Marita Noon: Supreme Court to Obama Administration–You cannot rewrite laws to achieve your political agenda

Greetings!

 

When my proofreader returned this week’s column, Supreme Court to Obama Administration–You cannot rewrite laws to achieve your political agenda (attached and pasted-in-below), she said: “I like it when you find something that few know about and point out the significance of it. Good job! You explained it well, so I could understand the significance. :-)” That’s what I like to do. The story covered in this week’s column is one that few people know about, but, I believe, is very important for America’s energy future.

 

I’ve been in Las Vegas for the past week where I spoke at The Heartland Institute’s 9th International Conference on Climate Change and Freedom Fest. As I talked to hundreds of politically engaged people, at both conferences, almost no one knew about the UARG v. EPA case—the topic of this week’s column. While I am not pleased with the obvious impact of the Supreme Court’s decision: the EPA can regulate CO2—reading between the lines, there is cause for optimism from all who question the president’s authority to rewrite laws. I hope Congress will take up the challenge Justice Antonin Scalia laid down for them!

 

Please help me spread the good news by posting, passing on, and/or personally enjoying Supreme Court to Obama Administration–You cannot rewrite laws to achieve your political agenda.

 

Thanks!

Marita82313

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

 

 

PS: I met Dinesh D’souza, filmmaker for Obama’s 2016 and the new America, at Freedom Fest (photo on Facebook) and took my mother to see America last night. I highly recommend it. If you haven’t seen it yet, make a point of going to see it while it is still in the theaters.

 

 

For immediate release: July 14, 2014

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 1105

 

Supreme Court to Obama Administration: You cannot rewrite laws to achieve your political agenda

Now that the dust has settled on the Supreme Court’s 2014 session, we can look at the decisions and conclude that the Administration received a serious smack down. Two big cases got most of the news coverage: Hobby Lobby and the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) recess appointments. In both cases, the Administration lost. At the core of both, is the issue of the Administration’s overreach.

 

Within the cases the Supreme Court heard, one had to do with energy—and it, too, offered a rebuke.

 

You likely haven’t heard about Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG) v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—and may think you don’t care. But with the session over, UARG v. EPA makes clear the Court’s trend to trim overreach.

 

The UARG v. EPA decision came down on June 23. None of the major news networks covered it. Reviews of the 2014 cases, since the end of the session, haven’t mentioned it either. The decision was mixed—with both sides claiming victory. Looking closely, there is cause for optimism from all who question the president’s authority to rewrite laws.

 

A portion of the UARG v. EPA case was about the EPA’s “Tailoring Rule” in which it “tailored” a statutory provision in the Clean Air Act—designed to regulate traditional pollutants such as particulate matter—to make it work for CO2. In effect, the EPA wanted to rewrite the law to achieve its goals. The decision, written by Justice Antonin Scalia for the majority, stated:

“Were we to recognize the authority claimed by EPA in the Tailoring Rule, we would deal a severe blow to the Constitution’s separation of powers… The power of executing laws…does not include a power to revise clear statutory terms that turn out not to work in practice.”

 

Had the EPA gotten everything it wanted, it could have regulated hundreds of thousands of new sources of CO2—in addition to the already-regulated major industrial sources of pollutants. These new sources would include office buildings and stores that do not emit other pollutants—but that do, for example, through the use of natural gas for heating, emit 250 tons, or more of CO2 a year.

 

The Supreme Court did allow the EPA to regulate CO2 emissions from sources that already require permits due to other pollutants—and therefore allowed the EPA and environmentalists pushing for increased CO2 reductions to claim victory because the decision reaffirmed the EPA does have the authority to regulate CO2 emissions. However, at the same time, the decision restricted the EPA’s expansion of authority. Reflecting the mixed decision, the Washington Post said the decision was: “simultaneously very significant and somewhat inconsequential.”

 

It is the “very significant” portion of the decision that is noteworthy in light of the new rules the EPA announced on June 2.

 

Currently, the Clean Air Act is the only vehicle available to the Administration to regulate CO2 from power plant and factory emissions. However, the proposed rules that severely restrict allowable CO2 emissions from existing power plants, and will result in the closure of hundreds of coal-fueled power plants, bear some similarities to what the Supreme Court just invalidated: both involve an expansive interpretation of the Clean Air Act.

 

It is widely believed that the proposed CO2 regulations for existing power plants will face legal challenges.

 

Tom Wood, a partner at Stoel Rives LLP who specializes in air quality and hazardous waste permitting and compliance, explains: “Although the EPA’s Section 111 (d) proposals cannot be legally challenged until they are finalized and enacted, such challenges are a certainty.” With that in mind, the UARG v. EPA decision sets an important precedent. “Ultimately,” Wood says, “the Supreme Court decision seems to give more ammunition to those who want to challenge an expansive view of 111 (d).” Wood sees it as a rebuke to the EPA—a warning that in the coming legal battles, the agency should not presume that its efforts will have the Supreme Court’s backing.

 

In his review of the UARG v. EPA decision, Nathan Richardson, a Resident Scholar at Resources For the Future, says: “In strict legal terms, this decision has no effect on EPA’s plans to regulate new or existing power plants with performance standards. … However, if EPA is looking for something to worry about, it can find it in this line from Scalia:”

When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate “a significant portion of the American economy” . . . we typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism. We expect Congress to speak clearly if it wishes to assign an agency decisions of vast “economic and political significance.”

 

Cato’s Andrew Grossman adds: “The Court’s decision may be a prelude of more to come. Since the Obama Administration issued its first round of greenhouse gas regulations, it has become even more aggressive in wielding executive power so as to circumvent the need to work with Congress on legislation. That includes … new regulations for greenhouse gas emissions by power plants …that go beyond traditional plant-level controls to include regulation of electricity usage and demand—that is, to convert EPA into a nationwide electricity regulator.” Grossman suggests: “this won’t be the last court decision throwing out Obama Administration actions as incompatible with the law.”

 

Philip A. Wallach, a Brookings fellow in Governance Studies, agrees. He called the UARG v. EPA case “something of a sideshow,” and sees “the main event” as EPA’s power plant emissions controls, which have “much higher practical stakes.”

 

The UARG v. EPA decision is especially important when added to the more widely known Hobby Lobby and NLRB cases, which is aptly summed up in the statement by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers’ General Counsel Rich Moskowitz: “We are pleased that the Court has placed appropriate limits on EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. By doing so, the Court makes clear that an agency cannot rewrite the law to advance its political goals.”

 

Justice Scalia’s opinion invites Congress to “speak clearly” on agency authority. It is now up to our elected representatives to rise to the occasion and pass legislation that leaves “decisions of vast ‘economic and political significance’” in its hands alone. Such action could rein in many agency abuses including the heavy-handed application of the Endangered Species Act and public lands management.

 

It would seem that the UARG v. EPA decision—while “somewhat inconsequential”—is, in fact, “very significant.” With this decision the Supreme Court has outlined the first legislation of the new, reformatted, post 2014 election, Congress.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

 

Marita Noon: Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool

Poster note: There are references in Ms. Noon’s articles about quotes some have made about the mindless fellow who occupies the Oval Office when he is not on Air Force One.  The quotes address his legacy.  Maybe they mean his lack of legacy? Chuck Ring

 

 

This morning, President Obama is scheduled to announce the EPA’s new C02 standards for existing power plants. Last week I attended (via telephone) a press conference the US Chamber of Commerce held announcing its new report regarding the impacts of the new regulations—which are, in essence, cap-and-trade by executive order. That became the launching point for this week’s column: Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool (attached and pasted-in-below).

