Category Archives: Rio + 20

In 2012 the United Nations will convene the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio 2012 or Rio+20, hosted by Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, as a 20-year follow-up to the historic 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) that was held in the same city. The conference is organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Carbon Corruption

Iran, North Korea, Sudan rack up millions by trading U.N. carbon credits

BY: Zach Noble – June 13, 2012 5:00 am

The U.N. is funneling millions of dollars worth of tradable carbon credits to corrupt nations worldwide, including Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Uzbekistan in an attempt to encourage clean energy projects in the developing world.

The U.N. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is defined in Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol. Western European countries fund energy projects in the developing world in order to obtain Certified Emission Reduction credits (CERs), tradable credits that enable Europeans to count foreign emission reductions towards their own domestic emission reduction targets.

“The CDM started from a page and a half in the Kyoto Protocol,” said David Abbass, a spokesperson for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. “In the beginning they thought there would be maybe 600 projects, but now there are over 4,000 projects.”

Iran, Uzbekistan, Sudan, and North Korea are among the more than 70 countries currently hosting CDM projects.

Iran, with 16 separate CDM projects, brings in around 4.8 million CERs, worth about $26 million, every year, despite numerous U.N. sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Uzbekistan, dominated for the last two decades by the autocratic Islam Karimov, hosts 20 different CDM projects, with a combined annual value of over 7.5 million CERs, or roughly $40 million.

Sudan, whose president Omar Hassan al-Bashir came to power via military coup over 20 years ago and is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Darfur, is on the receiving end of two different CDM projects, with a combined annual value of over 180,000 CERs, or almost $1 million.

North Korea is hosting seven hydroelectric dams, which may generate over $1 million in CERs annually.

North Korea, Sudan, and Uzbekistan are among the 10 most corrupt nations worldwide, according to Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index.

It is unsurprising that North Korea is using U.N. money to develop its own infrastructure, said Claudia Rosett, journalist-in-residence at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“One of the first questions with any U.N. program is, ‘Who is overseeing this?’” said Rosett. “Very often no one is.”

The worldwide expansion of the CDM has been accompanied by “troubling stories in various countries,” said Abbass. “When you have over 4,000 projects, you’ll have some projects in areas in dispute.”

“We learn by doing,” he said. “We’re fixing as we go.”

CDM support is open to any country with the appropriate bureaucratic machinery in place. Abbass maintained that the CDM is not concerned with human rights issues and that the Kyoto Protocol merely set up the system—individual projects “come from interest in the private sector.”

The program was born of European self-righteousness, said Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. European governments have staked their reputations on environmental issues, but cannot meet emission reduction targets on their own, he said.

Europeans therefore “buy phony reductions” through the CDM, said Horner.

“Europeans basically say to the developing world, ‘I’ll pay you not to treat this byproduct as a waste product,’” said Horner, referring to numerous CDM projects that focus on reducing perceived waste in the developing world, from natural gas flaring to the release of methane from farm animals.

More than 83 percent of CDM projects are based in Asia, while Africa and the Caribbean account for a tiny fraction of CDM projects, according to U.N.F.C.C.C. data.

CDM projects are concentrated in Asia due to the disastrous environmental effects of communism and the bureaucratic savvy of China, experts say.

“Communism created the most intensely wasteful society the world has ever seen,” said Horner, explaining why former Soviet states in Central Asia such as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan receive substantial support from the CDM.

The Chinese government, an aggressive host for CDM projects, has manipulated the system, going so far as to re-open defunct factories in order to get Europeans to pay them to close them again.

The Chinese are adept at twisting the “mandated inefficiency” of CDM projects to their own benefit, said Horner.

Haiti has set up the bureaucratic mechanisms required to host CDM projects, but is currently sponsoring zero projects.

Dorine Jean-Paul, an energy specialist at Haiti’s Ministry of Environment, decried a lack of support from the U.N.

“I believe the U.N. is not helping the countries that need it the most,” said Jean-Paul.  “Besides some training sessions that are organized with the U.N. support in the [Latin American and Caribbean] region, we don’t get assistance or funds for a specific and national identified need.”

