Tom Fletcher

Senators Bypass Regular Order to Push IST

Posted by Tom Fletcher on Friday, April 19th, 2013, 12:00 PM PERMALINK

Not suprisingly some Democratic Senators lead by Dick Durbin are angling to bypass regular order and bring the highly controversial internet sales tax to the floor and force a vote. What is suprising, is that a number of Republican Senators are on board with this tactic as well.  

Were this legislation allowed to have a proper hearing, we’d have the chance to ask questions about audits, costs, and problems that this bill would impose on all of the businesses in states all over the country. This legislation gives new taxing powers to states that meet undefined “minimum simplification requirements.”

ATR Letter to Senators

Advocates claim this legislation requires states to provide software to handle inevitable and costly tax complexities, but that raises new questions such as:  Can each state provide its own unique software? Who will pay all the costs that a business would incur to integrate potentially 46 new pieces of software into their ordering and fulfillment systems?

These are just a few of the many problems with this proposed legislation.

Click Here to tell Senators Burr, Isakson, Thune, Portman, and Crapo to stop bypassing regular order and give this bill the proper scrutiny it deserves.

Other questions issues include whether states would be able to provide the necessary software to handle tax complexities or who will pay all the costs that a business would incur to integrate potentially 46 new pieces of software into their ordering fulfillment system?

There are major problems with the regulatory framework when it comes to overseeing these newly empowered state tax collectors.  Over zealous state depatments of revenue will reach into other states to tax and audit buisnesses who don't have a voice.  Tax colletors from California could potentially impose tax liens on businesses in Alabama.

This legislation has serious shortcomings that need to be openly discussed through regular order, rather than bringing the bill directly to the floor.

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ATR Supports HR. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act

Posted by Tom Fletcher on Friday, April 12th, 2013, 3:12 PM PERMALINK

As the President continues to dither on Keystone, the House is expected to take up HR. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, next week.  The Keystone Pipeline will bring billions of dollars in economic activity and create thousands of jobs. While the administration seems ambivalent about this crucial project, the House continues to bring important, job creating bills to the floor. Earlier this week, the House subcommittee on Energy and Power held hearings to discuss the benefits of the Keystone, which are irrefutable.  Bringing this legislation to the floor lets the Americans people know who is fighting for them by creating jobs that will help spark the economy.

Dear Representative:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and millions of taxpayers nationwide, I urge you to support HR 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, which would allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to begin.

After being delayed for more than four years, it is time to finally build the Keystone pipeline, the $7 billion construction project that would bring crude oil from Alberta, Canada to American refiners in Oklahoma and Texas. Hiding behind the agencies he oversees, President Obama has dragged out the regulatory approval process for unprecedented lengths of time. The President’s run-around necessitates Congressional action.

The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s abysmal March jobs report – only 88,000 jobs were created and many more people stopped looking for work – illustrates the need for the Keystone pipeline. The Keystone pipeline offers real benefits to Americans, immediately creating 20,000 construction jobs and thousands more jobs in buttressing industries.

The Northern Route Approval Act is a carefully written piece of legislation that satisfies a number of laws, from the Endangered Species Act to the Clean Water Act to the Migratory Bird Act, HR 3 ensures that Keystone will be constructed responsibly.

With Americans indefinitely consuming around 19 million barrels of petroleum products every day, the U.S. should continue to build more pipelines. Pipelines remain the safest and one of most cost effective ways to transport oil. Reducing our dependence on hostile regimes, constructing the Keystone pipeline likely means that American refiners will reduce heavy crude imports from Venezuela.

North American energy independence is an attainable goal, so long as government policies don’t inhibit natural and beneficial growth.

Poll after poll show that the American people are tired of waiting for Keystone pipeline construction to begin. It is time to spur economic growth. It is time to bolster the U.S.’s international standing. It is time to build the Keystone XL Pipeline.


Grover Norquist

Click Here to Tell Secretary Kerry to approve the Keystone Pipeline

Full Letter PDF

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House Energy and Power Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Keystone

Posted by Tom Fletcher on Thursday, April 11th, 2013, 3:42 PM PERMALINK

It has been 1665 days since the original plan for the Keystone Pipeline was submitted to the US State Department. The plan has since been modified to address environmental concerns and as well as other issues that had been raised. Last month, the State Department released their Environmental Impact Statement saying Keystone presented zero environmental dangers. On Wednesday the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing to extoll the economic and financial benefits that Keystone will bring to the US economy.

Ed Whitfield (R-KY) (Chair of the Energy and Technology Subcommittee):
“Whether you are an unemployed welder or a low-income mom struggling to afford each fill-up at the pump, the delays are particularly unfair to the least fortunate among us. Little wonder the American people overwhelmingly favor this project- Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. America is a nation of builders, and the American people want to see Keystone XL built.”