 

As you will discover when you read it, in doing my writing preparation, I’ve read extensively on the topic. In Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool I address some angles and issues not covered elsewhere. (I always figure, if I don’t have something fresh to say on a topic, I don’t need to write on it.)

 

As the announcement is now just a couple hours away, I hope those of you who post my work can get Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool posted ASAP—before the announcement. Please pass it on, too! Thanks!

 

Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

 

 

For immediate release: June 2, 2014

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Welcome to the “no pee” section of the swimming pool

America is poised to become the “no pee” section of the global swimming pool and the useless actions will cost us a bundle—raising energy costs, adding new taxes, and crippling the economy. Even some environmentalists agree. Yet, for President Obama, it’s all about legacy.

 

On Monday, June 2, 2014, the EPA will release its new rules for CO2 emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electricity generating plants—which the New York Times (NYT) states: “could eventually shut down hundreds of coal-fueled power plants across the country.” (Regulations for new plants: the New Source Performance Standard rule, requiring carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) that buries emissions in the ground to meet the emissions limits, were released September 20, 2013. The 2013 regulations virtually ensure that no new coal-fueled power plants will be built. Bloomberg Businessweek reports: “Considering the one carbon-capture plant being built in the U.S. is massively over budget and widely considered not ready for commercial use, it seems likely that the new rules will significantly erode coal’s share of power generation down the road.” Politifact says CCS is: “new and expensive.”)

 

These new rules, reportedly 3000 pages long (300 pages longer than the healthcare bill), are so important, it is believed that the President will make the announcement himself.

 

Supporters seem gleeful. USA Today cites the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress’ Daniel J. Weiss as saying: “No president has ever proposed a climate pollution clean up this big.” In the Washington Post (WP), advocacy group Clean Air Watch’s director, Frank O’Donnell is quoted as saying: “This is a magic moment for the president—a chance to write his name in the record books.” The NYT claims the plans, “the strongest action ever taken by an American president to tackle climate change,” could: “become one of the defining elements of Mr. Obama’s legacy.” And, Peter Shattuck, director of market initiatives at ENE, a Boston-based climate advocacy and research organization, believes: “This EPA regulation will breathe life into state-level cap-and-trade programs.”

 

While the actual EPA plan has not been released at the time of this writing, it is widely believed that it will follow a March 2013 regulatory proposal put forth by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) which projects 35-40 percent cuts in CO2 emissions over 2012 levels by 2025. Once again, as with endangered species listings and the Keystone pipeline, we see environmental groups driving this administration’s policies.

 

Using the NRDC’s policy framework, on May 28—before the EPA released its new rules—the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy released a major study done by the highly respected energy analytics firm IHS: Assessing the Impact of Potential New Carbon Regulations in the United States. It concludes that the EPA’s plans to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants will cost America’s economy over $50 billion a year between now and 2030.

 

A press release about the 71-page report predicts the EPA’s potential new carbon regulations would:

  • Lower U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $51 billion on average every year through 2030,
  • Lead to 224,000 fewer U.S. jobs on average every year through 2030,
  • Force U.S. consumers to pay $289 billion more for electricity through 2030, and
  • Lower total disposable income for U.S. households by $586 billion through 2030.

 

Addressing the Chamber’s assessment, the Institute’s president and CEO, Karen Harbert, said: “Americans deserve to have an accurate picture of the costs and benefits associated with the Administration’s plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through unprecedented and aggressive EPA regulations. Our analysis shows that Americans will pay significantly more for electricity, see slower economic growth and fewer jobs, and have less disposable income, while a slight reduction in carbon emissions will be overwhelmed by global increases.”

 

Not surprisingly, the EPA quickly tried to debunk the Chamber’s claims. Tom Reynolds, the EPA’s associate administrator for external affairs, called the report: “Nothing more than irresponsible speculation based on guesses of what our draft proposal will be.” Reynolds continued: “Just to be clear—it’s not out yet. I strongly suggest that folks read the proposal before they cry the sky is falling.”

 

However, the WP states: “While several key aspects of the proposal are still under discussion, according to several people briefed on the matter … the EPA plan resembles proposals made by the Natural Resources Defense Council.” In Grist.com, which calls itself “a source of intelligent, irreverent environmental news and commentary,” Ben Adler, who “covers environmental policy and politics for Grist, with a focus on climate change, energy, and cities,” cites a “video chat” he apparently had with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. In his column: “Here’s what to expect from Obama’s big new climate rules,” Adler states: “The agency’s proposed rules will probably roughly follow the model proposed by the Natural Resources Defense Council in a March 2013 report.”

 

It is likely that the Chamber’s report is spot on. If, after the regulations are revealed, they are different, the Chamber says it will rerun the models using the new data.

 

Describing the NRDC-based plan, the NYT states: “President Obama will use his executive authority to cut carbon emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants by up to 20 percent.” It continues: “People familiar with the rule say that it will set a national limit on carbon pollution from coal plants, but that it will 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. Cap-and-trade programs are effectively carbon taxes that place a limit on carbon pollution and create markets for buying and selling government-issued pollution permits.” Note: even the NYT calls cap and trade a carbon tax.

 

The NYT story points to cap-and-trade programs in California and the northeast, which have some of the highest electricity rates in the country. It cites officials of the northeastern regional program who claim: “it has proved fairly effective.” Between 2005 and 2012, the program dropped power-plant pollution by 40 percent, “even as the states raised $1.6 billion in new revenue.” Where did that “new revenue” come from? Higher rates paid by consumers—essentially a tax. Realize that power companies don’t really care about how much the new regulations cost, as they simply pass them on to the end users. In the NYT story, John McManus, vice president of environmental services at American Electric Power, is quoted as saying: “We view cap and trade as having a lot of benefits. … There are a lot of advantages.”

 

Adler explains the cap-and-trade aspect of the new regulations this way: “States could set up their own emissions-trading programs, under which solar and wind facilities would receive credits for each megawatt-hour of energy produced with less than the allowable amount of CO2 and sell those credits to coal plants.” He continues: “economically—and therefore politically and legally—such an approach would carry major risks. A dramatic spike in electricity prices could cause a recession and significant hardship for lower-income families. That, in turn, would likely create a political backlash that would spur Congress to try to revoke the EPA’s authority to regulate CO2. It could even splinter the left, pitting unions, consumer groups, and anti-poverty advocates against the environmental movement. The GOP-controlled House has already voted numerous times to revoke the EPA’s authority, and much higher energy prices might cause some Democrats to join the Republicans.”

 

Bloomberg calls the new rule “politically painful” for Democrats from coal-producing regions “as it forces power-plant closures and threatens to increase electricity rates for consumers.”

 

In response to the Daily Kos reporting on the new EPA regulations, a reader, John in Cleveland, commented: “if the regulations are enough to get a good number of coal plants shut down we had better brace for impact because people’s heating/electric bills are going to increase. … People are going to be pissed when their bills go up, and they will go up.”

