Posts filed under National Affairs

Setting the Agenda: America’s Power Welcomes New Faces of the 114th Congress

Last Thursday, America’s Power teamed up with Real Clear Politics to host a captivating panel featuring four freshman Senators. These new faces – Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) – gathered to discuss their reaction to the President’s State of the Union address and their hopes for the 114th Congress.

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Almost to a tee, when asked for two words that described their reaction to the SOTU, all said disappointed and missed opportunity. Indeed, it was a missed opportunity as the President by-passed talking about a host of critical policy issues, energy chief among them.

As Senator Rounds succinctly put it, the President offered no insight into our energy situation, but instead offered “a defense of where we are, and offense about what he wouldn’t do to work with us.”

The President’s resistance to compromise echoes the resistance his Environmental Protection Agency allies demonstrate with their Clean Power Plan. Yet another item absent from the President’s SOTU agenda was a transparent discussion about the costly consequences, like higher electricity rates and less reliable energy, associated with his dogged climate crusade.

Overall, the panel further shared its disappointment with the President as he opted for a defiant and uncooperative tone. A tone that made it clear he is not interested in working together with Republicans on the tough issues facing our nation.

Senator Tillis’ comments perfectly summarize the panel’s feelings, as well as the energy situation America is in: last year’s midterm elections revealed that citizens feel “a level of discomfort with the direction [the Administration has] taken this country.” The SOTU was President Obama’s opportunity to recognize the need to “find common ground with a majority of states.”

We can only hope the Administration will soon withdraw its unworkable, unachievable policies and find the much called-for common ground Americans deserve.

 


After Misguided State of the Union, Time for Congress to Act on Climate Regulations

President Obama delivered yet another disappointing State of the Union address last night. The president missed a momentous occasion to reverse his dangerous regulatory regime and restore balance and affordability to the nation’s energy mix.

It’s clear that the president is forging ahead with his climate regulations—even if it leaves America without the low-cost, reliable electricity from coal we need. But now, President Obama is facing a new and energized Congress that must rein in the Environmental Protection Agency and put an end to the Obama Administration’s overreaching regulations.

I recently penned a piece for Roll Call, charging Congress to take action against the Obama Administration’s costly climate crusade.

After last night, the need for Congressional leadership to stand firm against these regulations is more critical than ever.

This piece first ran in Roll Call.

Returning to regular order means reining in EPA

If there is one lasting change the 114th Congress should seek to make, it is the return to regular order. The Founding Fathers intentionally made it difficult for the federal government to enact laws but not impossible. The seeming impossibility of any meaningful congressional action has instead been wrought by closely divided congressional chambers, bitter partisanship and misapplication of Senate rules.

With Congress on the sidelines, the Obama administration has repeatedly overstepped its executive authority by enacting new rules and regulations without regard for the safeguards established more than 225 years ago. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than at the Environmental Protection Agency, which is illegally using an obscure provision of the 1970 Clean Air Act to advance the president’s climate plan without congressional regard and despite sharp criticism from states, industries and constitutional scholars. Even Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, a teacher and longtime supporter of President Barack Obama, noted in his comments of opposition to EPA that the agency “is asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority.”

Beyond its constitutional problems, the president’s plan will cause severe and long-lasting damage to the economy. In fact, according to a recent study by National Economic Research Associates Economic Consulting, the costs to comply with EPA’s proposal could total $366 billion, on the conservative end, and create double-digit electricity price increases in 43 states. With such massive and far-reaching implications, shouldn’t Congress have a role in developing energy policy as it is charged with crafting?

Fortunately, the 114th Congress has the opportunity to restore the proper checks and balances to our system while reigning in EPA in the process. An important step came late last year when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will return to regular order and allow the Senate to debate and vote on amendments on the Senate floor. Former Majority Leader Harry Reid had been all too anxious to avoid debate or votes on the president’s climate plan.

In addition to the basics of debating and voting on amendments, Congress’ appropriations process provides another useful vehicle to push back against agencies running amok. Congress needs to return to passing individual appropriations bills for specific agencies rather than passing year-end, all-encompassing omnibus bills. Individual funding bills provide members of Congress, who were elected by the American people, a mechanism to ensure they have a voice in the policies being driven by political appointees.

Finally, members of Congress need to work closely not just with one another, but with their counterparts in their home states. While federal policies are enacted in D.C., state governments are often left with the job of implementing those policies or leading the charge against overturning them if they are not workable, which is certainly the case with the president’s climate plan.

When EPA solicited comments on the president’s plan, at least 27 states argued the agency was exceeding its legal authority with 26 states calling on EPA to withdraw the proposal. Through legal challenges and legislative action, state governments are preparing to preserve their authority and fight EPA. It goes without saying that federal legislators must be informed about what is happening in their own states to truly act in the best interests of their constituents.

As poll after polls shows, the American public is keenly aware of and dissatisfied with the status quo of never-ending, partisan gridlock in the nation’s capital. Regular order in Congress, and with the president’s power, is what’s called for in the weeks and months ahead. Only by returning to the model set out by our founding fathers can we hope to achieve normalcy in our legislative process and success for our country.

