On the Blog

VIDEO: The Organic Food Certification Racket

Somewhat Reasonable - April 30, 2014, 1:13 PM

Mischa Popoff is one of the most formidable opponents of the organic food industry, as this video of his speech to the Far West Agribusiness Association clearly shows. The simple fact that he is carrying to the masses is that the organic industry, particularly the organic certification industry, is a big racket.

There was once a time, decades ago, when organic farming was about increasing consumer choice. The organic farmers chose to compete in the free market and sought to carve a niche in the marketplace for higher-end, organic produce.

But the farmers were hijacked by hardline activists. “Activists took over from the farmers…their first stop was with Big Government in the 1990s under the Clinton Administration, “ Popoff explains, “This is the same activism that led to ethanol subsidies, windmills, and solar power.”

Those activists were, and still are, unconcerned with science, sustainability, or actually feeding the hungry multitude. For them it’s all about pushing their radical agenda. And because they cannot do this in the world of public information, they had to turn to sowing disinformation and to pushing their agenda in government. “You can do anything in Washington,” says Popoff, “The science, the public backing for it, none of that matters. Just go to Washington and talk to the right people.”

The radical activists have transformed the organic food movement from a pro-choice, free market enterprise, into a state-run racket. As Popoff says, “It’s no longer about choice.”

The organic industry has become an extorter of government rents at the expense of the taxpayers. This is particularly true of organic processors, which, like organic farms, must be certified. Popoff shows that the ludicrously large number of these processors in North America far exceed the capacity of the whole organic production industry of the continent.  But surely, for these processors to stay in business they need to fill their capacity. How do they do this?

The answer is simple. They import “organic” produce from the rest of the world. There is nothing inherently evil about importing foodstuffs, organic or otherwise. But when the government subsidizes those businesses with taxpayer money, then there is reason for outrage. That is exactly what happens with these processors, which grow fat on subsidies at the expense of we, the people.

The sham that is the organic food industry needs to be fought at every level. It is critical that people stand up to the racketeers and deny them the ability to continue their corrupt shenanigans.

Categories: On the Blog

The Right Needs a New Message on Income Inequality

Somewhat Reasonable - April 30, 2014, 10:06 AM

Few French economists have achieved the kind of adulation Thomas Piketty has experienced recently from the media and the left. Within the context of the American political scene, Piketty’s dour predictions for the future of capitalism and his call for a “utopian” global wealth tax fit perfectly with the left’s frame of an inequality message.

This political frame glosses over much of the subtlety of Mr. Piketty’s book, but it plays to the strengths of the old-school class-warfare terminology used by Paul Krugman and others. It’s a message that ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos suggested this weekend is catching conservatives “flat-footed.”

But the left faces several challenges to its message on income inequality: First, the Democratic Party largely owns the current regulatory system and the relationship between government and Wall Street (not just with Dodd-Frank but with a host of policies under President Barack Obama); second, the left offers few politically realistic answers to the inequality challenge it frames (proposals to raise the minimum wage and enact crushing, anti-growth taxes on high earners and inheritances are provocative but unlikely to go anywhere); third, their most public champion after the coming election cycle is not the populist Elizabeth Warren but Hillary Clinton, a presidential candidate as closely tied to America’s 1% as, well, Mitt Romney.

And when it comes to measuring the health of America’s economy, the truth is that income inequality is simply not a significant problem.

Several recent studies have shown that U.S. economic mobility is very good: Most Americans will move up and down the income ladder over the course of their lives, reflecting little to none of the class stratification and inheritance concerns warned about by inequality mavens.

But as a political matter, it’s certainly possible that Republicans could be flat-footed in responding to these charges.

What the right should learn from the Piketty pother is that it needs an updated economic message that speaks to the challenges of the times. For decades, the GOP economic agenda has amounted to “lower taxes” – but for many Americans, high taxes are less of a concern than anti-growth economic policies. Those on the right should be prepared to make the case that the warped relationship between Wall Street and Washington needs to be fixed, that socialized risks and privatized profits are fundamentally unfair, and that Mr. Piketty’s equality-focused policy solutions, and those of the left, would hurt income mobility and systematically destroy wealth and growth.

