American Elephants


Here’s What “Draining the Swamp” Really Means! by The Elephant's Child

“Draining the Swamp” is a newly popular phrase for trying to rein in the overgrown government in Washington D.C. that seems to be leading to an administrative state — a catastrophic error devoutly to be avoided. Philip Hamburger has written a splendid assessment titled Is Administrative Law Unlawful and a companion The Administrative Threat which explain just what we have to worry about.

Investors Business Daily has written about just how it works.

What was first proposed by Congress as a modest law to assess the environmental impact of highway construction and other publicly owned projects, has grown into a bureaucratic monster, the likes of which no one ever imagined.

Nearly a half-century ago, before major federal environmental laws existed, Congress wanted to ensure that all federal agencies consider the environmental impact of their actions. This well intended action led to passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

America’s permitting and regulatory process is now so tightly bound in red tape, virtually no major energy or construction project can be accomplished without years of permitting delays, involvement of multiple government agencies, and seemingly endless  litigation. According to a 2016 review by the National Association of Environmental Professionals, it now takes an average of 5 years to complete one NEPA environmental impact statement. This timeline doesn’t include the years of litigation that routinely follow every major energy and construction project.

In North Dakota a badly needed drinking water project was held up in permitting and court for nearly 15 years. Colorado is still waiting after 10 years of trying to expand a reservoir to boost their drinking water supply. Everyone recognizes that the permitting process is a huge problem. The Obama administration ran into it with his stimulus program, and tried to speed up the process. But what is needed is not just “fixing” the rule, but to reform the NEPA process by making environmental permits a “one agency, one decision” deal, include a two-year deadline. For most NEPA permits, a lawsuit can be filed up to six years after the project ends. Environmental activists often simply do not want any change to take place in the area of their concern, and will use all kinds of silly lawsuits to end or slow development. The “endangered species” idea can be used anywhere, if you can’t find a specimen, but there may be large quantities on the other side of the ridge.

The Obama administration imposed a record 600 major regulations, which added rules that cost the economy $100 million or more at a rate of every three days.

President Trump is taking on the issue of permitting reform head-on, laying out a comprehensive plan to streamline approval for major infrastructure projects. A big part of the cost of any infrastructure project is red tape, which I’m sure he knows well from his construction projects. So far by the end of December had saved some $8.1 billion in net federal regulatory costs. The impact on the larger economy is more significant. Scott Pruitt is doing a fabulous job.

Regulations destroy freedom. The question: Is the loss of freedom worth what the regulation will cost?

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Ancient Chinese Curse: “May You Live In Interesting Times” by The Elephant's Child

Every day, in every way, things are getting better and well, at least more interesting. In this case, it it is Catherine McKenna, the 47-year-old Trudeau appointee from Canada’s Liberal Party.  In a recent post on Twitter, she called on followers to “consider the gendered impacts of climate on women, girls and children,” and praised Canada’s leadership in training “women negotiators” in the fight against manmade global warming.

Where did all this gender focus come from? And why? Of course it came from women’s studies, and gender studies, and all the overpaid professors who are playing havoc with the minds of our young people, and if Justin Trudeau is an example, with Canada’s young people as well, which may be the reason for the emergence of Jordan Peterson as a powerful national spokesman trying to straighten us all out.

It’s bad enough that they have suddenly decided that the two genders we have had since mankind first appeared on Earth are not enough and we need to add some substitutes, but they have also decided that men are a major problem for running things and shoveling snow and fighting wars, and getting the lids off jars, and it’s all some kind of toxic masculinity.

And women are tired of doing women things, and want to do the men things instead—the running things, and being in charge, and being paid more. They’re not so much interested in shoveling snow, fighting wars or, for that matter, getting the lids off jars. It’s a strange new world. Orwell would be astonished.

 



California Shifts Hard Left by The Elephant's Child

California is drifting farther and farther left.  Joel Kotkin is executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, and long concerned with demography. He has an interesting piece today in City Journal about a further leftward shift evidenced by California’s Democratic Party’s refusal to back Dianne Feinstein’s reelection bid, suggesting that she is the last in a line of the old Democrats.

Tech oligarchs and activist CEOs have committed themselves to extreme environmentalism, identity politics, and open-borders immigration policy. California’s bevy of clueless celebrities, now celebrated by Time as “suddenly serious” for following the identitarian party line, have also climbed aboard.  As anyone knows who has suffered through awards shows or listened to interviews with stars, the entertainment industry—much like tech—has become homogeneous in its views.