Abbass acknowledged that CDM projects are concentrated in Asia, and said the under-representation of Africa and the Caribbean might be addressed at the upcoming Rio +20 conference.

But he also noted that any substantial changes to the CDM could be a long time coming.

Source

America’s actual health and welfare crisis

EPA rules threaten our energy, economy, health, welfare, justice, and civil rights progress.

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May 30, 2012
by Paul Driessen

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says we face grave threats to human health, welfare and justice. She’s absolutely right. However, the dangers are not due to factory or power plant emissions, or supposed effects of “dangerous manmade global warming.”

They are the result of policies and regulations that her EPA is imposing in the name of preventing climate change and other hypothetical and exaggerated environmental problems. It is those government actions that are the gravest threat to Americans’ health, welfare, and pursuit of happiness and justice.

By hyper-regulating carbon dioxide, soot, mercury, “cross-state air pollution” from sources hundreds of miles away, and other air and water emissions, EPA intends to force numerous coal-fired power plants to shut down years before their productive life is over; sharply reduce emissions from cars, factories, refineries and other facilities, regardless of the costs; and block the construction of new coal-fired power plants, because none will be able to slash their carbon dioxide emissions to half of what average coal-fired plants now emit, without employing expensive (and nonexistent) CO2 capture and storage technologies.

EPA has also issued 588 pages of rules for hydraulic fracturing for critically needed oil and natural gas, while the Obama Administration has vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline and made 95% of all publicly owned (but government controlled) energy resources unavailable for leasing, exploration, drilling and mining.

These actions reflect President Obama’s campaign promises to “bankrupt any company that tries to build a new coal-fired power plant,” replace hydrocarbons with heavily subsidized solar, wind and biofuel energy, make energy prices “necessarily skyrocket,” advance rent-seeking crony-corporatism – and “fundamentally transform” America’s constitutional, legal, energy, economic and social structure.

Energy is the lifeblood of our nation’s economy, jobs, living standards and civil rights progress. Anything that affects energy availability, reliability and price affects every aspect of our lives. These federal diktats put bureaucrats and activists in charge of our entire economy – seriously impairing our health and welfare.

Moreover, the anti-hydrocarbon global warming “solutions” the Obama Administration is imposing will bring no real world benefits – even assuming carbon dioxide actually drives climate change. That’s largely because China, India and other developing countries are increasing their use of coal for electricity generation, and thus their CO2 emissions – far beyond our ability to reduce US emissions. These nations rightly refuse to sacrifice economic growth and poverty eradication on the altar of climate alarmism.

Even worse, the health, welfare and environmental justice benefits that EPA claims will result from its regulations are equally exaggerated and illusory. They exist only in the same dishonest computer-generated virtual reality that concocted its alleged climate change, health and environmental cataclysms, and in junk-science analyses that can best be described as borderline fraud.

Implementing EPA’s regulatory agenda will inflict severe economic dislocations and send shock waves through America’s factories, farmlands and families. Far from improving our health and welfare – they will make our economy, unemployment, living standards, health and welfare even worse.

EPA’s new automobile mileage standards alone will result in thousands of additional serious injuries and deaths every year, as cars are further downsized to meet its arbitrary 54.5 mpg requirements. Its anti-coal and anti-fracking rules will severely impact electricity generation, reliability and prices; factory, office and hospital operations and budgets; American industries’ competitiveness in global markets; employment, hiring and layoffs; and the well-being of families and entire communities. Especially for areas that depend on mining and manufacturing – and the 26 states where coal-based power generation keeps electricity rates at half of what they are in states with the least coal use and toughest renewable energy mandates (6-9 cents versus 13-17 cents per kilowatt hour) – it will be all pain, for no gain.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a White House letter to House Speaker John Boehner inadvertently acknowledged that EPA alone is still working on new regulations that the agency itself calculates will impose $105 billion in additional regulatory burdens and compliance costs. Win or lose in November, the Administration will likely impose these and other postponed rules after the elections. We, our children and grandchildren will pay for them in countless ways.

