After the death of Terry and Grassley’s inquiries, the agency sought to close ranks. In an email on Feb. 3, ATF supervisors were told “you are in no way obligated to respond to congressional contacts or requests for information…. You are not authorized to disclose non-public information about law enforcement matters outside of ATF or the Department of Justice to anyone, including congressional staff.”
We are in the middle of a war against carbon-based energy being waged by the current administration to do precisely what Obama promised as a candidate: raise energy prices. The method is irrelevant to him. No “cap and trade”? Fine. He’ll find other ways to accomplish his goal. And that’s exactly what is happening as we speak.
For instance, he’ll do it via the EPA. Background: apparently, the EPA released its new proposed “Cross-State Rule” on July 7th—a couple of weeks ago—after previously sending it around for comment. The rule is scheduled to go into effect on January 1st of 2012. It is 1,323 pages long. Apparently, they threw a new requirement into the mix that was not in the original proposed rule, and that none of the energy-generating owners knew was coming. If implemented, it would require many to shut down.
ERCOT’s May11 report to the Public Utility Commission on the impact of the proposed environmental regulations did not address the impact of SO2 restrictions on coal plants in ERCOT, because these restrictions on Texas were not included as part of the EPA’s earlier rule proposal. We have not had time to fully analyze the entire 1,323-page Cross-State Rule released July 7, or to communicate with the generation owners regarding what their intentions will be. However, initial implications are that the SO2 requirements for Texas added at the last stage of the rule development will have a significant impact on coal generation, which provided 40 percent of the electricity consumed in ERCOT in 2010.
Our concern is that the timing of the new requirements—effective Jan. 1, 2012—is unreasonable, because it does not allow enough time to implement operational responses to ensure reliability. We fear that many of the coal plants in ERCOT will be forced to limit or shut down operations in order to maintain compliance with the new rule, possibly leading to inadequate operating reserve margins, with insufficient time to reliably retrofit existing generation—or build new, replacement generation.
So the EPA pushes out a new reg with drastic limits on SO2 that were not in the original draft of the regulation. If left unchanged it will, per ERCOT, cause many coal-fired plants to shut down or limit their generation. And with 40% of electricity generated by coal in Texas, that will be a significant loss of generating power. Texas will then have to buy what it can’t generate itself, and consumer prices will do precisely what candidate Obama hoped—and planned—for them to do. Now think about this, and its likely effect across the country.
Of course, that isn’t the only facet of the war on carbon-based energy being waged by this administration: Oil and gas have also seen a “permatorium” on offshore drilling from the Obama Administration: Using the Deepwater Horizon blowout as its excuse, the executive branch has slowed permitting to a crawl, and is dragging its feet as slowly as possible to, one suspects, fulfill Obama’s desire.
Study after study have shown that opening the process back up&mash;at least to the speed at which it was moving previous to the accident—could create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and billions in revenue. This would be real step toward jumpstarting the economy.
Faster permitting of offshore oil and gas projects could create nearly 230,000 new jobs in 2012 and boost the economy by $44 billion, including a surge in tax revenue, according to an industry-funded study released Thursday.
The report by IHS CERA said job growth would extend beyond the Gulf Coast states, boosting employment indirectly as far away as California, New York, Florida, Illinois and Georgia.
The study, funded by the Gulf Economic Survival Team, a group of largely Louisiana-based energy and business interests, looks at data on the pace of permitting by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement through April 30.
That’s six months after the end of a federal moratorium on offshore drilling, which the government imposed after last year’s Deepwater Horizon accident killed 11 workers and triggered a 5 million-barrel oil spill.
Permit approvals take 95 percent longer now than before the spill, the study says.
You can read the study for yourself here [pdf]. But that last number is telling: There’s no reason for it. The industry has stepped up and raised the bar significantly on safety. The numbers quoted in the study projecting jobs and revenue are for 2012.