There is an enormous opportunity here for a message of free-market fairness — if the right has the wherewithal to seize it. Otherwise, Republicans could slide into the trap of debating new entitlements and renewed redistribution, the kind where the left will always outbid them. As Friedrich Hayek wrote, “There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal.” The former, not cheaper versions of the latter, represents the way forward for the right.

[Originally published by the Wall Street Journal]

Categories: On the Blog

The Lower Cost of a Truly Limited Government

Somewhat Reasonable - April 30, 2014, 10:00 AM

A demonstration of just how far the United States has moved from its original founding principles is seen in the fact that in all the jousting over ObamaCare, the general rise in “entitlement” spending, and the burden of government regulation over American enterprises, there is one question that seems rarely to be asked: What should be the size and scope of government, and what would it cost if government were cut down more to the size delineated in the original Constitution?

Whenever, occasionally, this question is asked, the answer seems to be very far from what the Founding Fathers had in mind, if one is in anyway familiar with their conception of limited government and individual liberty.

Thinking the Clinton Years were “Limited Government”

For example, in 2012 two books appeared by “conservative,” free market-oriented economists who were clearly trying to influence the terms of the political debate during that presidential election year.

For example, in 2012 two books appeared by “conservative,” free market-oriented economists who were clearly trying to influence the terms of the political debate during that presidential election year.

They were, “First Principles: Five Keys to Restoring America’s Prosperity” by John B. Taylor and “Why Capitalism?” by Allan H. Meltzer. John Taylor is a professor of economics at Stanford University and a highly regarded monetary theorist who is generally critical of Keynesian “activist” fiscal and central banking policy. He served in President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors and as Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs.

Allan Meltzer is a professor of political economy at Carnegie Mellon University, and an internationally acclaimed expert on the history of the Federal Reserve, as well as one of America’s leading monetary theorists who, also, has long been critical of “easy money” policies by America’s central bank.

They both believe strongly in the value and importance of a competitive economic system that fosters entrepreneurship, innovation, and rising standards of living. They also don’t think that government has the knowledge, wisdom or ability to direct a complex market order.

Their books contain insightful and wise analysis of how and why America has gotten into its present dismal situation. Plus, as “insiders” in the halls of Washington, D.C. at one time or another, they have many interesting examples of the manipulation, corruption and inefficiencies to be found in American politics.

So what, in their views, should the current size of government be cut back to? Since they were both writing “political” books in an election year, perhaps they were fearful of seeming to be too “radical” in a more limited government direction. But the fact is that for both of them it seems that getting government cut down to its dimensions during the 1980s and 1990s would more or less set everything straight.

For many of us who lived in the 1990s during the presidencies of the older Bush and then Bill Clinton, however, government taxing, spending, and regulating all seemed to be far too high and extensive, given an older conception of what a free America could and should be like.

In other words, two prominent and respected market-oriented economists made the case for using as a benchmark of having a freer America the interventionist-welfare state of merely twenty years ago.

A More Reasonable Benchmark for Judging “Big Government”

So from a more clearly classical liberal perspective, what might be used as a more reasonable standard or benchmark of a limited government and freer market society in judging the size and scope of government today?

The first edition of The World Almanac was published in 1868. The entire federal government fit on one page in that first edition; half of that page was taken up with listing the names of the U.S. ambassadors to foreign countries.

The executive branch of the federal government included only seven departments: Treasury, State, War, Navy, Interior, Attorney General, and the Postmaster General. And this was after the significant growth in the federal government during the recently fought American Civil War (1861-1865)!

Today, the listing of all departments, bureaus and agencies of the federal government takes up at least seven or eight pages of very small print in The World Almanac. The administrative units of the federal government that regulate, control, supervise, plan and oversee virtually every aspect of American life now number in the hundreds. The United States government has sometimes been portrayed as a giant octopus whose numerous tentacles are wrapped around everything that any American does in the market, social, or personal spheres of life.

