Tag: EPA

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Gas Can Follies

 

I have a little can for gasoline. I use it to fuel my lawnmower. Recently the spout broke. I fixed it with duct tape, of course. And, of course, the duct tape only held up for a few months. The can itself is over 30 years old, and I have the idea that, since plastic deteriorates over time, it probably will need replacing within the next decade or two. I also thought that a cheap plastic gas can with a nice pouring spout would not cost very much more than a purchase of a replacement spout. So while I was out on Saturday morning I stopped by Autozone to pick up a new gas can. And, modern American life being what it is, I now have a story to post at Ricochet.

First, while my old can holds 2.5 gallons, the cans on the shelf all came only in two or five gallon size, so if I keep a little can it will mean more trips to refill the can. I don’t want to fool with the larger can, so I picked up one of the two-gallon cans and carried it to the counter. While waiting for the cashier to fire up his cash register (he had been in the back and so had to log in), I took a look at the new can. I unscrewed the cap and pulled out the pour spout, and started to install it for immediate use. The pour spout looked funny, and the cashier saw me giving it a close inspection. He said “You haven’t seen one of those before.”

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Trump Dismantles Obama Regs on Energy, Environment

 

President Trump issued a sweeping executive order Tuesday to unravel several Obama-era environmental and energy regulations. Signed at the EPA headquarters, the order calls for an immediate review of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which restricted greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired plants.

“We’re going to have safety, we’re going to have clean water, we’re going to have clean air,” Trump said, “but so many [regulations] are unnecessary, so many are job-killing.” He added, “Together we are going to start a new energy revolution.”

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Scott Pruitt and the Environment

 

Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, has raised more hackles among progressive Democrats than any other Trump cabinet nominee. Typical of the ferocious opposition to his candidacy is the screed prepared by the Sierra Club that deems him a mortal threat to the safety of the planet because, as Attorney General in Oklahoma, he has “spent his time in office working to allow big polluters to do whatever they want, rather than protecting the health, clean air and water of his constituents.” Democrats like Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii have insisted that his nomination is “a four-alarm fire” because Pruitt is a pawn of fossil fuel companies whose cardinal sin is denying the conclusion of “climate scientists” that human emission of carbon dioxide is creating a global warming crisis.

The defenders of Pruitt have been equally vocal. President Trump, no man to mince words, has railed against the EPA for spending “taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn.” In his view, Pruitt is needed to restore some sense of balance to the entire enterprise.

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The Environmental Permit Menace

 

Government Red TapeThere is wide bipartisan support to take immediate steps at all levels of government to improve America’s aging and dilapidated infrastructure. The challenge of infrastructure design is to move people and goods rapidly and efficiently from one place to another, while minimizing adverse environmental impacts.

Private firms can, of course, do a great deal of the legwork in putting this infrastructure together. But private enterprise cannot do the job alone. Long and skinny infrastructure elements, like railroads, highways, and pipelines, typically require the use of the government power of eminent domain to assemble the needed parcels of land. In addition, much infrastructure has to be built across government-owned land. The cooperation of government is thus needed for the completion of these projects. And there is always the risk that any major construction project could cause serious physical damage to the larger environment.

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Sanctuary House

 

On Thanksgiving Day, I stopped by the palatial home of my longtime friend and lawyer, E. Hobart Calhoun, a fellow Mensa member, bon vivant, and part-time oenophile. He was burning leaves in his front yard. I jumped out of my reconditioned hybrid Ford Falcon and raced to stomp out the flames, feverishly checking for any sign of the EPA death squads routinely patrolling our neighborhoods these days.

“Have you lost your mind?” I asked E. as I stepped out of my rugged Duluth steel-threaded overalls, which had caught fire in spite of Duluth’s guarantee that they were flammable or inflammable, whichever word is right.

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Supreme Court Puts the Clean Power Plan on Hold

 

clean-power-planOn February 8, the United States Supreme Court issued a terse order that by a five-to-four vote enjoined the Environmental Protection Agency from taking any steps to implement its Clean Power Plan. That most ambitious plan sought to impose a comprehensive long-term set of limitations on the use of coal, and indeed all energy sources, inside the United States. The order itself was a black box, which in its entirety reads:

West Virginia, et al. v EPA, et al.

