American Elephants

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan Must Be Defeated! by The Elephant's Child
May 15, 2015, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , ,

Superior-ice-5-31-2014-Lake-Superior-PhotoThe Environmental Protection Agency has sent its power-plant rules for final White House review. Known by the euphemistic name “the Clean Power Plan,” the rules are at the center of President Obama’s agenda to address the threat of global climate change. There is understandably fierce opposition to this administration’s climate strategy, and lawsuits have been filed, but judges were skeptical to the idea that they could offer regulatory relief to the states before the rules have been made final. If the Plan is finalized, lawsuits will follow.

EPA’s plan would shut down coal energy in this country—under the misconception that “carbon pollution” is a hazard of some sort. Coal-fired power plants produce around 40% of our electricity that powers factories, hospitals, schools, water treatment plants and homes. In some areas there is no replacement source of energy.

Proponents argue that the Clean Power Plan would result in enormous health benefits by reducing greenhouse gases. The idea that carbon is a pollutant stems from ignorance of high school biology, and started with the observation that the amount of carbon in the atmosphere was increasing at the same time the temperature was increasing. Obviously cause and effect. Except that temperatures stopped going up a little over eighteen years ago, and the amount of carbon in the atmosphere just kept on climbing. And of course the idea that carbon dioxide is a natural fertilizer and helps plants to grow, that a doubling of the amount of CO² in the atmosphere would be a great good, and not begin to reach the optimum, is usually overlooked.

Proponents assume that we can just fill in with wind and solar, but wind turbines mostly stop working in cold weather, and solar cells don’t work if the sun isn’t shining —both technologies require full-time backup from a conventional power plant, often coal. $150 billion invested in “renewable” energy and it is still an undependable minor source.

The sun has gone through an unusually long quiet spell, and scientists are beginning to think that we urgently need to prepare for another ice age, or perhaps a little ice age. Congress has demanded that the EPA produce the science which supposedly backs up the regulations that flow so voluminously from their agency, but so far they have stalled, avoided, excused, and somehow  been unable to find that particular bit of science.

The thing is that cold weather kills. New England had a particularly heavy winter this last year, stocks of firewood ran out, unbuilt pipelines did not supply natural gas, closed coal-fired plants did not produce electricity. Shutting down coal-fired power plants to sap the demands of environmental loonies will, at some point, leave a lot of people to freeze in the cold.

We had a light winter, no skiing, light snowpack. Our governor has just declared a water emergency, with an eye on California, though we have plenty of rain. Another year we may have a heavy winter. Contrary to the predictions of the climate computer models, we cannot yet predict the future, only make intelligent guesses, and hope we do as well as the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

EPA Using Clean Water Act to Seize More Power by The Elephant's Child

Congress has increasingly become sloppy in creating legislation. They have often left the finer details for the bureaucrats in America’s vast regulatory enterprise to devise. Laws that do not carefully spell out the limits of legislation come back to haunt the country when agencies use their very vagueness to grasp for more regulatory power.

The Clean Air Act of 1970 and the 1972 Clean Water Act are two of the prime examples. The Environmental Protection Agency, staffed with green activists, is unrestrained in its grasp for ever more control over America and Americans.

Back in the early 70s, the smog in Los Angeles lay like a thick yellow-brown blanket smothering the fabled orange groves of the Golden State. Sewer outfalls emptied into rivers and lakes, and the Cuyahoga River caught fire. Americans wanted clean air and clean water. The efforts to clean up produced catalytic converters, sewage treatment plants and air-quality monitoring, and the efforts worked.  Both our air and our water are remarkably clean.

The EPA is attempting to unnecessarily regulate ever-finer particulates in the air, and even dust on the farm.  Now they are going after the water.

The 1972 Clean Water Act was originally intended to protect the “navigable waters of the United States.”  “Navigable” means that boats can go there. It was broadly interpreted to mean any pool of water in America capable of supporting a toy boat. The act’s scope was expanded to the point that water remaining after a rainstorm became a “wetland” requiring environmental protection.

In 2006, a U.S. Supreme Court case from Michigan produced five different opinions and no clear definition of which waterways were covered and which were not.  This left the government with a clean slate to write its own interpretation — everything they wanted to regulate. And their expansive view is breathtaking in its grasping nature.

The EPA recently revoked the coal mining permit for Arch Coal’s Spruce Mine No. 1 in Logan County, W. Va. The permit was issued four years ago, and Arch Coal has, since then followed every word of the rules it was told to operate under. Arch Coal provides 16% of America’s supply, and they have invested $250 million in the mountain-top mining operation which when fully operational would have employed 215 miners and 300 support jobs.