 

The Kos reports: “Obama has said he wants the existing plant rule in place by the time a new president takes the oath of office in January 2017”—though many in Congress, including coal-state Democrats, are asking that the 60-day comment period be extended to 120 and, as the WP points out, lawsuits are likely.

 

The Kos reader rightly points out: “As long as China and India are allowed to spew as much carbon as they want into the air it is going to be near impossible to rally this country behind anything that means higher prices that doesn’t do anything to solve the problem.”

 

The Chamber reports that global emissions are expected to rise by 31 percent between 2011 and 2030, yet, all the pain—economic and political—the new regulations will inflict “would only reduce overall emissions levels by just 1.8 percentage points.”

 

Defending the NRDC plan, David Hawkins, director of climate programs, is quoted in Grist: “Power plants don’t operate in a vacuum. The energy they produce is fungible.” The same is true for the emissions. The U.S. can adopt these draconian regulations, but the U.S. doesn’t operate in a vacuum. The emissions are fungible.

 

Bloomberg states: “The administration and its Democratic allies are bracing for a political fight over the rule, which is critical to Obama’s legacy on climate and his efforts to coax other nations to agree.” USA Today cites David Doniger, NRDC’s policy director and senior attorney for NRDC’s climate and clean air program in Washington, DC: “the EPA rules will show the United States is ‘in the game’ and will help nudge other countries to make reductions.”

 

Should we be “in the game” when the other major developed countries have quit playing? Australia has already walked away from its previous administration’s stringent climate policies due to economic pain and public backlash. Germany is becoming more dependent on coal-fueled electricity. Wood is the number one renewable fuel in Europe. Following what has already taken place in England and much of Europe, on May 31, it was announced that Spain is cutting back on its green energy programs. China and India have repeatedly refused to cripple their growing economies by cutting back on their fossil fuel-based energy usage.

 

The U.S. may be “in the game” alone. All the regulations the administration may impose will not “nudge” the rest of the world to follow. Just because we declare that we won’t pee in the pool, won’t stop the others. And, just like the water in the pool, CO2 emissions are fungible.

 

We’ll be stuck in our little no-pee section with a crippled economy while the rest of the world will be frolicking in unfettered growth. As chlorine, filters and other processes make public pools safe for swimming, scrubbers and other pollution controls have already dramatically cleaned up the air in America. But Obama needs his legacy—and that will be, as House Speaker John Boehner said: “every proposal that comes out of this administration to deal with climate change involves hurting our economy and killing American jobs.”

 

 

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

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Marita Noon: Obamacare & Ethanol

Here’s Marita and she is chasing Obamacare & Ethanol.  Each share in the cruelest hoaxes foisted on the American citizen.  Some know the scam nature of the two mandates, while other are still awakening from their deep slumber of the last six year.

As usual Marita does a great job with this commentary.  I have taken the liberty of dropping an image or two along with links to related articles.

The EPA was directed to set standards for radi...

The EPA was directed to set standards for radioactive materials under Reorganization Plan No. 3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Greetings!

I am sitting on a runway in Las Vegas, heading to Midland for the Executive Oil and Gas conference where I expect to pick up a lot of material and make connections that will be important for future columns. Bad weather in Denver has caused a “ground-stop” and nothing is going in or out of Denver. Found time! Sitting next to me is a man who works for ExxonMobil. I told him about this week’s column: Obamacare and ethanol—hand-in-hand (attached and pasted in below). He didn’t know most of what I told him. I trust that you probably don’t either, nor will your readers.

I chose to write on ethanol this week because on October 8, the American Petroleum Institute filed a lawsuit against the EPA over the ethanol mandates. There is a lot of movement in DC right now on ethanol and the RFS Reform Act has strong bipartisan support.

I had fun writing Obamacare and ethanol—hand-in-hand. I hope you enjoy reading the parallels I present. Please post, pass on, and or personally enjoy this week’s offering.

Marita Noon, Executive Director

Energy Makes America Great, Inc.

PO Box 52103, Albuquerque, NM 87181

505.239.8998

Commentary by Marita Noon

Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great Inc.

Contact: 505.239.8998, marita@responsiblenergy.org

Words: 1657

Obamacare and ethanol—hand-in-hand

Poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of Obamacare. If it were front and center of the newscycle, as Obamacare is, most would also have the same repeal-or-revise attitude regarding ethanol mandates as the two are marching hand-in-hand. In addition to the odd collection of opponents—conservatives and unions in opposition to Obamacare; and environmentalists and big oil, auto manufacturers and anti-hunger groups oppose ethanol—there are numerous other similarities.

Sounds good at the start

Healthcare for all sounds like a good idea, after all who wants to tell a mother holding a sick child that she can’t get care? Likewise, homegrown fuel that will increase America’s energy independence, sounds good—especially when the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was passed by Congress as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The RFS mandates a minimum volume of biofuels (generally corn-based ethanol) is to be used in the national transportation fuel supply each year. Two years later, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 greatly expanded the biofuel mandate volumes and extended the date through 2022. The expanded RFS required the annual use of 9 billion gallons of biofuels in 2008, rising to 36 billion gallons in 2022, with at least 16 billion gallons from cellulosic biofuels, and a cap of 15 billion gallons for corn-starch ethanol.

At the time, US oil imports were growing, fears of shortages due to so-called peak oil were rampant, and the combined technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing weren’t yet widely used and had not unleashed the current abundance of US resource. Growing our gasoline—converting corn from the heartland into ethanol—sounded good. Today, the Renewable Fuels Association claims that the RFS has reduced America’s foreign oil dependence. Perhaps that is true, but unlocking federal lands, expediting permitting for drilling, and approving the Keystone pipeline could totally remove our reliance on Middle Eastern oil in as few as three years.

Have had their day on court

Virginia Attorney General, and gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli was the first to file a lawsuit against Obamacare—which the Supreme Court ultimately declared a tax. On October 8, the American Petroleum Institute (API), once again, filed a lawsuit in the DC Circuit Court against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the RFS volume requirements for 2013. A similar suit was filed in 2012. On January 25, 2013, the US Court of Appeals rejected EPA’s 2012 mandate for refiners to use cellulosic biofuel, which was not commercially available. In response to the court’s decision, Bob Greco, API Group Downstream Director, said: “This absurd mandate acts as a stealth tax on gasoline with no environmental benefit that could have ultimately burdened consumers.”

Non-elected bureaucrats setting policy

While both Obamacare and the RFS were passed by Congress, the particulars are left to government agencies to regulate. With the RFS, the EPA has missed statutory deadlines for issuing RFS volume requirements and then released rules mandating that refiners use 4 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel in 2013. Yet, according to the EPA, only 142,000 gallons have been available for refiners to blend so far. Reports indicate that for 2014, the target for cellulosic biofuel would be 23 million gallons—despite the fact that the fuel is virtually nonexistent. The EPA has ignored the 2012 Court of Appeals smack down in which Judge Stephen Williams said the law was not intended to allow the EPA to “let its aspirations for a self-fulfilling prophecy divert it from a neutral methodology” and has again set advanced biofuel targets that are out of touch with reality.

