Tag: Environmental Issues

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A few weeks back, I threatened promised to tell you the one about the BDAN baño. Due to a clerical error, I find myself needing able to roll out this tale, for your enlightenment this fine fall weekend. It is a tale of three governments, earnest bureaucrats, a rich U.S. NGO, an innovative Arizona policy center, and outside […]

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The Dangers of the Martin Act

 

Richard Epstein looks at the uses and abuses of the Martin Act, a New York law that has given activist attorneys general a free pass to persecute their political opponents.

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How the Clean Water Act Went Off the Rails

 

shutterstock_121109029Late last month, a federal district judge in North Dakota took the rare step of questioning the scope of the EPA’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, holding up a new agency rule that includes a capacious definition of the “waters of the United States.” As I note in my new column for Defining Ideas, we wouldn’t be in this mess were it not for a long string of judicial decisions that have consistently increased the EPA’s authority and muddled the legal landscape:

… The massive nature of this new regulation is made plain in the introductory paragraph of Justice Antonin Scalia’s 2006 plurality opinion in Rapanos v. United States:

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The Game Theory Argument for Fast-Track Trade Authority

 

While public debate rages over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the real issue before Congress right now is merely whether or not President Obama should be granted fast-track authority, which allows him to negotiate a treaty on behalf of the United States and then present it to the Congress for a straight up-or-down vote with no amendments allowed. As I note in my new piece for Defining Ideas at the Hoover Institution, there’s a very strong game theory rationale for giving the president this ability:

… [F]ast-track is a good solution to a complex two-stage bargaining game. At stage one, the President and his trading partners are well aware of the prospect that the Congress could turn down a trade treaty if it is perceived, no questions asked, to put the United States in a worse position. So Congress will agree to a treaty that is better than the status quo ante for the U.S., but not so one-sided that it will drive our potential trading partners away. Hence, a stage one agreement will leave everyone better off.

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Overreach at the EPA

 

Last week, Tennessee’s public utility regulator, Kenneth Hill, argued in the Wall Street Journal that states should boycott the EPA’s Clean Coal Plan, forcing the feds themselves to take full responsibility for whatever obligations they impose. I examine that argument and other aspects of the proposed program in my new column for Defining Ideasand find the entire project wanting:

EPA [Administrator Gina] McCarthy praises the flexibility of her plans, by noting that the EPA “can look at stringency, timing, phasing-in, glide path,” and a lot else to make sure that grid reliability is not impaired. But therein lies part of the problem, for the question is just how much discretion should the EPA have in making decisions that could cost individual states and firms billions, especially since it appears that its direct regulatory authority to implement on its own only direct regulation of emissions from designated facilities. It looks therefore that the threat of very heavy direct cuts in output could be used to lever states to make alterations in local policy that the EPA is powerless to impose under its own authority. At this point, the crafty game of extending powers through threats does give rise to a serious constitutional challenge, as the EPA seeks to implement indirectly measures that it could not impose directly.

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I Deny I’m a Denier

 

shutterstock_68641195I consider myself to be a skeptic in the matter of man-made global warming. I’m not a denier; I’m not smart enough to be that certain. But, as with a lot of things in life, I’m skeptical. (And see what they did there? By labeling skeptics as deniers, they equate us with Holocaust Deniers. Pretty clever, huh?) Every now and then, I’ll use my Twitter account to send out a tweet poking fun at climate alarmists (see what I did there?). And, while most Twitter users understand the humor, there are those who get very, very angry.

First, they pointedly remind me that I’m not a scientist. That’s very helpful, because sometimes I confuse being a TV game show host with being a scientist. (It’s always embarrassing when I show up for a taping in a white lab coat.) Actually, that’s not the first thing they do; the bulk of them usually start with obscene name-calling. There are two favorites, but Ricochet’s Code of Conduct forbids my being any more specific on the matter. Finally, most of them tell me that they don’t care what such an idiot who hosts such an idiotic program for idiotic viewers thinks about something that 90% (or 94% or 97%) of climate scientists agree on. Of course, the fact that they read my tweet, became agitated by it, and responded to it demonstrates that they truly do care. I find that rather odd, because I’m not sure why anyone would particularly care about any beliefs—or non-beliefs—held by a quasi-celebrity, especially one who doesn’t use his television forum to proselytize (as some are wont to do).

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So, Yeah, It Looks Like Cap and Trade is Back

 

PethWarmingIn a plan to be unveiled next week, according to The New York Times, “President Obama will use his executive authority to cut carbon emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants by up to 20 percent ….” This rule, written by the EPA, will “set a national limit on carbon pollution from coal plants [and] allow each state to come up with its own plan to cut emissions based on a menu of options that include adding wind and solar power, energy-efficiency technology and creating or joining state cap-and-trade programs.”

Right, there’s a menu of options, but it is clear from the story that the easiest path for states likely is the cap-and-trade route where carbon emission permits would be auctioned:

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War on Coal = War on Freedom — D.C. McAllister

 

In 2008, President Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle, “If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them.”

Obama’s Climate Action Plan clearly states his opposition to coal: “Going forward, we will promote fuel-switching from coal to gas for electricity production.”

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