January 3, 2011

Chicken Littles: AP Report Casts Texas v. EPA Fight as Risking Health of Texans

In his report on the escalating dispute between the State of Texas and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one thing you cannot accuse Ramit Plushnick-Masti of the Associated Press of being is a master of understatement. He claims that “Both sides and conservation groups agree the battle has put the health of Texas residents and the environment at risk.”

Really? The only problem is that the AP reporter never found anyone who is currently on the Texas side of the dispute who is saying anything remotely resembling that.

Here are the opening paragraphs of Plushnick-Masti’s prose, followed by a much later paragraph representing the closest the writer gets to naming someone on the Texas side to worry about the alleged “risk” (bold is mine):

A longstanding tit-for-tat between Texas and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over how to regulate pollution has grown fierce in recent months, leaving industry frustrated and allowing some plants and refineries to spew more toxic waste into the air, streams and lakes than what is federally acceptable.

Both sides and conservation groups agree the battle has put the health of Texas residents and the environment at risk. But the back-and-forth over everything from who should issue permits to whether state agencies are properly cracking down on polluters shows no signs of slowing down.

The fight has gotten so ugly that the EPA took the unprecedented step this month of announcing it will directly issue greenhouse gas permits to Texas industries beginning in January after the state openly refused to comply with new federal regulations.

“It’s a soup of toxic chemicals,” said Neil Carman, a Sierra Club scientist and former Texas environmental regulator.

Seriously, a “former Texas environmental regulator” who is now a Sierra Club “scientist” is the AP reporter’s “example” of someone associated with Team Texas. No one else in his report on the Texas side comes anywhere close to agreeing that Texans’ health or its environment are at risk.

I call Mr. Carman a “scientist,” in quotes, simply because the Sierra Club still believes in human-caused global warming (which it now refers to as “reversing climate change”), despite:

  • The damning Climategate e-mails.
  • The dog-ate-my data excuses why no one can recreate what these so-called geniuses allege.
  • The admissions by “luminaries” including Phil Jones that there has been no warming since 1995.
  • Revised guidance from the Royal Society, the “UK’s leading scientific body,” that has backed away from formerly aggressive “settled science” posture.
  • The frank assertion by German economist and U.N. climate official Ottmar Edenhofer that “climate policy is redistributing the world’s wealth.”

Mr. Carman’s characterization of Texas as “a soup of toxic chemicals” is a really good soundbite for a PR person to spit out, but clearly disqualifies him from any reasonable claim to being a scientist interested in legitimate inquiry.

The dispute seems to boil down to one based on results (the Texas position) vs. one based on following every minute regulatory detail (Uncle Sam’s predictable position):

About 200 Texas facilities continue to operate with air and water permits that are either out of date or have been disapproved by the EPA. The agency believes they are releasing a variety of metals and chemicals into the air and water that would, under the new regulations, no longer be permitted.

A main point of contention has been the state’s flexible permit program, which sets a general limit on how much air pollution an entire facility can release. (“General” really means “specific overall.” — Ed.)

… Texas says it has wed environmental law so successfully with an industry-friendly economy that the EPA and other states could learn from it.

“The existing permits in Texas have helped our state achieve dramatic improvements in air quality and we believe they will ultimately be upheld in the courts,” Perry’s office said in a statement. “In their latest crusade, the EPA has created massive job-crushing uncertainty for Texas companies.”

If Gov. Perry’s office isn’t blowing smoke, so to speak, about the results achieved and can back it up, this fight really is about an over-intrusive federal bureuacracy imposing its will on the states, and not at all about clean air and water. The idea that it really is about the former and not the latter is given away in this paragraph from the AP-reporter’s dispatch:

Some industries in Texas have chosen to deal directly with the EPA, which says it’s working with about two-thirds of the largest facilities to get them new flexible permits.

That tells me that it’s really about whose flexible permits rule, not the idea of flexible permits.