The EPA said it was operating under the authority of the Clean Water Act. They said the mine employed “destructive and unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of Appalachian communities and clean water on which the depend.  The EPA is currently suspending 79 such surface mining permits in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.  It says these permits could violate the Clean Water Act and warrant “enhanced” review.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says she’s not against coal mining, but wants to see it “done in a way that minimizes impact to water quality.” Sure she does. Her boss said, even back when he was campaigning, that he intended to bankrupt the coal industry.

This isn’t about clean water. Cap-and-trade was not about climate change. Regulation of fine particulates is not about clean air. This is about increasing government power over every aspect of our lives.

Where does it stop?  They want ever more control. Why?  Why are they trying to drive up the price of gas?  Why are they trying to shut down every source of energy in favor of the ones that simply do not work?  Why are they trying to confiscate public lands?  Why are they so invested in control of our personal lives?  Why do they want control of our ponds, ditches, rain puddles and water fixtures?  Waterfront property may become a liability instead of an enhancement.

Obama to Make Food Prices Skyrocket! by American Elephant

Not content with the devastating price-hikes and world-wide food shortages that “progressive” ethanol mandates and subsidies have caused, Obama is now moving to drive food prices up even more by slapping onerous new regulations on the amount of dust farmers can stir up:

OKLAHOMA CITY — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering a crackdown on farm dust, so senators have signed a letter addressing their concerns on the possible regulations.

The letter dated July 23 to the EPA states, “If approved, would establish the most stringent and unparalleled regulation of dust in our nation’s history.” It further states, “We respect efforts for a clean and healthy environment, but not at the expense of common sense. These identified levels will be extremely burdensome for farmers and livestock producers to attain. Whether its livestock kicking up dust, soybeans being combined on a dry day in the fall, or driving a car down the gravel road, dust is a naturally occurring event.” [more]

And of course there is no reasonable need nor any realistic scientific justification for the regulation whatsoever, it is just power-mad fascist control-freaks determined to dictate every facet of life possible. Someone ought to tell President Brainiac that dust is what happens when you work in DIRT. And that measures to control what is a natural by-product of farming would be very costly, and those costs would be passed on to you and me in the form of yet higher food prices. The poor and minorities hardest hit.

Can we finally be done with the ridiculous canard that liberals care more about the poor? Liberalism devastates the poor and makes certain they will stay poor and dependent on government. It truly is evil.

A Power Grab Over Troubled Waters. by The Elephant's Child

Imagine this:  Representative James Oberstar (D-Mich.) wants to rewrite the Clean Water Act.  Back in 1972, when the law was written, even liberals respected the Constitution. They understood if you wanted the federal government to regulate the waters, you had to say “navigable”so that it was legal under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

Representative Oberstar wants to remove the word “navigable”. How do you then explain why the federal government should regulate waters that are not navigable?  And what are waters that are not navigable — mud puddles, prairie potholes, irrigation ditches, intermittent ponds?  Or bathtubs, fish ponds, fountains, on private lands — neighborhood backyards?

This isn’t the first time Oberstar has tried this.  He tried it in 2007.  He and others were not happy with Supreme Court rulings that defined the limits Washington faced over bodies of water that had no relation to navigability or commerce.   They want full federal control over all waters. Richard Baker, then a Republican congressman from Louisiana, a state filled with waterways, called the bill “the largest-ever expansion of federal power over private property.

The federal government has already deeply damaged Central Valley farmers in California by denying them water because of an “endangered” minnow — the Delta smelt.  Unemployment in the Central Valley is high in the double digits, and orchards and vines are dying for lack of water.  Is the Delta smelt really endangered?

Farmers should be particularly concerned.  Oberstar’s bill gives federal regulators the power to police farming practices and to take their land through regulatory restrictions if those practices are deemed to be in violation of the law. There is even a clause that adds “and the land that impacts it” so it could regulate everything around it.

This is a drive by the Environmental Protection Agency to expand its jurisdiction.  Most of the justification for the existence of the agency is becoming questionable.  The air is very clean, in general, so the EPA is attempting to find possible bad effects on health from, um,  particulates, anything, that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act.  They’re not done with CO2, but the case for controlling that is becoming questionable.  So we have a grasp for power that is sanctioned at the highest level.

