January 4, 2011

WSJ on EPA’s Tyrannical Anti-Texas Tirade: A ‘Carbon Regulation Putsch’

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:17 am

The Journal lays it out in stark detail (direct link; Google search link on the article title for non-subscriber access):

The EPA’s War on Texas
The agency punishes the state for challenging its anticarbon rules.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon regulation putsch continues, but apparently abusing the clean-air laws of the 1970s to achieve goals Congress rejected isn’t enough. Late last week, the EPA made an unprecedented move to punish Texas for being the one state with the temerity to challenge its methods.

To wit, the EPA violated every tenet of administrative procedure to strip Texas of its authority to issue the air permits that are necessary for large power and industrial projects. This is the first time in the history of the Clean Air Act that the EPA has abrogated state control, and the decision will create gale-force headwinds for growth in a state that is the U.S. energy capital. Anyone who claims that carbon regulation is no big deal and that the EPA is merely following the law will need to defend this takeover.

Since December 2009, the EPA has issued four major greenhouse gas rule-makings, and 13 states have tried to resist the rush. The Clean Air Act stipulates that pollution control is “the primary responsibility of states and local government,” and while the national office sets overall priorities, states have considerable leeway in their “implementation plans.” When EPA’s instructions change, states typically have three years to revise these plans before sending them to Washington for approval.

This summer, the 13 states requested the full three years for the costly and time-consuming revision process, until the EPA threatened economic retaliation with a de facto construction moratorium. If these states didn’t immediately submit new implementation plans to specification, the agency warned, starting in 2011 projects “will be unable to receive a federally approved permit authorizing construction or modification.” All states but Texas stood down, even as Texas continued to file lawsuits challenging the carbon power grab.

Two weeks ago, EPA air regulation chief Gina McCarthy sent the Texas environmental department a letter asserting that the agency had “no choice” but to seize control of permitting. She noted “statements in the media” by Texas officials and their “legal challenges to EPA’s greenhouse gas rules,” but she cited no legal basis.

And no wonder. The best the EPA could offer up as a legal excuse for voiding Texas’s permitting authority last Thursday was that EPA had erred in originally approving the state’s implementation plan—in 1992, or three Presidents ago.

… The takeover was sufficiently egregious that the D.C. circuit court of appeals issued an emergency stay on Thursday suspending the rules pending judicial review. One particular item in need of legal scrutiny is that the permitting takeover is an “interim final rule” that is not open to the normal—and Clean Air Act-mandated—process of public notice and comment. So much for transparency in government.

The EPA claims its takeover is a matter of great urgency, but Texas is being pre-emptively punished for not obeying rules that don’t exist today because the EPA hasn’t finalized them.

The EPA concedes that some 167 current projects will be affected, and many more in the future. Our guess is that all of them will be delayed for years and many will simply die. This is precisely the goal of a politically driven bureaucracy that wants to impose by illegal diktat the anticarbon, anti-fossil fuel agenda that the Obama Administration has been unable to pass by democratic consent.

There is no legal basis for what the EPA is doing. All they have is brute force, intimidation, and an unlimited supply of legal resources. Once again, the administration is engaged in actions that perfectly fit the definition of tyranny (“arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority”).

And the Journal is right in asserting that it’s all about stopping development — and growth, and wealth creation, and ultimately, whether the President or his apparatchiks admit it or not, human progress.

It all gets back to the question of how a bunch of supposedly bright people can get so swept up in causes — stimulus, the environment, “green” energy — that they end up inarguably harming the economy, employment, and real people. Do they really believe in the causes, or are they just using them a shield to cover up their true intent to harm the economy for the purpose of getting some kind of twisted revenge for all the alleged evils U.S.-based capitalism has perpetrated? For some current and past administration members (e.g., Van Jones), it’s clearly the latter.

As to those who haven’t owned up to it, including our president, even if you wish to still give them the benefit of the doubt, the thought expressed by Glenn Reynolds yesterday applies: “I don’t think so (that he’s trying to wreck the economy), but I’m scratching my head trying to figure out what he’d do differently if he were. . . .”

Lickety-Split Links (010411, Morning)

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

Good news (seriously) — Dollar General will hire 6,000 for new stores. There’s nothing wrong with Wal-Mart feeling a little pressure from an outfit which, though selective, sometimes has even deeper discounts.

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In New York City, it’s garbagemen not in, lots of garbage still out.

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Steve Driehaus needs to figure out that when the ACLU feels it has to cover its hind end (HT 3BP) and defend a prolife group to avoid being accused of hypocrisy, he’s on the losing side of the argument.

