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‘Quill’ in states’ crosshairs as new Nexus standards enacted

Out of the Storm News - March 31, 2016, 9:18 AM

From Bloomberg BNA

Voters also are divided on the issue. Stitzel pointed to a national poll conducted by the R Street Institute in October 2015, which found that “by a 22-point margin (57 percent to 35 percent), respondents opposed Internet-sales tax proposals that were along the lines” of the MFA and the Remote Transactions Parity Act.

 

Rash Ratemaking: Lessons from Nevada’s NEM reforms

Out of the Storm News - March 31, 2016, 8:00 AM

In a December 2015 order, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) made drastic changes in its policies governing net energy metering (NEM), the process under which consumers are credited for generating their own electricity from non-dispatchable sources like wind and solar. The order came in response both to a filing by Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary NV Energy, the state’s largest electric utility, and to a legislative order that the regulator make a decision on solar NEM rates by the end of the year.

The commission’s changes reduced the compensation that owners of rooftop solar systems receive when they produce more energy than they consume and sell the excess back to the utility. It also tripled the fixed portion of their electric bills. The Nevada regulator based its decision on analyses that found the prior NEM rates shifted costs from NEM ratepayers to non-NEM ratepayers.

This paper offers a critique of the PUCN decision-making process and articulates a number of lessons learned. The goal is to ensure that other states considering similar changes first integrate all of the principles of good rate design.

Nevada net energy metering reform is cautionary tale for states

Out of the Storm News - March 31, 2016, 8:00 AM

WASHINGTON (March 31, 2016) — Increased consumer adoption of renewable-energy technologies has led to a rise in public utilities’ use of net energy metering (NEM), a model under which consumers who generate their own electricity earn credit for the power they sell back to the grid. However, recent misguided policy changes by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) should serve as a cautionary tale to other regulators around the country, according to a new R Street Institute report.

The PUCN issued its order in December 2015 in response to concerns that non-NEM ratepayers were shouldering an unfairly large cost burden. Under the new NEM framework, the utility’s basic service charge for NEM customers has tripled, while the compensation that ratepayers earn for distributed-generation (DG) energy sold back to the grid has decreased by about three-quarters. Unfortunately, the PUCN handed down these changes without completing a thorough analysis of all of the costs and benefits of NEM and DG technologies.

“The PUCN decision was rooted in faulty cost-of-service analyses conducted by NV Energy and the commission’s regulatory-operations staff,” writes R Street Senior Fellow Devin Hartman, the report’s author. “These flaws undermined the ability to detect whether costs were shifted from NEM ratepayers and, if so, to make prudent rate adjustments based on the magnitude of costs those ratepayers created.”

Hartman notes the flawed PUCN reforms did include some positive changes, such as the creation of a separate NEM ratepayer class, which will facilitate better information gathering on the impact NEM ratepayers have on the greater Nevada power grid. However, the paper finds those benefits were outweighed by the policy’s significant flaws.

“The PUCN ultimately chose a path that was worse than both the status quo and NV Energy’s own proposal,” Hartman writes. “This case study highlights the dangers of making rushed NEM reforms based on faulty analysis. The PUCN’s DG legacy to date may, in fact, benefit the industry and out-of-state ratepayers if other states learn to avoid making the same mistakes.”

Is Bernie Sanders’s nuclear phaseout plan a hippie pipe dream or smart policy?

Out of the Storm News - March 30, 2016, 4:13 PM

From New Republic

That’s also the view of Devin Hartman, electricity policy manager for the R Street Institute, a center-right think tank, and a former energy market analyst at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He points out that retired nuclear plants in the Northeast and California have been mostly replaced by increased natural gas usage. And in Japan and Germany, where the governments have been shutting down nuclear reactors since the Fukushima meltdown, coal use has spiked.

“Shutting down nuclear plants would create a little more demand for energy efficiency and renewables, but the net effect of nuclear retirements will generally be increasing emissions,” Hartman says.

Heartland Daily Podcast – Shikha Dalmia: The Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

Somewhat Reasonable - March 30, 2016, 4:04 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Shikha Dalmia, a Senior Analyst with the Reason Foundation, joins Managing Editor of Environment & Climate News H. Sterling Burnett. Dalmia, a resident of Michigan, joins Burnett to discuss the Flint water crisis.

As you would expect, Dalmia has followed closely the political shenanigan’s in the state including the ongoing political sideshow the water crisis has become. She explains how the situation was caused by the failure of government, not markets. Furthermore, she explains how markets serve to prevent such crises.

 

[Please subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

15 groups to Congress: implement a regulatory cost budget

Out of the Storm News - March 30, 2016, 2:34 PM

Dear Members of Congress,

The undersigned organizations call on Congress to implement a regulatory cost budget to address federal regulations, which frequently have the effect of tax increases. Like federal spending, regulations and their costs should be capped, tracked and disclosed annually.

The need for reform is urgent. The government’s cost burden imposed on American families and businesses extends well beyond taxes, deficits, and borrowing. The country spends hundreds of billions of dollars annually on red tape. That’s a big drain on the economy, entrepreneurship and job creation. And it’s not just regulated businesses that pay. Just as firms pass on tax costs, firms also pass on regulatory compliance costs. It’s a burden that hasn’t gone unnoticed, as a Pew Research Center poll revealed.

The current rulemaking process is broken. The executive branch can and does go around Congress and the states on matters such as healthcare, retirement, labor policy, education policy— and not solely by issuing normal regulations. The Obama administration in particular has escalated the use of agency guidance documents, memoranda, bulletins, manuals, circulars and other proclamations.

The current reporting and accountability by federal agencies is abysmal. Agencies impose costs and proclaim benefits with little meaningful constraint. Cost-benefit analysis at the agency level amounts to mere self-reporting and accompanies only a fraction of rules. So lawmakers don’t know much about the size and scope of the problem.

Congress should act now to require better reporting, more accountability, and better cost reduction. Specifically, Congress should pass a budget that includes the regulatory budget put forward by House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) in the new House Budget Resolution for fiscal year 2017. The chairman’s budget is remarkable for including a section on “Policy on Federal Regulatory Budgeting and Reform.”

The resolution calls for critical reforms:

  • Promote economic growth, job creation, higher wages, and increased investment by eliminating unnecessary red tape and streamlining, simplifying and lowering the costs of Federal regulations; the adoption of least-cost regulatory alternatives to meet the objectives of Federal regulatory statutes;
  • Protect the poor and lower-income households from the regressive effects of excessive regulation; and workers against the unnecessary elimination of jobs and loss or reduction of wages;
  • Require an annual, congressional regulatory budget that establishes annual costs of regulations and allocates these costs amongst Federal regulatory agencies;
  • Secure Congressional approval of all new major regulations before the regulations can become effective, ensuring that Congress can better prevent the imposition of unsound costly new regulations;
  • Analyze all new major regulations on at least a decennial basis, to ensure that regulations operate as intended and impose no more costs than necessary;
  • Mandate transparency and opportunities for hearings on disputed issues in high-cost major rulemaking;
  • Eliminate the abuse of guidance to evade legal requirements applicable to the development and promulgation of new regulations.