The Cost of a More Constitutionally Downsized Government

Let us suppose that government were to be “downsized” to what it was in 1868, as listed in that first edition of The World Almanac. What would be the cost of government and the tax burden on the American citizenry? In making such an estimate, let us recall that the departments of war and the navy are now part of one Department of Defense. Let us also presume that the government’s post office monopoly is abolished and all forms of mail delivery are fully left to private competitive enterprise, so there is no longer a Postmaster General.

That would leave five executive level departments comprising the entire federal government: defense, justice, interior, treasury, and state. In terms of their combined expenditures in 2013, together the cost of the federal government would come to about $900 billion, if that was all for which Washington was responsible.

Of course, this presumes that in a more limited government America, the current activities of these departments would not be radically reduced to be more consistent with the “original intent” of the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.

If we add the interest paid on the national debt in 2013 ($233 billion) to the cost of this smaller government, the total then would be $1.1 trillion, or less than one-third of what the federal government actually spent in fiscal year 2013.

The Washington spent over $28,200 per American household in 2013. If government were to be reduced to its 1868 size, that dollar spending per household would shrink to $9,800.

Approximately 140 million Americans filed tax returns in 2012. Median household income in 2013 was about $51,000. If the current progressive income tax were transformed into a flat income tax with a rate of about 16 percent, then the average tax burden per taxpayer would be around $8,000. (Repeal of the federal income tax might also be introduced at some point, of course!)

Plus, there would be no budget deficit, and no other taxes of any sort would have to be imposed to cover the costs of running this very much smaller federal government.

Limited Government Means Ending the Welfare State

Of course, the first reaction to these numbers is, no doubt: But what happens to all that other government spending, especially the “entitlement” programs (Social Security and Medicare, in particular) that in the 2013 fiscal year ate up about 50 percent of the government’s nearly $3.5 trillion of total spending?

Clearly, these programs would have to be phased out, privatized, “denationalized,” removed from the controlling and redistributing hands of government. Even if there were the political will to move in that direction, it would no doubt take some time to remove them from the functions of a truly constitutionally limited federal government.

But the point of this seemingly unrealistic exercise is precisely to mark off that point on the political horizon that should be the goal towards which friends of freedom should want to see America move.

This may seem terribly “fantastic” to many in America today. How could government ever be, well, that small?

In fact it was, and only one hundred years ago. In 1913, the year before the beginning of the First World War and the introduction of the federal income tax amendment to the Constitution, all levels of government – federal, state, and local – taxed less than 8 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. In other words, 92 percent of all income received remained in the hands of those who had earned it in the private sector market place.

There was no welfare state, no “entitlement” programs. Americans took it for granted that helping those who had fallen on “hard times,” and who were in “need” and “deserving” of such assistance would receive it through private philanthropy and voluntary community charity. A careful reading of the history of that earlier time shows that the private benevolence of free individuals worked very well.

Freedom Means the “Let-Alone Principle”

It is also worth recalling that there was a time when most Americans did not think that government was supposed to be responsible for them. The vast majority of Americans viewed themselves as self–governing and self-responsible individuals.

Simon Newcomb (1835-1909) was a prominent American astronomer and noted free market economist who taught at Johns Hopkins University in the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1870, he published an article in which he summarized what he took to be the common-sense ideal of what he called, “The Let-Alone Principle.” Newcomb said:

“That each individual member of society should be left free to seek his own good in the way he may deem best, and required only not to interfere with the equal rights of his fellowmen . . .

“The let-alone principle may be regarded either as a declaration of rights or as a maxim of political policy. In the first case, the principle declares that society has not the right to prevent an individual who is capable of taking care of himself from seeking his own good in the way he deems best, so long as he does not infringe on the rights of his fellowmen.

“In the second case, the principle forms the basis of a certain theory of governmental policy, according to which the political system is most conducive to the public good in which the rightful liberty of the individual is least abridged . . .