Fines for noncompliance

While the Obamacare exchanges have not been working as expected—with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina reporting only one person enrolled after 24 hours, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius admitted to Jon Stewart that if someone doesn’t participate “they pay a fine.” Guess what? Even though there isn’t enough cellulosic ethanol to meet the EPA mandates, refiners are required to blend it into gasoline—and, if they don’t, they pay a fine.

Creates new problems

Obamacare has created a whole new set of problems such as doctor shortages, reduced work hours, and sticker shock. The RPS, also, brings a host of unintended consequences:

  • Ethanol reduces miles per gallon (MPG)—At a time when the White House has upped the MPG a vehicle gets (known as the CAFE standards) it is also mandating the use of ethanol, which lowers MPG. Edmunds did an apples-to-apples comparison of gasoline vs. ethanol (using a flex-fuel vehicle and E85). They conclude: “The fuel economy of our Tahoe on E85, under these conditions, was 26.5 percent worse than it was when running on gas”—and cost about $30 more. Plus, Edmunds found that the carbon emissions savings was negligible. (Note: less than 7 percent of the US vehicular fleet is flex-fuel.)
  • Ethanol mandates have devastated the dairy industry (and turkey growers are none too happy, either)—In rural California, dairy farmers have been deeply affected by the rising cost of feed (which has jumped as much as 240 percent since 2005) brought on by mandated ethanol blending by the RFS. John Taylor, who owns and operates Bivalve Dairy with his family, says: “If there’s a requirement to have ‘X’ amount of tons of corn go into renewable energy, that’s just going to reduce the supply…that’s only going to make the price go up for [dairy farmers]…I’m not sure we should be taking our food and putting it into energy.”

California Assemblywoman, Kristin Olsen, reports: “The competition between the corn market and the government corn ethanol mandate is creating grave challenges for our California farmers, and their ability to feed their livestock and, ultimately, the nation.”

About the turkeys, Damon Wells, vice president of government affairs, National Turkey Federation, adds to the discussion. “Too often they’ve tried to say this was a petroleum vs. ethanol fight. I take great exception to that. I think those in the animal agriculture industry take great exception to that because all of the benefits that have come from this Renewable Fuel Standard have transferred off the backs of small farmers all across this country that are feeding livestock and poultry and ultimately it’s a transfer of cost from one agricultural sector to another.”

  •  Ethanol damages small engines and outdoor power equipment—In my book Energy Freedom, I have an entire chapter on ethanol. For it, I interviewed Abe at K & S Services Center in Albuquerque, NM—which specializes in small engine service and repair. He told me that 85 percent of the repairs they do are caused by fuel problems. Because of the increased ethanol in the fuel available at gas stations, Abe’s had to change his warranty policy and the center no longer warranties fuel-related damages. For his customers, many of whom are in the lawn-care business, the ten-percent ethanol in gasoline doubled their repair costs until they learned about its hazards and quit using it—converting to more expensive (but cheaper in the long run) pure gasoline.

Kris Kiser, president and CEO, Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, affirms Abe’s observations: “Our small-engine industry and products … is sort of where the RFS meets reality. … you’re introducing fuel to the marketplace for which all of this stuff is not designed or warranted to run on. … You have product failure. Failure can mean economic failure or it can mean safety failure. … There’s a half-billion engine products in the marketplace today not built or warranted to run on E15.”

Hard to remove once policy is in place

Whether or not you agree with Ted Cruz’s tactics regarding stopping Obamacare, you likely agree with this statement he made about it: “In modern times no major entitlement, once it was implemented, has ever been unwound.” Surprise! The same can be said about the RPS. My friend and colleague, Paul Driessen has penned an excellent column on ethanol in which he addresses “how hard it is to alter policies and programs once they have been launched by Washington politicians, creating armies of special interests, lobbyists and campaign contributors.”

We surely see what Driessen is talking about in an October 11, letter from Governor Terry Branstad (R-IA), published in the Wall Street Journal. In Ethanol Promotes Consumer Choice, Branstad defended the benefits of his state’s leading crop: “It is the ethanol industry, which makes a cheaper, cleaner and higher-octane product, that is ready, willing and able to face free-market competition.” To which a reader, Charles Pierce, responds: “I do not know what planet the Governor is living on but when the Federal Government forces the adding of ethanol to motor fuels there is no choice. It is just like the PPACA [Obamacare] it is a tax that is paid by each consumer being forced to buy a product that the government set up or likes. Want free choice; want cheaper motor fuels? Make it an option, not a mandate.”

When Republicans who generally oppose mandates and subsidies, like Gov. Branstad, Sen. Grassely, and Rep. King, support continuing the RPS, we can surely see the influence of “special interests, lobbyists and campaign contributors,” as a result of federal involvement in what should be a market-based solution.

“Despite over 7 years of effort and the expenditure of about $603 million, the Department had not yet achieved its biorefinery development and production goals,” a report released in September revealed.

It is time to repeal—or at least revise—the costly RPS boondoggle. Fortunately such a plan is on the table. The RFS Reform Act, co-sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, proposes to eliminate the conventional biofuels mandate and cap the amount of ethanol that can be blended into the fuel supply. Call your Senators and Representatives and tell them to end this eight-year-old policy failure.

We may not be able to repeal Obamacare, but with your help, reforming the RPS can be a reality.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

Will New Mexico Be The Site For The Next Big Oil Boom

There is reason to believe so, but we have to wonder how much prohibition oil and gas developers will face from counties, the state and the feds … not to mention environmental groups’ attempts to muck-up the chances.

The following link will take you to an article reporting on the possibility and the probable location in Northwest New Mexico:

Will We Drill Or Will Regulations Kill The Opportunity

Near Shiprock, New Mexico.

Near Shiprock, New Mexico. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marita Noon: The EPA Arrogance & Incompetence Keeps America Dependent On Foriegn Oil

 

articleThe EPAs arrogance and incompetence keeps America dependent on foreign oil

Marita Noon

The riots, rage, and ruin that have spread throughout the Middle East over the past few days emphasize the urgency of opening up and bringing online America’s vast resources–yet, as Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX) states: “The EPA is the biggest obstacle to energy independence.”

Olson’s comment specifically addressed the Hydraulic Fracturing Study requested by Congress as a part of the FY 2010 appropriations bill, which states:

“The conferees urge the Agency to carry out a study on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water, using a credible approach that relies on the best available science, as well as independent sources of information. The conferees expect the study to be conducted through a transparent, peer-reviewed process that will ensure the validity and accuracy of the data. The Agency shall consult with other Federal agencies as well as appropriate State and interstate regulatory agencies in carrying out the study, which should be prepared in accordance with the Agency’s quality assurance principles.”

A study “on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water” sounds like a great idea. No one wants their drinking water filled with toxic elements, and, if the EPA followed the mandate, a work of global importance could result. American private enterprise and initiative has lead the world in developing and implementing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques that are safe and are uniquely responsible for totally transforming the energy landscape–making previously unrecoverable resources, recoverable. Therefore, the final study from the EPA has worldwide implications for oil and natural gas supplies. It must be done right.