Utilities will have to spend $130 billion to retrofit or replace older coal-fired units, says energy analyst Roger Bezdek – and another $30 billion a year for operations, maintenance and extra fuel for energy-intensive scrubbers and other equipment, to generate increasingly expensive electricity.

Duke Energy’s new $3.3 billion coal gasification and “carbon dioxide capture” power plant will increase rates for its Indiana customers by some 15% the next two years. Hospitals, factories, shopping malls and school districts will have to pay an extra $150,000 a year in operating expenses for each million dollars in annual electricity bills. That’s four or five entry-level jobs that won’t be created or preserved.

Nationwide, 319 coal-fueled power plants totaling 42,895 megawatts (13% of the nation’s coal fleet and enough for 40 million homes and small businesses) are already slated to close, the Sierra Club joyfully proclaimed. Illinois families and businesses could pay 20% more for electricity by 2014, the Chicago Tribune reports. Chicago public schools may have to find an extra $2.7 million a year to keep the lights and heat on and computers running.

Higher electricity prices will further strain refineries already struggling with soaring electricity costs and EPA’s sulfur and other regulations, restrictions on refinery upgrades and construction, constraints on moving crude oil to East Coast refineries, and other compliance costs – all for dubious environmental or health benefits. Three East Coast refineries have already closed, costing thousands of jobs and causing the Department of Energy to warn that pump prices are likely to soar even higher in Eastern states.

When we include discouraged workers who have given up looking for jobs, and people who have been forced to work fewer hours or at temporary jobs, our unemployment rate is a whopping 19 percent – and double that for black and Hispanic young people. America’s labor force participation rate is at a 30-year low. Our nation’s 2011 economic growth rate was a dismal 1.7 percent.

Well over a million U.S. workers age 55 and older have now been out of work for 27 weeks or more. Not only do prospects plummet for re-employment of older workers. The longer they are unemployed, the more they are disconnected from society, the further their living standards fall, the more their physical and emotional well-being deteriorates, and the more likely they are to die prematurely.

The cumulative effect is that families have even less money to buy food, pay the rent or mortgage, repair the car or house, save for college and retirement, take a vacation – and keep people comfortable (and alive) on frigid winter nights and sweltering summer afternoons. Workers lose jobs. Health and welfare, family relationships, future prospects and psychological well-being plummet. Because they spend the highest proportion of their incomes on energy, poor and minority families suffer disproportionately.

And yet the EPA and White House regulatory agenda, regulatory onslaught and horse-blinder definition of health, welfare and justice ignore these realities – and ensure that this unconscionable situation will only get worse. In fact, the only welfare EPA’s rules will ensure is the expansion of our welfare rolls, unemployment lines and already record-setting food stamp programs.

EPA is also giving billions of taxpayer dollars to activist groups, to advance its agenda and dominate our media and hearings with false or misleading information about the costs and benefits of its programs.

Worst of all, our Congress and courts have completely abdicated their obligations to provide oversight and control of this dictatorial agency and Obama Administration. If this is the hope, change and future we can look “forward” to, our nation’s health, well-being and justice will be rolled backward.

Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which is sponsoring the All Pain No Gain petition against global-warming hype. He also is a senior policy adviser to the Congress of Racial Equality and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power – Black Death.

Law of the Sea Treaty = The Rape of America … J. D. Longstreet

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May 23rd, 2012
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet

The Obama Administration has dragged the Law of the Sea Treaty back before the US Senate this week.

The treaty, if approved by the Senate will amount to the rape of America.

Here’s what the Center for Security Policy has to say about the Law Of The Sea Treaty: “If, on the other hand, the members of the U.S. Senate trouble themselves to study, or at least read, the text of the Law of the Sea Treaty, they would immediately see it for what it really is: a diplomatic dinosaur, a throwback to a bygone era when UN negotiations were dominated by communists of the Soviet Union and their fellow-travelers in the Third World.

These adversaries’ agenda was transparent and wholly inimical to American equities. They sought to: establish control over 70% of the world’s surface; create an international governing institution that would serve as a model for bringing nation states like ours to heel; and redistribute the planet’s wealth and technology from the developed world to themselves. LOST codifies such arrangements – and would subject us to mandatory dispute resolution to enforce them via stacked-deck adjudication panels.”
SOURCE:

Center for Security Policy

Still, many, if not MOST, Americans have never heard of it — the Law Of The Sea Treaty.