What administration that was concerned with jobs wouldn’t leap at such low-hanging fruit? This one. Compared to historical trends, pending exploration plans are up by nearly 90%; approvals are down by 85%, and the approval process has slowed from an average of 36 to 131 days.
As for WTI, inadequate pipeline infrastructure makes it difficult to get the stuff out of North America — and that depresses its price, especially when demand is also weak. Its problems could also get worse before they get better. Output from North America is growing faster than expected. Canadian producers, for example, recently said output will grow from 2.7 million barrels a day to 3.4 million by 2014, and North Dakota production is surging.
Meanwhile, efforts to build new pipelines are mired in political controversy.
And they’ll remain mired in political controversy as long as this administration is in power.
Slowly but surely, a nation with huge energy resources is being strangled by a government and a President who want to intentionally raise energy prices. Inadequate pipeline infrastructure means less product makes it to market. Less product in the marketplace means higher prices for what does make it there. Who pays? Consumers.
In September 2008 TransCanada applied to build a new pipeline — the Keystone XL — to bring diluted bitumen from the oil-rich tar sands of Alberta to thirsty American refineries on the Gulf Coast. It is hardly a radical proposal. Canadian crude has been flowing to the U.S. for decades. Another Canadian company — Enbridge — operates the Clipper pipeline across the Canadian border to Chicago.
In July 2010 TransCanada began operating its Keystone pipeline from Alberta to Cushing, Oklahoma, which is a major storage and pricing depot…TransCanada estimates that building the pipeline will mean more than $20 billion — $13 billion from TransCanada itself — in investment and 13,000 new American jobs in construction and related manufacturing.
The company also expects more than 118,000 “spin-off” jobs during the two years of construction. TransCanada says it has signed building contracts with four major U.S. unions. It projects that construction will generate $600 million in new state and local tax revenue, and that over its life the pipeline will generate another $5.2 billion in property taxes. The Energy Policy Research Foundation in Washington estimates that by linking to the XL, oil producers in North Dakota’s Bakken region will enjoy efficiency gains of between $36.5 million and $146 million annually. Lower transport costs will mean savings for Gulf Coast refiners of $473 million annually if the pipeline meets conservative expectations of shipping 400,000 barrels per day.
Jobs and revenue (in addition to those previously cited in the study) are there for the taking, and this administration sits and waits.
And of course, the newest controversy to hit the energy community—that is, the freshest excuse not to act—has to do with hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. This is a 64-year-old technology that has been used in the U.S. on over a million wells. Suddenly, after news of massive new findings of natural gas in shale formations, it is a problem.
And, of course, once it can be officially designated as a problematic technique, it must be investigated and regulated by the Federal government. Complaints of ground water contamination have derailed the exploitation of these energy assets while politicians argue, dither, and delay. Those delays, again, destroy thousands upon thousands of potential American jobs.
Want a reason for the sorry shape our economy is in, and for the government’s refusal to help the energy industry create hundreds of thousands of jobs? Review the video again. It’s not long, but it plainly gives you the reason.
The media have ignored the news that brave Syrians continue defying a government, which is willing to shoot them down in order to keep their Iranian-backed government in power and continue to threaten Iraq and Israel—and rule Lebanon by proxy.
But for my money the biggest neglected story in these past weeks has been happening just a few miles south of Florida.
You have likely never heard of the Ladies in White in Cuba (Las Damas de Blanco). This is a group of brave women, relatives of the dissidents and reporters who were imprisoned in 2003; the ladies march regularly to protest the imprisonment of their loved ones. They have been marching for nearly a decade, and in 2005 they won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
On a semi-regular basis the Cuban government physically attacks them. Last week this happened once again:
Hablalo Sin Miedo has a report from Jose D. Ferrer in Cuba that sixteen Ladies in White and other opposition members were attacked and brutally beaten yesterday by agents of Castro State Security upon exiting a church sanctuary.
