EPA: Rules Won’t Slow Climate Change Much, but They Will Slow the Economy

October 19, 2010

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=climate+change&iid=2265183″ src=”http://view3.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/2265183/report-blames-human/report-blames-human.jpg?size=500&imageId=2265183″ width=”234″ height=”154″ /]A few years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had the authority to regulate certain greenhouse-gas emissions. But those environmentalists excited about the dramatic and beneficial effects such regulations would have on global ‘climate change’ (the newer, more politically acceptable name for global warming) make want to take heed of the EPA’s own recent analysis.

A recent CNS News report notes the following:

Tough new rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency restricting greenhouse gas emissions would reduce the global mean temperature by only 0.006 to 0.0015 of a degree Celsius by the year 2100, according to the EPA’s analysis.

Self-proclaimed protectors of the planet may be a little disappointed by this revelation, but even more worrisome is the predicted effect these rules would have on the already struggling economy:

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Stopping ‘Discovery’

August 26, 2010

With the recent court order blocking certain expanded federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research (expanded last year by President Obama), comes inevitable criticism from those who warn of stifling ‘scientific progress.’ But such attempts typically rely on a rationale justifying the means by the ends.

Take for example a recent USA Today article noting how the head of the National Institutes of Health was “stunned” by the ruling:

“I was stunned, as was virtually everyone here at NIH,” agency director Francis Collins said. … “Stem cell research offers true potential for scientific discovery, and hope for families. This decision has just poured sand into that engine of discovery.”

Not mentioned in the article was the obvious fact that these scientists have a vested monetary and career interest in seeing federal funding continue. The report noted that the ruling would halt 143 grants worth $95 million and 22 grants totaling $54 million.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=stem+cell+research+funding&iid=4202180″ src=”http://view4.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/4202180/obama-signs-order-for-full/obama-signs-order-for-full.jpg?size=500&imageId=4202180″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]What this order, in reality, does is stop an unethical and unconstitutional use of federal taxpayer money. The ruling was based on the fact that such extended funding necessarily goes against a ban on using taxpayer money to fund the destruction of embryos. And though the Constitution gives power to Congress to “promote the Progress of Science,” it limits this promotion to “securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” It doesn’t authorize the federal government to subsidize questionable research.

Even leaving aside the ethical and constitutional reasons for blocking this funding, a side benefit of this injunction is to freeze one area of federal spending. That alone is a desirable outcome given our mounting debt.

The Limitations of Human Government

June 6, 2010

With the continued concern over the seemingly never-ending BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, many in the media are criticizing President Obama for anything from his lack of empathy to his lack of leadership. In short, they are mad that the government isn’t more involved and actually fixing the problem.

But if this incident tells us anything, it is that government, despite its massive size and pervasive influence in our lives, isn’t some magical entity that can solve all of our problems, small or great. President John F. Kennedy once famously said when referring to the possibility of ending war, “Our problems are manmade — therefore, they can be solved by man.” But, despite what some progressives may hope, human government still has its natural limits.

U.S. President Barack Obama picks up balls of tar while touring the beach on May 28, 2010 in Grand Isle, Louisiana. The oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon disaster now officially ranks as the worst in U.S. history. UPI/David Grunfeld/Pool Photo via NewscomThere are two main reasons for these limits. The first is that government is not some omniscient force; it’s nothing more than a group of fallible human beings. As such, it, too, is fallible. The second point is that, in several instances, government has limitations that the private sector does not. Since government is essentially a monopoly and not beholden to the type of competition and market forces which act to improve the performance and efficiency of firms in the private sector, there are tasks that the private sector is simply better at performing.

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Gore’s ‘Motivational’ Speech to Graduates

May 27, 2010

Here’s a clip from Americans for Prosperity highlighting the rather unmotivational parts of a recent graduation commencement speech delivered by the always cheerful (sarcasm) Al Gore:

‘Jurisdiction Over Everything’

May 20, 2010

Reason.tv has posted this audio of a legal aide to FCC Commissioner Michael Copps jokingly admitting that her boss would “love to have jurisdiction over everything”:

(More on the FCC’s dubious role in regulating communications in the name of the supposed “public interest”  here, here and here.)

* The preceding was also posted on the Young Americans for Liberty blog.