So why is it important?

OK, lets look at some reasons why the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) is important to you as an American and to all inhabitants of the earth:

Why We Lose if LOST Wins
By asserting UN authority over seven-tenths of the Earth’s surface, LOST would be the largest territorial conquest in history.

In principle, the treaty would assert UN jurisdiction over U.S. territorial waters, and eventually over waterways within our country.

It would create a huge bureaucratic entity called the “Enterprise” which would regulate and tax all commercial uses of the high seas.

By taxing all efforts to develop the wealth of the seabed, the UN would be given a huge revenue stream, independent of national governments, to push its agenda for international socialism.

The treaty would require the redistribution of cutting-edge technology from the U.S. to all governments in the “developing world,” including extremely repressive governments.

Get the picture??? It’s that cussed “One World Government thing again! (Otherwise known as “Global Governance) You know… the “GLOBALISTS” at work.

Apparatchiks from the Obama Administration will trudge over to the US Senate this week to sing the praises of LOST. They will applaud it and explain to the Senators that it is the best thing since the US Constitution for America, indeed, for the whole world.

It will be a pack of lies.

So, where do we stand today on LOST? Not good, I’m afraid.

The National Center for Public Policy Research has a website providing educational resources on the Law of the Sea Treaty (also known by the acronyms LOST and UNCLOS).

“The Law of the Sea Treaty is a terrible deal for the U.S. It would threaten our sovereignty, place a significant portion of the world’s resources under the control of a U.N.-style body, and complicate our efforts to apprehend terrorists on the high seas by subjecting our actions to review by an international court unlikely to render decisions favorable to the U.S.,” said National Center Vice President David Ridenour.

“The Law of the Sea Treaty would help radical environmentalists achieve what they haven’t been able to achieve through legislation,” Ridenour added. “Greenpeace has said ‘the benefits of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea are substantial, including its basic duties for states to protect and preserve the marine environment and to conserve marine living species.’ The Natural Resources Defense Council challenged the Navy’s use of ‘intense active sonar,’ arguing that it violates the treaty by posing a danger to marine life. The Navy ultimately agreed to scale back use of this technology. The Law of the Sea Treaty has also been used by Australia and New Zealand in an attempt to shut down an experimental blue fin tuna fishing program and by Ireland in an attempt to shut down a plant on land in England”

The website, the United National Law of the Sea Treaty Information Center, contains a collection of research papers, commentaries and blog entries about LOST from a variety of think-tanks, scholars, opinion writers and bloggers. It can be accessed at: Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST or UNCLOS III).

“Although the Law of the Sea Treaty has been around for decades — the National Center for Public Policy Research first worked on it in 1982 — relatively few people know much about it,” said Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. “The United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty Information Center website is designed to help correct this.”

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-partisan, non-profit educational foundation based in Washington, D.C.

It is more important now then ever before to contact your senators and urge them to oppose the Law of the Sea Treaty.

Look. This Law Of The Sea Treaty is serious socialist, global governance, trickery! And NOBODY IS Talking ABOUT IT! Of course, we cannot expect the so-called “Mainstream Media” in America to bring it up, being so deep in the bunker for Obama, that is. The near incestuous relationship between the MsM and Obama prevents them from actually informing their readers, listeners, and viewers, of important, pending, life-changing policy being considered in the nation’s legislature.

We urge you to educate yourself about the Law Of The Sea Treaty — and do so quickly.

In the meantime, however, we suggest that you get on the phone, or send an e-mail or fax to the offices of your US Senators and ask them to vote NO on the Law Of The Sea Treaty.

Every so often, we get a chance to use our constitutional rights for good. This is one of those times.

J. D. Longstreet

Soros-Funded Alinsky Smear Machine Invades Congress

https://i2.wp.com/www.rushimg.com/cimages//media/images/obama-divide2/889267-1-eng-GB/Obama-divide.jpgby Matthew Vadum Bio ↓
 May 14th, 2012

George Soros is behind a newly uncovered effort to teach Democratic congressmen how to smear their opponents as racist.

