American Elephants


The EPA’s Enormous Land Grab by The Elephant's Child

unofficial-stream-small-custom-e1339556645568The EPA  has just finalized one of the biggest land grabs in American history.

Just reprimanded by the Supreme Court, the EPA is anxious to try their luck again. Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA was  granted the authority to regulate the navigable waters of the United States to see that they remained clean.

Under the Clean Water Rule, all  “tributaries” will be regulated by the federal government. Broadly defined, which they intend, this means  anything moist that eventually flows into something that can be defined as a “navigable river,” including the roadside ditch above, and even smaller trickles.

Under the same rule, the word “adjacent” is stretched from the Supreme Court’s definition of actually “abutting” what most Americans regard as a real water of the United States to anything “neighboring,” “contiguous,” or “bordering” a real water, terms which are again stretched to include whole floodplains and riparian areas. Floodplains are typically based on a 100-year flood, but a separate regulation would stretch that to a 500-year flood.

And, finally, under the rule, the EPA cynically throws in a catch-all “significant nexus” test meant as a shout out to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in Rapanos v. United States when, in fact, the EPA’s rule makes a mockery of Kennedy’s opinion and of no fewer than three Supreme Court rulings.

Under the three approaches, no land or “water” is beyond the reach of the federal government, never mind the traditional understanding of private property or state and local control of land use.

Farmers, ranchers, dairymen and everyone in rural America are in panic mode. Not only does this rule allow the EPA onto their land, but it throws wide open to environmental group-led citizen lawsuits that promise to go far beyond what the EPA envisioned. Citizen lawsuits are controlled only by the rule. The rule carries with it fines to the tune of $37,500 a day. The EPA has a habit of imposing fines big enough to scare the accused  of whatever violation into immediate compliance.

I grew up very rural, and I’m sure city people cannot imagine the havoc this rule could cause. Although here in the Seattle area, a good portion of our lawns could be considered wetlands for a portion of the year. It rains a lot, and there is runoff. Farmers and ranchers spend a significant amount of time ditching, or controlling the flow of water where it is not wanted.

The goal of the Environmental Protection Agency has little to do with the environment, but only to do with how environmental regulation can be used to further their political goals of control, ending private property, and bringing on the utopia where everyone is, at last, truly equal. Well, except for those in charge, of course.



We Don’t Have To Observe Any Supreme Court Ruling! by The Elephant's Child

The White House said today that the Supreme Court’s decision today on the EPA overreach claiming that the costs of their regulation don’t matter — wouldn’t impact the huge pending EPA rule imposing regulations of existing power plants. I assume this is Josh Earnest posing as “the White House.” Odd.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed with the outcome,” he said. “I will say, based on what we have read so far, there is no reason that this court ruling should have an impact on the ability of the administration to develop and implement the clean power plant [ruling].”

If the administration is prepared to ignore the Supreme Court ruling, then I assume the rest of us are free to ignore the other decisions that we aren’t that convinced were rightly decided.



The Supreme Court Calls a Halt to the EPA’s Overreach by The Elephant's Child
June 29, 2015, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Energy, Law, Regulation | Tags: , ,

In the case of Michigan v. EPA, the Supreme Court addressed a matter that is genuinely outside of voter’s control, the way-too-rapid expansion of the regulatory state. The problems all began with the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. The problem seemed simple to Congress. We want clean air and clean water, and that’s what the EPA should be doing.

But the EPA is an agency filled with environmental activists and zealots, fully in line with Obama’s unwarranted belief in a dangerous global warming, and sure that the correct answer is to get rid of fossil fuels,  carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and carbon in general.  The answer is to force Americans to want to rely clean energy sources like solar and wind, with no understanding that solar and wind do not produce enough energy to be a significant source of power.