Note that the idea of a regulatory budget is not new. Former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.) proposed legislation in 1979 to cap compliance costs and establish an annual regulatory budget. More recently, Sen Mike Lee (R-Utah) put forward a “Regulatory Cost Assessment Act” and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) a “National Regulatory Budget.”

With the recognition of the regulatory hidden tax alongside the budgetary one, we urge Congress to seize this unique opportunity to assert control over the regulatory state and enact significant reforms.

Sincerely,

Competitive Enterprise Institute

American Commitment

Americans for Tax Reform

Campaign for Liberty

Center for Individual Freedom

Center for Regulatory Effectiveness

Citizens Against Government Waste

FreedomWorks

Frontiers of Freedom

Log Cabin Republicans

Main Street Growth Project

National Taxpayers Union

R Street Institute

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Congressional Data Coalition Meeting

Out of the Storm News - March 30, 2016, 1:44 PM
04/21/2016 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

By invitation only. Contact the organizer here. Click here to learn about CDC.

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As anti-SLAPP moves in Kansas, federal action still needed

Out of the Storm News - March 30, 2016, 1:42 PM

The Kansas House of Representatives earlier this week passed the Enacting the Public Speech Protection Act (HB 2054) by a nearly unanimous 123-1 margin. If its overwhelming support in the House is any indication, the bill is on track to become the state’s first anti-SLAPP law, making Kansas the 30th state in the nation to pass a law to address abusive litigation aimed at thwarting free speech.

SLAPPs, or “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” are lawsuits designed to intimidate or silence critics unfairly. They are highly effective, even if they are without legal merit, since the costs associated with fighting them are so prohibitive. Other states with longstanding anti-SLAPP statutes, such as California, have shown how instrumental they can be in protecting free speech.

While most states have some form of law on the books to combat SLAPPs, there is still no federal standard. As my colleague Cameron Smith wrote in his recent paper for R Street on anti-SLAPP laws:

The patchwork of state laws with varying provisions is healthy evidence of federalism in action, but those protections may be insufficient if and when a defamation action moves to federal court.

That’s why a broad coalition, including R Street, has called on Congress to pass H.R. 2304, the SPEAK FREE Act. This bill that would combat SLAPPs by giving defendants across the nation access to a special motion to dismiss. It also would empower individuals to fight meritless lawsuits aimed at intimidation and censorship. Over at Popehat, Ken White has a great explainer for those interested in diving deeper into the issue.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

A maddening whiskey shortage

Out of the Storm News - March 30, 2016, 10:40 AM

Tennessee is known for many things: country music, Elvis’s Graceland estate, beautiful mountains, and fine liquor. The state produces both moonshine (some of which is now being made licitly) and its own kind of whiskey. Like bourbon, nearly all Tennessee whiskey is made mostly from corn and aged in new charred oak barrels. Distillers in the Volunteer State go a step further and run the liquor through sugar-maple charcoal before putting it in cask.

Tennessee also is a case study in corrupt, consumer-unfriendly alcohol politics. Consider: Jack Daniel’s is an iconic, global brand. The company recently announced a $140 million expansion of its operations, which comes just a few years after a $103 million build-out. More than a quarter-million thirsty tourists come to the distillery each year. Yet, Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg is located in a dry county. Really. Moore County (population 6,322) generally prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages by shops and restaurants.

Moore County, it should be noted, is not an oddball. Until 2009, distilleries were permitted to operate in only three of Tennessee’s 95 counties. Perhaps in recognition that distilling jobs are economy-growing manufacturing jobs, the state Legislature lifted the cap to 44 counties.

It is a confounding situation. Every time an effort to make Tennessee’s alcohol laws more consumer-friendly and market-based, a political hullabaloo erupts. Most recently, the state considered making a technical change to its wine law. Under a 2014 statute, grocery stores are allowed to apply for licenses to sell wine as of July 1, 2016. But grocers and wholesalers were unclear whether the law allowed the shops to take delivery of the wine before July 1.

An easy-peasy legislative fix was in order. Instead, everything went bananas.

Rep. Curry Todd, R- Colliersville, moved to amend the bill with a provision that would limit any company from owning more than two liquor stores. Gov. Bill Haslam was annoyed and opponents of the nonsensical proposal accused Todd of being a tool for liquor stores that feared competition from big retailers, likeTotalWine.

Todd proclaimed he was motivated by public safety concerns:

This bill is not about protectionism. We’re selling distilled spirits. We’re not selling a piece of candy. As I was in law enforcement, I saw many families ruined with alcohol and drugs. I’ve seen many in jail or put many in jail myself. I had families that dealt with this issue. I have and others. So I know what it does to you.

Todd also said that he was not in anyone’s pocket except Jesus Christ’s.

The lugubrious cap legislation was first disapproved, then approved by committee, and now may be headed to the governor’s desk. As an apparent slap at Haslam, some legislators got behind a proposal to expand the number of commissioners on the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission and give the Legislature a bigger say in their appointments. Oh, then the state alcohol board’s head resigned without explaining why, and the acting director is going to quit soon to join a law firm.

Indubitably, some of the wild gyrations of Tennessee’s alcohol politics are due to religious fundamentalism. Old blue laws forbidding Sunday sales of wine and the display of sub-areola breast flesh in bars remain on the books, and some citizens espouse teetotalism.

But most of the political madness is motivated by something far more base—economic protectionism. Tennessee’s alcoholic-beverage-control regime is chock full of rules that protect various businesses from competition. For example, Section 57-3-806(e) of the code forbids a grocery store located within 500 feet of a liquor store from obtaining a permit to sell wine before July 1, 2017. Additionally, grocers may only sell beer and malt beverages (like Smirnoff Ice). Drinks retailers must go through an onerous process to dump one beverage wholesaler and buy beverages from another, etc.

In describing the Todd legislation, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, captured the spirit of much of Tennessee’s regulation: “What we’re doing is we’re limiting competition… We’re not keeping people from drinking. What we’re doing is we’re deciding who makes the money off of it.”

And that, plainly, is the very antithesis of free enterprise and fair competition. In a saner world, the Tennessee Legislature would scrap the ABC code entirely and start anew. But that cannot happen until the state’s citizens demand better.