Last week House Democrats invited the radical, left-wing, Soros-financed group called the Center for Social Inclusion “to address the issue of race to defend government programs,” according to documentation reviewed by Joel Gehrke of the Washington Examiner

“The prepared content of a Tuesday presentation to the House Democratic Caucus and staff indicates that Democrats will seek to portray apparently neutral free-market rhetoric as being charged with racial bias, conscious or unconscious,” Gehrke writes.

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Maya Wiley of the Center for Social Inclusion

According to Gehrke, trainer Maya Wiley of the Center for Social Inclusion blasted “conservative messages [that are] racially ‘coded’ and had images of people of color that we commonly see used” and suggested ways to combat Republicans’ supposedly racially-coded rhetoric.

Facts don’t matter in Wiley’s estimation. “It’s emotional connection, not rational connection that we need,” she said.

Wiley offered that Newt Gingrich calling Obama a “food stamp president,” cannot be “a race-neutral statement, even if Newt Gingrich did not intend racism.” In other words, all criticism of Obama is rooted in racism.

Wiley, a so-called civil rights attorney, is the daughter of the late George Wiley, the leader of the now-defunct National Welfare Rights Organization. NWRO created ACORN in 1970 and President Obama worked for ACORN in his community organizing days, as I note in my book, Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers.

Maya Wiley also did consulting work for two of Soros’s philanthropies, the Open Society Institute and the Open Society Foundation, and now chairs the board of the Tides network of nonprofits.

The radicalism of Wiley shines brightly on the website of the Center for Social Inclusion. “For more than a quarter century, right-wing rhetoric has dominated debates of racial justice – undermining efforts to create a more equal society, and tearing apart the social safety net in the process,” the propaganda portal opines. Of course only a Marxist with an agenda would argue that “right-wing rhetoric” has somehow torn apart the ever-expanding social safety net. About $16 trillion has been spent on the doomed War on Poverty since it was launched in the mid-1960s and President Obama wants to waste another $10 trillion more.

The Center for Social Inclusion, an Orwellian name if ever there was one, practices the same pathological mixture of Marxism and identity politics that President Obama was raised on. The group was founded based on the assumption that America is an evil structurally racist country that systematically oppresses everyone who is not Caucasian.

The Center’s involvement with left-leaning politicians shouldn’t be all that surprising given that the Democratic National Committee is now headed by the Alinsky-loving Patrick Gaspard, a longtime SEIU-ACORN operative. Gaspard, not titular DNC head Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), runs the DNC’s everyday operations as executive director. Gaspard was previously the Obama White House political affairs director, the same title Karl Rove held in President Bush’s administration.

Gaspard comes from the same world of radical in-your-face left-wing community organizing that shaped Barack Obama. Like Obama he is well schooled in the brutal, street-smart organizing tactics taught by the late Saul Alinsky, author of Rules for Radicals. Wiley’s training session has Gaspard’s fingerprints all over it. It is inconceivable that she moved forward without his permission. In fact, Gaspard almost certainly invited her to Capitol Hill.

Wiley’s group gets its money from anti-American philanthropists such as Soros. The Soros-funded Tides Foundation has given $879,800 to the group since 2005. Soros’s Open Society Institute has donated at least $75,000 to the group since 2002. Other hard-left institutional donors to the group include the Public Welfare Foundation Inc. ($308,355 since 2010) and the Surdna Foundation ($60,000 since 2008).

he Center for Social Inclusion may also be hiding something. The group’s tax returns, which are supposed to be publicly available at the Guidestar.org disclosure website, are not available. This may be a violation of federal law.

It has long been axiomatic that when left-wingers are worried about losing power they shriek “racist!” ad nauseam as if sheer repetition of the malicious lie will somehow make it true. The mainstream media has long let leftist politicians such as Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) get away with accusing Republicans of racism based on, well, nothing. Instead of hurling racial epithets, Republicans “say, ‘Let’s cut taxes,’” the corrupt Harlem congressman has said. And when Republicans proposed reforming aspects of the welfare system, Rangel said they were worse than Nazis. “Hitler wasn’t even talking about doing these things,” he insisted, advancing the ahistorical position that the genocidal German dictator was somehow a champion of small government.