Tania Montoya Vazquez, one of the 16 Ladies in White who were attacked, describes the violence:
” . . . it wasn’t enough for them to snatch the gladiolas from our hands; they began to beat us, they ripped all our clothes, I have scratches all over my body . . . so does Aimee and all the other women in the group. We all did a ‘sit-in’ and they almost killed us . . . they did not stop slapping us, we are all scratched, they pulled our hair, they dragged us, and they threw rocks at us as we remained united, in silence on the ground, firm in our conviction that what we want is the freedom of our political prisoners and the freedom of Cuba.
With the political and economic crisis plaguing the country, the Cuban government has implemented new measures that go directly against the lives of Cubans. This situation has given rise to massive discontent against the government’s politics. However, the current context has been planned by the governmental authorities who have held a tight grip on the half-a-century-long political model.
The solution of the militants has been the increased repression within society in order to avoid the accumulation of open criticism, which would endanger the stability of the country. This is why the government has applied a heightened level of repression against independent civil society, and as consequence there are more detainments of multiple dissidents, beatings of protestors in the streets, acts of mob repudiation, threats against the relatives of dissidents, restrictions of movement for activists within the national territory, deportations, harassment of activists, and forced house arrests in order to impede public civic activities in the streets.
Yesterday the president of the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops spoke up:
The president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba (COCC), monsignor Dionisio Garci’a Ibáñez, described as “unworthy and unjustifiable” the aggression that the past underwent the Ladies of Target Sunday when coming out of the National Sanctuary of Copper, informed Martí Radio.
Garci’a Ibañez, Archbishop of Santiago and Primado of Cuba, affirmed that “there is justification nor no reason” for the golpiza undergone by the women, [which] “were an unworthy thing, unjustifiable.”
I’m sure the Obama Administration and radical feminists around the world will rush to join the Archbishop in his condemnation . . . just as soon as the MSM decides to cover this story with a tenth of the enthusiasm that they brought to that all-important Michelle Bachmann migraine “scandal.”
The U.S. Justice Department is preparing subpoenas as part of preliminary investigations into News Corp. relating to alleged foreign bribery and alleged hacking of voicemail of Sept. 11 victims, according to a government official.
The issuance of such subpoenas, which would broadly seek relevant information from the company, requires approval by senior Justice Department leadership, which hasn’t yet happened, the person said.
BREAKING! UPDATE 3: Reid has managed to get the bill tabled, so as far as I’m concernd the Dems own that. DeMint is trying to bring it back.
Ed Morrissey has the scoop, and under no circumstances should Dan and I ever go out at the same time again . . . even if they are both business appointments.
* * * ORIGINAL POST: * * *
The Democrats in the Senate are trying to sabotage the only workable way out of the budget mess. Are they so hell-bent on raising taxes that they can’t stand the bill? Or do they feel that the bill might embarrass the President, if it crossed his desk and he didn’t feel free to veto it?
Remember–to a lot of these people, solving the problem is less important than blaming it on Republicans. Burn up the phone lines! If you have a Democratic Senator, call and very politely but firmly insist that this bill be debated and voted upon.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday afternoon announced that the Senate would vote Friday on the House-passed Cut, Cap and Balance legislation that Republicans have tried to tie to a debt ceiling increase.
The Nevada Democrat will attempt to use a procedural motion, known as tabling, to deep-six the bill’s chances of coming before the chamber. The motion to table requires 51 votes to pass, and the 53-member Democratic caucus could kill the CCB bill if it sticks together. Cut, Cap and Balance is overwhelmingly supported by Republicans, who control the House, but it has minimal support among Democrats. President Barack Obama has vowed to veto the bill even it were able to clear the Democratic Senate.
(Promoted from Rocketman’s SOS in Community News on the sidebar.)
UPDATE: Remember that the legisation that Reid wants to kill is polling very, very well, and you can use that in your polite-but-firm insistence.