“It needs only a consideration of first principles to make it plain that the main object of government is the protection of minorities, especially those most powerless minorities, individuals . . . It makes little difference to the minority or to any particular individual whether [his] rights are disregarded by a despot, a highwayman, or a majority of his fellow-citizens, wielding the powers of government . . .

“The real point in dispute between the friends and the opponents of free government and individual liberty is simply this: Is man a being to be taken care of, or is he able when protected in his rights to take care of himself better than any governing power – congress, king, or parliament – can take care of him? The advocates of universal freedom claim that, if each individual is protected in the enjoyment of his individual rights as a responsible member of the community, he can take care of himself, and manage his own affairs and his share of the public affairs better than any other one else can do these for him.”

Simon Newcomb added that government “interference is so apt to lead to unforeseen complications, – that the best course for a government to follow is, to adhere to the let-alone policy as a matter of principle.”

Losing Sight of the Value of Self-Responsible Freedom

The danger, therefore, was drifting into the false and dangerous belief that individuals could not and should not be self-responsible, and that government could and should take paternalistic responsibility for people, instead.

Another prominent American free market economist who expressed this in the late nineteenth century was J. Laurence Laughlin (1850-1933), who founded the economics department at the University of Chicago. In 1887, Laughlin warned:

“Socialism, or the reliance on the state for help, stands in antagonism to self-help, or the activity of the individual. That body of people is certainly the strongest and the happiest in which each person is thinking for himself, is independent, self-respecting, self-confident, self-controlled, and self-mastered. When a man does a thing for himself he values it infinitely more than if it is done for him, and he is a better man for having done it . . .

“If, on the other hand, men constantly hear it said that they are oppressed and down-trodden, deprived of their own, ground down by the rich, and that the state will set all things right for them in time, what other effect can that teaching have on the character and energy of the ignorant than the complete destruction of all self-help? They think that they can have commodities that they have not helped to produce. They begin to believe that two and two make five . . .

“The danger of enervating results flowing from dependence on the state for help should cause us to restrict the interference of legislation as far as is possible, and should be permitted only when there is an absolute necessity, and even then it should be undertaken with hesitation.”

Laughlin added, “The right policy is a matter of supreme importance, and we should not like to see in our country the system of interference as exhibited in the paternal theory of government existing in France and Germany.”

Unfortunately, America did import the theory and policy of political paternalism from the collectivist trends then growing stronger in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Europe. They became the basis and rationale for a far bigger government in the United States beginning in the Progressive Era in the early decades of the twentieth century and accelerating in the New Deal days of the Roosevelt administration in the 1930s.They have continued ever since, up to our own time, under both Democrats and Republicans.

But the ideological wind is out of the sails of the interventionist welfare state. It continues to exist in America and indeed around the world not because most people really believe that government can solve all their ills and make a paradise on earth, but more out of pure political inertia due to a lack of rightly reasoned principles for a rebirth of a philosophy of individual rights that would logically lead to and necessitate a truly limited government.

Our task, however daunting it may seem at times, is to offer a new vision of a free society grounded in the concept of individual rights that can once again capture the excitement and confidence of our fellow citizens. When that is accomplished the size and cost of government, over time, will be reduced accordingly. And Americans will live in and value a far freer and more prosperous country.

[Originally published at EpicTimes]

Categories: On the Blog

Time for Organic Activists to Stop Spreading Lies

Somewhat Reasonable - April 30, 2014, 9:38 AM

Wouldn’t making it in America be easy if you could just pass laws to put your competition out of business? That’s precisely what’s being attempted by anti-GMO organic activists across America today. Rather than win one consumer at a time in the market, attempts are being made to either label foods containing genetically-modified ingredients like a pack of cigarettes, or to simply ban them outright.

For the campaign to ban GMOs outright, we turn to Dr. Lanita Witt, an organic farmer in Oregon. And for the campaign to label GMOs – in spite of the complete lack of evidence that they cause any harm to humans, animals or the environment – we turn to Senator David Zuckerman, an organic farmer and state legislator from Vermont.

Activists like Wit and Zuckerman never tire of pretending that genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) pose a threat to organic farms and the very health of the American public, citing “alarming impacts on industrial agriculture” along with concern “about the long-term health of our nation’s soils, water, flora and fauna.”