But teaching sitting lawmakers whose salaries are paid by the taxpayers how to utilize the Left’s favorite smear in order to shut down open debate over government spending is a fascistic frontal assault on freedom of thought and expression that takes Alinskyite sliminess to new depths.

Source

Law of the Sea Treaty: A Tool to Combat Iran, China, and Russia? or Redistribution of wealth

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Posted by Doug Bandow

Every few years, the Law of the Sea Treaty rears its head as a one-size-fits-all solution to a host of current maritime problems. This time, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Join Chiefs of Staff, are urging the Senate to ratify the treaty. The officials claim it will act as a tool to deal with aggressive actions by Iran, China, and Russia. But as I have long argued, no matter the current rationale for the treaty, it represents a bad deal for the United States.

Panetta and Dempsey rolled out three hot issues to make their case:

  • Iran is threatening the world economy in the Strait of Hormuz? The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) will help solve this.
  • China is threatening the Philippines in the South China Sea? LOST is a crucial tool to prevent war.
  • Russia is claiming land in the Arctic region to extract natural resources? LOST will put the screws to Moscow.

These international controversies will be magically resolved if only the Senate ratifies the convention.

If this sounds too good to be true, it is. It is not clear the treaty would do much at all to alleviate these flashpoints. Especially since the two most important potential antagonists, China and Russia, already have ratified LOST. And it is certainly not the best option policy-wise for the United States with each issue: Iran’s bluster in the Strait of Hormuz may prove its weakness. U.S. policy in the South China Sea suffers from a far more serious flaw: encouraging free-riding by allied states. Russia’s move into the Arctic has nothing to do with Washington’s absence from LOST.

The treaty itself, not substantially altered since 1994, is still plagued by the same problems that have halted its ratification for decades. Primarily, it will cede decisionmaking on seabed and maritime issues to a large, complex, unwieldy bureaucracy that will be funded heavily by—wait for it—the Untied States.

On national security, the U.S. Navy does not need such a treaty to operate freely. Its power relative to all other navies is the ultimate guarantee. Serious maritime challengers do not exist today. Russia’s navy is a rusted relic; China has yet to develop capabilities that come close to matching ours. Moreover, it is doubtful that the United States needs to defend countries such as the Philippines when flashpoints over islands in the region affect no vital American interests.

The average American knows very little about this treaty, and rightly so. It is an unnecessarily complicated and entangling concoction that accomplishes little that the longstanding body of customary international law on the high-seas or the dynamics of markets do not account for. My conclusion in testimony before the Senate Committee on Armed Services in 2004 still holds true:

All in all, the LOST remains captive to its collectivist and redistributionist origins. It is a bad agreement, one that cannot be fixed without abandoning its philosophical presupposition that the seabed is the common heritage of the world’s politicians and their agents, the Authority and Enterprise. The issue is not just abstract philosophical principle, but very real American interests, including national security. For these reasons, the Senate should reject the treaty.

Source

Obama Forms Soros-Controlled Energy Council To ‘Fix’ Thriving Natural Gas Industry

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By Ken Blackwell
May 10, 2012

When politicians want to look busy while avoiding tough decisions during an election year, what do they do? They form commissions and councils.

And when President Barack Obama saw Americans struggling with higher gasoline and home energy prices, did he encourage more domestic oil exploration, off-shore drilling, or coal production, while lowering taxes on energy?

Of course not. After all, with political observers expecting a close presidential race this year, Obama needs the financial and institutional support far-left environmental groups. The result has been the president anointing certain energy sources – such as wind and natural gas – as energies of the future, while implementing regulatory hurdles for more dependable fuels like oil and coal.

Over the last decade, natural gas has exploded as an important energy source in the United States, accounting for almost one quarter of all energy consumed. Natural gas has boosted economic activity in states like Ohio, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania, and until recently has done so largely without the benefit of preferential treatment from the federal government.