Netflix’s Contribution to the Net Neutrality Big Lie

Somewhat Reasonable - March 30, 2016, 9:11 AM

Net Neutrality is a really stupid, anti-capitalism policy – that the Barack Obama Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unilaterally (and likely illegally) jammed down our throats in February 2015.

Uber-huge-bandwidth-hog online-video-streaming-company Netflix has long been a very vocal proponent of Network Neutrality. About which Netflix said: “The net neutrality debate is about who picks winners and losers online: Internet service providers or consumers. Today, the FCC settled it: Consumers win.”

Except consumers don’t win. They rarely do when government gets (exponentially) bigger. Of course uber-huge-bandwidth-hog-company Netflix likes Net Neutrality – because it outlaws their being charged for being an uber-huge-bandwidth-hog-company.

No matter how much data Netflix uses – and they use a ton – Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can not charge them a dime. Which leaves We the Consumers picking up Netflix’s tab – in the form of much higher monthly ISP charges. That’s consumers-augmenting-Netflix-profits – which is certainly a win for Netflix. For We the Consumers? Not so much.

And lest we forget: “Netflix…was one of the lead proponents of…a bright-line prohibition on throttling online traffic by broadband providers.”

With all of this Netflix Net Neutrality inanity in mind – this late last week was a bit of news.

Netflix Has Been Secretly Slowing Down Your Videos for the Past Five Years: “Netflix and its allies last year won the fight over Net Neutrality, arguing that without federal protections Internet service providers could throttle traffic to individuals and companies that didn’t pay for access to Internet fast lanes.”

Get that? Internet throttling by ISPs? Cataclysmic. But when non-ISP Netflix does it? No problem.

Not Neutrality: The Netflix Scandal That Isn’t: “(W)hatever it is, it’s not a Net Neutrality violation. Plain and simple. Anyone who tells you that it is — or that this practice undermines the case for Net Neutrality rules — is either in the business of misleading you, woefully ignorant of the law, or both.”

Sadly, that is correct. Because the FCC’s huge power grab – doesn’t apply to “edge providers” like Netflix. Only ISPs are subject to this heinous onerousness: “ISPs could receive a hefty fine under the net neutrality rules for similar practices, but Netflix faces no such danger, at least not for the throttling itself. The net neutrality rules only apply to ISPs…, not to companies…like Netflix or Google Inc.”

How’s that for un-equal protection before the law? Except this isn’t law – it’s agency regulatory fiat. We’re already WAY off the Constitutional map – here there be monsters.

Pro-Net Neutrality zealots have been pushing their terrible idea for more than a decade. Knowing what we now know about Netflix – much of those shoves along the way may require reexamination.

Verizon, Netflix Continue Net Neutrality War of Words (July 2014): “In a memo to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, said ‘Our focus on strong net neutrality, including interconnection, is about preventing large ISPs from holding our joint customers hostage with poor performance.…’”

Get that? Netflix’s accusation that Verizon was slowing down their videos – was likely a key component in the FCC’s Net Neutrality imposition decision seven months later. And it was all a lie. Verizon wasn’t “holding…joint customers hostage” – Netflix was.

But of course Netflix lied. Because Net Neutrality is a giant lie. So getting it rammed down upon us required a lot of additional lies all along the way.

These lies are slowly coming unraveled. Here’s hoping the FCC’s Net Neutrality power grab disintegrates along with it.

[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

The Developing World Wants Natural Gas and Electricity, Hillary Clinton Sends Cookstoves

Somewhat Reasonable - March 30, 2016, 8:58 AM

Hillary Clinton’s “trustworthiness” problem is fed by a long history of “varying credibility,” as a recent Politico story delineated, including cattle-futures trading, law firm billing records, muddled sniper fire recollections and e-mail use.

While providing pertinent points, the Politico list is just a sampling.

One missing item on the “mistrust” litany is a project she reportedly cooked up as Secretary of State, but that was shaped by her family foundation. State Department staff sent official emails to solicit funds from foreign governments.

The project sounds innocent enough: “to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change.” What miracle product can do all that? A cookstove. Yes, that is correct—a cookstove. This is not the product of “as seen on TV” wizardry, nor is it the latest in high-efficiency appliances.

There’s something fishy when governments throughout the world (including the U.S), corporations (including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Johnson & Johnson), and Ted Turner’s UN Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative are involved as they are with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (Alliance).

No one would begrudge corporations giving to a philanthropic effort, but we would probably feel differently about our own tax dollars going to the project Clinton is hawking—especially when the project is, by most accounts, an epic fail.

The Alliance claims to provide a solution to the “fourth worst overall health risk factor in developing countries.” Its website’s “Frequently Asked Questions” download states: “Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires—the primary means of cooking and heating for nearly three billion people in the developing world—causes 1.9 million premature deaths annually with women and young children most affected.” Not only that, but “Reliance on biomass for cooking and heating increases pressure on local resources” as women and children “forage for fuel.” Additionally, “inefficient cookstoves contribute to climate change through emissions of greenhouse gases.”

To remedy this problem, it would make sense for the well-funded public-private partnership to use its money and influence to help build natural-gas-fueled power plants and infrastructure to bring electricity to the developing world. But that was not Clinton’s idea.

On September 21, 2010, the world first became aware of Clinton’s brainchild—though she may have stolen the idea from India’s National Biomass Cookstoves Initiative that made headlines around the world in the summer of 2010. The Secretary of State announced the Alliance at the Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (GCI)—with the Clinton Foundation being one of the “Strategic Partnerships and Alliances.” By November 2014, at the “Inaugural Cookstoves Futures Summit” it was announced that more than $400 million had been raised for the project. As co-host of the meeting, Clinton exclaimed: “We have to redouble our efforts to get more clean and efficient products in the hands and homes of families everywhere. … We can rededicate ourselves to doing everything we can to help more people in more places to breathe more easily, work more safely and live healthier lives.” In her memoir, Hard Choices, she brags about her role in the Alliance: “I was delighted by the scope and speed of the progress [the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves] made around the world.”

“Progress” in the Alliance can be attributed to her influence as Secretary of State. Before the announcement of the Alliance, Kris Balderston, who served as her special representative for global partnerships, on his state.gov account pressured Norway to join. They obliged with a commitment for a $600,000 “down payment.” Apparently, as emails revealed, the country wanted to be part of the launch: “They wanted to move quickly for the CGI announcement.” (Note: Norway is a major donor to the Clinton Foundation.) Once Norway signed on, France and Finland were expected to follow suit. While traveling the globe, on the taxpayers’ dime, Clinton recruited more partners.