But, stop and think. If there was any chance whatsoever that GMO crops might put organic farmers like Wit and Zuckerman at risk, why didn’t organic stakeholders like Wit and Zuckerman say so in their standards for organic production? And why has there never been a single organic farmer who was de-certified, let alone faced disciplinary action, for alleged “contamination” of his crops by GMOs?

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) makes no mention whatsoever of GMOs contaminating or in any way undermining the organic integrity of organic crops. Full stop. Either people like Dr. Witt and Sen. Zuckerman are ignorant of the actual rules of organic production in America, or they are willfully ignoring federal laws on organic production that were written, edited and finalized by American organic stakeholders during the Clinton Administration.

There is no basis to Wit’s claim that GMO crops “put our family farmers at risk,” or that they endanger, as Zuckerman claims, the “health of our nation’s soils, water, flora and fauna.” In fact, such statements could very well be interpreted as defamatory being that they are based neither upon science nor, as mentioned, the very laws for organic production that organic stakeholders like Witt and Zuckerman helped write! Such statements are, at the very least, a form of false advertising for the tax-subsidized American organic movement.

The organic industry has grown exponentially over the very same time as the use of GMO crops on American farms has grown. So why lie and pretend GMOs pose some sort of risk? Clearly if there was any threat posed by GMOs to organic farming in America, the American organic industry wouldn’t today be worth more than all of Major League Baseball combined. If anything, it would appear that the existence of GMOs is good for the organic industry.

As Zuckerman himself admits, campaigns to force the labelling of GMO foods, alongside attempts to ban them outright, are “all, for lack of a better word, organic.” Ha ha — how droll, Mr. Zuckerman. But in all seriousness, is this really what being organic in America has come to mean? Attacking technologies that you disagree with?

The organic industry is really just a federal marketing system, as Clinton’s Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman stressed: “Let me be clear about one thing. The organic label is a marketing tool. It is not a statement about food safety. Nor is ‘organic’ a value judgment about nutrition or quality.”

On behalf of the hundreds-of-thousands of American farmers who choose to grow GMO crops, Dr. Witt and Sen. Zuckerman should stop spreading fear over this perfectly-safe and highly-beneficial form of agricultural technology.

Instead of attacking their competition with misguided and decidedly unscientific political gambits, Witt and Zuckerman should quietly return to tending to their organic crops, and stand on their own merit. Who knows? They might even enjoy not being so darn negative all the time.


[Originally published at the Daily Caller]

Categories: On the Blog

Ben Carson: I Never Thought I Would Live Past Age 25

Somewhat Reasonable - April 30, 2014, 1:29 AM

Dr. Benjamin Carson was the latest guest of The New York Group, which is run by Mallory Factor, a friend of The Heartland Institute via his “Shadowbosses” presenation and the Heartland Daily Podcast. If you haven’t bookmarked the New York Group site, do so. They have great guests who provide excellent conversations about proper and practical ways to think about our liberty.

In the latest discussion — which you can see below — Dr. Ben Carson talked in his opening remarks about he hated beign poor, how he rejected that mindset, how reading as a child pulled him away from povery, how he earned his way to Johns Hopkins, how innovated surgery, the immoral selfishness of a $17 trillion, national debt, how he refuses to “submit to the PC police,” how pop culture affects the lives of Americans in a negative way, and many more topics.

After his opening remarks, Carson took questions from a panel of intellectuals.

David Webb: Asked about education and Carson’s education scholarships. Carson talked abou the scholarship programs he gives to underprivileged kids, and why conservatives have to put “wheels” behind such privately funded programs.

Peggy Noonan: Asked what is the most misunderstood aspect about conservatism. Carson’s answer: The great compassion of conservatives — and, yes, even during the “robber baron” era.

James Taranto: Asked was the Supreme Court right to affirm a right to bear arms in DC, Chicago, and other urban settings? Carson says he has “evolved” on this over the years. People need to defend themselves. Full stop.