Let Congress make policy.

 


President Obama’s Questionable Climate Deal and Its Impact on the American Economy

Last week, President Obama announced a non-binding agreement with China to reduce carbon emissions, taking yet another action that puts America’s energy and economic future at risk. The so-called “deal” requires deep cuts in America’s carbon emissions by 2025, yet allows China to operate unfettered until 2030, at which time carbon emissions would supposedly level off.

Abundant, reliable, low-cost electricity is the driving force behind a healthy and growing economy. America has experienced this throughout its history, as affordable electricity, largely provided by coal-based generation, fueled widespread economic development. From Silicon Valley’s data centers in the West to the recent manufacturing resurgence in America’s Heartland, low-cost coal power has been a mainstay of support for growing jobs and the economy here at home. Coal currently provides 40 percent of our nation’s electricity and misguided attempts to limit its use only stands to harm millions of consumers and businesses.

On the other hand, China’s economy continues to grow, as the country increasingly looks to coal to provide the affordable power needed to fuel jobs and economic development. With coal powering its future, think of the country’s enormous growth potential between now and 2030 – and then consider the enormous setback America’s economy will face as a result of President Obama’s overzealous activism.

What happens if China violates the agreement with the United States? Well, nothing really. It’s a non-binding agreement after all. But long before 2030 (when we see whether China stayed committed), the United States economy will already have suffered as President Obama and his EPA move full steam ahead with costly regulations that will upend our commercial model for years to come.

Sadly, the president’s climate “deal” with China is yet another example of the administration putting its climate crusade ahead of the American families and businesses that depend on reliable, low-cost electricity. President Obama is leading Americans down a treacherous path, while allowing China to grow and develop for the next decade and beyond. Americans are truly on the losing end of this climate arrangement.

Visit www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org by December 1 to send a comment to the EPA opposing costly carbon regulations.


While Global Threats Abound, DOD Chooses to Focus on Climate Change “Security Issues”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was recently quoted as saying climate change presents security issues” for the United States, and it is “critically important that we pay attention.” Such hyperbole isn’t surprising from the Obama Administration, whose misguided climate change agenda distracts from issues of real concern to the American people. After all, aren’t there far more pressing threats to the security of the United States?

The ISIS threat is only growing. Turmoil persists in Russia. Ebola has become a global health epidemic. Yet, the leader of the U.S. Department of Defense is wasting his breath crying foul about…climate change?

Fiddling with climate change

The issue of climate change consistently ranks at the bottom of Americans’ most pressing concerns, and last week’s midterm elections sent a powerful message to the Obama Administration: get your priorities straight and stop your costly climate crusade.

To voice your own opposition to President Obama’s plan, and to stand up for American energy security, visit www.KeepAmericasPowerOn.org today to file a comment with EPA.

 


President Obama “Leading” The Way On Climate Change – But Who Is Following?

Looking back on last week’s United Nations (UN) climate talks and the environmental community’s self-professed “Climate Week,” it is more apparent now than ever before that President Obama is completely out of touch with the American people he was elected to serve. His administration chose to go “all in” on the showmanship surrounding the UN summit in New York at a time when Americans are profoundly concerned about the U.S. economy and our national security.

Even as President Obama addressed the world stage, the potential impacts of his damaging energy policy remain largely unaddressed here at home. President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) repeatedly employ misleading rhetoric about their overreaching and costly regulations, and his entire administration continues to push a carbon plan that no other nation wants to follow.

Speaking before the UN last Tuesday, President Obama chose to emphasize the “leadership” our nation will display by stringently regulating carbon, ignoring the fact that these regulations will threaten American jobs and the economy with little to no environmental benefit. Yet instead of heeding warnings about electricity cost increases and electric grid reliability, the administration continues to prioritize its own political legacy over our nation’s energy stability.

As if the sheer futility of its plan is not enough to stop EPA from pushing forward, some of the world’s largest carbon emitters failed to even show up to the climate summit last week. Furthermore, nations like Australia and Germany have rolled back carbon taxes and other costly policies that hinder the production of affordable energy because of the adverse economic affects. These leaders share a similar view that President Obama just doesn’t get: it’s not worth sacrificing economic competitiveness for costly regulations that ultimately have little impact on the environment.

It is time for the Obama Administration to let go of its blind ambition and recognize that its “leadership” on climate change will fail to produce real results. Instead, the president should take a cue from other world leaders and promote a balanced, all-of-the above approach to energy. Because as long as President Obama pursues these aggressive and economically harmful policies, he will stand alone.

 

 


President Obama’s Record: Bypassing Congress Time & Time Again

President Obama has become famous for his track record of bypassing Congress while in office, especially when it comes to achieving his regulatory agenda. According to the Washington Times, the president has worked around lawmakers 40 times this year, and a White House official recently said that the president would not let Congress stand in the way of any progress to be made. Is this how our forefathers envisioned our democratic process working?

