Daily Archives: October 30, 2011

Killing Energy, Killing Jobs, Killing America

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By Alan Caruba

America has been under attack since Barack Obama took the oath of office on January 20, 2009. The primary target has been the nation’s ability to generate energy for electricity and transportation, without which this nation will slide into Third World status and economic decline.

This appears to be the goal of this administration from the President to his Secretaries of Energy and Interior, to his Director of the Environmental Protection Agency. There is no other rational explanation for what they are doing.

We are days away from the latest Environmental Protection Agency assault in the form of the “MACT” rule allegedly to reduce mercury and other emissions that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says will reduce electricity generation in America by about 81 gigawatts in the years ahead. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial said “this could compromise the reliability of the electric system if as much as 8% of generating capacity is subtracted from the grid.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that eleven Governors have written the EPA to ask that it delay the final rule in November. Twenty-five state Attorneys Generals have filed suit “to lift a legal document known as a consent decree that the EPA is using as a fig leaf for its political goals.”

As but one example, in Illinois, Ameron announced the planned shutdown of its Meredosia and Hutsonville energy centers, The Meredosia center generates 369 megawatts. The Hutsonville center has a generating capacity of 151 megawatts.

The EPA, even before the Obama administration, has been using the 1970 Clean Air Act to bludgeon the nation’s ability to access the energy resources required to generate electricity, primarily coal that provides 50% of such generation, and oil that fuels our transportation capability.

In late October, James J. Mulva, the CEO of Conoco-Phillips, addressed the subject of the growing discoveries of natural gas being found throughout the nation. “More than 600,000 Americans already explore, produce, store and produce natural gas, according to consultancy IHS Global Insight.”

At least 15 states now produce shale gas and others may join them,” noting that the largest shale area, the Marcellus which covers much of the Northeast” “already supports 140,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone.”

The Obama administration, beginning with the president’s admitted goal of shutting down as much of the coal industry as possible, has demonstrated his intention of deterring the provision of energy. When the BP Oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, the administration imposed a moratorium on all drilling. The decreased production cost 360,000 barrels a day in addition to lost jobs related to oil drilling in the Gulf. Rigs that are needed to drill have since been moved to other sites around the world.

The U.S. is home to more than 150 billion barrels of conventional oil that has the capability of generating thousands of new jobs if access to it was permitted. The most immediate result has been the rise in the cost of gasoline at the pump. Two courts ordered that the moratorium be lifted.

Oil companies currently pay more than $30 billion a year in federal, state, and local taxes. Meanwhile the Obama administration has been wasting billions in loan guarantees to essentially useless solar and wind power companies, the latest of which, Solyandra, will cost taxpayers millions when the solar panel producer went belly-up. Others will follow.

Meanwhile, the President crisscrosses the nations demanding higher taxes on companies engaged in coal, oil and natural gas. When Jimmy Carter imposed a windfall tax on oil companies many ceased to explore for new sources here, moving their efforts to other nations. Today, by withholding the necessary permits to produce energy in Alaska, the Trans Alaska Pipeline System is operating at one third of its capacity.

A proposed pipeline from Canada still awaits approval and, on November 6th, led by the Sierra Club, the largest protest against its tar sands is expected to draw thousands to Washington, D.C. to join hands and circle the White House to ensure the Keystone XL pipeline is kept from providing the U.S. with the oil extracted. The proposed pipeline would reduce the U.S. dependence on Middle East oil. The U.S. already has more than 50,000 safely operating oil pipelines to support our transportation and other needs.

In January 2010, Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, warned that the Obama administration “continues to embrace Washington-dominated, command-and-control energy policies focused on mandates, subsidies, and political favors—not market forces.” He criticized “subsidizing one form of energy,” wind and solar, “while restricting the exploration of another,” warning that it “will lead to several measurable outcomes, increasing energy prices across the board, fewer jobs, and a weaker footing in the global economy..”

Nearly two years later, that warning has come true with a vengeance.

Oil, coal, or natural gas, it doesn’t matter to an administration and a president determined to restrict the amount of energy Americans need for their present and future needs. The result, in part, has been a stalled energy sector and a contributing factor in an economy with an estimated 20 million unemployed or under-employed.

The losses in income taxes and the taxes paid by this industry sector, in addition to the hideous borrowing and spending by the Obama administration is doing enormous harm to America and yet Barack Obama wants a second term in office.

Little wonder that Americans fear for the future of the nation.

 

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Meet The Mysterious Trading Firms Who Control The Price Of Commodities

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Eric Platt and Sam Ro

Welcome to the real world of commodities trading. Home to firms like Vitol and Trafigura, who trade more oil than Saudi Arabia and Venezuela can produce.

