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Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty, and backwardness - AEI

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - April 20, 2015, 10:03 PM
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R Street praises Gov. Brownback for vetoing damaging ridesharing bill

Out of the Storm News - April 20, 2015, 5:38 PM

TOPEKA, Kan. (April 20, 2015) – The R Street Institute praised Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback for heeding consumer concerns and vetoing S.B.117, a bill that would have placed burdensome restrictions on ridesharing companies and may have forced them to cease operations in the state.

Recognizing the need for innovation to spur economic growth, Gov. Brownback said in his veto statement that placing these burdens on an emerging industry would invite more problems, not less.

“While we applaud the Kansas Legislature’s initiative to advance full legalization of transportation network companies operating in Kansas, this effort must be undertaken in a manner that promotes competition and innovation, rather than impeding it,” said R Street President Eli Lehrer. “While well-intentioned, the restrictions in the bill would have limit innovations that could help significantly reduce costs.”

Many of the nation’s leading insurance trade associations, along with transportation network companies, have reached an accord about what exactly constitutes a comprehensive, yet flexible insurance framework for ridesharing.

“We encourage the Legislature to start from scratch and craft legislation that follows the compromise model that is already under consideration in numerous states across the country,” said Lehrer.


Ohio Gov. John Kasich Proposes Tax on E-Cigarettes

Somewhat Reasonable - April 20, 2015, 4:57 PM

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) is enacting a new excise tax on e-cigarettes in his 2016-2017 state budget, according to the latest Research & Commentary brief produced by The Heartland Institute.

If the budget proposal passes the legislature, Ohio will join Minnesota and North Carolina in taxing electronic cigarettes. Twelve other states put forth proposals for e-cigarette taxes last year, but none of them passed.

Kasich calls for a new excise tax on e-cigarettes, and an increase in taxes on regular cigarettes from $1.25 per pack to $2.25 per pack, notes the report, Research & Commentary: Ohio Tax Reform, or Tax Shift?

E-cigarettes have been considered “less harmful to individual and public health than traditional cigarettes,” the report states. Furthermore, the report indicated “sin taxes are problematic because they are unreliable and encourage unsustainable increases in government spending while placing an unnecessary burden on lower-income taxpayers.”

Research by the National Conference of State Legislatures suggests that with fewer Americans today smoking traditional cigarettes, a revenue stream that states have depended upon is rapidly decreasing.

E-cigarette products come in a number of styles.

One popular style is a cigarette-like tube, which is sold for $10 in convenience stores, and has self-contained batteries, chargers and liquid tanks.

Another style is a device about the size of a traditional cigarette pack, which allows a user to change liquid flavors, and is often sold in specialty vapor shops. The devices rely on bottles of liquid nicotine which vary in size and strength.

Categories: On the Blog

Copyright could be stumbling block in trade bill

Out of the Storm News - April 20, 2015, 4:09 PM

From The Hill:

Woodworth’s sentiment was echoed by advocacy groups including the Center for Democracy and Technology, R Street and the American Library Association.

“Ensuring our Internet platforms are successful both at home and abroad is integral to growing the global economy, which is why exceptions and limitations consistent with U.S. law should be included in trade agreements,” they said in a joint statement.

What’s really in the new Trade Promotion Authority bill?

Out of the Storm News - April 20, 2015, 3:56 PM

From Cato at Liberty:

On fair use, this statement from R Street on TPA’s IP objectives is informative:

‘Although R Street supports TPA legislation in principle, we’re strongly concerned about how it may affect digital copyright in practice, and whether it will affect how ordinary citizens lawfully use copyrighted works,’ said Mike Godwin, general counsel and director of innovation policy at R Street. ‘Current TPA language stresses ‘strong’ enforcement measures, but doesn’t mention important exceptions and limitations that apply under our copyright laws.’

Heartland Daily Podcast – Gina Ray: The Mommy Lobby in Arizona

Blog - Education - April 20, 2015, 3:27 PM

Heather Kays speaks to Gina (pronounced Jenna) Ray, a mother of four and grassroots activist fighting against Common Core in Arizona. Ray is a member of the self-proclaimed Mommy Lobby, a group of parents, teachers and residents who want Common Core repealed and replaced in Arizona.

Ray says she and her group have dedicated many hours to attend and speak at meetings and legislative hearings regarding Common Core. An opt out movement is now growing and the anti-Common Core activists are increasing in number and becoming better organized as a group.

