American Elephants


An EPA Power Grab for Your Property Rights! by The Elephant's Child

The headline read “EPA pulls back from plan to garnish paychecks.” That particular plan was announced quietly an a Friday right before the 4th of July, the way agencies do when they want no one to notice. But I spotted it and wrote about it on the 8th. This administration has so many agencies and departments overstepping the bounds that it’s hard to pick a worst, but the EPA is right at the top of the list, for sheer crookedness.

The Washington Times reported last Wednesday that:

The Environmental Protection Agency bowed to fierce criticism Wednesday and announced that it had hit the brakes on a fast-tracked plan to collect fines by garnishing paychecks of accused polluters.

I was so pleased that I got up and did a little dance around my computer. But then I read the following paragraph:

The agency, which has come under withering attacks from Republican lawmakers for attempting a “power grab,” said it still intended to pursue the new authority to garnish wages without a court order. But now it will follow a more typical and longer review process.           

Opponents of the wage-garnish rule applauded EPA’s decision. But the EPA vowed to press on with its plan to snatch fines directly out of Americans’ paychecks.   (emphasis added)

Senator David Vitter (R-LA) ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who had battled the proposed rule said, “It’s about time this abuse-prone agency listened to Congress and backtrack on a rule that was clearly an egregious power grab to garnish private citizen’s wages.” Doesn’t sound like they are listening.

This rule (published as close to secrecy as a federal agency can manage) was issued on July 2 in a notice in the Federal Register as a “direct final rule” that would automatically take effect on September 2 unless the EPA received adverse public comment by August 1.

The only improvement seems to be that since they received  comments, they have extended the comment period until September 2. They claim they are required to participate in Treasury’s debt-collection program — the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (one of Bill Clinton’s) to garnish wages.

What or who gives them the authority to levy fines of, in the case of Wyoming welder Andy Johnson for building a pond on his property, $75,000 a day. That’s up from the fine they imposed on the Sacketts for their supposed “wetland” on a standard residential lot overlooking Priest Lake in Idaho, which was $37,500 a day and they said the Sacketts could contest their action legally. The Supreme Court slapped down the EPA for that one, and made sure the Sacketts got their day in court.

It apparently was revealed in a remark by an EPA official back in 2012. He said:

I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff…the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean.  They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.

Ans so you make examples of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there.

And companies that are smart see that they don’t want to play that game and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up.

And, that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people. So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, you go aggressively after them. And we do have some pretty effective enforcement tools. Compliance can get very high, very, very quickly.

That’s apparently what those enormous fines are supposed to be about— making the accused so terrified that they will comply immediately and sow terror in the heart of anyone else messing with air, water, soil or plants and animals in any way, though they’ve gone after people for picking up arrowheads as well.

The public lands do not, in my opinion, belong to — the government — but to the people, and we allow the government to manage it for us. Property rights are one of the most fundamental bastions of liberty. When a federal agency tramples all over American citizens’ property rights, it’s time to sit up and take notice.



Republican Are Doing the Right Thing! by The Elephant's Child

House Republicans have passed a $30 billion spending bill to fund the Interior Department and the EPA. It is designed to block a whole bunch of looming regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency that clearly exceed the agency’s authority.

Republicans on the Appropriations Committee pushed through the Interior and environment funding bill over the objections of Democrats who said it was full of “veto bait” and handouts to big business. This is the seventh and last of 12 annual appropriations bills. If it is passed by the House, Harry Reid has not yet acted on a single appropriations bill and President Obama would most probably refuse to sign it.

The bill tackles the EPA’s twin  draft regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants— a proposal to reduce “carbon pollution”from power plants, and another for future plants offered earlier. It also targets the EPA’s “Waters of the United States” rule designed to grab authority over every trickle of water that might eventually run into  “navigable waters” over which they actually do have authority in the Clean Water Bill.

There is no such thing as “carbon pollution.” The carbon dioxide that they chase so aggressively is simply a natural fertilizer for plants. It’s also what you exhale. It is not the cause of global warming and has kept climbing slightly even as there has been no warming for over 17 years. The climate is always changing. It has been far warmer in the past, and far cooler as well. If they shut down every coal-fired plant in the country, it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference.