In a new report, 18 Reuters’ reporters and editors profiled 16 giant commodity companies that often go unnoticed. Combined, they generate annual revenue of $1.1 trillion.  The top five pull in $629 billion, rivaling the five largest financial institutions on the planet.

What they learned: They’re massively profitable. They disrupt markets. Government’s have little ability to police them. And they have ambitious plans to grow.

Click here to see the 16 largest commodity traders in the world >

The Congress-optional president

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Illustration: Congressional run around by Alexander Hunter for The Washington Times

By Phil Kerpen
The Washington Times

On Oct. 11, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had taken extraordinary measures to stall an embarrassing vote as long as possible, the Senate decisively rejected President Obama’s “jobs” plan. The same day, in Pittsburgh, Mr. Obama explained to his union allies that he would move forward regardless. “We’re not gonna wait for Congress,” Mr. Obama explained. “We can act administratively without additional congressional authorization and just get it done.” Now we know that part of what he meant was yet another mortgage bailout – one that will cost bond investors billions – via subsidized refinancing.

This remarkable disregard for the rule of law and proper constitutional procedures fit a familiar pattern in this administration: What it cannot achieve legislatively it will attempt to do by regulatory fiat. Congress must actively assert its legislative prerogative or be relegated to the sidelines.

One year ago, the American people decisively rejected Mr. Obama’s big-government agenda in a landslide election. Surely, most voters thought that election would at least halt, if not reverse, the country’s profound lurch toward a larger, more intrusive and more expensive federal government.

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has chosen to moderate his rhetoric only somewhat and his actual policies not at all. And Congress, institutionally weakened by decades of delegating legislative power, capped by two massive new grants of regulatory power to the executive branch in Mr. Obama’s health care and financial regulation bills, has thus far proven unwilling – at least on the Senate side – to stand up to him.

Consider that the day after last year’s election, Mr. Obama explained to the press corps that his signature cap-and-trade energy rationing legislation – which cost dozens of House Democrats their seats in Congress and was decisively rejected by the American people – was “one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way. It was a means, not an end.” He clearly instructed his Environmental Protection Agency to go ahead and act as if the cap-and-trade law had been passed, even writing its emissions abatement schedule into the EPA budget.

The month after the 2010 election, the Federal Communications Commission, chaired by Mr. Obama’s close friend and fundraiser Julius Genachowski, voted on a 3-2 party-line vote to impose net-neutrality regulations, the first economic regulation of the Internet in nearly a decade. It did this even though legislation for net neutrality had failed to gain any significant support in Congress and despite the fact that the decisive Comcastv. FCC court ruling had already made clear that the FCC lacked jurisdiction. What’s more, all 95 congressional candidates in last year’s election who pledged to support net neutrality lost. Zero for 95.

The union agenda, as expected, shifted to the National Labor Relations Board, the National Mediation Board and the Department of Labor. Via rulemakings by unelected and unaccountable federal bureaucrats, these agencies are now implementing nearly every aspect of the card-check legislation rejected by the last Congress. The NLRB is especially egregious, relying on a recess-appointed former union lawyer, Craig Becker, and an unconfirmed acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon. Mr. Solomon not only issued the now-infamous unfair labor practice complaint against Boeing for building a nonunion factory in South Carolina but is also suing four states for adopting state-level secret ballot protections.

Our Congress-optional president has been surprisingly open about his approach. Last month, at a gala for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, he said, “Until Nancy Pelosi is speaker again, I’d like to work my way around Congress.”

The sad irony in all this is that Mr. Obama campaigned against President George W. Bush’s executive excesses, promising a return to a constitutionally limited executive branch. Once elected, however, Mr. Obama discovered that presidential power is only a problem when someone you don’t like is the president.

Even that symbol of Bush-era executive power – the signing statement – has reached a new level of abuse under Mr. Obama. In April, Mr. Obama and House Republican leadership concluded tense negotiations on a funding bill to avert a government shutdown. Part of the deal the president specifically agreed to was language blocking funding for four of the president’s policy advisers – czars, colloquially. Mr. Obama agreed to the language but after the bill’s passage, he used a signing statement to explain that he would simply disregard it.

Now our Congress-optional president is moving forward on his latest bailout-and-stimulus scheme without congressional authorization. Enough is enough. Congress must assert its responsibility under Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. It is Congress, not the president, that is vested by the people with legislative power. The Senate must do what the House has repeatedly done and stand up to this administration – or voters must elect a Senate that will.

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