DHS Environmental Justice Strategy – More Agenda 21 and Income Redistribution???

By Kasey Jachim

Wow, just when you thought it couldn’t get more interesting – the Department of Homeland Security has released its latest document – Environmental Justice Strategy .  First they order 450 million rounds of ammunition and now they have joined a Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice (EJ MOU) to participate in government-wide environmental justice efforts.  Are they planning another round of class warfare or are they anticipating the next American Revolution?

Beginning in 2012, DHS will provide a concise report on progress during the previous fiscal year toward achieving the goals of Executive Order 12898, signed by President Clinton in 1994. In a Presidential memorandum accompanying EO 12898, President Clinton identified Title VI as one of several federal laws already in existence that can help “to prevent minority communities and low-income communities from being subject to disproportionately high and adverse environmental effects.”  The Executive Order was recently implemented by the Obama administration in several key governmental departments and agencies including, but not limited to, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Labor, the Department of Energy, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services.

What is Environmental Justice?  “As described in the 2010 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR), our Nation’s vision of homeland security is a homeland safe and secure, resilient against terrorism and other hazards, and where American interests and aspirations and the American way of life can thrive. In seeking to fulfill this vision, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) aspires to avoid burdening minority and low-income populations with a disproportionate share of any adverse human health or environmental risks associated with our efforts to secure the Nation. DHS joins with other departments and agencies to appropriately include environmental justice practices in our larger mission efforts involving federal law enforcement and emergency response activities.”

Another huge bureaucracy has been established for “Environmental Justice” thanks to the continued efforts of the current administration to control and implement environmental  and socio-economic guidelines in accordance with Agenda 21 and income redistribution.

Two DHS headquarters offices, the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer OCAO) and the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), will lead efforts to ensure the success of the Environmental Justice Strategy. There will be four additional headquarters offices to provide critical support for the activities of OCAO/OSEP and CRCL:

  • Office of the General Counsel provides legal advice, guidance, and review for all environmental justice policy.
  • Management, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, provides appropriate guidance to ensure environmental justice in the administration of DHS grant programs.
  • Intergovernmental Affairs establishes and maintains appropriate relationships with state, local, and tribal governments to ensure adequate consideration of environmental justice issues in the Department’s activities.
  • Office of Policy ensures that mission-driven policies of the Department support the objectives and priorities set forth in the Environmental Justice Strategy, and provide a source of integration and analysis of policies.

The program leaders have roles ensuring that environmental justice is appropriately integrated into their specific mission: maritime safety, security, and stewardship; federal assistance authority; emergency management programs; border security; transportation security; immigration services; law enforcement training; science and technology research; and mission support and asset management.

In a speech at Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, AL, Lisa Jackson, EPA Chief, stated: “The EPA has a plan called Plan EJ 2014. Our goal, quite simply, is to make consideration of environmental justice and fairness part of EPA’s everyday decision-making. EPA has always had a special role with respect to environmental justice, but in this administration, President Obama has really revitalized the larger issue of environmental justice, in which other agencies as well as ours are playing important roles.”

I wonder what DHS and EPA have planned for the businesses and employers across America.  Are they are going to allow environmental groups to claim their inhabitants are “unfairly” burdened by pollutants or adversely affected by new construction so that the businesses can be charged with creating environmental injustices? Will these businesses or the government then be ‘forced’ to subsidize or relocate the ‘victims’ in the name of ‘environmental justice’ or ‘fairness’?  Will the government continue to seize land or prohibit construction under the guise of ‘environmental justice’?  I think the administration is gearing up for another round of private sector destruction and redistribution of wealth – we need to stop it in November or we are in for one hell of a ride!

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Our Constitutional Scholar President Gets His Tuchus Beaten Again By SCOTUS – He is 0 for 2 so Far This Year!

By John Wiseman via Tea Party Nation (3/22/12)

It’s a bad day for a liberal President when even Justice Ginsberg rules against you.  Not only did the Obama Administration fail to convince the court’s only openly Marxist jurist serving on the bench, but they also have to live with the notion that she wrote the concurring opinion.  This case marks the second time during Administration that President Obama has had one of his policies lose in the Supreme Court.  While he is not the first President to find himself on the wrong side of the question of Constitutionality, he is still 0 for 2.  This is not the record we would have expected for a person who was marketed to the country as a, “Constitutional Scholar.”