Instead of moving forward with a “Hydraulic Fracturing Study” as requested by Congress, the EPA has done what is characteristic of this administration; they’ve blown it out of proportion–making it something bigger, requiring additional personnel, and creating more management, at greater expense. Final results are not due until 2014–four years after Congress requested a simple study. Lisa Jackson’s EPA has expanded the study’s scope to encompass numerous peripheral elements related to oil and gas exploration and production activities; a full lifecycle analysis of everything remotely associated with unconventional recovery.

Congress requested a report based on “best available science,” not opinion, yet the EPA has included items such as “environmental justice”–which has nothing to do with science, and “discharges to publicly owned water treatment plants”–which are no longer a part of the hydraulic fracturing process.

The additional elements exponentially exacerbate the study’s potential complications.

Meanwhile, America could be undergoing a robust development of our resources. Instead, as Congressman Mike Conaway (R-TX) explained, “Industry is holding back because it is not sure what the regulatory future holds.” He called the study’s evolution beyond the scope of what was requested: “mission creep.” Until a definitive answer on “the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water” is produced, a constant cloud of legal threat hangs over possible development, and potential jobs, such as in New York’s Marcellus Shale, are deferred.

These concerns, plus many others, prompted industry to independently engage, at their own expense, Battelle Memorial Institute to conduct a collaborative, side-by-side study with the EPA. Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD), Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, says that Battelle is “a highly respected independent science and technology organization.” (It is important to note that Battelle’s business is heavily dependent on government contracts, so accepting the responsibility of doing a collaborative study held risks for the company–coming out with a different result from that of the EPA could mean the loss of future contracts. Additionally, they do a lot of work with the EPA, so their opinions should be trusted by the EPA.) Despite the EPA’s rejection of industry’s offer, Battelle moved forward with a scientific review of the EPA’s study plan to ensure that the EPA is taking a rigorous and adequate approach, as quality cannot be built into the back end of a science-based project.

Battelle’s report is complete. On Thursday, Battelle’s team provided a briefing on Capitol Hill that was attended by more than 30 Representatives and/or staffers from the Natural Gas and Marcellus Shale Caucuses. Numerous concerns were presented. The EPA’s study plan reflects a deadly combination of arrogance and incompetence.

Arrogance

Hydraulic Fracturing is a highly technical process that has evolved since its initial use more than 60 years ago–continuously undergoing improvements. Hundreds of thousands of wells have been drilled. The expertise and experience lies within the industry, yet the EPA has specially rejected industry’s attempts to collaborate–despite the fact that the original mandate requires: “a transparent, peer-reviewed process that will ensure the validity and accuracy of the data.” In a letter to the EPA, Marty Durbin, Executive Vice President, American Petroleum Institute (API), says: “We have repeatedly offered the expertise of our members to both the agency and the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) peer review process and, unfortunately, have been disappointed by the lack of follow through and acceptance.” Battelle’s report states: “Industry collaboration is not envisioned.”

Additionally, the requirements, published in the Federal Register calling for nominations, for the SAB, are set so that they specifically exclude experts from industry. “Selection criteria” includes “absence of financial conflicts of interest.” The call for SAB nominations continues: “government officials” will “determine whether there is a statutory conflict between a person’s public responsibilities and private interests and activities, or the appearance of a lack of impartiality.” Presumably those from academia and NGO’s would be acceptable. However, as the API letter points out, the “EPA should recognize that most individuals nominating themselves for potential SAB membership have some financial stake in the business–academics seek grants, NGOs seek donations, regulators seek programmatic funding, consultants seek contracts from government, as well as industry.”

Industry representatives with direct history of working in the modern oil and gas industry have a long record of valuable, unbiased participation in many other SAB committees and panels, yet for this watershed study, they have been excluded.

Additionally, the Congressional study request calls for consultation “with other Federal agencies as well as appropriate State and interstate regulatory agencies.” To date, there is no evidence of working with Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado–or any other state with extensive hydraulic fracturing experience. Numerous studies have been done, but the EPA doesn’t appear to be incorporating their discoveries. For example, in August 2011, the Groundwater Protection Council published its own study of “state determinations regarding causes of groundwater contamination resulting from oil and gas industry E&P activities,” examining nearly 400 contamination incidents over 25 years in Ohio and Texas, and concluding that “[n]either state has documented a single occurrence of groundwater pollution during site preparation or well stimulation.”

Obviously, the arrogance of the EPA believes they know best and they don’t want input from anyone who might disagree with their preconceived bias.

Incompetence

According to Battelle’s report, the EPA has a rigorous Data Quality Assessment process established for internal studies, but is not using it when setting up this study–which can impact the data quality and scientific rigor. If strict standards are not met, the entire report can be brought into question, as was the case with the Pavillion, Wyoming, study released a year ago. The results must be defensible to achieve the study’s goals.

The sites selected for study show a bias with the potential to skew the data and therefore the study. Instead of using a representative sampling of well sites from the hundreds of thousands of wells that have been drilled, the EPA has chosen to focus on only seven sites–a statistically insignificant number. Of the seven, five have known contamination problems, but no baseline data. Therefore, there is no way to tell whether the complaints are in any way related to hydraulic fracturing or to any specific thing. There are known examples of naturally occurring drinking water contamination–as was found with the widely publicized Dimock, Pennsylvania, case. The five retrospective sites are the subject of complaints by individuals who may now be stakeholders in potentially lucrative litigation against operators. The concern is that the “it has problems, so let’s study it to see if it has problems” approach will limit the scientific validity and usefulness of case study findings. At Thursday’s briefing, the limited sampling was likened to using five traffic accidents in some parts of America to draw conclusions about how to construct and regulate traffic and road safety in all of the country to avoid future accidents.

Instead, the study should focus more heavily on prospective sites where baseline data is gathered before drilling and before the use of hydraulic fracturing. The Battelle report states: “Two prospective sites cannot deliver the range of data required for scientifically rigorous treatment of all the research questions asked.”

Focusing primarily on sites with known issues also ignores the current state of the technology. Chemicals used now are very different from what was used five years ago. Analysis from these sites will be virtually useless in making a meaningful recommendation regarding current or future hydraulic fracturing activities. Battelle’s report points out that “the site data collected from the companies are from 2006-2010, and the final report will be in 2014. The changes occurring at these sites in the intervening years will likely render the data obsolete for purposes of the study.”

All of this may seem of little relevance to the person struggling to fill up their tank at today’s high gasoline prices. However, it is of utmost importance.

All sides benefit from a study that can withstand intense scrutiny. If there are foundational problems and the overall study results prove that hydraulic fracturing is safe and doesn’t contaminate drinking water, as the industry believes they will, the environmentalists, who oppose hydraulic fracturing, will appeal it. If the reverse is proven, industry will seek an appeal. In either case, appeals will delay the much-needed robust development of American resources–not to mention the waste of time and taxpayer dollars spent on the study.

If the events that have erupted in the Middle East over the past few days show us anything, it is that the US dependence on Middle Eastern oil must come to an expeditious end. With America’s new-found oil and gas reserves, recovered through hydraulic fracturing, we now know that energy independence is possible, if, as Congressman Olson told me, “We reign in the EPA.”