David Webb: Asked about Carson’s rough upbringing in Detroit. Carson answered: “God has a sense of humor” and turned the knives he was threatened with in his youth into the scalpels of his life as a surgeon.

Audience question: What about pop cultre? Carson said: I’ve spoken to the makers of pop culture and hip-hop. What if you told young ladies that if they get pregnant early, they end their education? And that’s a terrible thing. Put that message in your music.

There’s much more, including Carson’s urging for folks to visit: carsonscholars.org and SaveOurHealthcare.org

Watch  below:

Categories: On the Blog

Repeal Jones Act Before Exporting Oil

Somewhat Reasonable - April 29, 2014, 10:17 PM

For the past 40 years, in response to the OPEC embargo of 1973, crude petroleum exports from the U.S. have been severely restricted. Back then, we referred to oil as “liquid gold” and felt we needed to hoard our limited supplies. But because of the “shale revolution,” U.S. oil output is at its highest level in more than 25 years. In 2013 alone, production jumped by more than 1 million barrels a day, and output is projected to jump another 1 million in 2014.

This newfound abundance has come primarily from the application of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the many shale plays currently under development, most notably the Eagle Ford in South Texas and the Bakken in North Dakota. In response, recent months have witnessed a virtual explosion of debate and commentary about the United States getting into the business of exporting crude oil.

Some politicians and pundits claim that exporting oil will divert us from the path toward “energy independence.” Others argue that exporting oil will weaken our energy security since we’re still a net importer. Still others claim that keeping domestic oil at home will help lower gasoline and diesel prices. These arguments are baseless.

What’s more, it’s hard to envision a political scenario that would result in our inability to import oil. Over the past year, we’ve seen political unrest in Iraq, Libya, Bahrain, Syria and other petroleum exporting countries, but there has been little change in oil prices.

But removing the ban on oil exports will be a pyrrhic victory for consumers unless the Jones Act is repealed as well. A section of The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act requires that any ship carrying goods or commodities in U.S. waters between U.S. ports be built, registered, owned and crewed by American citizens or permanent residents. Though originally intended to improve the nation’s maritime security, today the Jones Act is simply a form of protectionism for America’s shipping industry and seafaring unions.

More important, the Jones Act distorts the allocation of America’s crude oil resources, increases our dependence on imports, and drives up energy prices for businesses and households in the Northeast. For example, today we have a glut of “light sweet crude” being produced in the Eagle Ford play of South Texas because Gulf Coast refineries are geared principally to processing heavy grades of crude oil. Unfortunately, because there are no crude oil pipelines connecting the Gulf Coast to the Northeast, where most refineries are designed to process sweet crude, those facilities must rely on imported oil that is typically more expensive. East Coast refineries are also receiving light crude from the Bakken by rail tank car, a costly and risky way to move oil over long distances.

In theory, crude oil could be shipped by Jones Act tankers from the Gulf to the Northeast. But the cost would be prohibitive, about $4 per barrel. By contrast, shipping oil by foreign-flagged carriers would cost only about $1.20 per barrel.

Repealing the Jones Act would generate a broad range of economic benefits, not only for residents of the Northeast but for all Americans. Refineries on the East Coast would have access to cheaper domestically-produced crude oil, which would lower the cost of gasoline, diesel and fuel oil for households and businesses. The resulting drop in imported oil would enhance U.S.’ energy security while at the same time improving our balance-of-payments.

Boosting the demand for domestic oil will also help sustain the energy boom that has created hundreds of thousands of jobs in recent years against the backdrop of a less-than-robust economic recovery from the Great Recession. Should repeal of the Jones Act be accompanied by, or followed by, the removal of restrictions on U.S. crude oil exports, the positive economic impacts would be magnified.

The U.S. has become a global energy powerhouse. Let’s start acting like one by removing anti-competitive and anti-growth relics like the Jones Act and the ban on crude oil exports.