His first smack down came in January of this year if you will remember, when a 9 to 0 decision said basically that Barack Obama, or any President does not have the authority to tell churches who they could and could not hire based on the religious leanings of the church.  In that case, a Lutheran Church ran a private school, and made the decision to hire as teachers, only those people that they felt would be good role models for passing on the Lutheran message as it pertains to all things educational.  In other words, they wanted their teachers to be Christians, and to pass those beliefs on to their students.  This is what the parents who sent their kids to a Lutheran school wanted, and this is what the owners of the school wanted.  President Obama disagreed.  In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church Vs. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, the court decided that a President was not allowed to violate the First Amendment because his ultimate goal is to put an end to the practice of any religion other than Islam in America, nor for any other reason that he might have.

Yesterday’s loss, which makes him Zero for Two, came in the form of Sackett vs. The Environmental Protection Agency.  In this particular case, The EPA decided that they would prevent the Sackett’s from building a house on a piece of property that they owned.  The EPA decided that the property consisted of, or was located on wetlands in Idaho.  Here is where it gets dicey, they did not want to defend their position in court, and decided to dispense with the entire concept of due process.  They thought a good way to do this would be to tell the Sacketts that they thought it was possible that their property was inappropriate to build a house on, and therefore they should stop while the EPA took and indefinite amount of time to consider the matter.  They threatened to fine the Sacketts $35,000 per day for each day the Sacketts defied the order to stop building, and then further threatened to increase the fines to $70,000 per day if the Sacketts challenged them in court.  Nice!  So, for those of you keeping score at home, Little Barry read the Constitution and decided that the Fifth Amendment meant that he could circumvent Due Process by simply declaring that it was possible that a person was doing wrong without ever actually alleging it.  Since the allegation was never actually made, then a fair and speedy trial would never be warranted, regardless of the fact that deprivation of property was ongoing, permanent, and beyond redress.

The Supreme Court yesterday did not agree.  The decision was unanimous, not that the Sacketts could start building, but that due process must be granted.  For those who believe that this decision was limited in scope, and therefore not terribly important, I disagree.  It is a shot across the bow of a President who has been effectively creating law by executive fiat since he lost control of the Legislative Branch in January of 2011.  Things that Obama does are making their way to the Supreme Court in rapid fashion, and I do not believe that to be an accident either.  One other interesting thing to note here, he lost 9 to 0 on this one.  Putting aside any of the idiotic claims that this man is somehow a Constitutional Scholar, in his two trips to the Supreme Court so far, he has a combined score of 18 against, and 0 in favor of himself.  This does not exactly inspire confidence in his understanding of, or even his promise to uphold our founding document.  By writing a concurring opinion, Justice Ginsberg, the farthest left member of the court basically told the man child President that he has gone too far.  Removing Due Process prior to deprivation of Life, Liberty, or Property is the stuff that monarchs do to their subjects.  This is not something Presidents do to their fellow citizens.

The bad news for President Obama is that this is not going to be his last trip to the Supreme Court.  On Monday, he gets to go again, and this one will be a doozy.

Cross Posted at Musings of a Mad Conservative.

For more click here.

DICED is UN’s Environmental Constitution for the World – Agenda 21 on Steroids!

By Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh via Canada Free Press

Emblem of the United Nations. Color is #d69d36...

The first version of the Covenant was presented to the United Nations in 1995 on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. It was hoped that it would become a negotiating document for a global treaty on environmental conservation and sustainable development.

The fourth version of the Covenant, issued on September 22, 2010, was written to control all development tied to the environment, “the highest form of law for all human activity

The Covenant’s 79 articles, described in great detail in 242 pages, take Sustainable Development principles described in Agenda 21 and transform them into global law, which supersedes all constitutions including the U.S. Constitution.

All signatory nations, including the U.S., would become centrally planned, socialist countries in which all decisions would be made within the framework of Sustainable Development.