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

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Pay Attention Or Reap The Consequences

By the end of an Obama second term, 40% of our natural resources will be imported

Marita Noon

 During a recent trip to Washington DC, I heard that “by the end of his second term, President Obama wants 40% of our natural resources to be imported.” Like Harry Reid’s “Bain Capital investor,” my source is reliable: a Capitol Hill staffer. While I do not have a secret White House memo to validate the premise, it explains a lot.

Oil

During his 2008 campaign, candidate Obama made it clear that he doesn’t have a problem with $4-a-gallon gas. His Energy Secretary is on record as having said that he thinks our gasoline prices should be more in line with those of Europe–which are typically more than double ours in the US. We know that supply issues are one of the leading drivers of higher gasoline prices, yet Obama’s policy decisions–such as Keystone–lead to reducing the resource.

In his first campaign ad of the season, President Obama touted his record on oil, claiming that we have more domestic production in America than at any time in recent history. While this is true, it is not thanks to his policies. The majority of the oil extraction is on private land, mostly thanks to North Dakota’s Bakken Field. The development that is being done on federal lands is thanks to leases made and wells permitted during the Bush administration.

New oil and gas leases and permits on federal land are down 50% under the Obama administration compared to the Clinton administration. Because of the time it takes to bring a federal lease into production (5-10 years)–especially with the Obama Department of Interior policies, he is likely setting the US up for an oil shortage (even without Middle Eastern unrest) by the end of a potential second term that will send gasoline prices past his acceptable $4 a gallon, toward Secretary Chu’s “European levels.” With a dearth of new American oil development, we’ll need to import more from places like Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.

Coal

Candidate Obama’s comment about bankrupting anyone wanting to build a coal-fueled power plant is now widely known. His EPA’s actions surely support the statement as we are seeing record power plant closures. But it is not just power generation that is under attack, it is the extraction of the source fuel: coal, as well. Earlier this year, the EPA’s decision to pull a legally issued coal-mining permit that had been through years of environmental impact studies and analysis was overturned by the US District Court. Last week, his EPA was shot down once again. On July 31, the DC district court sided with coal miners. The decision declared that the EPA’s insistence that water discharged from a coal mine be clearer than bottled water was an overreach and should not hold up new mining permits.

While blocking new coal mining will probably not cause the US to import coal, it will prevent us from exporting it. Currently coal is a major export–one of our few exports–that helps bring a balancing element to our trade deficit.

Rare Earth Elements

On March 13, President Obama announced that the US was joining with Japan and the European Union to file a trade complaint before the World Trade Organization in Brussels to insure that China keeps exporting rare-earth elements. These unique elements, with names like neodymium, europium and dysprosium are what the Japanese call the “seeds of technology” due to their astounding electrical, magnetic, phosphorescent, catalytic, and chemical capabilities. While most Americans are unaware of their existence, rare earths enable everything high-tech we use today–from MRIs, cellphones and iPods to hybrid automobiles and wind turbines–and are extremely important to today’s high-tech defense capabilities.

President Obama is going after China because the Chinese produce more than 95% of all rare earths used in the world by high-tech industry, while sitting on only 23% of the world’s resources. Obama insists that the Chinese continue to ship rare earths to the rest of the world’s economies despite the fact that the Chinese require the use of essentially all of their rare-earth production in Chinese industries.

The Chinese had announced, in 2011, they could become net importers of some of the most critical rare earths by 2015. But in July, they said they would be importers a year sooner–in 2014. And on top of that, the Chinese are creating a national rare-earths stockpile, shutting down production from the worst polluters, and tacking on higher tariffs for those rare earths they will export.

We don’t need a protracted legal hassle in Brussels that won’t produce a single American job or a pound of rare earth produced from America. The solution is streamlined and accelerated permitting, recognizing that American miners and manufacturers employ the world’s best environmental scientists and engineers and geologists. Instead of paying lawyers to push paper in Brussels, we need to be creating jobs from mining and the upgrading of rare earths in America, providing a secure domestic source of these vital “seeds of technology.”

Land Access

Early in President Obama’s first term, he announced his intention to increase the quantity of national monuments and introduced a new “wild lands” designation–both of which serve to limit the extraction of natural resources. Two such cases I’ve repeatedly addressed are the proposed tungsten mine in Montana and the swath of land that extends from the Mexican border up into rich farming/ranching land that also includes potential oil, gas, and rare-earth extraction in New Mexico.

In the Montana case, the Forest Service continually throws obstacles to extraction in the way of potential mining activity. Because the tungsten–needed for the manufacture of steel–is located in an inventoried roadless area, the Forest Service has mandated that, among other things, the site must be cleared and, later reclaimed, with hand tools. The drilling equipment must be hauled to the site with a team of pack mules which must be fed certified weed-free hay–all this to move equipment less than 1000 feet from a Forest Service road. If the case were not so tragic, so representative of similar stories being played out all over America, it would be comical.

In the New Mexico case, ranchers and farmers fear being thrown off of land that has been in their family for generations. With a simple stroke of President Obama’s executive-order pen he could remove 2.5 million acres–though 600,000 is the number generally bandied about–from any economic development or useful purpose by creating a new national monument.

Natural Gas

The current verbiage coming out of the White House favors natural gas extraction–but actions speak louder than words. America’s new found natural gas abundance is made possible through the use of multi-stage hydraulic fracturing–which Obama’s EPA has, unsuccessfully, been trying to link to the contamination of drinking water. Plus, we know that much of Obama’s energy policy is driven by an environmentalist agenda–with the Keystone pipeline being the most obvious example.

A few weeks ago, the Sierra Club announced its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign attacking natural gas, saying “The natural gas industry is dirty, dangerous and running amok,” and “the closer we look at natural gas, the dirtier it appears; and the less of it we burn, the better off we will be.” With this in mind, by the end of an Obama second term, we can expect the availability of natural gas to be diminished–and what we will have will be far more expensive, driving up the price of what is currently low-cost electricity generation.

Nuclear

We may not think of electricity as a natural resource, but effective, efficient, economical electricity generation requires natural resources: coal, natural gas, uranium, and, occasionally, oil. Uranium is the source fuel for nuclear power and we have an abundance of it in America–yet we import more than 90% of what we use. A couple of days ago, it was announced that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “would stop issuing licenses for nuclear plants until it addresses problems with its nuclear-waste policy.” The “problems with nuclear-waste” are a direct result of White House policy. The Obama administration effectively shut down Yucca Mountain with a 2009 decision to reduce Yucca Mountain’s budget. This new problem for nuclear power has the potential to impact many US reactors.

In Germany, they used to export their nuclear-generated electricity. Since they shut down nearly half of their reactors, they are importing electricity from other countries.

Export or Import

Former Obama adviser Austan Goolsbee has been out talking about getting the economy “revved up.” Part of his solution? “More exports.” The goal should be to have 100% of our natural resources to come from within our shores. Yet, as you can see, the Obama plan seems to call for more natural resource imports. 40% by 2016 adds up.

The countries with the best human health and the most material wealth are the countries with the highest energy consumption. So, why is it that Obama’s policies push us to use less energy, while paying more for it?

As we head toward the November 6 Election Day, keep in mind the stark contrast the satellite photo of the Korean Peninsula at night points out–the country without freedom, North Korea, is dark. With nothing separating them but an invisible line and a vastly different style of government, South Korea, the free-market, democratic, and developed country is bright.

Which do you want?