The EPA wants to force all coal-fired power plants to either shut down or do a lot or retrograding to eliminate any emissions from that nasty fossil fuel.  Around 40 percent of our electricity is supplied by coal-fired power plants. The EPA’s new regulations would cost $9.6 billion annually, but the EPA claimed that it was appropriate to consider only public health risks. Well, nobody seems to know if there actually are any public health risks. They always put asthma at the top of their list of future childhood death, but the medical profession does not currently know what causes asthma, so that is a complete canard. By some estimates the cost of electricity would go up by as much as $1,200 per year for every American household.

The majority opinion, authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, found that the EPA “unreasonably” interpreted the Clean Air Act to constitute a vehicle by which the environmental regulatory agency could institute new guidelines that were all but overtly aimed at shuttering “dirty” power plants. “EPA strayed well beyond the bounds of reasonable interpretation in concluding that cost is not a factor relevant to the appropriateness of regulating power plants,” the opinion read. That’s significant; contrary to the wealth of shallow emotionality that suffices for modern political commentary, profits matter. Individual livelihoods and the economic health of the nation are still protected by the Constitution, and they should not be subordinated to environmental sustainability in the zero-sum game that has become America’s regulatory culture.



Obama wants Doctors to warn their patients that global warming could make your health worse. by The Elephant's Child

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Americans generally trust their doctors, so the White House wants these trusted medical professionals to help out in the administration’s propaganda campaign to convince the people to support Obama’s global warming campaign.

We also need doctors, nurses and citizens, like all of you”President Obama said in a taped speech presented to medical professionals gathered at the White House, “to get to work to raise awareness and organize folks for real change.

The EPA has long tried to cloak their power grab and excessive regulation under risible claims that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant and must be eliminated. As Alan Carlin explained:

The much maligned carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, as EPA and Obama claim, but rather a basic input to plant photosynthesis and growth, which is the basis of life on Earth. Decreasing atmospheric CO2 levels would decrease plant productivity and therefore the food supply for the rest of the ecosystem and humans, and vice versa. Further, attempts to reduce it will prove enormously expensive, futile, harmful to human welfare, and in the longer run, to environmental improvement. It is now increasingly evident that efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by governmental coercion will have important non-environmental adverse effects in terms of loss of freedom of scientific inquiry, economic growth and development, and the rule of law.

Obama’s summit included the U.S. Surgeon General, top administration officials, and public health experts from around the country telling doctors nurses and other conference goers how to talk about global warming with their patients.

The central message: doctors should warn their patients that global warming could make their health worse. Uh huh.

As if doctors weren’t busy enough. The Surgeon General also wants them to ask their patients if they have any guns in the house. You’ve probably noticed that the inevitable paperwork you have to fill out is getting increasingly nosy. And with everything computerized, your entire medical record is open to any hacker who is interested.



Obama’s Latest Job for Our Military is Measuring the Ice in the Arctic. by The Elephant's Child

You may remember the president’s commencement speech at the Coast Guard Academy. He told the graduates “I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act — and we need to act now.” A lot of people giggled at that one.

The Defense Department, obedient to their commander in chief, calls global warming a true national security threat and has begun instituting a host of environmental measures which range from building clean energy projects at military installations to the use of expensive green fuels in military planes. Military officers who question the president’s strategies seem to face early retirement.

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office, according to the Washington Times, notes another example— the commitment of U.S. Military forces to monitor sea ice levels in the Arctic. The administration argues that decreasing ice could force the Pentagon to “institute a military and homeland security presence in the region.”

Critics charge the president is directing the military from its real mission of protecting America, but that is not high on the president’s list. Last Monday, the White House tried once again to justify its climate change agenda with a new report claiming tens of thousands of lives will be saved through restrictions on carbon.

Difficulty in developing accurate sea ice models, variability in the Arctic’s climate, and the uncertain rate of activity in the region create challenges for DOD to balance the risk of having inadequate capabilities or insufficient capacity when required to operate in the region with the cost of making premature or unnecessary investments. DOD plans to mitigate this risk by monitoring the changing Arctic conditions to determine the appropriate timing for capability investments.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are taking aim at the EPA’s budget and restricting the president’s ill-advised global warming agenda through funding cuts. The Supreme Court decision coming Monday will have a bearing on all this.