All big charity programs have celebrity spokespersons—the Alliance has actress Julia Roberts and chef Jose Andres—but Clinton was much more. She is credited with the program’s birth. While Secretary of State, it was “on the top of her agenda.” Once retiring from her official duties, Clinton became the Chair of the Alliance’s Leadership Council—where she still serves.

If you don’t know the rules, this may seem like petty politics. However, as Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis and an expert on ethics in government, in the Washington Times cites the Code of Federal Regulations on the use of public office for private gain: “an employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity, including nonprofit organizations of which the employee is an officer or member.”

While at best, Clinton’s clean cookstove campaign seems slimy, and may be illegal, one might cast a blind eye if the program achieved its aggrandizing goals.

These so-called “clean cookstoves,” even by the Alliance’s own literature, “may last for several years”—yet only 20 percent, according to a survey cited in the Washington Post (WP), are still in use after two years. While the Alliance has reportedly “helped drive more that 28 million stoves into the field,” most do not meet the World Health Organization’s guidelines for indoor emissions. The WP states: “The vast majority of the stoves burn wood, charcoal, animal dung or agricultural waste—and aren’t, therefore, nearly as healthy as promised.” While “some perform well in the lab,” others “crack or break under constant heat.”

In her book, A River Runs Again, journalist Meera Subramanian chronicled cookstove use in India. The WP reports: “She found that women had stopped using the stoves because they didn’t like the design or because the stoves broke, burned more wood (not less, as intended) or didn’t get foods hot enough.”

Defending the Alliance’s effort, Radha Muthiah, CEO of the Alliance, says: “There may not be the greatest health benefit, but there’s certainly a good environmental benefit, and it will save them more time” and create “livelihood and empowerment opportunities.”

Distributing stoves that “we know will kill people” has been called “unethical.” Rema Hanna, the Harvard economist who led “Up in Smoke”—which WP calls “the most extensive field study to date on this subject”—says: “it makes no sense to ‘push more stoves into the world that people are not going to use.’” According to a recent publication in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, David Kreutzer, Senior Research Fellow, Energy Economics and Climate Change at The Heritage Foundation, reports: “there were no long-term (after four years) health benefits from clean cook stoves. After two years, smoke inhalation was not at all different, and by the fourth year, nearly one-third of the households had so little use for the new stoves that they actually destroyed them.”

Rather than burning biomass, experts believe that gas, electricity, or both would be better at protecting health. Kreutzer agrees: “These cookstoves seem to be substitutes for efforts to provide affordable modern power to those in need”—which he says condemn so many of the poor to continuing energy poverty. Sadly, Alliance members oppose projects that would provide low-cost power to these poor households.

You have to wonder, if these cookstoves—which are more like a hibachi grill than a stove and cost about $25—don’t achieve the stated goals, why is Clinton such a proponent? As Christine Lakatos, whom I have worked with on dozens of green-energy, crony-corruption reports, and who alerted me to this dirty story, found in her Green Corruption File report, Alliance work was a high priority during Clinton’s time as Secretary of State. The project spanned eleven federal agencies and, so far, totals more than $114 million.

Her involvement complicates her “trustworthiness” concerns and risks, as the Washington Times points out: “Raising questions about where she drew the line between official business and aiding the family charity run by her husband and daughter.”

The answer to Clinton’s involvement, and the conflict of interest with her role at the State Department and “aiding the family charity,” deserves further investigation by someone with better access, and a bigger budget, than Lakatos or I have. But a hint can be found on the Alliances’ own website: carbon credits. It states: “In addition to being one of the fastest growing offset types in the voluntary market, cookstoves credits are selling for some of the highest prices observed in the voluntary carbon market.”

If Clinton becomes president, her energy policies will likely enact a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax—which would suddenly make her cookstove project profitable.  Rather than helping bring modern power to the world’s poor, she’s, as Kreutzer calls it, “prolonging energy poverty for millions upon millions in the developing world.” And that is the dirty story behind Clinton’s clean cookstove campaign.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

Categories: On the Blog

“Lip Service but Little Else”, Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access holds hearing on the “Failure of the Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit”

Somewhat Reasonable - March 30, 2016, 7:34 AM

The U.S. House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access held a hearing, appropriately titled, “Lip Service but Little Else: Failure of the Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit, to discuss the failures of the tax credit that Obamacare offered to small businesses.

Chairman Tim Heulskamp remarked that “the credit scheme is so cumbersome and poorly designed that it is largely ineffective.”

Testimony included remarks from persons representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

Harold Jackson, Executive Chairman of Buffalo Supply, Inc., a small business in Colorado with 20 employees who provided “a concrete real life example as to the shortfalls of this premium tax credit which is unfortunately illusive to most small businesses.”

Holly Wade, Director of Research and Policy Analysis, on behalf of NFIB, testified that “the tax credit was largely ineffective on both fronts as its design is exceedingly restrictive, complicated, and only offers limited and temporary relief to a larger small business cost problem.”

Michael Ricco, Quality Manager for AEEC, on behalf of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, attested that “it is the small businesses in middle – particularly those between 50-100 employees – that could benefit the most from this health care tax credit.”

Four main points were central to the testimonies the subcommittee heard. The first was that the eligibility requirements were not effective enough to impact all small businesses. Second, the complicated language deterred most small businesses from even determining if they were eligible for the credit. Third, the tax credit is temporary, and can only be claimed for two years, providing little relief for small business owners. The fourth concern was that, as of July 1, 2014, the tax credit is only available to small business owners through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP ) marketplaces, limiting the options for employers.

This subcommittee hearing only offers some insight into the future negative impact of Obamacare on small businesses, and is very telling. It is indicative that there is a major problem to be addressed, as Wade ended her testimony that the health insurance tax credit was a poor tool for cost effectiveness and that “more importantly, health insurance costs continue to increase, and small business owners continue to struggle with their ability to afford offering the benefit.”

You can find the more information on this hearing at http://smallbusiness.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=398925.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Dr. Hal Scherz: The Best Kept Secret in the Health Care Industry

Somewhat Reasonable - March 29, 2016, 4:35 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Dr. Hal Scherz, founder of Docs 4 Patient Care, joins Managing Editor for Health Care News Michael Hamilton. If you make a habit of reading the articles found at news.heartland.org/health, you’ll find a number of stories about one of the best kept secrets in the health care industry, a secret Dr. Scherz helps expose in today’s podcast: direct primary care.

Docs 4 Patient Care is a think tank run exclusively by practicing physicians, all of whom are committed not only to providing excellent patient care, but to promoting free-market health care solutions for ordinary patients like you and me.