In collaboration with Earth Charter and Elizabeth Haub Foundation for Environmental Policy and Law from Canada, the Covenant was issued by the International Council on Environmental Law (ICEL) in Bonn, Germany, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with offices in Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Federal agencies that are members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) include U.S. Department of State, Commerce, Agriculture (Forest Service), Interior (Fish and Wildlife, National Park Service), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The same agencies are members of the White House Rural Council and the newly established White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities (Executive Order, March 15, 2012).

The Draft Covenant is a blueprint “to create an agreed single set of fundamental principles like a ‘code of conduct’ used in many civil law, socialist, and theocratic traditions, which may guide States, intergovernmental organizations, and individuals.”

The writers describe the Covenant as a “living document,” a blueprint that will be adopted by all members of the United Nations.  They say that global partnership is necessary in order to achieve Sustainable Development, by focusing on “social and economic pillars.” The writers are very careful to avoid the phrase, “one world government.” Proper governance is necessary on all levels, “from the local to the global.” (p.36)

The Covenant underwent four writings, in 1995, 2000, 2004, and 2010, influenced by the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, by ideas of development control and social engineering by the United Nations, “leveling the playing field for international trade, and having a common basis of future lawmaking.”

  • Article 3 proposes that the entire globe should be under “the protection of international law.”
  • Article 11 discusses “equity” and “equitable manner” which are code words for communism.
  • Article 16 requires that all member nations must adopt environmental conservation into all national decisions.
  • Article 20 requires that all nations must “mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.” If we ratify this document, we must thus fight a non-existent man-made climate change.
  • Article 31 requires the eradication of poverty by spreading the wealth from developed nations to developing countries.
  • Article 32 requires recycling.
  • Article 33 demands that countries calculate “the size of the human population their environment is capable of supporting and to implement measures that prevent the population from exceeding that level.”
  • Article 33 delineates long-term resettlement and estimating the “carrying capacity of the environment.”
  • Article 34 demands the maintenance of an open and non-discriminatory international trading system in which “prices of commodities and raw materials reflect the full direct and indirect social and environmental costs of their extraction, production, transport, marketing, and where appropriate, ultimate disposal.” The capitalist model of supply and demand pricing does not matter.
  • Article 36 describes military and hostile activities.
  • Article 39 decides management plans and quotas for permissible taking or “harvesting transboundary biological resources.”
  • Article 41 requires integrated planning systems, irrespective of administrative boundaries within a country, and is based on Paragraph 10.5 of Agenda 21, which seeks to “facilitate allocation of land to the uses that provide the greatest sustainable benefits and to promote the transition to a sustainable and integrated management of land resources.” The impact assessment procedure is developed by the World Bank. “Aquifers, drainage basins, coastal, marine areas, and any areas called ecological units must be taken into account when allocating land for municipal, agricultural, grazing, forestry, and other uses.” Agricultural subsidies are discouraged, as well as subsidizing private enterprises. “Physical planning must follow an integrated approach to land use – infrastructure, highways, railways, waterways, dams, and harbors. Town and country planning must include land use plans elaborated at all levels of government.”
  • Article 48 demands that biotechnology from research and development and royalties be shared; free access and transfer of technology is also required.
  • Article 51 reveals that we will have to pay for these repressive new requirements while Article 52 shows that we must pay 0.7 percent of GDP for Official Development Assistance. This reaffirms the political commitment made in Paragraph 33.13 of Agenda 21 in 1992.
  • Article 69 deals with settlement of disputes by an arbitrary tribunal such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
  • Article 71 describes the amendment process, which is submitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. UN Secretary-General would review the implementation of this document every five years.

Writers of the Draft Covenant are the UN Secretariat, international lawyers, and U.S. professors from Cornell, Princeton, Pace University, Middlebury College, George Washington University Law School, Bucknell University, University of Indiana, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Meadville Theological School, University of the Pacific, two General Counsel Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, and two attorneys in private practice.

Since this Draft Covenant has a Preamble and 79 articles, it is obviously intended to be a world constitution for global governance, an onerous way to control population growth, re-distribute wealth, force social and “economic equity and justice,” economic control, consumption control, land and water use control, and re-settlement control as a form of social engineering.

Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh Most recent columns.

For more click here.

Additional source: Read Agenda 21 on Steroids by Deb Coffey

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Another attack on the 2nd Amendment – Enviros petition EPA to ban lead in ammunition … again

By Ed Morrissey via Hot Air

Hot Air readers will recall the first time enviros decided to try this back door on gun control in August 2010, as Democrats approached a disastrous midterm.  After getting petitioned to overrule law and declare itself a regulating agency on hunting, the EPA opened a comment period on the petition that would have ended two days before voters went to the polls.  Within 72 hours, the EPA withdrew the petition, stating that it agreed with the NRA and the firearms industry that it “does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA),” and that they weren’t interested in seeking that authority, either.

Well, the enviros are back with another attempt to get the EPA to regulate ammunition (via Instapundit).  Think they’re still disinterested in seeking that authority?

Citing risks to birds and to human health, roughly 100 environmental groups formally asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency this week to ban or at least impose limits on lead in the manufacturing of bullets and shotgun pellets for hunting or recreation.

The use of such ammo by hunters puts about 3,000 pounds of lead into the environment annually and causes the death of 20 million birds each year from lead poisoning, said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate at one of the groups, the Center for Biological Diversity. Consumption of meat from animals that are shot with lead bullets also contributes unacceptable levels of the metal into people’s diets, Mr. Miller said in a phone interview.

The ban sought by environmental groups would not apply to ammunition used by law enforcement and the military. In addition to bullets and pellets used in hunting and recreational activity like range shooting, the petition seeks to limit the use of the metal in fishing tackle and weights.

The application to range shooting should be another tip-off.  While some ranges are open-air, few if any wild animals would graze on the range to consume the spent rounds, and fewer yet would be around to consume them.  They’re not interested in protecting the environment from lead; they want to use the EPA to make it much more difficult and expensive for gun owners to buy ammunition by having the agency seize the authority to regulate a key component of firearms.

I asked if the EPA would find an interest in expanding its authority to include hunting and range fishing with this second opportunity.  I believe the answer will be no, since this is another election year, and the last thing Barack Obama and Democrats need is another reason for gun owners to organize even more enthusiastically against them.  But if Obama wins a second term, don’t be surprised if the third time’s the charm.

For more click here.

The Global Warming Hoax is Now Killing People

By Alan Caruba via Tea Party Nation

By Friday, February 10th, an estimated 500 Europeans had died from the freezing weather gripping the continent. This is the price they and British citizens are paying for embracing the global warming hoax, spending billions for wind power when they should have been building coal-fired and other sources of energy to heat their homes and businesses.

As the British daily, The Telegraph, reported on Friday, “Serbia has started implementing power cuts in a desperate bid to stave off the collapse of its national grid as the country suffers the effects of days of freezing temperatures.”

I and others have been warning for years that the Earth has been cooling since 1998 and that the planet is on the cusp of a new ice age because the average length of an interglacial period of warmth between such ages is now coming to an end after the passage of some 11,500 years.

All aspects of global warming legislation and spending programs must be utterly reversed if we are not going to see huge losses of life and the disruption of entire economies.

The Ottawa Citizen published an Agence France Presse article on Friday reporting that “Thick ice closed vast swaths of the Danube on Thursday, crippling shipping on Europe’s busiest waterway, as the death toll from bitter cold across the continent rose…as it has every day for nearly two weeks.” The report noted that “Navigation was impossible or restricted in Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria, as ice covered the river or formed dangerous floes in shipping lanes.”

No shipping means no delivery of coal and oil and no shipping of food and other necessities. Europe is freezing over as the United States has been experiencing an unusually mild winter thus far. That, too, is likely to yield to the increased cooling of the planet and then, maybe, Americans will realize the threat to their lives that the closing of coal-fired plants, instigated by the Environmental Protection Agency, really means.

In England, the Mail, reported on Sunday, February 12th, that large numbers of its elderly citizens are being “frozen to death as fuel bills soar: hypothermia cases among the elderly double in five years.” England, now gripped by foolish green notions of renewable energy, has covered itself with wind turbines, despoiling its countryside and coasts while proving unreliable and incapable of meeting its energy needs.