The key issues for the glitterati are not income inequality, upward mobility, or the preservation of middle-class neighborhoods but the feverish pastimes of the already rich: gender and racial issues, climate change, guns, and anything that offends the governesses and schoolmarms of intersectionality. To the ranks of these over-exposed but influential voices, you can also add California’s media and most of its intelligentsia, who seem to get their talking points from progressive sources and work assiduously to limit the influence of moderate (much less conservative) views. With Silicon Valley increasingly able to control content and ever more willing to curb debate, the policy agenda of the state’s new elite may well become reality—a nightmarish one for millions of ordinary Californians.

Then Politico Magazine did an article on “Jerry Brown, President of the Independent Republic of California.” adding the subhead “As he crusades across Europe, the governor is acting like the leader of a sovereign country—an alternative to the United States in the Trump era.”

He “stopped over at the Vatican, where a doleful group of climate scientists, politicians and public health officials had convened to discuss calamities that might befall a warming world. The prospects were so dire—floods and fires, but also forced migration famine and war—that some of the participants acknowledged difficulty staving off despair.”

“California’s doomsayer governor did not express much optimism either. Seated between an economist and an Argentine bishop at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Brown leaned into his microphone and said, ‘It is despairing. Ending the world, ending all mammalian life. This is bad stuff.’”

The leader in much of this nonsense is billionaire Tom Steyer, who is a true believer in climate catastrophe, a ferocious opponent of President Trump, striving for his impeachment, but can’t seem to fix on a reason but is apparently putting big funds behind his efforts. Keep an eye on that. He’s probably extremely incensed about Trump’s exit from the Paris Accords, which would have accomplished nothing, nothing at all. But anyone that says that is excoriated as a fascist and ‘denier’.



Carbon Dioxide, CO2, Is Not Carbon by The Elephant's Child


“The fear of carbon dioxide is largely based on long range forecasts from inadequately-tested climate models that greatly overestimate the short-term temperature change that is occurring in the atmosphere, where the greenhouse effect occurs, also influenced by natural variation. The fear of carbon dioxide is promoted by relatively few scientists, and a great number of supporters. Government policies based on such fears are draining the vitality of our society, which has long been marked by constant striving for improvement, for a better future. TWTW (The Week That Was) will continue to address the fear of carbon dioxide and its associated fears. It will emphasize the benefits of increased carbon dioxide and what little warming it may cause.”

…………………………………………..Science and Environmental Policy Project
………………………………………………………………..Ken Haapala, President



The Danger Islands and 1.5 Million Penguins by The Elephant's Child

penguinsupercolonydangerislands_1024-e1520154935766.jpg

In one of the most remote places on Earth, there are 1.5 million Adélie Penguins enjoying their own private island, completely unknown to  humanity. There they are on the Antarctica’s Danger Islands—something like 750,000 pairs of penguins. There were fears that perhaps the penguin population was declining rapidly due to climate change. Uh huh.

The islands are incredibly remote, surrounded by thick sea ice, and essentially hidden from the world. In this amazing world, there are still real surprises. New species are being discovered all the time. There are unexplored places. Many new things are popping up in NASA satellite images. In this case it was penguin poop.

Here’s the article. And there’s a video. The photograph above is by Tom Hart/Oxford University/Penguin Watch.



“Greens” Embarrass Themselves Once Again by The Elephant's Child

King Cove is back in the news again. An Alaskan tribal council voted yesterday to aid the Department of the Interior in a lawsuit filed by a coalition of environmental organizations against  the Department of the Interior and Secretary Zinke over a federal land swap to save Aleutian tribal lives.

In January Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke approved a land swap that would turn over 500 acres of federal wilderness to King Cove, Alaska, so the small city could complete the construction of a land route to Cold Bay, and the region’s only all-weather airport.

King Cove is a small fishing town of about  1,000 souls on the remote Aleutian coast. They call themselves King Cove City. People there have accidents, have babies, have trauma and other health issues that may need fairly immediate attention. For emergency cases they must get to the all-weather World War II airport in Cold Bay, 11 miles away. They requested of the Interior Department a 11 mile-long, one-lane gravel road which would provide for all-weather access for transportation for the 600 miles to Anchorage and doctors and hospitals.

At least 18 residents of King Cove have died because foul weather prevented a rescue helicopter from reaching King Cove. The town has a clinic for ordinary accidents, but no doctor and no hospital. It has a tiny airport, which is frequently socked-in with gale-force winds or fog. Back in March of 2014, Etta Kuzakin, a 36-year-old resident who was the tribal president, needed an emergency Caesarean section after going into early labor with her daughter. Giving birth in King Cove could have killed her and her baby. Medevac flights were grounded by ugly weather. She waited in labor for ten hours when a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was finally able to fly her out. Mother and daughter survived, thanks to the Coast Guard.

Sally Jewell, Obama’s Interior Secretary, met with Aleutian citizens in the gymnasium at King Cove to listen to their request for a single one-lane gravel lifeline to a dependable airport.  Ms. Jewell, former head of R.E.I. told her King Cove audience that “I’ve listened to your stories, now I have to listen to the animals.” She rejected the road, saying that “it would jeopardize waterfowl in the refuge.”

