning land that only temporarily held water could be regulated as federal water if the water eventually flowed into a navigable water. Expanding the scope of the definition gave the federal government greater control in permitting in certain activities such as land development.

Today’s action restores the regulatory text prior to the Obama administration’s 2015 rule and sets the table for the Trump EPA to issue a second, still forthcoming, rule intended to provide states greater flexibility and local control.

“Today’s action is “Step 1” of our response to the president’s executive order. Step 1 repeals the 2015 rule and recodifies the longstanding and familiar regulatory text that existed previously. It also sets the stage for “Step 2” – our new proposed “waters of the United States” definition,” EPA Administrator Wheeler explained in an op-ed released today.

Americans for Tax Reform applauds President Trump and Administrator Wheeler for taking a crucial first step towards revising the Obama Administration’s overreaching definition of federal waters. ATR also encourages the administration to finalize its Step 2 rule and provide landowners greater certainty regarding what is, and what is not, a federal water.

Photo Credit: Valery Balievich

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