Like so many other agencies of this administration, the EPA has lost documentation of the science behind their grope for more power. The climate is currently cooling. Perhaps you noticed the Great Lakes freezing over this last winter. Some claim we may be entering a new little ice age, but contrary to the IPCC, we can’t predict the future. In any case it seems remarkably stupid to work so aggressively to shut down the power plants that are burning the cheapest fuel, and keeping our energy costs down, while they keep people warm in winter.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) announced that “this bill was designed to protect nature, if not for nature’s sake, then for our sake.” So glad our politicians are so well-informed.

Rep Nita Lowey (D-NY) said the cuts would endanger communities at the behest of big business. Oh, and how does that work?

Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) accused the administration of being “hell-bent” on adding layer after layer of harmful red tape. No other agency has done more to inflict this type of pain than the EPA.”

The EPA has been shot down in the courts over and over for exceeding their authority. This bill will probably go nowhere, but if Republicans  can exercise the “power of the purse” to cut off their funding, it would be of great benefit to the people of the United States.



The EPA Wants to Regulate More, Claims Unprovable Benefits. by The Elephant's Child

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims to have reduced six common air pollutants by 72% since 1970. The EPA claims that with these reductions they have achieved meaningful public-health benefits, from improved respiratory health  to increased life expectancy.

Naturally, the agency wants to prolong their usefulness. If they can’t keep officially improving American health and well-being, then we might dispose of the agency. The question now is whether further decreases in air pollution to levels that approach those that occur naturally will result in additional public health benefits?

Is the existing National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone sufficient to protect public health? Ozone is a colorless, odorless gas that is not directly released into the air, but is formed when sunlight reacts with two other pollutants: volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides. These come from many natural sources (plants, forest fires) as well as human-caused sources (cars, industrial facilities, power plants).

There is a Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, a panel of scientists and public-health  experts charged by Congress with advising the EPA. They met in March to study the agency’s evaluation of the link between ozone and respiratory illnesses such as asthma and other health issues.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was forced to reveal to House Science, Space and Technology Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) that the agency neither possesses, nor can produce all of the scientific data used to justify the rules and regulations they have imposed on Americans under the Clean Air Act. I do not know if Ms. McCarthy informed the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee of that problem — that they have no scientific foundation for their assertions about what they are claiming about asthma and other health problems. They no longer have the studies that they once relied on, and those studies have been superseded by more recent studies that refute the data on which the EPA relies.

There was a huge flap about holes in the ozone layer a number of years ago, holes that occur naturally at certain times of the year, and because of that they removed effective asthma inhalers from the marketplace and replaced them with far less effective ones. The government told us never to eat butter. Bad. Now butter is fine again. Eggs—never eat eggs, cholesterol. Now we are reduced to little ads at the bottom of each web page telling us “never eat this one food.” I do not believe the pronouncements of the ‘experts’ in government. I do not believe they are experts nor do they know what they are talking about.

Currently the EPA standard for ozone in the air is 75 parts per billion, the strictest level since the standard was established in 1971. In 2008 the EPA determined, and a federal court agreed, that this standard protects public health. But now the EPA says that 75 ppb is not protective enough and is recommending a change to between 60 ppb and 70 ppb. Meanwhile, the overwhelming body of scientific evidence indicates lowering the current ozone standard will not provide added health benefits beyond those achieved with the current standard.

There have been hundreds of scientific studies on ozone exposure and possible health effects, and the EPA has reviewed most of them. However, the EPA has not evaluated them in systematic fashion, by considering study strengths and limitations in a consistent manner from study to study. This type of analysis is called a “weight-of-evidence” evaluation, and it can help prevent the cherry-picking of studies—which can occur when scientists focus on studies or evaluate data that confirm their position, or when the scientists place less emphasis on studies that do not.

Most studies examining connections between ozone and health effects do not adequately account for smoking or other factors such as diet and exercise that could contribute to diseases attributed to ozone. By not fully considering these other factors, the EPA assumes that ozone causes more health effects than what the science supports.