[First published at the San Antonio Express-News.]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Institute Experts React to Supreme Court Ruling on EPA Air Pollution Rule

Somewhat Reasonable - April 29, 2014, 9:43 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled 6–2 to affirm the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability via the so-called “Cross-State Air Pollution Rule” to regulate power-plant emissions when those emissions have the potential to hurt downwind air-quality. The ruling in EPA v. EME Homer City Generation will affect about 1,000 power plants in 28 states.

The following statements from environment policy and legal experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org.

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“Through geographical luck, emissions from East Coast states like Connecticut and Massachusetts drift over the Atlantic Ocean where there are no states demanding abatement or compensation. Then, hypocritically, these same East Coast states complain about emissions crossing into their state borders from upwind states. EPA is all too happy to take advantage of these hypocritical complaints as an excuse to expand the agency’s power through new rules and restrictions.

“It is a shame that the U.S. Supreme Court continues to empower EPA to issue nonsensical interpretations of statutes with the primary goal of amassing more money and power.”

James M. Taylor
Senior Fellow for Environmental Policy
The Heartland Institute
jtaylor@heartland.org

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“The Supreme Court’s ruling is very unfortunate. The justices are not scientists at any level and cannot imagine how totally unscientific, and in fact erroneous, are the EPA standards required for air quality. If they held a modicum of reasonableness from a scientific standpoint, the court’s decision would not be terrible. The dispersion of chemicals in the air is such that at any reasonable distance that could be harmful to human health — a few hundred yards away — is clearly innocuous a few miles away.

“The justices optimistically believe that EPA knows what it is doing. Actually, the EPA does know what it is doing — which is to do the bidding of environmental extremists who wish at every level to stifle economic progress in the name of public health.

“It is a sad state of affairs that the extreme alarmists, without a scientific leg to stand on, are winning for now. Hopefully, the day will come when an administration will fill EPA with scientists instead of anti-progress greens.”

Jay Lehr
Science Director
The Heartland Institute
jlehr@heartland.org

—–

“Clean air and clean water are, of course, good things, but so are constitutional government and the rule of law. Agree or disagree with today’s decision, it is probably best encapsulated by some thoughts from the first and last paragraphs of Justice Scalia’s dissent:

“ ‘Too many important decisions of the Federal Government are made nowadays by unelected agency officials exercising broad lawmaking authority, rather than by the people’s representatives in Congress. With the statute involved in the present cases, however, Congress did it right. … EPA’s utterly fanciful ‘from each according to its ability’ construction sacrifices democratically adopted text to bureaucratically favored policy. Addressing the problem of interstate pollution in the manner Congress has prescribed … is a complex and difficult enterprise. But ‘[r]egardless of how serious the problem an administrative agency seeks to address, . . . it may not exercise its authority’ in a manner that is inconsistent with the administrative structure that Congress enacted into law.’ Brown & Williamson, 529 U. S., at 125 (quoting ETSI Pipeline Project v. Missouri, 484 U. S. 495, 517 (1988)).’ ”

David L. Applegate
Policy Advisor, Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
media@heartland.org

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“April seems to be the month in which the Supreme Court devotes itself to decisions that have no basis in real science and can do maximum damage to the economy. Invariably, the cases are brought by the Environmental Protection Agency and are decided in its favor.

“In April 2007, the court decided that carbon dioxide, the second most essential gas for all life on the planet was a ‘pollutant,’ the definition the EPA had applied to it in order to regulate it. Now comes word that the court had concluded that the EPA may regulate power-plant emissions that blow across state lines as per a 2011 regulation, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

“Not content to put nearly 150 or more coal-fired power plants out of commission, the court’s rule now gives the EPA authority to do the same thing to about a thousand power plants in the eastern half of the U.S. that will have to adopt new pollution controls or reduce operations.

“In effect, the court has just agreed to a regulation that represents a major increase in the cost of electricity in 28 states. The EPA’s claims that this will save lives they attribute to the alleged pollution is as bogus as all the rest of their justifications, the purpose of which is to undermine the nation’s economy in every way it can.”

Alan Caruba
Founder, The National Anxiety Center
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
acaruba@aol.com

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The Heartland Institute is a 30-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.

Categories: On the Blog
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