Do you want a bright future badly enough to step out of your comfort zone and talk to friends, family and neighbors; to talk to them about energy and its importance? Take the points made here and share them in good, old-fashioned conversations, and through new media like Facebook and Twitter.

We are down to 8 weeks to save America. Can we do it? With your engagement, “yes, we can!”

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE).Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

English: President Barack Obama shakes hands w...

English: President Barack Obama shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after signing the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. White House Photo, 3/30/09 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Marita Noon Reveals: EPA Throws Water On Fracktivists

Even the EPA is right now and then

Marita Noon

“Even a broken clock is right twice a day” is an adage we’ve all heard dozens of times. Today, it applies to the EPAas even it gets things right now and then.The EPA is well known for its attacks on virtually every kind of industry that might result in economic development–hitting the energy sector particularly hard. Despite the agency’s best efforts, it has not been able to match up the science with its desired claims of water contamination from natural gas extraction using hydraulic fracturing–which has been in use in America for more than 60 years.

In early December 2011, the New York Times ran a story declaring: “Chemicals used to hydraulically fracture rocks in drilling for natural gas in a remote valley in central Wyoming are the likely cause of contaminated local water supplies.” Environmental groups jumped all over the announcement. Amy Mall, a fracking opponent with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the report “underscores the urgent need to get federal rules and safeguards on the books to help protect all Americans from the dangers of fracking.” An NPR story on the EPA’s draft study released on December 8, 2011, stated: “The gas industry and other experts have long contended that fracking doesn’t contaminate drinking water. The EPA’s findings provide the first official confirmation to the contrary.”

However, just three months later, on March 8, it was announced that the EPA had to backtrack as frequent attacks forced the agency to acknowledge that it had rushed to judgment. The chemicals supposedly found in the drinking water of Pavilion, Wyoming, were chemicals that could have come from a variety of sources–including the plastic piping. The EPA released the data and findings outside of the purview of two “working groups” made up of state and EPA officials, which had been examining the Pavillion pollution for the better part of a year. Following accusations that the EPA rushed the release of the report without peer review, the EPA backed down and agreed to retest. Now, the EPA and Wyoming, as well as U.S. Geological Survey and two American Indian tribes, are working together on further study of the Pavillion groundwater.

On April 1, a lawsuit the EPA had filed earlier this year against a Texas energy company, Range Resources, accusing it of contaminating water through hydraulic fracturing, was quietly dropped. Barry Smitherman, Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, the agency that oversees oil and gas development, responded: “By dropping their court case and enforcement actions, EPA now acknowledges what we at the Railroad Commission have known for more than a year: Range Resources’ Parker County gas wells did not contaminate groundwater. This announcement is a vindication of the science-based processes at the Railroad Commission.”

On April 7, 2011, the EPA released test results for Dimock, Pennsylvania, that “did not show levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take immediate action.” Despite the EPA’s test results, Water Defense executive director Claire Sandberg claimed that the “EPA’s test results continue to show what Dimock residents have claimed for years: the water is contaminated.”

Dimock became the “symbol of possible threats to water from hydraulic fracturing” through the anti-fracking movie Gasland. While testing was being done, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., the company drilling in the area, had, beginning in 2009, been providing families with fresh water, installed water filters, and offered to pay each affected family twice the value of their home. According to Bloomberg, “The Houston-based company set aside $4.1 million to pay claims stemming from residents’ complaints.” After its testing found the water to be safe and state regulators agreed, Cabot discontinued the fresh water deliveries late last year. However, the EPA stepped in and continued delivering water.

A few days ago, “after months of back-and-forth wrangling,” the EPA finally cleared Dimock’s water and announced it would discontinue the water deliveries saying that it has “no further plans to conduct additional drinking water sampling in Dimock.” The EPA acknowledged that the substances found in the water were “naturally occurring.”

Thursday’s announcement was a victory for proponents of oil and gas drilling, the economic development that comes with it, and the energy independence it gives to America.

Cabot company spokesman George Stark emphasized: “Cabot’s operations in Dimock have led to significant economic growth in the area, marked by a collaborative relationship with the local community.”

One oil and gas official heralded the decision, but called the EPA’s approach part of a “pattern of overreaching, aimed at undercutting job-creating American energy development.”

While the decision, as Marcellus Shale Coalition president Kathryn Klaber stated, provides “closure to the situation,” self-described “fracktivists” gathered on Saturday in Washington D.C. for a “Stop the Frack Attack” rally–billed as the first-ever national protest to stop hydraulic fracturing. Despite their claim that thousands of people would descend on the west lawn of the Capitol building, live video of the event showed that, perhaps, the EPA’s decision took some of the wind out of their sails as a sparse crowd listened to speakers spread fear over “dirty water” and rising global temperatures.

The EPA has had to retreat in these three widely-publicized cases: Wyoming/Encana, Texas/Range Resources, and now, Pennsylvania/Cabot Oil and Gas. What remains to be seen is how the decisions will impact America’s job-creating domestic energy development. Will our energy policy be dominated by the emotion and ideology of “fracktivists” carrying signs such as those seen at the “Stop the Frack Attack” rally: “Stop feeding us bull**** and making us drink gas” or will it be determined by facts and sound science?

Thousands of jobs and billions in economic development are waiting in states such as New York, Ohio, Colorado, and Kentucky–and others with new resource discovery. Supporters of America’s job-creating domestic energy development don’t want to eliminate all regulations, but they need to be reasonable–encouraging responsible resource extraction, not so strident that they stifle progress and kill jobs.

The Dimock decision proves that the efforts of the “fracktivists” are more about a political anti-energy agenda than doing what is best for America.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

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Marita K. Noon: The End Of Spectator Citizenship …

The end of spectator citizenship–it is time to get engaged

Marita Noon

“The problem is,” a utility company executive told me, “that there is no one at the table who cares about the ratepayers. There is no one who cares about low-cost energy. Everyone is too concerned about looking PC instead of standing up for the consumer.” We were discussing the “stay” announced last week by the EPA that allows the state of New Mexico more time to find an alternative solution toward meeting the visibility requirements spelled out in the Clean Air Act.

New Mexico has been battling with the EPA over its insistence that the state use selective catalytic reduction technology (CRT) at the San Juan Generating Station, the 1,800-megawatt coal-fueled power plant that is New Mexico’s single largest source of electricity. It also provides power to customers in California, Arizona, and Utah. The state has been arguing for a different plan that would cost less but produce similar results. Bids received for the CRT installation are more than double the EPA’s estimate.

As has been happening across the country, the high cost of the EPA’s mandates, will likely shut down the two older units at New Mexico’s San Juan Generating Station. The Public Regulatory Commission will have to allow the utility company to increase rates to cover the lost depreciation of the units–not to mention the loss of the electricity production.

As the millions of people in the Washington DC area who lived without power for days found, living without electricity is “awful.” In his well-worth reading narrative of life without electricity, When the Moore Family Lost Power, Stephen Moore states: “It was awful, but educational. If anything good has come out of this debacle, it is that our household has a new appreciation for how important it is that everyone have access to affordable and reliable sources of energy.”

Environmental groups have complained that they do not have a seat at the table. Jeremy Nichols of the group WildEarth Guardians, stated: “they’ve got to realize they need to work with us or else it’s not going to get any easier for them.”