Figures showed that “1,876 patients were treated in hospital for hypothermia in 2010-2011, up from 950 in 2006-2007” reported the Mail. “Three-quarters of victims were pensioners, with cases soaring among the over-60s more than any other age group.”

In Europe, other news organizations reported that “Many of the dead were homeless people, who literally froze to death as the temperatures dropped to minus 50 degrees in some parts of the continent. Their bodies were found in the streets buried under snow, in rivers, and in doorways. Dozens of people were also killed in weather-related accidents.”

Writing in a Turkish newspaper, the Hurriyet Daily News, Sophie Quintin Adali, an analyst for a project of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, said, “As if the debt crisis weren’t bad enough news, the climate freeze sweeping across Europe is wreaking havoc by severely disrupting travel, business and people’s lives. Local authorities, indeed whole countries, are caught poorly prepared.” Turkey is experiencing record snowfall and low temperatures.

“The lack of readiness should come as no surprise because for decades the sensationalist message of global warming has dominated the public area,” said Ms. Adali.

“Politicians and decades of political environmentalism have a lot to answer for,” said Ms. Adali. “The man-made climate theory…is still supported by a mighty European Union bureaucracy and a green network addicted to public funds.” Even now, the Green Climate Fund “through which millions of taxpayer’s money will still be disbursed” is threatening the lives and the economy of people worldwide.

The current freeze is not just affecting Europe, but reaching across the Mediterranean to North African nations. And at some point America will feel it too.

We have not built a single new nuclear plant in America since 1978. EPA rules are forcing the closure of coal-fired plants throughout the nation. The national grid for the distribution of electricity is in need of upgrades.

The nation’s policies are controlled by the most environmentally insane administration in its history, wasting billions on so-called green energy. Its new budget raises taxes and proposes a trillion-dollar deficit without any significant effort to cut the spending that has left this and future generations in debt while the price of gas soars to new heights.

America and the rest of the world have been horribly deceived by the United Nations Intergovernmental Climate Change Panel that continues to drive the global warming hoax. The lying scientists who got on the global warming gravy train, the politicians that embraced it, and the media that misled millions are all culpable, all responsible.

They should be driven from office, defunded, and chased through the streets like villagers in pursuit of Frankenstein.

People are freezing to death in their homes and in the streets. What will it take to drive a stake into the heart of the global warming monster?

EPA is Binge Gambling with US Economy

By Marita Noon, Columnist for Townhall

Environmental Protection Agency Seal

Folks who stop at a slot machine in the Las Vegas airport between flights can usually risk the few dollars that will probably disappear, but the serious gambler—whether the stock market, the ponies, or cards—assesses the risk before they cash in their chips. Even then, they make miscalculations. That’s why they call it gambling.

Last week, Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund miscounted his cards when he claimed that new EPA regulations will “protect the IQ of countless of American kids and help clear the air for millions of Americans with asthma.” Citing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards the EPA rolled out on December 21, that he said was 21 years in the making, his widely-published op-ed said that the US “has always had good sense when taking on hazardous substances in our environment.”

The first card Krupp lays down in support of his argument that the US has “good sense” is DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane)—which the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) cofounder, Victor Yannacone, was instrumental in banning back in 1972. Using DDT as an example of “good sense,” Krupp says it was banned “after learning that the pesticide was killing birds of prey.” Even though the EDF sprang up in the late sixties with the single purpose of battling the use of DDT, it is surprising that he is still trying this old trick.

Since DDT was used in WWII to successfully control typhus and malaria, it has gone from winner to loser and back to winner again. In 1948, Dr. Paul Muller, the scientist who discovered the insecticidal properties of DDT, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. The tables turned when Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962 and referenced experiments done that claimed DDT thinned birds’ eggshells. Ultimately, through the work of EDF, DDT was banned in 1972. Because of that decision, malaria has spread, and millions have died from it. Instead of eliminating the disease’s vector, the mosquito, drugs have been developed to treat the disease, and those drugs are now proving ineffective, as malaria has grown resistant to them.