Kays and Ray discuss the work done so far by the Mommy Lobby and what the group intends to do to fight Common Core in the future.

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

Heartland Daily Podcast – Gina Ray: The Mommy Lobby in Arizona

Somewhat Reasonable - April 20, 2015, 3:27 PM

Heather Kays speaks to Gina (pronounced Jenna) Ray, a mother of four and grassroots activist fighting against Common Core in Arizona. Ray is a member of the self-proclaimed Mommy Lobby, a group of parents, teachers and residents who want Common Core repealed and replaced in Arizona.

Ray says she and her group have dedicated many hours to attend and speak at meetings and legislative hearings regarding Common Core. An opt out movement is now growing and the anti-Common Core activists are increasing in number and becoming better organized as a group.

Kays and Ray discuss the work done so far by the Mommy Lobby and what the group intends to do to fight Common Core in the future.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Taxpayers Protection Alliance - Blog

Tech Suite - In The News - April 20, 2015, 2:36 PM
Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted along party lines to approve a net neutrality plan proposed by Chairman Tom Wheeler that…

Deepwater Horizon Five Years Later: Lessons Learned

Somewhat Reasonable - April 20, 2015, 11:36 AM

Five years ago, following a blowout and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers, the nation was spellbound by the 87-day visual of oil flowing freely into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico from the Macondo well. The 3.1 million barrels of spewed oil has been called “the world’s largest accidental marine spill” and “the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.”

Looking back, CNN reports: “There were dire predictions of what would follow. Environmentalists and others braced for an environmental collapse on a massive scale.” Indeed, there were extreme claims including one from Matt Simmons, known for his peak oil alarmism, who predicted the crude would “float all the way to Ireland.”

Now, five years later, however, we see that, while the Deepwater Horizon accident was a tragedy, the dramatic claims were hyperbole. Nevertheless, lessons have been learned—both regarding the resilience of the environment and safe and reliable offshore operations.

Louisiana’s Senator Vitter reflects: “In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, I’ve been working with my colleagues to ensure this kind of tragedy never happens again. The spill, and then President Obama’s completely misguided offshore drilling moratorium, caused economic chaos in Louisiana. Clearly, there are lessons to be learned, and while many important reforms have been made, there is still a lot of work toward recovery and implementing the important RESTORE Act.”

In preparation for the spill’s five-year anniversary, BP issued an extensive reportEnvironmental Recovery and Restoration­—which concludes, according to BloombergBusiness, the spill “didn’t do lasting damage to the ecosystem.” It isn’t surprising to hear BP attempt to burnish its badly tarnished image, but after BP has spent $28 billion on clean up and claims, others seem to agree with them.

While marshes were oiled, businesses have struggled, beaches were closed, and the restoration continues, it hasn’t been the ecological cliff that anti-petroleum groups predicted.

Despite the 13 miles of coast that suffered from “heavy oiling,” Science Magazine reports: “Nature has bounced back in surprising ways.” It states: “Brown pelicans were a poster child of the oil spill’s horrors, for instance, but there’s no sign the population as a whole has fallen. Shrimp numbers in the bay actually rose the year after the spill.” And, the state’s bayside sparrows, which had less productive nests in oiled areas, haven’t suffered “a drop in overall numbers.” Common minnows suffered a variety of abnormalities for “up to a year after the spill. Scientists have found no evidence, however,” that they “have caused fish numbers to drop in Louisiana’s estuaries.” Even the ants are starting to “come back and stay.”

Blum & Bergeron exports dried shrimp and is in its third generation of family ownership. It was just recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita when, according to Louis Blum Jr., “Here comes BP.” He says: “It ruined our industry and us for the whole year.” Blum had to let his employees go and nearly closed the business forever. The International Business Times reports: “The company eventually collected about $106,000 from BP.” While it has been a struggle, the employees are back and sales have “returned to pre-spill levels.”

BloombergBusiness confirms: “Wildlife populations have bounced back.” Though dolphins and osyters are an exception, reports indicate that both experienced elevated mortality rates beginning before the spill.