I’m not at all sure that the EPA  has any valid accomplishments. So many of their claims just don’t pan out. Ethanol requirements have brought us vast inflation in the cost of food and other merchandise, and been worse for the environment than the gasoline they replaced. Endangered species turned out to not be endangered, the lightbulbs they outlawed gave much better light, wind and solar are not a replacement for cheap reliable coal-fired power plants that power a creative and entrepreneurial society. And they have no business having a SWAT team.



EPA Subjects Human Victims to Lethal Pollutants, Doesn’t Warn of Risks! by The Elephant's Child

McCarthy testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on her nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency has for years been basing their actions on the need to protect human beings from dangerous air pollutants and fine particulate matter (PM). The findings of the Office of Inspector General’s March 31 report say the EPA has followed all laws and regulations concerning human studies research.

While the IG’s report absolves the agency of breaking rules, it notes that the EPA did in fact expose human test subjects to concentrated airborne particles or diesel exhaust emissions in five studies done in 2012 and 2011. And it didn’t bother to plainly inform the subjects of the dangers the agency emphasizes in the proposals for their actions. When the EPA tells Congress about a proposed action, they can tell you exactly how many kids will die from asthma, and how many old folks will die from heart attacks. That’s how they get their way. What congressman could risk refusing to save dying kids?

The agency has said that fine particulate matter can cause premature death, a risk for older individuals with cardiovascular disease. A 2003 EPA document says even short-term exposure to PM can result in heart attacks and arrhythmias for people with heart disease. Long-term exposure can result in reduced lung function and even death. A 2006 review by the EPA reiterates that short-term PM exposure can cause “mortality and morbidity.”

“Particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should,” former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told Congress on September 22, 2011. “If we could reduce particulate matter to healthy levels it would have the same impact as find ing a cure for cancer in our county.”

So why has the EPA been subjecting unknowing human guinea pigs to high levels of carcinogens and potentially lethal pollutants in order to justify tough new air quality standards?  The EPA has been carrying out these unethical human experiments in which subjects are made to inhale freshly pumped-in diesel truck exhaust fumes — without advising them of the risk to their health — which the EPA claims may be mortal. Junk Science.com, October 5, 2012:

EPA has admitted to a federal court that it asks human guinea pigs to sacrifice their lives for regulatory purposes — at $12 per hour.

  • Failure to provide/obtain written consent. The Common Rule, as codified in federal regulation 40 CFR 26.117, specifically requires that written informed consent be obtained when risk of serious injury or death is involved in an experiment. As the consent form provided by EPA makes no mention of the risk of death, written consent acknowledging that they are willing sacrifice themselves for EPA regulatory purposes is not obtained.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy sounds much like her boss. She doesn’t know anything about that, all studies are of the highest quality, etc. etc. etc.

Steven Milloy, founder and proprietor of JunkScience.com, which attempts to inject real science into phony government claims, has impeccable credentials. He writes that the “EPA air pollution scare is debunked by the best data set ever assembled on particulate matter and deaths.” In a subsequent column he explains just what the rules are on different kinds of studies.

Every time the EPA introduces a new policy that results in another power grab, the need for the power grab is couched in terms of how many kids are going to die from asthma, although doctors don’t even know what causes asthma. I find that suspicious. Yet with all the dead kids off there in the not distant future, the EPA is involving kids in their experiments without informing them or their parents of what the EPA believes to be their expected demise. They are deliberately exposing kids with asthma to what they regard as dangerous levels of toxic pollutants— which they then try to cover up. How do they get volunteers? Breitbart dug up some examples.

I am convinced that the EPA is an organization of environmental zealots solely interested in their own power. I have been writing about them for years, and I think the agency should be shut down and permanently shuttered. They exist only because of the bogus environmental scares fostered by the U.N.’s IPCC for political reasons, not scientific ones.

If fine particulate matter is not dangerous to human health, the EPA needs to stop using it to justify its power grabs. If it is dangerous the EPA has no business conducting tests on human subjects. And not to fully inform the poor guinea pigs of the dangers of the tests is beyond despicable.