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Readers here should be able to see the problem with the bolded statement in a missive over at Buckeye Firearms (BF) in reaction to lame-duck House Speaker Armond Budish’s bottle-up of a bill that would have allowed Concealed Carry permit holders “to let people with concealed-weapon permits carry their handguns inside businesses that have state liquor permits”:

As Speaker Budish has retained his leadership position in the caucus (as Minority Leader, given the new Republican majority — Ed.), it seems fair to wonder if there are any pro-gun Democrats. One thing is clear, there are certainly not enough – and that is reason enough for gun owners to be glad the Republicans now control the entire state legislature.

Geez, that’s a statement BF could make about the vast, vast majority of Democrats nationwide. Yet somehow BF saw fit to endorse Ted Strickland for reelection as Ohio’s Governor — even though Democrat Strickland avidly supports President Barack Obama, whose is as hostile to gun rights as any President ever elected, and who nominated two gun-hostile Supreme Court justices, both of whom violated their oath to uphold the Constitution in the McDonald case.

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A Zombietime must-read: “The Five Best Arguments Against Sharia in the United States”

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Outrage of the young in Europe – “youth protests (are really) … against a general situation in which the older generations have eaten the future of the younger ones.”

Indeed. Barring a major course change, this will be coming to America soon.

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Speaking of which, this had better not be coming to America soon, but don’t bet against it:

European nations begin seizing private pensions
Hungary, Poland, and three other nations take over citizens’ pension money to make up government budget shortfalls.

I wonder what the “we should be just like Europe” crowd thinks of this?

If attempted here, mattresses will be bulging as they never have.

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Zero Hedge-based non-cheerful passage of the day, courtesy of retail expert Howard Davidowitz (bolds are mine):

I am not surprised by the strength of retail sales, because I knew that 30% of consumers are responsible for retail sales, and these 30% did much better because of the performance of capital markets. I don’t think it is indicative of anything going forward.

I don’t think the economy is going to get any better. If you look at our fiscal and monetary policy, we went two trillion in the hole last year. Two trillion… to produce this… and unemployment went up to 9.8%! We’ve spent two trillion we’re printing money we’re going bananas. Our balance sheet, we’ve got $2.6 trillion on there, and what’s on there government securities, and MBS (mortgage-backed securities — Ed.).

If interest rates go up a point Bernanke’s bankrupt. Everything he’s bought is underwater. All the MBS are underwater, the whole country is underwater.

If there’s a credible counterargument, I’d like to hear it.

Positivity: Soldier’s death moves thousands

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Tooele County, Utah:

Dec 30, 2010

New father becomes Tooele County’s first casualty in Afghanistan war

A little over a week after his first child was born, Pfc. Jordan Byrd kissed his young wife and son goodbye and went off to war. Less than a month later, on Oct. 13, the 19-year-old Army medic became the first soldier from Tooele County killed in action in Afghanistan when he was struck by enemy fire as he rushed to help a wounded fellow soldier.

Byrd died in the Paktika Province of Afghanistan, but his death echoed loudest in Tooele County, prompting an unprecedented surge of grief, patriotism and community solidarity.

A true citizen of the county, Byrd’s parents lived in Grantsville and he attended schools in Tooele before graduating from Dugway High School in 2009. He dreamed of becoming a doctor, and joined the Army to help fund that goal.

“He just loved helping people and he loved this country,” said Jodi Steinfeldt, Byrd’s aunt, following the news of Byrd’s death. “He was so positive about what he was doing.”

The same day the Army released the news of Byrd’s death, a former classmate, 21-year-old Marcus Medina, organized a small candlelight vigil for friends to gather and comfort one another. Although he planned for a crowd of only a few dozen, Medina said well over 100 people came to honor Byrd.

“I didn’t know everyone but I felt like I did because we were all connected through Jordan,” Medina said after the vigil. “And that was only a fraction [of those who knew Byrd] who came. It just shows how many lives he touched.”

When Byrd’s body was returned to his family on Oct. 19, much of SR-36 from Stansbury Park to downtown Tooele was lined with flags, and those flying on flagpoles were lowered to half-staff. People, many of whom had not heard of Jordan Byrd until the news of his death, stood in patriotic solemnity along Main Street in Tooele as a motorcade-led processional brought his body back home.

“It’s not much for what he’s done. It’s just a teeny bit of respect,” said Tooele resident Doug Kinsman, an Iraq War veteran who saluted the gray hearse carrying Byrd’s body as it passed. “When I came home from Iraq, the city put me on a fire truck and took me down Main Street. I wish that could have happened for this one.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.