Fred Upton (R-MI) (Chair of Energy and Commerce Committee):
“The president last year declared that he’d do ‘whatever it takes’ to create U.S. jobs. Well, here’s a $7 billion construction project that will put thousands of Americans back to work. After more than four years - what are we waiting for?”
“This important bill takes the lessons we learned when the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline was met with unnecessary roadblocks. Just as the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline was a game changer in the 1970s, the Keystone XL project will be a game changer in our pursuit of North American energy independence.”

Testimony Highlights:

Alex Pourbaix (President, TransCanada)
“[b]y transporting crude oil from growing, secure North American basins in Canada, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and West Texas to the U.S. refining market, Keystone XL could serve as part of the solution to higher U.S. energy prices by increasing crude oil supply to the United States and improving the perception of future U.S. supply availability. The price of gasoline for much of the U.S. is heavily affected by the refining economics of Gulf Coast refiners because they supply a significant proportion of U.S. gasoline demand.”

Keith Shelter (President and Co-Owner of Delta Valves):
“[W]hen the US Government failed to move forward with the Keystone XL pipeline many of the large projects were put on hold or cancelled. MANY US companies were hurt by this, including Delta Industrial. We had just moved from our 25,000 square foot manufacturing facility to a “new” 90,000 square foot plant, and had begun to fill it with additional equipment, and more importantly, the WORKERS to operate that equipment.”

David L. Millino (Laborer’s International Union of North America)
“The unemployment rate in the construction industry reached over 27% in 2010, and joblessness in construction remains far higher than any industry or sector, with over 1 million construction workers currently unemployed in the United States. Too many hard-working Americans are out of work, and the Keystone XL Pipeline will change that dire situation for thousands of them.”

Approve the Pipeline

Click Here to Tell Secretary Kerry to approve Keystone


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Senate Votes 62-37 to Approve Keystone

Posted by Tom Fletcher on Monday, March 25th, 2013, 3:59 PM PERMALINK

On Friday the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the long delayed Keystone Pipeline. Unfortunately the legislation – which was an amendment to the Senate’s long overdue budget – was non-binding. Seventeen Democrats joined a unanimous Republican conference in endorsing the construction of the pipeline that would create thousands of jobs and inject billions of dollars into the American economy.

The GOP-controlled House has passed numerous bills or amendments requiring the State Department to allow Keystone construction to commence.

The Senate also voted down Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) amendment that called for more studies to be done on Keystone. It seems the State Department’s comprehensive environmental impact statement that said Keystone presented zero environmental risks, wasn’t good enough for the junior Senator from California.

While President Obama toils, Americans grow impatient. Unemployment is still hovering around eight percent, economic growth remains lethargic, yet the President can’t make a decision. Perhaps if the President stopped listening to unelected bureaucrats at the EPA and Sierra Club protestors he would see that this is a win-win. Unfortunately, it seems that the President will take the advice of Robert Kennedy Jr. and Van Jones over the U.S. State Department, the governors of Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, the Washington Post, and even Bill Clinton.

The country is still waiting.


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Paul Ryan's Pro-Energy Budget

Posted by Tom Fletcher on Tuesday, March 19th, 2013, 2:49 PM PERMALINK

While the President continues to dither on the Keystone Pipeline and punt on other vital energy issues, Budget Chairman Paul Ryan has called for Keystone’s immediate approval as well increased oil and gas exploration on federal lands in his new budget.

Right now John Kerry is weighing whether or not to approve the Keystone pipeline. Click here to tell Secretary Kerry to get off his hands and approve the Keystone XL pipeline

Highlighting the energy challenges facing the United States; Ryan’s budget outlines a pro-growth energy policy that seeks to unleash energy production in the United States, not one drowning in federal regulations. Throughout his first term, President Obama pushed policies that have led to record high gas prices, higher electricity costs and thousands of job losses. Instead of waiting for the EPA and Department of Interior to do more damage, Ryan is trying to preserve and advance America’s unrivaled potential in the energy sector.   

The Ryan Budget on Energy:

•    Immediately Approve Keystone
•    20,000 direct jobs as well as 118,000 indirect jobs

Oil and Gas Exploration
•    Open up federal lands to more oil and gas exploration
•    500,000 new jobs
•    $14.1 trillion in economic activity over the next 30 years

Congressional Research Service: The United States has the largest endowment of oil, coal and natural gas on EARTH located on government lands

Unemployed Americans cannot wait any longer; we must approve the Keystone Pipeline now.

Making the United States the global leader in energy is not only an attainable goal but a necessary one if the country is to re-discover its sleeping economic engine. Continuing to let unaccountable government agencies like the EPA run wild with job-killing regulation is not a serious answer to our energy policy needs. For Senate Democrats looking to find ways to create jobs and get the economy out of its current slump, reading the Ryan Budget would be a good starting point.  