The Court Slaps Down the EPA Once Again. by The Elephant's Child

Once again, the courts have slapped down the EPA for exceeding its authority. The EPA in 2012 forced refineries to purchase more than $8 million in credits for 8.65 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel. However none of the biofuel is currently available. The court added that the cellulosic biofuels program was punishing refiners for the failure of fuel producers to make enough biofuel to meet the EPA mandate.

You have to use it anyway, even if it doesn’t exist, and if you don’t we will fine you because nobody made any. That one should never have emerged from the bowels of the EPA, let alone be made public. At least the court can follow simple logic, even if the agency cannot.

Here, by contrast, EPA applies the pressure to one industry (the refiners), yet it is another (the producers of cellulosic biofuel) that enjoys the requisite expertise, plant, capital and ultimate opportunity for profit,” reads the decision. “Apart from their role as captive consumers, the refiners are in no position to ensure, or even contribute to, growth in the cellulosic biofuel industry.”

“‘Do a good job, cellulosic fuel producers. If you fail, we’ll fine your customers,’” the decision says.

Unfortunately the court’s ruling did not strike down EPA mandates for refiners to use other renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel added into gasoline.

Two steps forward, and one step back. The EPA’s renewable fuels program is unworkable and must be scrapped. Corn ethanol is affecting the food supply and food prices unnecessarily, and damaging engines as well. Good luck with your gas-powered engines that are in something other than the most recent cars.

CO2 is not causing global warming, and the globe isn’t warming. Hasn’t been for over 16 years. There has been no  warming in the 21st century and the climate is predicted to continue cooling for at least another five years.



Shining the Public Spotlight on Sneaky Secrets at the EPA. What Will Be Revealed? by The Elephant's Child

Lisa Jackson

Splendid news from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is administrator Lisa Jackson’s forthcoming departure. It is a major victory for transparency and accountability in Washington.

There have been whispers for years and rumors that EPA officials used private email addresses, fake names and coded messages to avoid the strictures of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Jackson’s use of “Richard Windsor” as her chosen email address has recently become public, and Jackson admitted to using “Richard Windsor”as her nom de plume on a government email account.

The EPA inspector general opened an investigation into the matter because it is against federal law to use nonofficial or secret email addresses to conduct official business.  The use of private or false flag emails enables government officials to hide things that they would prefer we do not know about. And hiding things from FOIA requests is illegal. But the EPA has been hiding things for a very long time.

During the Clinton years, Carol Browner (a former senatorial aide to Vice President Gore) headed the EPA. She ordered the hard drive on her government computer to be reformatted and all backup tapes destroyed, just hours after a federal judge ordered her agency to preserve all agency email records. Only hopelessly naive or blindly partisan folks took seriously Browner’s doe-eyed claim that it was all just a big mistake and she certainly wasn’t trying to cover up anything. Nothing to see here, so move along, folks.

And nothing was done.

Christopher Horner, a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and FOIA expert turned up an internal memo from the EPA’s IT department, which described the process for establishing and using secret email accounts.

That particular revelation engendered real warfare among Jackson’s EPA, a federal court, at least two Congressional committees, Horner and the CEI over thousands of other internal emails and documents that are likely to shed light on the illegalities going on at the environmental agency. The EPA has authored hundreds of regulations that damage business, cost jobs, and involve huge costs to innocent bystanders for highly questionable reasons dependent on unusually questionable evidence.

The conflict is ongoing, and there are sure to be more ugly revelations. Those who defend Jackson will claim that her departure has nothing to do with such matters.  Chris Horner makes an obvious point: “It is not only implausible that Lisa Jackson’s resignation was unrelated to her false identity, which we revealed, given how the obvious outcome and apparent objective of such transparency laws was intolerable. But it became an inevitability when, last week, the Department of Justice agreed (as a result of our lawsuit) to begin producing 12,000 of her “Richard Windsor” alias accounts related to the war on coal Jackson was orchestrating on behalf of President Obama outside of the appropriate democratic process.”

Along with all the other things the Obama administration hid until ‘after the election’ there are dozens of Jackson’s most costly and controversial proposed regulations, which the administration is now releasing. These regulations are especially damaging to the coal industry which supplies the major portion of our electric power.