But to expedite this natural gas boom, President Obama just recently decided to form an interagency natural gas council run by Cecilia Munoz, a former community organizer with La Raza and White House bureaucrat with deep-ties to George Soros, the billionaire investor who made his fortune in currency trading throughout the world while bankrolling liberal political efforts. Munoz formerly led the OpenSociety Institute and the Center for Community Change, two organizations which are directly connected to Soros, MoveOn.org, ACORN, and other fringe groups with a long record of opposing the development of America’s oil and coal resources.

As if having a new council run by the far left was not enough, Obama continues to support major Democratic donors such as Soros by picking winners and losers in the energy through risky subsidies, through a bill known as the NAT GAS Act.

This legislation attempts to artificially encourage a transition to more natural gas usage, by offering tax credits for natural gas vehicles, fueling stations, and storage facilities. As we all saw with the collapse of inefficient companies like Solyndra, when private investors are not willing to fund a new project, politically connected firms try to force taxpayers to fund their schemes.

But if natural gas is an already cheap and abundant source of energy, why would we subsidize it?

The answer may be found with the Soros Management Fund, which is Soros’ investment vehicle, owns more than $90 million of shares in a Vancouver, British Columbia company which produces the same natural gas-powered engines which the act would encourage the use of.

Soros has personally donated $5,000 to the act’s co-sponsor Rep. Nita Lowey of New York and his family donated $121,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, while the lead sponsor of the act, Senator Robert Mendez of New Jersey, was chairman. This is in addition to the countless (and often untraceable) millions of dollars Soros pours into Democratic campaigns through the activities of his non-profit organizations and political committees.

Natural gas is a valuable and commonly used fuel. But it is not a silver bullet to our nation’s massive energy conundrum. And just like wind, solar, and nuclear, it should be left to succeed or fail based on private market forces. Government should not have the legal authority to hand your hard-earned dollars over to a private industry, just because a handful of politicians think they have the right to make decisions about what energy consumers use.

We have seen the costly errors of government manipulating energy markets, and Obama must not allow wealthy activists to profit at the expense of taxpayers. Conservatives should oppose the NAT GAS Act and other measures that give one specific fuel a distinct marketplace advantage over others.

See more “Right Views, Right Now”

Biofuel mandates could close more refineries, officials warn

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WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 27
04/27/2012
By Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

Philadelphia area refinery closures will be only the beginning of shutdowns nationwide if the federal government does not change several key regulations, two oil industry officials warned on Apr. 26. Ethanol mandates in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act pose a particular threat, they told the US Senate-House Joint Economic Committee.

“The recent refinery closures that have occurred or are currently pending are the tip of an iceberg,” said Thomas D. O’Malley, chairman of PBF Energy Co. LLC, which operates refineries in Delaware City, Del. (190,000 b/d), Paulsboro, NJ (180,000 b/d), and Toledo, Ohio (170,000 b/d).

“If the fuel substitutions from 2012 to 2022 mandated under [EISA] are maintained, we will lose over that time period an additional 10% minimum of US capacity and the thousands of jobs this important industry provides,” O’Malley said.

Bob Greco, the American Petroleum Institute’s downstream and group director, said refiners face an impending “blend wall” where mandates to blend ethanol into gasoline will soon exceed motorists’ ability to safely use the fuels in existing vehicles.

“Moreover, refiners are also required to blend into the gasoline supply advanced biofuels that do not yet exist, or pay a fee when they cannot meet the mandates,” he noted. “This policy is regulatory absurdity, and effectively amounts to a hidden tax on gasoline manufacturers.”

Tier 3 as well

O’Malley said the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier 3 gasoline proposal also will close more US refineries. Refiners, including independents that control 60% of US capacity, will need to spend billions of dollars to lower sulfur content from 30 ppm to 10 ppm, he said.

“Under this plan, the total sulfur removed from PBF’s gasoline production of about 4.5 billion gal/year would less than one eighth of what one 300-Mw coal-fired power plant emits in a year,” O’Malley said.

Greco said EPA has yet to demonstrate any air-quality benefits from adopting Tier 3 limits. He cited an analysis by the Baker & O’Brien consulting firm, which API commissioned, that found that implementing the new requirements could increase refinery greenhouse gas emissions because of the use of energy-intensive hydrotreating equipment to remove sulfur from the gasoline.

