“As the presidential primaries dominate the news, under the radar the Obama administration continues its unilateral assault on the economy and civil society. Consider the news from just this week.” So I wrote last month. Is it poor form to start a new post with exactly the same opening?
1. Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that they will extend tobacco regulations to e-cigarettes:
“This action is a milestone in consumer protection — going forward, the FDA will be able to review new tobacco products not yet on the market, help prevent misleading claims by tobacco product manufacturers, evaluate the ingredients of tobacco products and how they are made, and communicate the potential risks of tobacco products,” the agency said in announcing the extension of its authority.
The usual constellation of leftist interest groups is thrilled, citing consumer protection and child safety. However, the new requirements for FDA approval promise to devastate the industry:
The most onerous requirement, say e-cigarette and e-liquid manufacturers: a retroactive premarket approval process for all e-cigarette products, from e-liquids to vaporizers. Companies must provide a detailed listing of each product’s ingredients as well as extensive research findings on the impact of their products on the public’s health, which will cost at least $2 million per product to satisfy, says Cynthia Cabrera, executive director of the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association.
This requirement will be straightforward for Big Tobacco to meet. Smaller companies, on the other hand, will have a harder time:
Shaun Copper has owned and operated Workshop Vapor Company in Colorado Springs for about a year and a half, but he and many other shop owners are worried about their future.
“There are estimates that 99 percent of the industry will be done in 2 years,” Copper said….
“At my shop, I have products that I bring in from other vendors. I also have my own that I make, and so not only do I have to hope that my vendors have the means to go through these pre-market approvals, I have to look at them as well,” Copper said.
But just one application could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“You do the math and go how could anybody survive that?” Copper said.
As a result, tobacco smokers will lose a tool for smoking cessation, and many former smokers are expected to revert to tobacco.
The rule goes into effect in 90 days. Left unaddressed are (a) how a product without any actual tobacco is considered a “tobacco product”; and (b) where an agency gets the authority to unilaterally expand its own Congressional mandate.
2. On Wednesday, the Department of Justice inserted itself into state legislation, to address the civil rights issue of our time: Transgender bathrooms.
The U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday that a North Carolina law limiting protections to LGBT people violates federal civil rights laws and can’t be enforced….
In a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory, the department put the state on notice that federal officials view the state law as violating federal Civil Rights Act protections barring workplace discrimination based on sex. Provisions of the state law directed at transgender state employees violate their anti-discrimination protections, the letter said….
The Justice Department’s letter said the law also violates Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in education based on sex. That could lead to North Carolina losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal school funding.
The DOJ demanded a response by Monday. Although it initially appeared as if the state would not be able to respond in such an abbreviated timeframe (with regard to Federal agencies, response times are, well, asymmetrical), Gov. McCrory now says he anticipates the state will in fact respond in time.
3. On Wednesday, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced a plan to quadruple the number of bald eagles that wind farms can kill annually, for 30 years.
Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said the proposal will “provide a path forward” for maintaining eagle populations while also spurring development of a pollution-free energy source that’s intended to ease global warming, a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s energy plan.
Ashe said the 162-page proposal would protect eagles and at the same time “help the country reduce its reliance on fossil fuels” such as coal and oil that contribute to global warming.
Where does the agency get its authority from?
Golden and bald eagles are not endangered species but are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The laws prohibit killing, selling or otherwise harming eagles, their nests or eggs without a permit.
The plan is similar to one issued in 2013 and struck down by a Federal judge because the agency failed to follow procedure. It had tried to classify its action as an “administrative change” so as to avoid environmental review.
Meanwhile, as Fish & Wildlife expands permits to facilitate Obama’s pet boondoggle — and new bird killings — it is stingy with permits for Americans who own artifacts with eagle feathers. Even when the eagles in question are long dead, permits for religious expression are not so readily forthcoming.
With regard to the symbolism of the matter — the Obama Administration giving its friends license to slaughter the national bird: No decent novelist would dare use such imagery. It would be too obvious and heavy-handed.