[Please subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

[Please subscribe to the Health Care News Podcast for free at this link.]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Job Listings

Out of the Storm News - March 29, 2016, 4:00 PM
Director of Justice Policy

The R Street Institute, a pragmatic free-market think tank headquartered in Washington and with offices around the country, is seeking a director of justice policy to work on a variety of issues related to crime, corrections and policing. The position would focus particularly, but not exclusively, on juvenile-justice issues.

The person we hire will be expected to produce original research, write for the popular press and educate policymakers about a wide range of criminal-justice issues. In a typical week, the director of justice policy might write an op-ed; do a series of talk-radio interviews; review a proposal from an outside scholar; meet with Capitol Hill staff to answer questions about pending legislation; and travel to testify before a state legislature.

We favor extensive criminal-justice reforms, but do not want to return to the failed policies of the 1960s and 1970s. Policies that R Street favors include reforms to state laws that allow those under 18 to be tried as adults; changes to increase the effectiveness of sex-offender registries by limiting the number of low-risk offenders (particularly juveniles); and efforts to improve the integration of ex-offenders of all ages back into society. While we have established a significant agenda, the person we hire will be granted the time, support and resources to pursue personal passions and interests within the criminal-justice field and will play a role in shaping R Street’s ongoing work.

Candidates are advised to visit our website and read our work on criminal justice, as well as other issues. There’s no need to agree with everything that anyone at R Street has ever written or said, but the candidate should generally be comfortable with R Street’s positions. Moreover, while there’s no ideological litmus test for this or any other job at R Street, we do want to hire someone who appreciates and understands free markets and can communicate our message effectively to others on the political right.

An ideal candidate will have a record of published work related to criminal-justice issues; a demonstrated ability to create change in public policy; and practical experience in the criminal-justice system as, for instance, an attorney, corrections professional or law-enforcement professional. Having a graduate-level degree in law, criminal justice or a closely related field is a plus. However, accomplishments matter to us far more than credentials and candidates with excellent published written work will receive top consideration.

We don’t discriminate on the basis of race, creed, ethnicity, color, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/presentation, veteran status, taste in music or anything else that’s illegal, immoral or stupid to use as a basis for hiring. We also do not inquire about criminal records in the initial stages of our interview process and an individuals’ past criminal record will not, by itself, disqualify him or her from employment at R Street in this role or any other.

The R Street Institute provides a top-notch work environment and salaries and benefits superior to those at similar nonprofits. Currently, our benefits package includes fully employer-paid health insurance (even for families); an employer retirement-plan contribution with no match required; employer-paid disability insurance; gym-membership reimbursement; a very generous vacation policy; and a wide range of other benefits.

To apply for this job, submit a resume, a brief cover letter in the body of an email and at least one writing sample on a topic related to criminal justice (a published writing sample is strongly preferred). You do not have to submit references with your initial application but candidates should be prepared to cite as a reference at least one person engaged in the world of criminal justice in a practical sense, such as a corrections official, law-enforcement official, prosecutor or public defender.

We will accept applications until April 29. We’ll reach out to candidates who appear promising for telephone interviews within a week or so of receiving their applications. Candidates who seem like good fits based on initial telephone interviews will be asked to do a short writing test and provide references.

For those with excellent writing tests and references, in-person interviews will be scheduled in our Washington offices May 9 and, if necessary, May 10. We expect to make a decision shortly thereafter. Candidates should be ready to start work no later than June 6, 2016, although we are willing to discuss other start dates with a selected candidate.

These dates may change based on the quality of applicants received and other factors. The email address for applications is justicecandidates@rstreet.org.

This Year’s Presidential Politics Equals Continuing Big Government

Somewhat Reasonable - March 29, 2016, 3:55 PM

The daily and unending bombardment of political campaign reporting and news, with its “drama” about who will be the Republican and Democratic Party candidates for the U.S. presidency, hides from view the continuing and real choice facing the American public: freedom or statism, individual liberty or government control.

This real underlying question is hidden from view because the media coverage emphasizes in what ways the competing candidates differ from each other in personality and policy prescriptions for America’s future. What is missed, however, are all the common premises that bind these candidates together.

Listen to either Republicans or Democrats, “liberals” or “conservatives,” and what one discovers with a little bit of reflection is the degree to which most of them accept and believe in the same type of “activist” role for government in human affairs. They merely differ on the type and degree of such government intervention, regulation, control and redistribution.

With the Democratic Party candidates for president, this is fairly clear and obvious. Watching or reading the campaign stump speeches of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, it is easy to wonder if they have ever met a government interventionist program they did not like.

On the Republican side, the intensity of the support for or dislike of Donald Trump has made this a little less clear. The debate and disagreement has primarily focused on Trump’s abrasive personality, his evasion of detail about either domestic or foreign policy, his use of colorful “off-color” language, and his less than subtle support for “roughing up” and “punching out” anti-Trump demonstrators, and his threats of possible “riots” by his followers if he does not win the Republican nomination for the presidency, even if he has not won a majority of the convention delegates in the primaries.

The “Sacred Cow” of Social Security vs. Personal Liberty

But over a significant number of public policy issues, the differences in views among the candidates are often more a matter of degree than of kind. For instance, on Social Security, and not surprisingly, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are insistent on the preservation and perpetuation of the government mandated retirement program. Sanders has blindly presumed that nothing is fundamentally wrong with the funding and coverage of the Social Security system, other than guaranteeing that it stays and is reinforced and increased, while Clinton has admitted that demographics may require some tweaking of the system while basically leaving it intact.

On the Republican side, it is not that much different. Trump assures the voters that he will change nothing in terms of Social Security eligibility, coverage or payments. He will make sure that America “wins,” is “strong” and has the wealth to maintain the system. End of story. Just trust him. He knows how to “make deals.”

John Kasich also wants the U.S. government to keep its promises to the American people, with few changes to the Social Security system. He reminds us – unendingly over and over again – that as governor of Ohio he has grown jobs, increased production, balanced the budget and taken care of the needy, and known how to bring people together. Put him in the White House and he’ll do the same in Washington to save Social Security for the current and future generations. You can trust him, he’s the “fix-it man.”

Ted Cruz has emphasized that Social Security is in financial trouble because of the demographics of an aging population. But, he too, has insisted that a government Social Security system is an essential part of American society. He wants to partly privatize the funding of the system, while continuing to presume a guiding hand of the government in the retirement planning of the American people.

The friend of freedom would ask, what is government doing in the retirement business in the first place? There is nothing in the Constitution that gives the federal government the responsibility or authority to mandate compulsory participation or funding of such a Social Security scheme. And it is worth recalling that before eighty years ago, it was not Uncle Sam’s job to oversee the financing of people’s “golden” post-work years.