On would think with the rise in ISIS terrorist attacks across the world, measuring the ice in the Arctic, since surveys show it to be unusually extensive, could be put off for another day. There has been no warming at all for over 18 years, and things are getting colder — not warmer.



Symbols Matter. Understanding What the Symbols Mean Matters Even More. by The Elephant's Child
June 28, 2015, 7:48 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Law, The United States | Tags: , ,

From the Archives, May, 2009

justice

Lady Justice is the symbol of the judiciary. She carries three symbols of the rule of law: a sword symbolizing the court’s coercive power, scales representing the weighing of competing claims, and a blindfold indicating impartiality. This particular representation says:

Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civilized society. It ever has been, ever will be pursued until it be obtained or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.

The judicial oath required of every federal judge and justice says “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I…will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me… under the Constitution and laws of the United States, so help me God.

President Obama has a record of statements on justice. In September 2005, on the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts, Obama said:

What matters on the Supreme Court is those 5 percent of cases that are truly difficult. In those cases, adherence to precedent and rules of construction and interpretation will only get you through the 25th mile of the marathon. That last mile can only be determined on the basis of one’s deepest values, one’s core concerns, one’s broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.

During a July 17, 2007 appearance at a Planned Parenthood conference:

We need somebody who’s got the heart to recognize — the empathy to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.

During a Democratic primary debate on November 25, 2007, Obama was asked whether he would insist that any nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court supported abortion rights for women:

I would not appoint someone who doesn’t believe in the right to privacy…I taught constitutional law for 10 years, and when you look at what makes a great Supreme Court justice, it’s not just the particular issue and how they ruled. But it’s their conception of the court. And part of the role of the court is that it is going to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process, the outsider, the minority, those who are vulnerable, those who don’t have a lot of clout.

During a May 1, 2009 press briefing:

Now the process of selecting someone to replace Justice Souter is among my most serious responsibilities as president, so I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity. I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes. I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time.

“Empathy” is the word that has caused so much concern. For empathy has no place in jurisprudence. Federal judges swear an oath to administer justice without respect to persons. If they are to feel more partial to the “young teenage mom,” the “disabled,” the “African-American,” the “gay,” the “old,” then they are not and cannot be impartial, and the rule of law counts for nothing. The “depth and breadth of one’s empathy” is exactly what the judicial oath insists that judges renounce. That impartiality is what guarantees equal protection under the law.

That is what the blindfold is all about.



Monday: Three More Big Decisions From The Supreme Court by The Elephant's Child

Supreme-Court-Justices-2

After finding something or other somewhere in the Constitution that recognized a national right to same-sex marriage and rewriting the Affordable Care Act to fix the actual language that Congress wrote into the law, there are still three more big decisions, which we will hear on Monday.

1. Execution Methods

Glossip v. Gross

At issue is whether the sedative midazolam presents an unconstitutional risk of severe pain in executions of condemned criminals. Three men on Oklahoma’s death row claim that midazolam, the anesthetic the state plans to administer before introducing paralytic and heart-stopping drugs to their bloodstreams, is unreliable, exposing them to an unconstitutional risk of severe pain as they are put to death.

2. Power-Plant Emissions

Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA et.al.

Issue: Whether the EPA unreasonably disregarded costs when it decided to regulate power plant emissions of mercury and other air toxins. The regulations would cost $9.6 billion annually, according to EPA estimates. But the agency said it was appropriate to consider only public health risks—not industry costs—when it decided to regulate coal- and oil-fired generation plants.

3. Congressional Redistricting

Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

Issue: Whether a state may transfer redistricting authority from the legislature to a nonpartisan independent commission. Arizona voters in 2000 passed a ballot initiative that shifted responsibility for drawing congressional districts from the state legislature to an independent redistricting commission made up of two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent.




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