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SCOTUS Smackdown of EPA: Top Takeaways

 

Stroke of the pen. Law of the land ... (record screech!)The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) did something remarkable on Tuesday: It momentarily respected the separation of powers and finally shouted “Enough!” to the lawless rule of the Environmental Protection Agency. SCOTUS issued a stay on Obama’s “Clean Power Plan,” which is a radical, law-by-decree scheme to do nothing less than put this nation’s enormously complex energy-delivery system into the hands of central planners on the Potomac.

It was Clinton advisor Paul Begala who once said: “Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kinda cool.” Not any more … at least for now in this case.

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The Flint Fiasco

 
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National Guard distributes bottled water in downtown Flint, January 23. Linda Parton / Shutterstock.com

The details of the Flint, MI, water scandal are all too well known to require more than a brief summary. For many years, Flint obtained its water service from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, which acquired its supply through both Lake Huron and the Detroit River. But with Flint in receivership since 2011, its city council decided to switch its water service to the Karegnondi Water Authority, which was in the process of constructing a pipeline to carry water to Flint from Lake Huron. Once Detroit realized that it could not keep the Flint account, it terminated its contract with Flint on 12 months notice in April 2014. Unfortunately, the KWA water pipeline was not scheduled for completion until sometime in 2016 and the Flint River was identified as an interim water source. The water from the Flint River contained many more impurities than the Detroit water. These chemicals leached the lead out of aging pipes, which worked itself into the water supply.

Exposure to high concentrations of lead has long been known to cause serious health problems, especially in children. Unfortunately, some 6,000 to 12,000 Flint children are at risk for lead poisoning, which in small children can lead to intellectual disabilities and behavioral disorders, as well as impairment of the heart, kidney, nervous system, and other functions. It is no wonder that the EPA publishes extensive information about the risks of lead poisoning and what to do about it.

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Jeb?

 

Jeb BushI am an admirer of Jeb Bush. He was a first-rate governor in Florida. Unlike Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio, he would not have to learn all that much on the job. He has executive experience. He has dealt with emergencies. He knows where the buck stops, and I am confident that he would handle foreign policy well.

This is no small matter. Foreign-policy competence is the sine qua non for everything else. Defending the national interest is the main reason we have a federal government. Paul, Cruz, Rubio — none of them has ever run anything larger than a medical practice. They would make freshman mistakes, and you and I would pay dearly for their blunders.

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The Libertarian Podcast, with Richard Epstein: “The Uses and Abuses of the Clean Water Act”

 

I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve just read this terrific Richard Epstein post on the Clean Water Act (see below), but where I can get some sweet Epstein environmental protection podcast action?” Well, friends, look no further. In this episode of The Libertarian podcast we endeavor to give a layman’s explanation of the Clean Water Act and explain how a well-intended law has obstructed genuine environmental protection while snagging innocent landowners in a needless regulatory morass. Listen in below or subscribe to The Libertarian podcast via iTunes so that you never miss an episode.

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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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Indigo Labor Day

 

shutterstock_87947731The front-page headline caught my attention: “Tide may be turning for working-class Americans.” Really? We just learned on Friday that a record 94 million Americans are not participating in the labor force. How can this be good news seven years after the Great Recession? Bloomberg columnist Al Hunt explains why we are in fact on the verge of Morning in America, Obama-style:

On the surface, this Labor Day holiday caps another dark year for U.S. unions and many working-class Americans.

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Oil, Oil, Everywhere But Not A Drop To Burn?

 

imageIn the last few decades — indeed, in just the last few years — a combination of demand and technology has greatly expanded the amount of oil and gas reserves that can be economically extracted. Unfortunately, cars and industry can’t run off crude oil anymore than freshly-fracked methane, so those raw hydrocarbons are essentially useless until they’ve undergone a myriad of available processes to refine them into useable fuels. The whole reason for the Keystone XL pipeline, after all, is to bring heavy Canadian crude down to the Gulf Coast for refining.

A little over a year ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that American refineries — already the largest in the world — were pushing to increase their capacity at their existing plants, while others energy firms were trying to get into the business, often at a small scale. The results sounded impressive:

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