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Wind industry inflates number of jobs supported by the federal Wind Production Tax Credit

Posted by Tom Fletcher on Thursday, March 7th, 2013, 2:21 PM PERMALINK

While the wind energy lobby successfully extended their Production Tax Credit for 2013, the myth that getting rid of this absurd provision would cost jobs has been thoroughly disproven. Dr. Charles W. Circhetti of the Pacific Economics Group has released a report debunking one of the wind industry’s opening arguments: that expiration or elimination of the wind PTC would cause enormous job loss. Of course, elimination of this tax provision would require an equivalent tax cut so the revenue cannot be used fund Obama’s Big Government agenda.

Dr. Circhetti’s report identifies several areas where the wind industry has grossly exaggerated the economic effects of a world absent the PTC. Specifically targeting a study by the Navigant Consulting Group, Dr. Charles Circhetti says that:

•    Navigant erroneously calculated PTC-related job losses ignoring contrary federal government data, and instead used the wind industry’s self-serving, inflated forecasts for wind capacity.

•    Navigant incorrectly applied the Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) economic model. Replicating Navigant’s work for five important wind states (California, Texas, Iowa, Illinois, and Pennsylvania) demonstrates that through this error alone, Navigant overstates potential job losses by at least 100%.

•    Navigant also incorrectly applied the Impact Analysis For Planning (IMPLAN) economic model, using questionable multipliers to add indirect and induced jobs, which further overstates potential job losses by at least another 72%.

He concludes that, “Navigant’s fatally flawed Report on the impact of the wind PTC expiration is based on self-serving industry interviews and unsupported wind capacity forecasts that have no credibility.” That sounds about right.

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House Energy and Commerce Committee Unveil Keystone Clock

Posted by Tom Fletcher on Monday, February 11th, 2013, 3:51 PM PERMALINK

The American people and the Congress are now growing increasingly frustrated with President Obama’s failure to approve the Keystone Pipeline. Even after Nebraska Governor Dave Heinemann approved a new route this year that ameliorated environmental concerns, the administrations has remained silent. While the country is in the midst of the slowest economic recovery on record, this President has refused to approve a project that has overwhelming bi-partisan support and could help kick start the economy.

“It has been MORE THAN FOUR YEARS since backers of the Keystone XL pipeline first submitted an application to the U.S. State Department on September 19, 2008, to build this energy infrastructure project and bring jobs and greater energy security to America. Congress has demanded action -- how much longer will President Obama make us wait?”

Keystone XL Fast Facts:
•    According to the Department of Energy, Keystone XL would be able to move up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day. This represents about half the amount the U.S. imports from the Middle East.
•    TransCanada estimates it will spend $7 billion in the U.S. to build the pipeline and 20,000 jobs would be directly created from the pipeline’s construction.
•    Keystone XL would generate much needed tax revenue in several states and collectively boost Gross State Product by billions of dollars.
•    By delaying approval of the pipeline, President Obama is providing China with an opportunity to out-compete the U.S. and gain access to Canada’s rich oil supply.
•    Several labor unions have endorsed the project and criticized the president’s decision to reject American jobs.
•    Even Chris Matthews described President Obama’s rejection of Keystone XL as a “mistake.”

The continual delay of the Keystone Pipeline sadly confirms this President’s desire to place politics above jobs and energy security, things that this country could surely use right now.

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Nebraska Gov. Ok's Keystone Pipeline Route

Posted by Tom Fletcher on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013, 3:07 PM PERMALINK

After countless delays and debate on both the state and federal level, Nebraska Governor Dave Heinemann recently approved a plan for a new route of the Keystone Pipeline.  The Governor’s office sent a letter to both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, informing them that he had given the green light to the latest Pipeline proposal. In the same letter, he also sought to allay any environmental concerns by pointing out that the newest route will avoid the Sandy Hills region and that Keystone will provide “$200 million in third party liability insurance to cover cleanup costs for incidents in Nebraska.”  While this decision is sure to enrage radical environmentalists, Nebraskans should celebrate the thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in revenue this will bring the state.

Marty Durbin, Vice President of the American Petroleum Institute, knows the numbers better than anyone and said:

“The project would boost economic income nationwide, particularly in Nebraska: generating more than $465 million in new spending, increasing personal income by $314 million, and adding more than $11 million in to state and local tax revenues.”

This latest announcement is will put President Obama in a bind given his base’s illogical opposition to the construction project. One would hope that a President, whose job creation record is as abysmal as this one, would welcome Governor Heinemann’s plan. Unfortunately, it seems all this Administration is interested in is increasing the regulatory burden with new EPA regulations and job-killing legislation like the President’s Cap and Trade Proposal. What Governor Heinemann is doing in Nebraska and what other Republican governors are doing across the country is putting together common sense proposals that will put Americans back to work.