Unfortunately, the president’s 2014 crusade of executive orders is far from over. As the administration prepares for climate talks in Paris next year, the president is looking to make a deal that would persuade other nations to reduce their carbon footprint. This informal treaty, which would commit other countries to meeting certain reduction goals at the risk of public embarrassment, would not have to be ratified by the Senate (where it would likely fail). Countries such as China and India refuse to sign such an agreement as it would hinder their economic development, and other national leaders have come out against the proposal. Recently, Prime Ministers Tony Abbott of Australia and Stephen Harper of Canada stated that they will not be following Obama’s lead, refusing to take actions that would deliberately harm jobs and economic growth.

I am beginning to wonder when the American people will come before the president’s pride during his last years in office. Why do we need to pay the price for years to come just so the president can fulfill his own environmental legacy? President Obama can put us on a better track for the future by withdrawing these harmful carbon regulations and sparing his constituents the financial burden—especially when the only gain is a reduction in sea level by less than five sheets of paper.


Advocating for America’s Power: Week 3

I am back again, energy enthusiasts, and as promised have brought more information. I took a look last week at international reactions to EPA’s new carbon regulations, with a specific focus on Canada and Australia. This week my fellow intern, Joe Singh, and I analyze another area of the globe. Joe has a background in economic policy analysis and is helping ACCCE research the global coal market. As I mentioned last week, EPA’s costly new plan would have virtually no effect on climate change, with less than 1 percent in carbon reductions. The Obama Administration understands this, but believes that if they lead by example carbon-emitting nations like China and India will follow. In his research, Joe points out that assuming these nations will follow our lead is contrary to the growing coal consumption in both these nations.

China, the world’s largest coal consumer with one of the fastest growing economies, has said it will set emission limits. Make no mistake, however, China is not exactly following the administration’s approach. The EPA set state by state targets that would reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electric sector by 30 percent by 2030. China, on the other hand, has instead adopted an emissions intensity target. This emissions intensity target would limit the amount of COemitted for every dollar of economic activity in China, on average. The reason for using emissions intensity rather than absolute emissions is to allow economic growth, which China wishes to maintain. In Joe’s research, he cites an Australian National University report which found that if China maintains its economic growth, even with a significant emissions intensity target in place, COemissions will still grow. Put simply, even if China can meet the targets it sets, its continued economic growth will still result in increased COemissions – not less.

The results of future international negotiations on climate change are uncertain. One can look to the past, however, to provide clues for potential future actions.  In two recent international climate negotiations, agreements could not be reached because of defiance conflict between the developing and developed world. The United States did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, because it exempted developing nations, like China, from reducing their emissions.  Chinese officials claimed that it was “unfair to expect impoverished people in…developing countries to cut back on energy consumption, which is not even sufficient to meet their basic living conditions.”  China’s resistance to a binding agreement arose again during the Copenhagen conference, which occurred during Obama’s first term in 2009.  In a study available on EPA’s website, Western officials blamed the failure of this conference on China’s opposition to binding global emissions reductions.  This opposition was traced once again to China’s view that emissions reductions are robbing developing nations of their right to industrialize. Considering this climate impasse happened only five years ago, it’s unclear if Chinese willingness to reach a binding agreement has changed.  All of this makes me wonder whether the administration’s plan to reduce COemissions will be enough to overcome a history of failed climate negotiations with China.


EPA Carbon Rule Based on Questionable Calculations of Energy Demand

Lately, we’ve been taking a hard look at some claims made in the roll-out of the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon regulation for existing power plants. An Opinion Editorial I penned was featured in The Hill today, refuting six unsubstantiated claims and questionable facts. We’ve seen the misleading claims and want to make sure the reality of America’s energy situation doesn’t fall to the wayside. A recent Wall Street Journal article, “What’s the Real Cost of the EPA’s Emissions Cap?” demonstrates the faulty logic and fuzzy math employed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in setting standards for its greenhouse gas rule.

EPA based its calculations on one fundamentally erroneous assumption: that Americans will use less energy in the future. Conventional wisdom, not to mention the government’s own data, however, tells a very different story. As the piece says, the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently forecast that electricity demand will, in fact, grow 0.9% every year until 2040.

But even if EIA’s data isn’t convincing on its own, conventional wisdom reaffirms that EPA’s postulation falls flat on its face. Simply put, the world in which we live demands more energy. Every day, Americans are using more mobile devices; more electric cars are driving on U.S. roads; and our population continues to rise. And it is low-cost, reliable baseload power from coal that supports economic and societal growth.

EPA is hedging its bets on largely unproven energy efficiency programs that pose enormous cost and implementation challenges. States that have experimented with such measures have yielded, on the whole, less-than-stellar results. The agency’s proposal sets pie-in-the-sky expectations for these programs that, in turn, inflate calculations across the board and set the stage for wholly unrealistic and unachievable standards.

While EPA’s rule clearly misses the mark on many counts, I fear that troubling revelations such as EPA’s calculating method will be unearthed as we more fully probe the measure. EPA needs to get back to reality, readjust its standards using more grounded data and stop misleading the American people about the true costs of its rule.