Since then, additional studies have been done and the eggshell findings have been revisited. DDT wasn’t the problem it was once believed to be.  In 2006, the World Health Organization declared that, DDT “will once again play a major role in its efforts to fight the disease.” DDT kills the mosquitos that spread the disease.

The world gambled on what seemed to be a sure thing—but it turned out to be just hysteria and propaganda. Millions have died from the bad bet.

In recent history, we’ve collectively bet on “sure things” and lost.

We once believed there was an energy shortage—but modern technology and resource expansion have created a global oil glut, and natural gas is so plentiful that it is currently priced at a two-year low. America is now a net exporter of fuel.

Renewable energy was a sure thing. Presidents Bush and Obama threw taxpayer dollars at it—but it hasn’t paid off. Solyndra (and others) have gone bankrupt, taking taxpayer dollars with them. First Solar was the single worst performer in the SPX in 2011. Biofuel production has fallen off while the production of traditional fuels is up.

The planet was said to be warming. It was thought to be a crisis. But before a global agreement could be signed to fix the problem, new studies were done, and data was found to be falsified. The cooking of the books became known as “climate-gate.” The earth began to cool on its own—warming and cooling as it has done for billions of years.

Now we may have “mercury-gate.” The EPA and the environmental groups pushing for the “21 years in the making” Mercury and Air Toxics Standards have not looked at all the data, and data that they have looked at is used selectively to draw the desired conclusions.

Krupp claims that current levels of mercury (a naturally occurring element) will damage the IQ of “countless American children,” leaving the reader with mental pictures of rooms full of special needs children.  When, in fact, their study shows the estimated total IQ points lost nationwide to mercury contamination of fish consumed by humans is 510.8 IQ points (see ES-5, Table ES-3 “Estimated IQ benefits from HG reduction”). That’s not per person (or child). That’s not per state; it is the total national benefit: 511 (let’s be generous) IQ points saved at an estimated annual cost of $9.6 billion. So, nationwide, 500 children might lose one IQ point, or 1000 might lose a half a point.

Similar to the tactics used to push the climate-change agenda, the EPA has once again selected data to support its predetermined outcome—they’ve then launched an advertising campaign to sell the expensive plan to the public. In his analysis of the EPA’s study, Dr. Willie Soon says: “It ignored well-documented, respected, and readily available research that conflicted with its apparently predetermined outcome and agenda.”

To read Krupp’s op-ed, you’d believe that implementing the EPA’s findings—which will cause some coal-fueled power plants to be mothballed and raise energy costs for consumers and industry—will eliminate all mercury from the environment. According to the Soon study, this is not true. He says: “America’s coal-fired electrical generating units are responsible for approximately 0.5% of mercury found in the air Americans breathe. Even eliminating every milligram of this mercury will not affect or reduce the other 99.5% in America’s atmosphere.” Major sources include forest fires and volcanoes.

Once again, Americans are being forced to make a bad bet. The EPA would like us to spend $9.6 billion dollars (that is billion with a “B”) for a proposed saving in healthcare costs of $6 million (that is million with an “M”) and it doesn’t add up—especially when considering the conflicting data. Even an amateur gambler wouldn’t make that bet. The odds are against you.

When the first card Krupp played was pulled from his sleeve, there is no reason to trust anything else he says. With an annual salary of nearly half a million dollars, Fred Krupp can afford to gamble, but the US cannot. The EPA is on a binge, gambling with the heart of the US economy and making our citizens the losers.

Marita Noon

Marita Noon

Marita Noon is Executive Director of Energy Makes America Great.

Obama’s Enviro-Racketeering

By Rich Trzupek

As I have noted on more than one occasion, in recent years the United States EPA has been acting more and more like a revenue-generating arm of the government than an agency that’s actually interested in protecting human health and the environment. A recent story published in the New York Times amply illustrates the point: fuel suppliers are being fined for failing to add a “green fuel” – cellulosic ethanol – that doesn’t actually exist into their gasoline blends.

Cellulosic ethanol has long been a particularly prized panacea among environmental groups. As any moonshiner knows, conventional ethanol has long been produced by fermenting naturally grown sugars. These sugars are readily available and relatively easy to get at in corn for example, which is why ethanol production plants commonly use corn as their feedstock.  However, even Al Gore eventually realized that it was rather idiotic to take millions of acres of farmland out of food and feed production in order to “grow” a fuel that (in many gases) actually ends up on the deficit side of the energy ledger. Cellulosic ethanol theoretically addresses those concerns.