For his part, the AP’s Plushnick-Masti seems to be fairly salivating over the potential gains by the statists in Washington, as seen in these two paragraphs about halfway through his report:

The EPA, meanwhile, by flexing its muscles in Texas, may be able to send a message to other states that the days when the agency allowed contentious issues to languish unresolved have ended. Other states have had their differences with the EPA, and at least a dozen have come together in a lawsuit – along with Texas – challenging new greenhouse gas regulations.

All are taking steps in the meantime to comply. Except Texas.

Implication: Texas needs to be squashed like a bug.

Expect future AP and other dispatches about this growing dispute to characterize Texas as some kind of outlaw cesspool of polluters. It continues an Obama administration tradition of using environmental regulation to dump on red states (see: Louisiana, BP oil spill).

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

IBD: ‘Bloody Snow’

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:43 am

The establishment press can and will try to minimize the significance of the ugliness we saw from New York City’s sanitation workers’ union this past week.

But the undeniable bottom line of what happened is in the final paragraph of an editorial at Investors Business Daily:

Beyond union bosses getting to vent spleen, and union members picking up unwarranted extra pay courtesy of city taxpayers, the slowdown led to two deaths, because emergency workers couldn’t get through snowbound streets.

One was a baby born in the lobby of a Brooklyn building. Snowbound airport workers led to 29 international flights being stuck on the Kennedy Airport tarmac for over three hours.

Mayor Bloomberg’s attitude in not so many words was that “snow happens.” He scolded city residents for driving in the bad weather conditions, told them they were calling 911 too much, and the day after the storm even advised that they just “go see a Broadway show.”

The condescending, out-of-touch Bloomberg — who broke a promise to honor the city’s mayoral term limit law — now says he will probe whether there was a union-orchestrated slowdown.

Hopefully, New Yorkers will remind him that what he is investigating is homicide.

The scary thing is that what we saw could happen anywhere when fiscal reality hits home.

Lickety-Split Links (010311, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:30 am

Victor Davis Hanson cuts through the “it’s always someone else’s fault” leftist lament:

What strikes me is not that leftism does not work, but that when it is indulged and doesn’t work, its beneficiaries scream at the unfairness of it all—in the fashion that a theorist who claimed 2 plus 2 equals 5 blames the construct of mathematics because his equation is not true.

… In short, there is no “them” who wrecked Greece, ruined California, subverted the climate change movement, sidetracked a half century of liberalism to come, or discredited mega-deficit spending.

“Them” you see is simply a shorthand for “I got what I wanted, and I am mad at someone or something for not allowing the world to become what I think it should have been.”

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Hmm — Fewer movie tickets were sold in 2010 than in any year since 1995 The drop-off from 2009 was over 8%. Can’t wait to see the people who seem bound and determined to produce crap that is either spectacularly untrue, not what people want to see, or both explain this away (“It’s all because of NetFlix” — sure).

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Busted: Kirsten Powers swallowed an Obama administration talking point (i.e., falsehood) about how end-of-life legislation first appeared “under” George W. Bush, conveniently overlooking the fact that Bush vetoed the related legislation. Congress overrode the veto, and it went into law without Bush’s signature. News outlets which relayed the Dem spin have thus far been reluctant to retract.

Bottom line: You can’t pin this one on Bush. Note the irony of cowardly Dems trying to hide behind W when they unilaterally impose something clearly unpopular and particularly odious.

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From the “World Turned Upside Down” Dept. — “Mexican cartel announces 1-month truce.” They get to decide this? I hope not. If they’re as weakened as indicated, put ‘em out for good.

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The White House’s Winston Smiths were busy New Year’s Day shading the truth about the New Year’s Eve bombing of a Coptic Christian church in Egypt:

The attack on a church in Alexandria, Egypt caused 21 reported deaths and dozens of injured from both the Christian and Muslim communities.

“Clever” parsing — technically silent on who died, and specific on who was injured. But it will be read by many as if both Christians and Muslims died.

But as Gateway Pundit notes (HT Cold Fury), the fact is that all 21 dead were Christians. It’s conceivable that some of the 79 injured were Muslim (“All but eight of the injured and all the fatalities were Christians from Saints Church”), but does that even include those who committed the bombing?