Waterfowl fly, hop and walk. They are quite able to walk off a rarely used road to avoid being run over by a vehicle. They are not flightless species. A waterfowl’s potential annoyance at having to move trumps human life every time? Environmentalists always leave a mess behind.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke approved a land swap in January, turning over 500 acres of federal wilderness to King Cove to finish their road. Five hundred acres sounds like a lot of land, but it isn’t really much. I grew up on 400 acres, and I knew every inch. King Cove residents have been begging for this road for 35 years. At least 18 King Cove residents have died from causes related to not having a road available.

Nine ‘environmental’ groups, led by Friends of Alaska Wildlife Refuges, are pushing to block the land swap. They are accompanied by all the usual suspects: Wilderness, Audubon, Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club and 4 others. One would assume that the idiocy of their lawsuit would be so apparent that there would be no contest, but Sally Jewell demonstrates the closure of the leftist mind. This is a swap, not a giveaway.

King Cove Corporation Spokeswoman Della Trumble said “After fighting for decades for a road, we will do everything in our power to defend the land exchange. This is a matter of life and death for us.”



Gov. Inslee Wants to Save Us From Global Warming With a New Carbon Tax! by The Elephant's Child

While everyone’s attention was consumed with the Parkland, Florida shooting, we apparently had a visit from former Secretary of State John Kerry to advocate for our Washington governor Jay Inslee’s bright idea of a carbon tax.  Stupid tax, and extremely bad timing. The vote on the school levy here in King County was on Tuesday, the 13th. Don’t know how that has turned out yet, but it is close. They wanted lots of money to build new schools and give all the kids their own laptops. The following day, the new property tax bills arrived. Don’t try to tell anyone that those dates were an innocent accident. Adding another huge tax may seem like a good idea to the Democrats who always like higher taxes, but there are limits. The beautiful state of Washington is following California down the drain.

At the request of Gov. Jay Inslee, former US. Secretary of State John Kerry visited the state Capitol on Tuesday Feb. 13, to advocate for the governor’s proposed carbon tax.

Flanked by Inslee and several prominent Democratic lawmakers outside of the Capitol Legislative Building, Kerry Argued that, in the absence of action on climate change from President Donald Trump, states such as Washington need to independently pursue carbon-pricing  systems and investments in sustainable energy. “Washington has an opportunity to lead here and I can tell you that, as a former Secretary of State of our country, that the world is looking to the United States, the world believes in us and in what we’re trying to do” Kerry said.

The climate of the Earth has been changing for millennia. We have had warm periods and ice ages. The only place where there is dangerous carbon buildup making the climate warm alarmingly is in the computer programs of the climate ‘scientists’ who got new labs and assistants from government grants as a result of their computer results.

Unfortunately, we still can’t predict the future, and the Earth seems to be cooling slightly at present. Please pause and watch this video from Dr. William Happer, one of our most distinguished climate scientists.

Carbon dioxide, which we exhale, has increased slightly and caused a great greening of the earth. Better crops, forest growth, fewer starving people, fewer dying children. The polar bears are just fine and multiplying nicely. Consult Dr. Susan Crockford, expert on all things polar bear, excluding the goofy costumes worn by lefties at climate get-togethers.

Governors have been assisted over the years since 2008 or 09 by the guidance of the Center for Climate Strategies. I copied this bit down back in 2009:

You ration energy use and coerce the public into major lifestyle modification and we’ll help you to inflate your reputation with media attention and praise as a pragmatist.

They came from the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, offering software and training for quantification. tool kits, online resources, case studies, fact books, policy and practice manuals and guides on approaches. They added access to a professional network of peers list serves, newsletters, conferences, workshops and training workshops for staff and elected officials to implement long term emission reduction strategies and notice of grant opportunities.

The cities got CCP—Cities for Climate Protection, advocating a 20¢ tax on paper and plastic shopping bags (failed) to generate $10 million for the city to take effect 1/1/09.

I don’t know if they are still around and advising the governor and the City of Seattle, but they were in 2009. I have seen no signs that anyone in governance in our state is out there studying up on climate science, nor anyone even vaguely interested in just why President Trump would dare to ban our participation in the revered Paris Climate Accords. The answer is quite simple. At the end of the next 100 years the change in climate due to the Paris Climate Accords would be completely negligible.  But they were never intended to make a difference to the climate, only to transfer money from the rich nations to the poor, and promote world government.

You have probably noticed that those who advocate controlled borders and effective immigration laws are now referred to as “Nativists” and “Nationalists” and even more derogatory epithets. They seem to have declared war on us. At some point we should probably wake up and take notice.




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