Dec 8, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 13 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Obama administration’s recently announced Clean Air Act power-plant rules, advertised as helping to control the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, have almost nothing to recommend them. Complex, clunky, and burdensome, they’re likely to spike energy bills while doing almost nothing to control pollution or stop global warming.
Despite some pleasant-sounding talk about flexibility and choice, as currently drafted, the rules offer states few options beyond heavy-handed command-and-control oversight of fixed source carbon-dioxide emitters (coal-fired power plants and the like). Even the awful Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill that passed the Democratic-controlled House in 2009 suspended authority to issue regulations like the ones the Obama administration has now imposed.
That’s why it’s more than a bit heartening that a few states are fighting back in a constructive way, one that neither accepts the administration’s bureaucratic meddling nor ignores greenhouse gas emissions. In language that only a bureaucrat could love, the Commonwealth of Virginia has asked that it be allowed to interpret “40 C.F.R. §60.21 and §60.24(b)(1) permit §111(d) emission guidelines to . . . devise broader, more creative, and more effective options to address compliance from affected [power plants] than now contemplated.” The EPA, Virginia says, should also “remove any doubts that novel approaches will be encouraged and accepted.”
In plain language, this is an important if cheeky request: If the EPA will allow it, Virginia regulators would like to kick the agency out for all intents and purposes and replace command-and-control regulation with a better system of its own devising.
While a piecemeal state-by-state approach probably doesn’t make for the best possible economic policy—economists from both the left and right agree it would be better to tax greenhouse gas emissions at a single national rate—the politics of what Virginia may want to do are great. With one fell swoop, state officials could kick out federal regulators, end the burdens they impose, and follow any number of courses, ranging from the state’s own carbon tax (which could be used to cut other taxes) to a lighter-handed, more localized approach to regulation. Having such options is particularly important to Virginia, which, under Democratic and Republican administrations alike, has done a lot to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions in ways that current centrally planned rules just don’t acknowledge.
Virginia is currently under a Democratic governor who implicitly accepts that the Obama administration is trying to confront a real problem, albeit in a ham-handed way. Thus, the Virginia approach isn’t likely to win many conservative plaudits. But if the EPA can be convinced to say “yes” and allow Virginia to go forward, it will present a path that turns a burdensome regulatory framework into an opportunity for policy innovation.
4:50 PM, Nov 21, 2014 • By DAVE JUDAY
Under the nation’s biofuels policy known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supposed to set an amount of biofuels—ethanol, biodiesel, and low carbon advanced biofuels—which are to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. That amount is to be finalized by the EPA on November 30 of the previous year so as to give energy markets a clear signal of what to expect.
2:15 PM, Aug 22, 2014 • By DAVE JUDAY
The dictionary defines a deadline as “the latest time or date by which something should be completed.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency obviously defines it another way, at least when it comes to renewable fuels.
Sep 1, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 47 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The riots in Ferguson, Missouri, have spawned a heated and, one hopes, productive debate about the “militarization” of the police. While one can argue about the tactics and weaponry used by police, however, there’s little debate about the necessity of cops being armed. The real problem is the thousands of agents in federal regulatory bodies who likely have no business being armed at all.
10:59 AM, Jun 16, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
EPA chief Gina McCarthy agreed with Bill Maher on Friday that the Obama administration is engaged in a war on coal:
"The clean power program," Maher said. "Some people called it a war on coal. I hope it is a war on coal. Is it?"
"Actually, EPA is all about fighting against polution and fighting for public health," McCarthy said before answering Maher's question. "That's exactly what this is."
"Oh, great," Maher said to applause.
Has the desperate global warming crusade reached its Waterloo? Jun 16, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 38 • By STEVEN F. HAYWARD
The climate change crusaders, who have been at it for a quarter-century, appear to be going clinically mad. Start with the rhetorical monotony and worship of authority (“97 percent of all scientists agree!”), add the Salem witch trial-style intimidation and persecution of dissenters, and the categorical demand that debate about science or policy is over because the matter is settled, and you have the profile of a cult-like sectarianism that has descended into paranoia and reflexive bullying.
2:38 PM, May 7, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The administration has made climate change its signature issue until something better comes along. This means that the the EPA will be walking point. After all, no new environmental legislation will be coming out of Congress. President Obama didn’t ever try for that when his party had majorities in both the House and the Senate.
Of course the weather was nicer back then, so Washington may not have felt the urgency.
7:01 AM, Mar 10, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Less than a month after the exposure of a widespread vulnerability on government "open data" websites, another perhaps even more insidious opening for abuse of government websites has come to light.
7:34 AM, Feb 25, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Steve Hayes, with Elise Viebeck and Jason Riley, last night on Fox News:
8:01 AM, Jan 15, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The EPA awarded $461,368 in grants this week for various environmental projects along the U.S.-Mexico border. About half of the funds went to projects in Calexico, CA and Phoenix, AZ, but the remaining $230,000 went to two cities on the Mexican side of the border, Nogales and Ensenada.
Dec 30, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 16 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Truth to tell, The Scrapbook has gotten as good a laugh as anyone out of the saga of John C. Beale, the retired Environmental Protection Agency official—Princeton grad, onetime deputy assistant administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation, congressionally certified expert on global warming—who has been sentenced to 32 months in prison for stealing nearly a million dollars from the federal government.
Oct 7, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 05 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
On September 20, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed strict new limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants. Energy industry critics, along with a number of influential unions, were quick to decry them. The regulations would limit carbon emissions for new coal plants to 1,100 pounds per megawatt hour. The technology to meet this standard, which involves pumping carbon dioxide deep underground, is so expensive that the coal industry says it will effectively prevent new coal plants from being built.
Jun 24, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 39 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
It’s going to be a long summer in Washington. With so many scandals, news organizations that have spent years sweeping startling allegations about the Obama administration under the rug now find themselves overwhelmed. Woe betide the average citizen who just wants to know what the heck his government is up to.
3:52 PM, Jun 4, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama today nominated three liberals to fill longstanding judicial vacancies on the important Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Will the Senate rubber-stamp the president's nominees—even though the court's fine as it is, with the eight judges currently serving enjoying the lightest caseload in the country? In 2006, when the Senate refused to consider the nomination of Peter Keisler to that court, Senator Ted Kennedy stressed that “we should consider these caseload declines carefully before we fill the current vacancy. American taxpayers deserve no less.” Since then, the court has only added more judges and heard fewer cases.