“Existing refinery regulations and fuel requirements clearly contribute to a cleaner environment and safer workplace,” Greco said. “Unnecessary, inefficient, and excessively costly requirements hamper our ability to provide and distribute fuels to America, while also employing hundreds of thousands of people and enhancing our national security. We have already seen some refineries close, at least in part due to the cumulative impact of government controls.”

O’Malley said, “Refineries in Pennsylvania closed because they didn’t make money. The federal government took away some of their market and gave it to the agriculture industry. The insanity of cellulosic ethanol will take away another 10-15% and make refiners pay $120 million in indirect taxes. This whole system is a house of cards that’s collapsing. Unfortunately, it’s collapsing on the men and women who work in refineries.”

Market concentration

A third witness, Diana L. Moss, vice-president and director of the American Antitrust Institute, said more refinery closures in the US Northeast could result in a market where three refiners accounted for 93% of capacity changing to one where two refiners represent 86%. More products coming by pipeline from the Gulf Coast could replace much of what is lost from closed plants, but proposals to convert some installations to terminals could raise new ownership concentration questions, she said.

The fourth witness, Michael Greenstone, an environmental economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the federal government should encourage policies that recognize the health, environmental, and security costs associated with each form of energy. If this isn’t feasible, he said, research suggests that natural gas should be put on the same footing as renewable fuels under any federal standard and subsidies equal to those for electric vehicles should be offered to those using compressed natural gas.

Others submitted written statements. US Rep. Donna M. Christensen (D-VI) noted that Hovensa LLC’s chief executive, when he testified before the Virgin Islands legislature, said low demand and competitive disadvantages, such as having to fire its units with oil instead of gas, led to the decision to close the 500,000-b/d facility. “Our neighbors in Puerto Rico remain concerned about where they will be able to secure jet fuel that was supplied by Hovensa,” Christensen said.

Industry witnesses kept returning to regulatory problems refiners face. “The ethanol and biofuel mandates need to be adjusted to reflect what the vehicle fleet can use,” API’s Greco said. “As it is, even if E15 became widely used, it would extend the blend wall by only 1-2 years.”

EISA and its mandates were a bad idea in 2007, and a worse one now, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Pres. Charles T. Drevna said following the hearing. “We’re seeing unintended consequence of rushing something through Congress without considering the impacts,” he told OGJ. “Keep corn on people’s tables, and gasoline in their vehicles’ tanks.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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U.S. Department of Labor backtracks about child labor on farms

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by Monica Wheelus

Late this afternoon the Labor Department issued this statement concerning youth working on farms:

“The Obama Administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations. The Obama Administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations. As a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations. The decision to withdraw this rule – including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’ – was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama Administration. Instead, the Departments of Labor and Agriculture will work with rural stakeholders – such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H – to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.”

For those that didn’t hear about this controversial bit of legislation.  It would have prohibited anyone under the age of 16 from working in agriculture.  This included the family farm.  Young people across the country would have also not been able to engage in anything related to agriculture that could be deemed as “labor”.  This could have included many projects for 4H and FFA, such as livestock and horticulture.  Millions of dollars in money and scholarships related to these projects are awarded across the United States.  Not being able to participate in this type of activity until the age of 16 would have devastated that aspect of the industry and hindered many from attaining a higher education.

It just isn’t always possible for a farmer or rancher to pay the cost of their child’s tuition.  Family farms are not multimillion dollar operations like the corporations own.  They need the entire family to keep things afloat from year to year and season to season.  They want their children to be educated and come home to help run the business.  It is a business for the family, but it is also a way of life.

Recent rising costs of fuel and supplies have stretched the farm budgets to a breaking point and many are having to sell out just to get out of debt. With the smaller family run farms becoming fewer and fewer, this removal of a large portion of the workforce could have been the nail in the proverbial coffin.

Note: This is not over. It was a strategy to temporarily relieve political pressure. Pay special attention to Agenda 21 and the upcoming Rio+20 meeting.

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