Before 1935, this was considered to be the responsibility of individuals, families and private charities, along with some local community funding. It was argued that part of the meaning of freedom was the right of the individual to plan the affairs of his own life and that of his family. Just as the individual was expected, under liberty, to make his own choices on the allocation of his income among alternative uses in the present, the same applied on deciding on spending his income in the present versus setting aside a portion of it as savings for his and his family’s needs and desires in the future.

The fact is, any candidate who fully believed in and advocated individual liberty and constitutionally limited government would be attempting to explain and persuade the voting public that a government-funded pension plan through intergenerational redistribution is not only unconstitutional and inconsistent with the type of personal freedom promulgated by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence, but is, pragmatically, rapidly reaching its financial end due to an aging population and a shrinking workforce to fund Social Security.

Such a candidate would be making the case for the end of Social Security and in some manner that would do justice to the older segment of the American population who have been compelled to pay into a system that made it, as a result, more difficult or impossible to plan for their own retirement years. But which closed the chapter on government and the pension business. (See my article, “There is No Social Security Santa Claus.”)

Freedom Means Ending Government-Funded Healthcare

The same applies to government involvement and responsibility for the health care and medical insurance of the American people. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sander merely argue over an immediate government single-payer system of socialized medicine versus an easing into it as budgetary revenues and costs permit an end to any predominantly privately provided health insurance and medical care.

Among the Republicans, there is a general insistence that ObamaCare should be repealed, but there is no call for the removal of government from the health care and insurance business, as a whole. Medicare and Medicaid are generally considered essential among Uncle Sam’s grab bag of duties and responsibilities.

The fact is virtually all the problems associated with people’s frustration with health care premiums and coverage has its origin with the extent to which government has intervened in and interfered with the health care industry in America. The problem has not been too little government in medical care, but far too much over the decades, which has stymied competition, fixed and manipulated prices for medical services, and narrowed the choices and options available to people compared to what a truly free market healthcare industry could have provided to the population.

A candidate interested in fostering a free market system in healthcare and insurance would be educating the voters on how and why eliminating government control and involvement is essential to moving America forward towards a vibrant, innovative and affordable totally private sector medical industry for the current generation and looking ahead for the rest of this century.  Alas, none of the candidates for the presidency in the current election cycle have even come close to doing so. (See my article, “For Healthcare the Best Government Plan is No Plan.”)

Besides the Social Security system and government-funded health care and insurance being taken for granted to one degree of anther by all presidential candidates this year, there is also the acceptance that some form of the welfare state is compatible with and complementary to a free society.

The Welfare State Undermines Incentives and Balanced Production

But, in fact, the welfare state is an arrow in the heart of a truly free society that is respectful of individual choice and is based on the rights of individuals to manage their own lives as they freely decide in peaceful and mutually beneficial association with others.

The presumption is often made that a free society can successfully function with a market economy that “delivers the goods” while having the government siphon off large portions of the income and wealth generated through the production and productivity of that economy for purposes of redistributive largess guiding by some notion of “social justice.”

This reasoning presumes that the resulting production is independent of the incentives that make the members of society have a motive for work, saving and investment. All of us know that the higher (lower) the price of something the less (more) people are willing to buy of it, and the lower (higher) the price of something the less (more) people are willing to supply it. Why should we presume this is any different concerning goods and services that government supplies to people for “free” or below market price, or concerning people’s willingness to work to earn income the more they are taxed.

Make something relatively free or inexpensive compared to a market price that covers the actual costs of supplying it, and the demand will swell and overwhelm the available supply. Tax people more and more at higher and higher rates to pay for below market price “free” goods, and the incentive to keep producing and earning is increasingly undermined. Demand outruns supply and supply fails to grow to keep up with the demand.

But even beyond these important and crucial distortions and imbalances between supply and demand the more the government offers desired “goodies” for “free” and undermines the incentives and abilities for production to provide the required supplies, there is a wider moral dimension to a growing and encompassing welfare state.

The Paternalistic State Creates Childlike Citizens

The welfare state denies individuals the right to have the liberty to make such decisions for themselves. Every step further in this direction reduces people’s self-determination over their own lives, chips away at one more aspect and corner of the person’s life over which they have diminished responsibility and autonomy to be self-governing. They become, one step at a time, a bit more of the ward of the state.

This threatens another central element that is part of being a truly free person: the cultivation and exercise of moral choice. A child is one who is considered not sufficiently developed psychologically and morally to fully make its own choices and decisions. Parents serve as guardians to care for their young and educate them as they grow up in learning the meaning of responsible decision-making, to think before your leap, to consider tomorrow before you make a choice today, and to ask what is the ethical things to do concerning my own life and in my interactions with others?

The more government takes responsibility over these aspect of human life, and the more the political authority asserts the obligation to handle “social problems” that concern the mutual affairs of individuals in society, then the less people develop the experience, maturity or appreciation for what it means to think about and act upon such corners of life and human association. (See my article, “A World Without the Welfare State.”)

Political paternalism through the redistributive welfare state brings about a permanently infantilized population. Government protected or supported employments, government subsidized levels of income and revenues, and government guaranteed social “safety nets,” result in the creation of an increasingly childlike population.

More and more people want more and more things for “free,” and they want it “now.” They want to be sheltered from “hurtful” or “uncomfortable” situations or choices. They come to expect politically provided security and protection over all the everyday affairs of ordinary life. They lose the capacity to think and act as free men and women. They take for granted and long for the political shepherd who oversees and takes care of the human sheep.

“Fair Trade” is Politically Managed and Manipulated Trade

Also look at the policy positions taken by both Democrats and Republicans running for the presidency on America’s place and role in the world.  Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders rant about how international trade can be and has been detrimental to American jobs and industry, promising to redress the unfair trade practices of other nations.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump wails about how America is being robbed, beaten up and abused by the trade policies of other nations. And while the other Republicans who have been running in the primaries over the last half year have given lip service to free trade, they, too, to varying degrees have assured the voters that “free trade” must be tempered by “fair trade.”

The friend of freedom, since the time of Adam Smith, has emphasized that the benefits from trade do not come from what we export but from what the sale of our exports enable us to import. We trade with our immediate neighbors or with others half way around the world because it enables each of us to obtain from our exchange partners goods and services that we would not be able to produce for ourselves, or which we could not produce with as a high quality or at a similar low cost.

It is the division of labor and specialization of production that domestic and foreign trade facilitates and encourages that has given us and continues to provide the existing and continually rising standards and qualities of life that we take for granted.

Yet, listening to the rhetoric and policy proposals from both the Democratic and Republican competitors in the presidential primaries, we are being abused and misused by our trading partners. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even when other governments subsidize the exports of their own nations goods to the U.S., they, in fact, give the American consumer more goods at lower prices than would be otherwise the case.