Oysters are fickle and are impacted by “salinity, water temperature, and parasites.” The freshwater used to flush out the oil, combined with Louisiana’s diversion of fresh water into the Gulf and Mississippi River flooding in 2011, have all reduced salinity. Science cites third-generation oysterman Pete Vujnovich’s story. “After the spill, he bought rock and shell for replenishing some of his reefs with money from a compensation fund set up by BP. Those areas seem to be doing well. But older reefs are much less fertile than they were before.” It continues: “Scientists don’t have an answer for him. In 2012 and 2013, researchers put cages of oysters in the bay, some in places with oil, others in places that had dodged the spill, to see how mature oysters fared. They didn’t see a difference.”

Marsh erosion is another problem that began before the spill but went “into overdrive” after. Sciencepoints out: Flood control projects along the Mississippi River starve the bay of fresh sediment from upstream. Now, vegetation has grown back and erosion rates have subsided.

In the popular vacation town of Grand Isle, whose beaches remained closed for three years, Jean Landry, a local program manager for The Nature Conservancy says: “This summer feels more positive than any in the last five years. You see people coming back to their summer homes rather than renting them out to cleanup workers.”

The water is clean and “according to the Food and Drug Administration tests on edible seafood, shows no excess of hydrocarbons in the region’s food supply.” It is important to realize, according to the National Research Council estimates, “every year, the equivalent of 560,000 to 1.4 million barrels of oil—perhaps a quarter of the amount that BP spilled—seeps naturally from the floor of the Gulf.”

“The overall message is upbeat,” according to Ed Overton, an LSU chemist, who has spent years tracking chemical changes in the Deepwater oil that washed ashore. As quoted in Science, Overton says: “I think the big story is, it’s remarkable how Mother Nature can cure herself. It’s really hard to find permanent impacts.” Likewise, CNN states: “Ocean conservationist Philippe Cousteau witnessed much of the spill’s aftermath in 2010, but when he returned to the Gulf to dive near an oil rig last month, he was astonished by the abundance of amberjacks, hammerhead sharks and other marine life he saw.”

The Deepwater Horizon spill has taught us a lot about the resiliency of Mother Nature. While the Macondo crude oil didn’t float to Ireland and the permanent impacts are “hard to find,” no one ever wants to experience anything like it again. The accident, according to the Journal of Petroleum Technology, “spawned new technology, improved safety practices, and better operations awareness.”

Some of the new technology to prevent spills from occurring includes major revisions to pressure control equipment and well design standards, such as casing and cementing. For example, new equipment that can shear and seal joints and eliminate nonshearable sections, and technology that can provide information on the wellbore environment in close to real time has been introduced.

Improved safety practice is the focus of the new Center for Offshore Safety (COS), formed by the industry in 2011. COS executive director Charlie Williams reports: “Today the energy industry has established nearly 300 standards to help govern safe and reliable offshore operations”—many of which have been adopted into the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) new federal regulations.

Addressing operational awareness, Williams says: “I think there were many people that were prepared before Horizon. BSEE has required a lot of new things, including new ways of calculating how big a response you need.” He added: “The detail with which people understand the plan in both companies and the government has improved.”

“This tragedy has made us stronger as we continue to work to improve our state.” Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) said in a statement. “We have seen increased safety standards on deep-water production platforms in the Gulf, we have seen an increased spill response plan from the energy industry, and we will continue working to ensure the preservation of our beloved wetlands.”

The post-Deepwater Horizon world will continue to need oil and natural gas. Globally, and in the Gulf, drilling is continuing. While the industry will keep making changes and improvements based on the lessons learned at Macondo, we do not live in a risk-free world. We can manage and mitigate the potential hazards.

Dr. Rita Colwell, chairman of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, an independent organization that studies the Gulf of Mexico ecology, the effects of the spill, and methods for cleanup and restoration, said: “It’s very important to know after all the studies are done, the best lessons learned are of where we should go, how we should act and what we should institute if there is a massive spill. We would hope there isn’t, but we have to be realistic. Sometimes accidents happen, and how you go in to work very quickly to minimize the effect on the environment, to maximize the recovery of the oil, to enhance the degradation of whatever is persistent and to understand the public health effects is very important.”

The president of the National Ocean Industries Association, Randall Luthi, agrees. He told me: “No well is worth the loss of a life and the Macondo Well accident was exactly that, an accident.  We, in industry, have taken the lessons learned from this in an effort to make a positive out of a very negative situation. By almost everyone’s account, we are wiser, safer and smarter.  Our workers live in the Gulf of Mexico region, it is their home, where they work, fish, hunt and raise their families. No one wants another accident.”