The point is that this administration won’t call out Islamist-related terror attacks when they occur, which only emboldens them to carry out more of them.

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Its seems certain that George W. Bush’s memoir will outsell Bill Clinton’s.

The publisher’s observation:

A spokesman for Crown called the performance remarkable, saying he could not immediately think of any other hardcover nonfiction books in 2010 that had sold over 1 million copies.

Devonia Smith at Examiner.com offers succinct reason for this:

After reading both books, it is much more accurate to offer that meaningful historical substance was the reason Bush’s book outsold Clinton’s x-rated description of an x-rated life.

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Piling on: The New York Post has filed at least four damning reports about sanitation workers’ conduct during the City’s snowstorm (previously noted, accompanied by fact-free defenses of the indefensible at the New York Times, in BizzyBlog posts here, here, and here).

Here’s the fourth:

Sanit bigs boozed amid snow chaos: witnesses

Instead of plowing, they got plowed.

A group of on-duty Sanitation supervisors is under investigation for allegedly buying booze and chilling in their cozy department car for hours Monday night after the blizzard stranded a bus and three snowplows blocks away.

The city Department of Investigation is probing the incident after witnesses said four snow blowers blew off their duties to get blitzed, buying two six-packs of beer from a Brooklyn bodega. The workers then walked five blocks to their car, which was in 20 inches of snow in the middle of 18th at McDonald avenues near the F train entrance, passing the stuck bus and idle plows on 18th Avenue between Third and Fourth streets.

The four remained in the idling sedan until morning — then told their bosses they could do nothing about the blizzard because they had run out of gas, one witness said.

“They just sat in their car all night with the heat running,” the witness said.

… six riders remained on the snow-stalled bus all night.

Michelle Malkin’s related December 31 column (“Slow the plow: Big Labor’s death grip”) nails it:

It would be laugh-out-loud comedy if not for the death of at least one newborn whose parents waited for an ambulance that never came because of snowed-in streets.

This isn’t a triumphant victory for social justice and workers’ dignity. This is terrifying criminal negligence.

It’s especially terrifying because, barring a miracle, the large majority of those who willingly participated in the past week’s work slowdown will suffer no consequences for their actions.

Positivity: Opera Singer Had Months to Live, But New Treatments Eliminated Cancerous Tumors

Filed under: Health Care,Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From San Francisco (video is at link):

Zheng Cao, a Non-Smoker, Was Diagnosed With Stage IV Lung Cancer
Dec. 21, 2010

At the annual Christmas concert of the San Francisco Boys Chorus, one voice sounded out like no one in the crowd had ever heard before. Singing “Oh Holy Night”, the woman at the front of the theatre had a life story that was perhaps worthy of her own opera.

Zheng Cao, born during China’s Cultural Revolution, came to America 23 years ago with virtually nothing.

“Zheng is one of God’s best creatures,” said Frederica von Stade, a fellow opera singer. “When he puts a lot of good things all in one person, it results in someone like Zheng.”

A Grim Diagnosis

With two suitcases at $45 in hand, Cao arrived Dec. 17, 1988. After formal training she became a household name on America’ grandest stages, as one the great mezzo-sopranos to come from abroad.

But in 2008, on stage and off, something was wrong. Zheng had a pain that wouldn’t go away. Soon medical tests delivered grim news.

“I said, how bad is it?” Zheng, 44, recalled in an interview with “Good Morning America.” “And she said ‘it’s stage four.’”

Despite having never smoked, Zheng had stage four lung cancer that had spread throughout her body. Her doctors gave the San Francisco woman six months to live.

“She had 24 tumors in her brain, a tumor in her spine,” said Dr. David Larson of Washington Hospital in Fremont, California. There were large tumors everywhere.

Zheng said it felt like she had dropped everything and it just scattered.

“And that moment felt so bad about “My God, what am I going to tell my friends? And what am I going to tell my parents?’”

She said she called it her death sentence of a few months. But she turned the bad news into a journey of life and living and started keeping a video diary to remember it.

And then her tragedy began to look like a miracle. Her inner circle came together quickly, formulating a plan to save her. …

Go here for the rest of the story.