It should be the citizens of those foreign governments who should be complaining because it is their higher taxes that are making it possible for American consumers to buy desired goods at below cost prices. And it frees up American producers to manufacture and supply others goods that Americans could not, otherwise, afford to demand and buy if not for the lower-cost foreign imports. (See my article, ”Global Free Trade Makes for Mutual Prosperity and World Peace.”)

In addition, to the extent that government takes on the role of arbiter over the buying and selling of goods between the citizens of its own country and the rest of the world, the promised “fair trade” becomes the politically corrupted trade. Rather than global competitive forces of supply and demand determining the types and direction of production to satisfy the world’s consumers, it becomes influential special interest groups close to those in political authority who have it in their power to raise import taxes or impose regulations that hamper the market-determined patterns of production and sales to improve the lives of people in their own lands and in other corners of the world.

An Interventionist Mindset in Foreign Affairs

The interventionist mindset applies across the party lines in foreign affairs, in general. The friend of freedom has always argued that if government has any rationale it is to protect the life, liberty and honestly acquired property of the citizenry. For that reason the essential task of constitutionally limited government is to secure a country’s citizens from domestic threats through the use of the constabulary and the courts; and to protect the population from foreign threats of invasion and destruction from abroad through national defense.

But Hillary Clinton has been ready to intervention in foreign countries involving little or no threat to the United States both when she was a Senator from New York or Secretary of State in the Obama Administration. And while Bernie Sanders has been highly critical of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he has demonstrated a love affair with Marxist and other socialist regimes around the world; a President Sanders most likely would be very willing to provide American diplomatic and economic support to radical regimes devoted to the demise of capitalism.

Among the Republicans, Donald Trump has criticized the invasion of Iraq, but has assured a rapid and devastating military attack on Islamic fundamentalists in Syria and Iraq, including thousands of American ground forces to do the job, as well as unleashing torture techniques on suspected terrorists and their families.

The other Republican hopefuls pursuing their party’s nomination for the presidency have also, to varying degrees, all called for a continuation and intensifying of such military intervention to set right parts of the Middle East.

Thus, across party lines, there is a common presumption that America must play an “active” and military hands-on presence in many parts of the world that can be very inconsistent with practicing a policy of liberty at home and abroad. (See my article, “Practicing the Principles of Non-Intervention – at Home and Abroad.”)

The task of the informed citizen and the friend of freedom is to cut through the political confusion and rhetorical combat in the current election cycle, and to realize that no matter what the outcome of this year’s election, there is little cause for confidence that liberty will be victorious or advancing, due to the all too common interventionist and statist premises that underlie the policy positions offered by all the candidates.

[Originally published at the Future of Freedom Foundation]

Categories: On the Blog

Smart Meter Dangers: What They Knew and When They Knew It

Somewhat Reasonable - March 29, 2016, 2:56 PM

ComEd’s smart meter deployment is being propelled by a public relations campaign which minimizes and/or dismisses the health and safety impacts that the wireless meters are creating for their customers. What has been known for decades about the health effects of Radio Frequency/microwave radiation is now being passed off by ComEd as a small amount of Radio Frequency being emitted from a smart meter six times a day.

A call to customer service posing the question, “Are smart meters safe?” will elicit a response, “You don’t have anything to worry about, it is safer than a baby monitor”. And, with that simple explanation, the deployment of four million smart meters is underway in Illinois. Community leaders and residents deserve a real answer and hard facts.

Throughout this article Radio Frequency/microwave radiation will also be referred to as non-ionizing or non-thermal. For clarification: A definition of thermal or ionizing radiation means it can cause heat shock or burn body tissue. Non-ionizing or non-thermal radiation is a lower intensity that can cause other negative effects on living tissue (human, animal, or plant).

Let the truth be known:

What is being hidden from the consumer and decision-maker is what has been known by the military for decades: Radio Frequency/microwave radiation even at low levels is a health threat. U.S. military reports nearly 60 years ago confirmed the biological effects of exposure to low level Electromagnetic Radiation.

Jerry Flynn is a retired Canadian Armed Forces captain with 22 years of experience in Electronic Warfare and Signals Intelligence. In that capacity, he worked with U.S. and NATO armies. Flynn writes

“In 1956 the U.S. Department of Defense directed the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force to investigate the biological effects of exposure to Radio Frequency/microwave radiation (RF/MW) and Electromagnetic Fields (EMF). In 1957 they reported many implications: evidence it can cause cancer, damage major organs, and disrupt important biological processes. It can harm the immune and nervous systems, cause behavioral effects, interfere with the ability to learn, and damage the chemical barrier that prevents blood toxins from entering the brain. It could possibly cause genetic defects, birth defects, and general effects on growth and the aging processes.”

Flynn emphasizes, “The military noted that pulsed radiation appeared to be more harmful than non-pulsed radiation.” (ComEd smart meters emit pulsedradiation.)

Air Force Report, 1994   

A June 1994 U.S. Air Force document, entitled, “Radio Frequency/microwave Radiation Biological Effects and Safety Standards”,acknowledged non-thermal health effects.  Stated in its abstract, “It is known that Electromagnetic Radiation has a biological effect on human tissue. Researchers have discovered a number of biological dysfunctions that can occur in living organisms. Exposure of the human body to Radio Frequency/microwave [RF/MW] radiation has many biological implications that range from innocuous sensation of warmth to serious physiological damage to the eye”, and added that “there is also evidence that RF/MW radiation can cause cancer.  

Other adverse health issues include: “mutagenic effects, cardiovascular effects, negative effects on chromosomes and notes that Soviet investigators claim thatexposure to low-level radiation can induce serious CNS [central nervous system] dysfunctions”.  

NASA Report, 1981

A NASA report published in April 1981, entitled “Electromagnetic Field Interactions with the Human Body: Observed Effects and Theories”,discussed what EMF and RF/microwave radiation inflicts on humans. Health effects of RF/microwave radiation that were reported are headaches, sleep problems, neurological symptoms, cardiac symptoms, memory problems, increased cholesterol, gastritis, ulcers, increased fasting blood glucose, irritability, inability to concentrate, apprehension, and cataracts (clouding of posterior part of lens in those caused by microwave radiation instead of anterior clouding as seen with regular types)Information for the NASA report was collected from over 1,000 written sources that included journals, conference proceedings, technical reports, books, abstracts, and news items.