As the utility executive explained, the ratepayers’ needs are not being considered. The meetings will likely take place in some “smoky room” where a deal will be hashed out with no one challenging the premise most of these so-called emission reductions are based on: climate change is a man-made crisis caused by humans burning hydrocarbons.

“Who,” I asked, “should be standing up for the ratepayer?” “The Attorney General,” he told me.

While our meeting started out with complaints about the process, I saw the 90-day stay as a positive. It buys us time–though a 120-day stay would have been better. One hundred-twenty days would put us past the election–though not past a potential lame-duck period.

Actions like the EPA’s insistence that power providers use excessively expensive equipment for miniscule reductions (think of the law of diminishing returns) in pollutants or “haze”–which ultimately shuts down power plants and reduces our access to abundant and affordable electricity–emphasizes the importance of electing a new President come November 6.

With the stay, we may be able to put off finalizing the rules until we have a new President and a new EPA Administrator. If an agreement is reached and finalized within the 90-day time frame, it will be harder to reverse. But if a decision is not made, and another stay is granted, it could be a win. We could have a re-think and sanity could return to electricity costs and pricing.

But winning will take citizen engagement on several fronts. If we sit back and watch, we’ll deserve what we get–which could include outrageously high energy prices.

First, in New Mexico, and other states facing similar circumstances, we need to pummel the Attorney General with phone calls, emails, and letters telling him (or her) to represent us, the ratepayers. He needs to fight for abundant and affordable electricity rather than acquiesce to the politically correct notion that CO2 emissions are ruining the planet. Sadly, in New Mexico, it is not likely that the AG will stand up for us.

Second, we all need to vote! Mitt Romney may not be our first choice, but he is a choice. Sitting the election out will give us four more years of punitive energy regulation–on steroids.

Lastly, assuming we get a change on November 6, we cannot breathe a sigh of relief, sit back, and relax. We must stay engaged. The era of spectator citizenship is over. We, the people, will need to stay on top of the Romney Administration to insist that he appoint people to positions, such as the Secretary of Energy and the EPA Administrator, who understand the important role energy plays in America. Stephen Moore called it “the central nervous system of our modern economy and our 21st-century lifestyles.”

I am optimistic because I have seen citizen engagement work.

We had a victory in New Mexico with the sand dune lizard. I believe it was citizen engagement that kept it from being listed as an endangered species–which could have severely crippled the economy in Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas and reduced oil and gas development throughout the region that produces 20% of the domestic supply.

Like the utility company executive didn’t see the “stay” as a win, not all the oil and gas stakeholders saw the sand dune lizard decision as a win.

Back in December of 2011, the sand dune lizard decision was delayed for six months. Many industry executives would have liked to have had the decision made, not delayed, so they could move on to the next step: court. At the time, I wrote that the “delay” option, was a good thing as it allowed for more public engagement and it put the decision just months away from the presidential election. I posited that I didn’t think the Obama Administration would want to make a decision that would hurt such a large portion of the state’s economy months before the election in a swing state.

There was more public engagement and last month the decision was handed down. The lizard was not listed.

One of the reasons the lizard was not listed was because of the Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCA), in which many in the industry have engaged. Some complain that the CCAs are really extortion, and they are. The CCA requires companies that want to drill in the lizard’s habitat to pay money to an organization for habitat restoration–but they can still operate (albeit at a higher cost, which results in higher prices to the consumers).

However, as the environmental groups have complained, the CCAs are nonbinding. With a new administration and new leadership in the agencies, the CCAs could be abandoned much more easily than the lizard could be de-listed. Again, citizens will need to be engaged to keep pressure on a President-elect Romney to appoint appropriate agency leadership.

The “stay” over the regional haze regulations in New Mexico can be a win. The “delay” over the sand dune lizard was a win.

Likewise, the Supreme Court decision on the healthcare law could be a win–but we have to embrace it and get engaged. Agree or disagree with the decision, it is the decision; it is what we have to work with. The campaign cash that flowed in following the announcement ($4.6 million to the Romney campaign from 47,000 donors in less than a day) shows that, perhaps, the Chief Justice has done us a favor. In opining, “It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices,” he has reminded all of us of the importance of our vote.

Whom we elect has far broader implications than just who occupies the White House. The President appoints people to leadership positions and they pick the people who implement the rules and regulations–like Al Armendariz. We often call these people “unelected bureaucrats,” when in fact, they are there as a result of our vote.

We have 16 weeks to save America. Are you engaged? Are you talking to your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers about the importance of this election? Polls following the SCOTUS decision show that nearly half of the public didn’t even know that a decision had been made or what it was. For us, that translates to an understanding that a large percentage of the population–including nearly half of your friends and family–isn’t paying attention to the news. They need us to talk to them.

Each week as you read my column, you should be outraged! I aim to expose under-covered issues that point out the danger of this administration’s energy policy. In doing so, I’m giving you fresh talking points so you can engage in the process. I also hope to encourage you to keep at it; to not give up. As citizens of the United States of America, we can no longer be spectators. It is time to get engaged.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


Energy Freedom

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Should Have Quit It Sooner

Official portrait of Environmental Protection ...

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By Chuck Ring (GadaboutBlogalot ©2009 -2011

Quote Freely From The Article – Leave The Pseudonym Alone

POTUS could have saved a lot of time, money and anxiety from ordinary people and industry if he had reined-in EPA  a lot sooner.  Hopefully later is better than never .. maybe, but not certainly.

The Wall Street Journal and their writers, DEBORAH SOLOMON and TENNILLE TRACY reported on the announcement:

President Barack Obama, citing the struggling economy, asked the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday to withdraw an air-quality rule that Republicans and business groups said would cost millions of jobs.

The surprise move—coming on the same day as a dismal unemployment report—reflected the energy industry’s importance as a rare bright spot in adding U.S. jobs. The tighter standards for smog-forming ozone could have forced states and cities to limit some oil-and-gas projects.

In making the move, the White House clearly judged that it had more to lose from industry and Republican criticism than it had to gain from environmental groups who support the rule.

Business  leaders, large and small, have pleaded with Obama for months to stop his rush into job-killing regulations and to use common sense in these tough economic times.  Unfortunately, it took drawing close to the next presidential election for his attention to be attracted.

The EPA’s January 2010 proposal, to tighten air-quality standards to a level below that adopted under President George W. Bush and even further below what most states now adhere to, has been cited for months by industry groups and lawmakers as “regulatory overreach” that they say is undercutting the economic recovery. Republican presidential candidates have routinely criticized the EPA in stump speeches.

Mr. Obama said in a statement that he remains committed to public health and clean air, but he added, “I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.”

Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said the move suggests the White House “is becoming more sensitive to the uncertainty created by their heavy regulatory hand.…They are beginning to understand that the regulatory burden does more to chill job creation than just about anything else out there.”

Attention toward stopping the extreme measures that Lisa Jackson and her agency attempted to foist on industry should have occurred long ago.  The fact that it did not points to a president and cabinet out of touch with the reality of the times.

We hope this move by POTUS will help activate the stalled and damaged economy.  We also hope it will keep a tragedy out of office in 2012.

Read more revelation in the rest of the story by clicking here.