FCC Intent on Regulating Net

April 12, 2010

Just like when the mediums of radio and television were new technologies, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is power-hungry once again to regulate a new medium. And it is moving full-steam ahead, despite a recent court ruling limiting the ability of the Commission to regulate.

At question is the FCC’s goal to ensure so-called “network neutrality.” The Commission has been concerned with actions by internet service providers (ISPs) to limit or block the ability of users to access certain services or content over their networks. It had proposed implementing new rules restricting the ability of ISPs to do so. The only problem: According to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the FCC has no statutory basis to justify such regulation.

But, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is still pursuing the Commission’s larger broadband internet plan. The likely results of such added meddling in the free market by a government regulatory agency will be less competition and more government control. This has always been the case with the FCC, whose statutory authority under the Communications Act has been to regulate in the name of the nebulous “public interest” — however that may be defined by regulators at any given time.

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Coal Mining Fatalities on General Downward Trend

April 11, 2010

In light of the recent West Virginia coal mining deaths, here is a chart I generated (click on it for a larger view) from data from the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) that shows the percentage of coal mining fatalities from 1900 to 2008:

The data show that there has been a general downward trend in the percentage of mining fatalities. Despite the recent calls for stricter regulation, it’s also interesting to note that this chart seems to show that the introduction of the federal government’s enforcement role in regulating mine safety didn’t appear to have any noticeable effect on the percentage of fatalities. Actual federal enforcement powers were not granted until 1952, and MSHA wasn’t formed until 1978.

Perhaps improvements in technology have contributed most to the decline in fatalities — not to mention the increased media coverage of these incidents. With such coverage, the mining companies have an increased incentive to prevent fatalities.

Your Tax Dollars: Gone With the Wind?

April 9, 2010

The U.S. wind industry is doing so well — reportedly growing at a record pace in 2009 — an industry association is predicting even more growth … that is if the government steps in. According to a recent MarketWatch report, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has stated that, “Comprehensive federal policy needs to be put into place in order for the industry to continue growing.”

This begs the question: Why would a supposedly booming industry need government to step in to aid its growth? The answer: The industry can’t actually rely on consumer demand and private investors to support its product.

A leader in the AWEA was quoted in the article seemingly complaining that, “We are the only major developed country that does not have a renewable energy standard or a functional standard.” Translation: We are the only major developed country that does not yet heavily subsidize “renewable energy” — although, that is arguable given the subsidies included in last year’s stimulus.

Listed among the AWEA’s legislative goals (read: list of political favors) are the following: Read the rest of this entry »

Truth in Labeling?

April 1, 2010

According to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, it looks like just about anything can be deemed energy-efficient by the federal government these days. The GAO covertly submitted fake products to the Energy Star program to see if they would be approved. No surprise:  Most of them were.

In total, 15 of the 20 dubious products submitted were awarded the certification. One product was actually a gas-powered alarm clock … let the thought of that set in for a minute. Another was a feather duster attached to a space heater, dubbed a “room cleaner.” One of the fake products was actually approved within 30 minutes of submission. Now, that’s efficiency!

What’s particularly troubling is that Americans are often incentivized through various subsidies and tax rebates by the federal government to purchase products with the Energy Star seal as a means of saving the environment and reducing energy costs — much to the glee of the lobbyists for those producing such items. Americans could be nudged to actually purchase non-energy-efficient products.

So, not only can lobbyists for actual energy-efficient products use government to boost their sales, lobbyists for non-green products can as well. Everyone is on board this gravy train.

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Regulating the Internet

February 11, 2010

A recent report from the Reason Foundation highlights the problems and possible unintended consequences of proposed FCC “network neutrality” regulations on the wireless industry. It can be viewed here.

The report notes the technological innovation and declining prices that have developed in wireless services and products, concluding the following:

And it has all happened without government oversight, guidance, control or taxpayer-funded interventions of any kind. Consumers are highly satisfied, companies have not needed to be bailed out, and the prospects for further innovation are brighter than ever. It should be a source of serious concern to consumers that the federal government considers this area of private commerce to need aggressive new layers of regulatory control.

To sum it up, government regulators intend to heap further regulation on a thriving and competitive industry that has been responsible for great technological advances in the last several years. The likely result: less competition and less technological advances.

It reminds me of this humorous quote from Ronald Reagan concerning government’s misguided treatment of the economy:

If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.