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Export! Export! Export!

Posted by Tom Fletcher on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013, 2:10 PM PERMALINK

Since 2008, natural gas prices in the United States have plummeted to less than 4 dollars, while prices abroad remain significantly higher (See graph). This price disparity means US natural gas producers have a huge opportunity to sell natural gas abroad and invest profits in more domestic development. Limiting natural gas exports would be a blunder beyond description, and would have disastrous impacts on trade and energy policy for years to come.


(Real Clear Energy)

Most agree that increasing exports is the right path. Here are just a few:

Real Clear Energy Editorial Board
“The price differential is a magnet for U.S. exports. Building an LNG terminal and getting the required federal permits, however, is an arduous process. Already there is opposition in Congress, based on the premise that exporting gas will drive up the price to households and industrial users. The Department of Energy, on the other hand, argues that exports would probably only reverse the trend for shutting in wells because of low prices. And of course exports would do wonders for our balance of trade. Foreign policy experts are also saying that gas exports could break Russia’s stranglehold on Europe and improve our influence in the world.”

The Brookings Institute
“The study recommends that U.S. policy makers should refrain from introducing legislation or regulations that would either promote or limit additional exports of LNG from the United States…Efforts to intervene in the market by policy makers are likely to result in subsidies to consumers at the expense of producers, and to lead to unintended consequences. They are also likely to weaken the position of the United States as a supporter of a global trading system characterized by the free flow of goods and capital.”

Manhattan Institute
“America is in the middle of an appalling jobs crisis. Dramatically increasing the production of domestic hydrocarbons—oil, natural gas, and coal—offers the single biggest opportunity to generate jobs, especially those in the hard-hit middle class, and to create collateral financial benefits to state and federal treasuries. Not in nearly 50 years has the energy “ground game” changed so radically. But capturing these opportunities requires bold policies. This positive energy future isn’t inevitable. The United States could by default walk away from all these jobs and revenues, passing up the chance to become the major player in world energy markets. Should this happen, other nations will step in to fill the void.”

The Washington Post Editorial Board:
“It would be particularly perverse for the Obama administration, which has made an explicit commitment to increasing the nation’s exports, to preserve restrictions on natural gas exports. The government should permit energy companies to sell as much of the fuel as the economics warrant, whether in Germany or Germantown.”

The New York Times Editorial Board:
“Exporting natural gas is a controversial issue, with powerful forces on both sides. But we are persuaded by the report’s core finding that the benefits of selling gas to other countries would more than offset the modestly negative impact of higher prices for domestic users of the fuel.”

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Vitter and Inhofe Demand Answers From Lisa Jackson

Posted by Tom Fletcher on Thursday, January 17th, 2013, 2:11 PM PERMALINK

Senators David Vitter (R-LA.) and James Inhofe (R-OK) are calling for outgoing EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to answer questions about an EPA report detailing hydraulic fracturing and its scientific impact. While a draft of the report had been released in December of 2011, the full report has now been delayed a third time and Vitter and Inhofe want to know why.  On the report, Senator Inhofe said, “I have had major concerns about this report from the very beginning” adding, “using shoddy science to pursue an agenda that prevents America from responsibly using our own energy resources is unacceptable.” Senator Vitter was equally frustrated given the “positive progress with hydraulic fracturing – arguably the brightest spot in our otherwise slumping economy.”

In their letter to Lisa Jackson, both Senators Vitter and Inhofe listed the following concerns they had with the draft version of the report:

•    Why EPA ignored multiple data sources in its draft report  that document long-standing, naturally occurring problems such as high sodium, high sulfate, and naturally produced methane gas with groundwater in the Pavillion area;
•    Numerous documented instances of poor quality sampling and laboratory methods in which even blank samples were routinely contaminated;
•    The use of a very limited and incomplete data sets to draw technically inadequate conclusions;
•    Reliance on data from two EPA monitoring wells – neither of which tested the water quality in the aquifers used by residents – that were completed in natural gas reservoirs;
•    Failure to ensure integrity in EPA’s monitoring wells where many organic and synthetic organic chemicals that were detected were likely introduced during the drilling, completion, testing, and sampling phases;
•    Failure of EPA to follow United States Geological Survey recommendations for monitoring well drilling and sampling;
•    Failure of the Agency to adequately recognize the local geology and hydrogeology of the Wind River Formation;
•    Failure of EPA to rule out or study possible other sources of groundwater contamination; and
•    Focusing the report entirely on hydraulic fracturing while failing to address the needs of the landowner’s water supply issues.  

Allowing the EPA to continually delay the release of such an important report is not only troubling, but also potentially damaging to the economy. Hydraulic Fracturing represents one of the best opportunities the United States has to unleash a new energy revolution.  

Click Here for the Full Letter to Lisa Jackson:


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