Liberals understand that they have a brief window in ’09 and ’10 — they are trying to get as much enacted as possible before the November elections. They need to be stopped.

Another $1.4 Million EPA Bad Idea. by The Elephant's Child
April 21, 2010, 5:59 pm
Filed under: Environment, Health Care, Law, Taxes | Tags: , ,

This is going to seem really boring, but stick with me.  There is method in my madness.  Ken Green, who is a scholar at AEI specializing in energy and environment, offers a quick definition from Wikipedia:

Data dredging, according to Wikipedia, is “the inappropriate (sometimes deliberately so) use of data mining to uncover misleading relationships in data. These relationships may be valid within the test set but have no statistical significance in the wider population.” Wikipedia gives a particularly relevant example: “Suppose that observers note that a particular town appears to be a cancer cluster, but lack a firm hypothesis of why this is so. However, they have access to a large amount of demographic data about the town and surrounding area, containing measurements for the area of hundreds or thousands of different variables, mostly uncorrelated. Even if all these variables are independent of the cancer incidence rate, it is highly likely that at least one variable will be significantly correlated with the cancer rate across the area.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2).  It looks like cap-and-trade will not make it through the Senate, so the next best idea is regulating — and taxing — CO2, under the Clean Air Act, as a “pollutant.” As CO2 is what we exhale, it’s going to take some heavy evidence to get away with that.  Particularly since Climategate has pretty much put a damper on the whole global warming thing.  Congress never intended the Clean Air Act for any such thing, but Obama wants a carbon tax.  So the EPA proposes to give away $1.4 million in up to $300,000 portions to fund directional data dredging that looks only for relationships that suggest that exposure to various air pollutants cause harm to human health.  The polite term for this is “fishing expedition.”

EPA, ever helpful, gives some examples of what such data-dredging exercises might look like.  Air pollution associations with respiratory and cardiovascular disease have been studied extensively, but there might be some “air pollution impacts” on additional health conditions including diabetes, neurological disorders, tooth decay, brain tumors, zits, (Okay, I made up the last three, but surely you see the problems).

While data dredging can identify some correlations, it cannot identify causation.  It’s one thing for scientists to identify illness in a population, and to investigate what it is that might be causing it, but this is “Seek and ye shall find,” looking for ever more obscure health impacts to justify expanded regulation and EPA intrusion into the economy.   This funding proposal should be scrapped.

And the EPA should be scrapped while they’re at it.  (But I said that before).

We’re Only Late by 26 Years! by The Elephant's Child
April 20, 2010, 7:00 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Freedom, Law, Statism | Tags: , ,


The Ministry of Truth Environmental Protection Agency is promoting a contest.

The contest, which ends May 17, will award $2,500 to the makers of the video that best explains why federal regulations are good and how ordinary citizens can become more involved in making regulations.  The videos must be posted on YouTube and can be no more than 60-90 seconds in length.

In the current contest, each video must include the slogan “Let your voice be heard,” and it must direct viewers to the government’s regulatory website  The winning video will then be used by the entire federal government to promote the regulatory process and enhance the public’s participation in it.

The EPA is managing the contest, part of the government”s eRulemaking program, on behalf of the entire government.

Did I mention that it is my belief that the Environmental Protection Agency has done little to nothing for the environment, a great deal of damage to our country, and should be abolished?

More Challenges to the Federal Government and the EPA. by The Elephant's Child

The House of Cards begins to fall.  Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, with the support of new Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, has filed a petition with the EPA to reconsider its finding based on the acknowledgment of ClimateGate’s former CRU Director Phil Jones, to be very unsettled science indeed.

He has at the same time filed a petition with the Federal Appeals court requesting a review of the EPA finding.

The Richmond Times Dispatch clucked that “A commission appointed by previous Governor Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, found that global warming could spread disease in Virginia, threaten coastal areas and imperil native animals such as crabs.”

The panel, which included scientists, business people, lawmakers and environmentalists, unanimously adopted its final report in 2008.

The Director of the Virginia State Sierra Club, Glen Besa was horrified:

The attorney general is wasting taxpayer’s money on frivolous litigation…In effect, he’s questioning climate change.

Well, yes.  In the last five months it has become increasingly clear that climate change is a fraud. The Earth is cooling, not warming, and there has been no significant warming for the last 15 years.

The IPCC has been exposed as a political organization, in error about every aspect of climate science.  Carbon Dioxide, which is one of the basic building blocks of life, (no CO2 no life) is not a pollutant, and attempts to regulate it as such, are strictly political and have no basis in science.


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