President Obama has long made clear that he wants to bankrupt the coal industry, which seems to be part of his desire to save the planet from a global warming that is proving to be non-existent. There are lots of legal battles to come.

It has become obvious that many of the numbers put forth by the agency are fraudulent, environmental damage is invented, and harm to humanity is exaggerated hooey. That’s what transparency and accountability are all about.

If you believe that the government’s business should be conducted in public, this is a significant beginning. Nobody in government has ever gone to jail for violating a FOIA request, and Jackson won’t go to jail either. But the agency is now an object of attention by the IG office as well as Congressional committees. That can only help.



Your Power Bill Is Going to Skyrocket! by The Elephant's Child

(Click to enlarge)

The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued 946 pages of new rules requiring that U.S. power plants sharply reduce (already low) emissions of mercury and 83 other air pollutants.  EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson claims that, while the regulations will cost electricity producers $10.9 billion annually, they weil save 17,000 lives and generate up to $140 billion in health benefits.

Dr. Willie Soon and Paul Driessen point out that there is no factual basis for these assertions.  “To make this case, the EPA systematically cherry-picked supportive studies (many of them dated) and ignored the extensive evidence and clinical studies that contradict its regulatory agenda, which is to punish hydrocarbon use and close down coal-fired power plants.”

This article is the most devastating takedown of the very arrogant and out-of-control EPA that I have seen. Those of us who cannot readily call scientific facts to mind are left gullible in the extreme. If the EPA claims that their actions are necessary to protect human health and life, we are unable to refute their claims except by our growing suspicions of the reliability of the agency.

I know that Ms. Jackson claimed that these regulations would prevent large numbers of cases of asthma. Yet physicians readily admit that they have no idea of the cause of asthma. They know how to treat the disease, but where it comes from or how it starts is a mystery. So you know she’s lying right off the bat, it’s just a matter of how much.

Mercury, the element at the basis of these regulations, has always existed naturally in the Earth’s environment.  The latest government, university and independent studies show that America’s coal-burning power plants emit an estimated 41 to 48 tons of mercury each year. Wow!  Tons.  But wait — U.S. forest fires emit at least 44 tons a year, cremation of human remains discharges 26 tons per year globally.  Chinese power plants eject 400 tons per year. Volcanoes, subsea vents, geysers and other sources spew out 9,000-10,000 tons per year. All these emissions enter the global atmosphere and become part of the U.S. air mass.

One half of our electricity is produced by coal-fired power plants, and in some states 70-98% of electricity.  All together U.S. power plants account for less than 0.5% of all the mercury in all the air that Americans breathe. Eliminating every molecule of that would still leave 99.5 % of mercury in the atmosphere, harming no one.  But perhaps you missed that number in the first paragraph.

The regulations will cost electricity producers $10.9 billion annually.

And what will that do to your power bill? If these regulations have no effect on health, and they do not, then why?  The Obama administration has made no secret of the fact that they want to penalize hydrocarbon use in order to force Americans to move to the use of unreliable and costly “renewable” energy.

President Obama has said repeatedly that he wants to bankrupt the coal industry, making coal-based electricity prices “skyrocket.” That is why Obama has wasted such huge amounts of taxpayer dollars subsidizing solar plants, battery factories, wind farms, turbine plants, $102,000 luxury hybrid electric cars, and high-speed trains to nowhere. Solar energy is too diffuse.  Wind energy is too intermittent. They will produce a small amount of energy at very high cost. It was all a green pipe-dream.

Do read the whole article. It is an excellent exposé of this out-of-control agency.  If we don’t understand what they are doing, we have no defense against their machinations, and no clear understanding of why this election is so important.

ADDENDUM: Look carefully at that pretty pie chart.  President Obama wants to bankrupt that big blue sector of our electricity producing utilities, so that we are forced to depend on the little purple sector and make it grow. Energy experts doubt the possibility that sector can grow significantly, nor ever produce the dependable, cheap energy we need. Result: blackouts, brownouts and soaring energy costs.




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