Technology and safety standards are important. But, perhaps, the best lesson learned is one that could be applied to all hyperbolic claims about environmental collapse at the hands of mankind: Mother Nature is remarkably resilient. Within a short period of time, she can cure herself.

Categories: On the Blog

R Street expresses concerns about TPA bills

Out of the Storm News - April 20, 2015, 10:56 AM

WASHINGTON (April 20, 2015) – The R Street Institute expressed reservations today about H.R. 1890, better known as the “Trade Promotion Authority” bill, introduced April 17 by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Companion legislation, S. 995, also has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Finance Committee. The bills mirror legislation introduced last year by Hatch and former Sen. Baucus, D-Mont.

As written, the TPA proposal – which would grant the executive branch the right to “fast track” trade negotiations – requires stringent intellectual property protection and enforcement, but does not offer balance to reflect other parts of U.S. copyright law upon which the Internet sector depends.

“Although R Street supports TPA legislation in principle, we’re strongly concerned about how it may affect digital copyright in practice, and whether it will affect how ordinary citizens lawfully use copyrighted works,” said Mike Godwin, general counsel and director of innovation policy at R Street. “Current TPA language stresses ‘strong’ enforcement measures, but doesn’t mention important exceptions and limitations that apply under our copyright laws.”

Such exceptions could include access for the blind and disabled, fair use or temporary copies as required by computers, cloud services and other lawful digital uses. While TPA legislation should not go further than current U.S. copyright law, any such legislation that fails to export all of these other aspects of U.S. law internationally would be incomplete.

“Our government’s TPA and its treaty negotiations need to reflect the needs of all stakeholders, including technology companies and ordinary users,” Godwin said. “The current language seems to suggest that only copyright holders’ interests matter.”

Testimony on Texas auto franchise rules

Out of the Storm News - April 20, 2015, 9:39 AM

Chairman Smith, members, my name is Josiah Neeley and I am Texas director of the R Street Institute. R Street is a nonprofit, free-market think tank headquartered in Washington, though I am based in Austin. I’m here today to speak in favor of H.B. 1653.

Texas’ current blanket prohibition on direct sales of automobiles by manufacturers hurts Texas consumers. An analysis by Goldman Sachs found that alternative automobile-distribution systems could save consumers 8.6 percent on the cost of a vehicle. Innovative models that allow greater consumer choice and lower overhead are prohibited by the current franchise system.

H.B. 1653 is not an anti-dealership bill. It simply creates a minor exception to the current auto dealer franchise laws that would allow manufacturers to sell directly to the consumer in certain cases. Whether direct sales are superior to sales through dealerships is something that should be left to the market. While the bill is more limited than we believe is justified, it is a step in the right direction.

Some have suggested this bill raises equal-protection concerns, because it establishes two different systems for auto sales. As an attorney who has specialized in constitutional law, I can assure you these concerns are without merit. Heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause applies only to laws impinging on fundamental rights (such as the free exercise of religion) or that involve certain protected classifications (such as race). Auto dealers are not such a class. Therefore, laws governing dealer franchises are subject to rational basis review, a very minimal standard that is easily met here.

I would be happy to answer any questions.

R Street urges Texas to restore local control of pension plans  

Out of the Storm News - April 20, 2015, 9:25 AM

AUSTIN, Tex. (April 20, 2015) - The R Street Institute expressed strong support for H.B. 2608, under consideration today by the Texas state House Pension Committee.

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston, the legislation would restore local control of retirement systems currently under state governance.

“Local governments need to have control over their pension systems if they are to govern effectively,” said Josiah Neeley, R Street’s Texas director. “This bill will restore local control over public retirement systems and end the growing practice of making plans difficult to change by enshrining them in state law.”

Currently, more than a dozen municipal retirement systems have their pension plans in state statute, placing yet another layer of government bureaucracy between plans and community stakeholders. H.B. 2608 seeks to eliminate that layer by granting municipalities the ability to administer their own pension systems.

“It’s important for stakeholders in the community to have a seat at the table when it comes to their own employee retirement plans,” said Neeley.


