Critics of frac sand mining claim it is a dangerous unregulated industry that harms the environment and is detrimental to public health. That myth is laid to rest in a recent Heartland Policy Study authored by Mark Krumenacher, a senior principal and senior vice president at GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., and Heartland Institute Research Fellow Isaac Orr.
In their study, Krumenacher and Orr describe the existing federal, state, and local regulations governing industrial sand operations, which they say often overlap, creating a complex, multi-layered regulatory scheme. “[E]very aspect of industrial sand mining is regulated by more than 20,000 pages of federal, state, or local government laws and ordinances,” wrote the authors. “When properly drafted, local government ordinances can be beneficial to both industrial sand operators and neighboring communities. However, many times these ordinances are developed to be overly restrictive in a deliberate attempt to prevent industrial sand mining in a given area.
The ongoing battle over frac sand mining is similar to the struggle facing companies in the hydraulic fracturing industry; they currently must endure significant and costly methane-emissions regulations, which anti-fracking crusaders say are necessary to stop the numerous alleged problems caused by fracking. Orr refutes many of these unjustified anti-fracking allegations in a number of articles and essays, including one published in September by The American Spectator, in which he wrote, “In reality, methane is not the monster it’s made out to be, because emissions from oil and gas operations are generally low, and when leaks do occur, they are fixed quickly and easily.”
Orr and Krumenacher’s frac sand mining study is the fifth in a series of Heartland Policy Studies by the two authors. The four previous studies are “Environmental Impacts of Industrial Silica Sand (Frac Sand) Mining” (May 2015), “Economic Impacts of Industrial Silica Sand (Frac Sand) Mining” (June 2015), “Roadway Impacts of Industrial Silica Sand (Frac Sand) Mining” (September 2015), and “Social Impacts of Industrial Silica Sand (Frac Sand) Mining: Land Use and Value” (February 2016). They are all available on Heartland’s website at https://heartland.org/topics/energy/fracking-facts/index.html.
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Budget and Tax
Research & Commentary: Arizona Considers Flat Tax
Over the past few years, Arizona state legislators have considered several proposals to reduce or simplify their personal income tax system. The latest proposal would streamline Arizona’s income tax structure by implementing a single-rate income tax, collapsing the current system of five tax brackets into one. In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans discusses the flat tax and Arizona’s proposed tax reforms. “Arizona should continue to consider tax reforms that would lower rates, put dollars back into the pockets of taxpayers, and tighten states’ budgets by creating new, reasonable limits on spending. Eliminating income taxes altogether should be every state’s ultimate goal, as no tax is more disruptive to economic growth. While Arizona’s quasi-flat tax could be improved by looking at less-distortionary approaches than to targeted tax credits. Ultimately, this is a clear step toward simplifying the state’s tax code and keeping the state competitive with its neighbors,” wrote Glans. Read more
Common Core Is ‘Substandard,’ Incompatible with Catholic Education, Study Reports
In this article for School Reform News, Managing Editor Teresa Mull writes about a new report by the Pioneer Institute that concludes the national Common Core State Standards are “not compatible” with a Catholic education because “their workforce development emphasis ‘dramatically diminishes children’s intellectual and spiritual horizons.'”
“Rather than triggering imaginations and nourishing souls through the wonder of sustained encounters with works that have inspired generations, Common Core’s ‘cold reading’ method for informational texts transforms literacy into little more than a content-empty ‘skill set,'” the Pioneer Institute paper says. “Also, its mathematics framework locks children—except those whose parents are savvy enough to supplement their basic Common Core training—into a substandard education that will not prepare them for serious college coursework in science, technology, engineering, or math.” Read more
Energy and Environment
Research & Commentary: Newest Exelon Bailout Bill Would Harm Electricity Consumers
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans and Policy Analyst Tim Benson argue the Future Energy Jobs law, which contains a $235-million annual subsidy to Exelon to keep open two struggling nuclear power plants in Illinois, will harm individual consumers and families. The law, they write, will “benefit one energy company at the expense of everyone else in the state.” They conclude rather the passing the costly and destructive Future Energy Jobs law, the ideal policy approach for Illinois going forward would be to repeal the state’s renewable portfolio standard. Read more
Roadmap for the 21st Century: Health Care Reform
In “Roadmap for the 21st Century,” Heartland Senior Fellow Peter Ferrara and Lewis Uhler, the president of the National Tax Limitation Committee, provide their plan to replace Obamacare. Ferrara and Uhler say under their plan, the government would “make good” on the failed promises of Obamacare, providing access to quality health care for all without an employer mandate and the individual mandate and with trillions of dollars in reduced taxes, regulatory burdens, and federal spending. “The plan to replace Obamacare would make good on all the false promises Obama made for Obamacare. Health insurance costs would decline through the market incentives of health savings accounts available to all, market competition for consumer choice with universal health insurance tax credits, a national competitive market crossing state lines, and the repeal of costly Obamacare overregulation and taxes,” wrote Ferrara and Uhler. Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
IFL Makes Major Recommendations on Regulatory Reform
The Institute for Liberty recently released a memo detailing 11 recommendations it says the incoming administration should adopt to tackle the massive regulatory burden imposed on businesses and individuals in America, a burden it says costs roughly $2.25 trillion. The author of the memo, Andrew M. Langer, a public policy activist, wrote, “Evidence shows that by even making modest changes in regulatory costs, massive economic gains can be had. But regardless of whether these changes are minor or major, regulatory reform will have to be an essential element of the incoming administration’s economic policies if they want to jump-start the economy and put Americans back to work.” Read more