Navy Report, 1971

In October 1971, the Naval Medical Research Institute published a research report, “Bibliography of Reported Biological Phenomena (‘Effects’) and Clinical Manifestations Attributed to Microwave and Radio-Frequency Radiation”,  which was a compilation of over 2000 references on the biological responses to RF/microwave radiation.  It lists well over 100 negative biological effects caused by RF/ microwave radiation. Here is a partial list from the report: corneal damage, brain heating, alteration of the diameter of blood vessels, liver enlargement, decreased fertility, sterility, altered fetal development, decreased lactation in nursing mothers, cranial nerve disorders, seizures, convulsions, depression, insomnia, hand tremors, chest pain, thrombosis, alteration in the rate of cellular division, anorexia, altered adrenal cortex activity, chromosome aberrations, tumors, loss of hair, and sparking between dental fillings.

Also mentioned in the Navy Report is, “altered orientation of animals, birds and fish”.

Barrie Trower, a British Secret Service Microwave Weapons Specialist, states:

“The paradox is how Radio Frequency/microwave radiation can be used as a weapon to cause impairment, illness and death; and at the same time be used as a communications instrument [such as in a smart meter]. By 1971 we knew everything that needed to be known. A 1976 document summarizing U.S. Defense Intelligence research is the saddest and most despicable document ever published in history. The document lists all of the health hazards caused by wireless devices and concludes: This should be kept secret to preserve industrial profit.

Since the health threats have been known for decades, where do we stand now?

At this time, the installation of smart meters is mandated by law on every home, school, and building in ComEd’s customer service territory. NO permanent opt-out option is available. Parents, who know the truth about the health risks, have nowhere to turn. There is no avenue available for parents, who are aware of the dangers, to protect their children. Does this sound like Flint, Michigan all over again?

Illinois is in the midst of an avoidable, man-made health crisis. What happens when the state faces Flint’s horrible position concerning water, but with electricity? ComEd’s smart meter deployment is creating just such a tragic situation. It is up to the residents to take action, push legislators and theIllinois Commerce Commission for a permanent opt-out, and protect the children in Illinois as well as all living beings in the state.

Part 2 –Follow this article to find out what other agencies, corporations, and organizations knew about the health effects related to Radio Frequency/microwave radiation and when they knew it. Also covered is who is sounding the alarm in an effort to protect public health and welfare.

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Kurt Schlichter - For America, the Fall of the Roman Empire Is the Best Case Scenario

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - March 29, 2016, 2:44 PM
A lot of people, especially Millennials with degrees in Intersectional Climate Change Gender Studies, may not know it, but there is a way to anticipate what’s…

Neeley talks net metering on Bloggingheads.tv

Out of the Storm News - March 29, 2016, 10:10 AM

R Street Texas Director Josiah Neeley sat down recently with Kevin Glass of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity to chat at Bloggingheads.tv about net energy metering and the potential for other states to follow Texas’ relatively deregulated system for energy (a topic covered extensively in our recent policy study from Lynne Kiesling). The discussion ends with some thoughts on what a potential Donald Trump presidency might mean for energy markets, a topic Josiah blogged about here.

You can stream the full video below.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

U.S. should look to Canada and Australia as examples of robust global energy markets

Out of the Storm News - March 29, 2016, 8:08 AM

WASHINGTON (March 29, 2016) – Congress’ decision to lift the decades old ban on exports of U.S. crude oil should make the U.S. energy sector an attractive target for foreign investors. The next step for policymakers is to ensure those investments can be realized without compromising either free-market principles or national security, according to a new study from the R Street Institute.

“Fuel-supply insecurity is a thing of the past. Unrestrained export of crude oil embraces the free market and U.S. strategic interests,” authors Ariel Cohen and John Roberts write. “Allowing American oil companies to sell light crude overseas will encourage greater investment in U.S. domestic production, boosting oil revenues and creating jobs in exploration, production, transportation and shipping.”

Compared to peers like Canada and Australia, the United States is not especially hospitable to prospective foreign investors, particularly in critical sectors like energy, Cohen and Roberts note. In particular, the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) imposes an onerous application process that can be daunting to prospective foreign investors.

While supportive of elevated scrutiny for investments by government-controlled entities – particularly those from hostile or corrupt states or with links to terrorism – the authors argue the system should be streamlined to be less adversarial and more transparent. For instance, while elevated scrutiny is appropriate for foreign investments in energy-related transportation, refining and related infrastructure, which are tied closely to security concerns, it should be easier to attract foreign capital to upstream resources and activities, like exploration and production.

“Canada and Australia have similar foreign-investment consideration processes, yet have taken a less protectionist approach,” the authors wrote. “This has helped draw significant energy investment from foreign enterprises, bolstering resource development, energy security and job creation.”

In the current low-price oil environment, the U.S. energy industry will struggle to invest properly in the kinds of research and innovation that maintain improved domestic and global oil security in the future, Cohen and Roberts write. Mobilizing international sources of capital to fund development of and novel approaches to resource extraction will strengthen the industry over the long term.

“The U.S. government’s historic decision to overturn the export ban was an important victory, but more needs to be accomplished,” the authors wrote. “The gains in geopolitical strength, trade development and global oil security are already being realized. For national interests, the economy and global energy markets, free trade is the right choice.”

Predatory foreign investment and domestic energy security

Out of the Storm News - March 29, 2016, 8:00 AM

The attached paper was co-authored by John Roberts.

U.S. energy markets started 2016 with good news. The 40-year-old oil-export ban, which long has hamstrung one of the world’s leading oil-and-gas producers, is now defunct. As of New Year’s Day, the first tankers of American crude oil left for Europe.

A relic of a bygone era, the ban initially was a response to the economic trauma of the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, during which oil prices nearly quadrupled over the course of just six months. The embargo caused a dramatic global economic and security crisis and prompted many of the whiplash measures that were embedded in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. It did not help that energy policy at-large, and oil policy in particular, were at the time still in thrall to a protectionist mindset that sought to preserve domestic resources and weaken the influence of foreign trade.

Times have changed radically in the proceeding four decades. With the advent of hydraulic-fracturing techniques and a better understanding of tight geologic formations, the North American oil-and-gas industry is booming. That boom has translated into a sea change in international energy markets. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), dominated by Saudi Arabia, has been ineffective in its recent attempts to manipulate oil prices. Security crises in the Middle East no longer translate to price spikes at the gas station.

Lifting the oil-export ban is widely expected to boost U.S. gross domestic product, household incomes and job creation, not least by raising the value of U.S. oil-and-gas resources and stimulating fresh investment in the U.S. oil-and-gas industry. But the work now begins to ensure the domestic benefits of repealing the ban are realized fully. As this paper attempts to demonstrate, U.S. policymakers would be well-served to look to the examples of major energy producers, such as Canada and Australia, who have managed to attract massive foreign investment in their domestic energy sectors without compromising either free-market principles or national security. The United States must do no less.

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