UPDATE 2: Mitch McConnell’s statement:
Cut, Cap and Balance: Today the American People Will Know Where We Stand
“Five months ago, President Obama unveiled the only concrete statement he’s made to date on our nation’s debt crisis: A 10-year budget plan so preposterous, so unequal to the moment, that it was rejected in the Senate by a vote of 97-0.
“The President’s response to this crisis was to pretend it didn’t exist.
“Two months later, the President doubled down on his vision for a future of debt by demanding that Congress raise the debt limit without any cuts to spending or any plan to rein it in.
“It was a total abdication of leadership, and it wasn’t sustainable.
“So over the past several weeks the President has been doing his best impersonation of a fiscal moderate. He’s talked about balance and left it to others to fill in the blanks.
“And here’s what Democrats in Congress have proposed as a solution: More spending and higher taxes — as the solution to a debt crisis.
“Just yesterday, with the clock ticking, we heard reports of a `volcanic’ eruption among Democrats at the suggestion that we should solve this crisis by focusing on reducing Washington spending.
“The solution to this crisis is not complicated: If you’re spending more money than you’re taking in, you need to spend less money.
“This isn’t rocket science.
“We could solve this problem this morning if Democrats would let us vote on the Cut, Cap, and Balance bill — and join us in backing this legislation that Republicans support.
“But the first step in solving a problem is to admit you have one, and too many Democrats refuse to admit that Washington has a spending problem.
“That’s why Republicans have insisted that we focus on spending in this debate.
“The reason we’ve got a $14 trillion debt is because no matter how much money Washington has, it always spends more — and the only way to cure the problem is to stop enabling it.
“Americans get it.
“And I want to thank every American who’s spoken out in favor of the Cut, Cap, and Balance Plan.
“Today the American people will now know where we stand.
“A vote to table this bill is a vote to ignore this crisis even longer.
“A vote to get on this bill is a vote for getting our house in order
“So I would urge my Democrat colleagues one more time to re-consider their position.
U.S. taxpayers likely lost $1.3 billion in the government bailout of Chrysler, the Treasury Department announced Thursday.
The government recently sold its remaining 6% stake in the company to Italian automaker Fiat. It wrapped up the 2009 bailout that was part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program six years early.
“The fact that the company has done so well — that they were able to go out and raise private capital to repay us the loan so quickly, is really the big story,” said Tim Massad, Treasury assistant secretary for financial stability.
If the company has done so well, why are taxpayers out $1.3 billion?
Well, apparently because the government couldn’t wait to sell their shares to a foreign company, Fiat, giving the Italian automaker a majority share in Chrysler:
Fiat paid the Treasury a total of $560 million for the remaining shares, as well as rights to shares held by the United Auto Workers retiree trust. Fiat now owns a 53.5% stake in the company.
And CNN continues to propagate the myth that Chrysler paid back its loans early:
Originally, the government committed a total of $12.5 billion to the struggling automaker, Old Chrysler, and the company’s newly formed Chrysler Group. Of those funds, $11.2 billion have been returned through principal repayments, interest and cancelled commitments, the Treasury said. The new Chrysler Group paid back $5.1 billion in loans in May.
The Obama Administration’s bailout agreement with Fiat gave the Italian car company an “Incremental Call Option” that allows it to buy up to 16% of Chrysler stock at a reduced price. But in order to exercise the option, Fiat had to first pay back at least $3.5 billion of its loan to the Treasury Department. But Fiat was having trouble getting private banks to lend it the money. Enter Obama Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who has signaled that he will approve a fuel-efficient vehicle loan to Chrysler for . . . wait for it . . . $3.5 billion. [ . . . ]
So, to recap, the Obama Energy Department is loaning a foreign car company $3.5 billion so that it can pay the Treasury Department $7.6 billion, even though American taxpayers spent $13 billion to save an American car company that is currently only worth $5 billion.
There’s your story. Taxpayers mugged again by the Obama Administration. Media complicit. Film at 11.