There are sugars theoretically available in cellulose, a naturally-occurring polymer found in all sorts of plant life. If you can figure out how to get at those sugars, then you can make ethanol out of things that don’t have a lot of intrinsic value and that don’t compete with food and feed crops, like tree trimmings and corn cobs. Unfortunately, getting at those particular sugars is (for a lot of reasons that would bore the heck out of the average reader) extremely difficult. Like the Chevy Volt, the concept of cellulosic ethanol is very attractive, but the reality is expensive and impractical.

Expense and practicality are hardly matters of concern to environmentalists though. Environmentalists prefer the pixie dust approach to dealing with energy policy: if they believe hard enough, their wishes will come true. They wanted cellulosic ethanol and once Democrats took control of Congress after the 2006 elections, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid duly granted their wish. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandated the use of certain minimum quantities of cellulosic ethanol that started at 100 million gallons in 2009 and ends at 16 billion gallons is 2022. (Annual US gasoline sales are about 130 billion gallons, by way of comparison). In 2011, oil companies were mandated to sell at least 250 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol.

This was a problem for oil companies, because there are no plants currently producing cellulosic ethanol. And so, using her authority under the Clean Air Act, USEPA Administrator Lisa Jackson duly issued penalty demands of $6.8 million to oil companies for not using a non-existent fuel.  If the rallying cry in 1776 was “No Taxation Without Representation!”, perhaps the equivalent in 2011 ought to be “No Penalty Without Reality!”

Interestingly, the act that started this chain of ridiculousness included an alternative that allowed companies to actually pay a tax – in the form of “credits,” whose price the EPA would set – in lieu of actually buying cellulosic ethanol. In EPA-land, this would be an alternative form of compliance, even though it would do absolutely nothing to address the concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil that the act supposedly solved. The “credit” scheme smells, in other words, like a back-door carbon tax cleverly disguised in a “green” bill that Democrats pushed through and the all-too-eager-too-please George W. Bush dutifully signed.

When oil companies didn’t bite at the credit deal, Jackson decided to get the cash anyway, in the form of the fines that the EPA is allowed to levy thanks to the power that Congress has given this out-of-control agency. Indeed, the fines could have been a lot larger, but when going after big companies that might fight back, the EPA has to balance what they figure they can get without a prolonged court battle versus the time and expense of going through such a judicial exercise. In the grand scheme of things, one expects that the oil companies will do the same math and decide it’s easier to pay the EPA than to pay yet another army of lawyers. If that sounds a lot like legal racketeering, it’s probably because it is.

Did the EPA have to demand penalties in this case? No. That was a choice and, given the extreme leftist ideology of this administration and its EPA chief and given Obama’s desperate need to generate revenue by any means possible, it’s sadly no surprise that Lisa Jackson did what she did. But it’s beyond reason that we ever got to this point in the first place. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 gave the EPA administrator the power to waive or change the requirements for cellulosic ethanol if supplies were not available or if the cost was too high. Jackson could have – and should have – waived the requirement, but she chose not to.

There are those who would counter the equity and reasonableness arguments presented above by saying that the EPA should be forcing technological advancements and that these kinds of penalties accomplish that end. To this I would respond: nice thought, but perhaps you should step over here into the real world for a moment.

First of all, oil companies are not going to be the ones to develop cheap means of producing cellulosic ethanol. Oil companies employ geologists and engineers; they know about refining and exploration. They don’t have the people or the expertise to explore complex bio-chemical processes. There are companies out there with that kind of expertise and the government is pumping hundreds of millions of our tax dollars into them in the effort to discover this latest version of the energy world’s Holy Grail. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 alone included $50 million in grant funding specifically targeted toward cellulosic ethanol research. Levying punitive fines on oil companies to penalize them for the failures of all that government-mandated and funded research makes no sense. But, the EPA and the Obama administration have long since abandoned common sense altogether.

Hat tip Leslie Burt