The giant spider climate story which simply won't die

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - April 20, 2015, 9:02 AM
The giant tropical spider which lives next to my porch. We have a deal. She eats lots of giant tropical mosquitoes, and other nasties. I don’t zap her with bug…

The question of raising taxes

Out of the Storm News - April 20, 2015, 8:42 AM

It was shrewd of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board to choose its words carefully when it called for tax reform (“There’s no time like April to talk about tax reform”; Editorials, April 13).

As the editorial points out, Gov. Jerry Brown is not running for re-election and the Democrats have comfortable majorities in the Legislature. As such, the editorial board urges policymakers “to show the courage to tackle one of the state’s most vexing problems.”

California’s tax problems need to be addressed – though, we disagree about what makes them so vexing – and elected representatives are better-suited to the task than an initiative to the voters. But calling for action requiring political courage betrays the unlikelihood of any such outcome. Courageous decisions demand accountability, and that’s precisely the reason they are so rarely made.

Consider the approach by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, to implement a new road fee. Her proposal is a tax reform that would replace revenue from the increasingly unreliable gas tax with a $52 annual fee on motorists to repair and maintain vital infrastructure.

Atkins’ desired policy outcome is laudable. But her bill is supposed to raise $1.8 billion annually. To realize her goal, Atkins is seeking to avoid the courageous and transparent route of charging the fee directly. Instead, she wants to tack the new levy on to drivers’ insurance bills, where it will be presented as an easier-to-swallow $4.33 monthly charge.

Asking private parties to act as the state’s revenue collectors is nothing new, but the practice is troubling because it disrupts the line of accountability between taxpayers and their representatives. Democratic societies depend upon transparency. Only by knowing what public officials are up to can they be answerable for their actions.

Atkins and the rest of our heavily Democratic state government should not be afraid of undertaking their tax reforms openly. Particularly when, as in the case of the road fee, tax reforms will lead to revenue increases.

In recent history, Californians have demonstrated they have a tolerance for tax increases. They voted for Proposition 30 in 2012. Arguably, California Democrats were placed in office to do what Republicans are refusing to do, which is to raise taxes.

For those reasons, tax reforms, which often involve new or raised taxes, should not be considered a courageous decision and certainly should not be obscured in any way. If the political cost for openly embarking on tax reform is losing elections, then perhaps the real question is whether some of the reforms should be contemplated at all.

The online sales tax cash grab

Out of the Storm News - April 20, 2015, 8:30 AM

From Reason:

“Finally, someone in Congress has drafted an approach to the Internet sales tax issue that doesn’t empower bureaucrats to tax across state lines and saddle Web-based retailers with enormous complexity,” says Andrew Moylan, executive director of the pro-market R Street Institute. Moylan was alluding to the Marketplace Fairness Act, the states’ preferred alternative to Goodlatte’s bill. The act, which passed the Senate in 2013 but died in the House, would have allowed states to levy sales taxes based on buyers’ locations.

As Moylan notes, that “would force online sellers to comply with the tax rules of as many as 9,998 different taxing jurisdictions nationwide, imposing huge compliance burdens and opening them up to audits from all 46 states with statewide sales taxes.” It would also destroy tax competition by giving “state-level ‘IRS’ agents the unprecedented power to enforce their tax obligations on businesses all across the country even if [the businesses] lack a physical presence within [the agents’] jurisdiction.”

… Mitigating this problem from a customer’s point of view is that the incentive remains to buy from sellers in low-rate states. And as R Street’s Moylan notes, “cutting checks by formula” is one of the few things the government is good at.

The much bigger drawback is that Goodlatte’s bill would impose taxes on customers buying from businesses in states that do not have a sales tax at all, such as Delaware and Oregon. A business in any of those states would be required to collect taxes from out-of-state buyers using the lowest combined state and local rate in the country. (At the moment, Wyoming takes that prize with a combined sales tax rate of 5.49 percent.) This provision, which is likely intended to grab more revenue, defeats the point of having an origin-based tax, since it forces certain businesses to collect taxes when they otherwise would not have to.

“The proposal would be improved substantially,” Moylan says, “if it better protected sellers in non-sales-tax states (perhaps by allowing them to opt out of any collection scheme).” He also suggests other changes, such as passing legislation to impede the silly abuses allowed by affiliate nexus laws. But ultimately, Moylan thinks a version of Goodlatte’s proposal would be “an enormous victory for the cause of sanity in taxation. It would solve the Internet sales tax debacle without imposing a cure worse than the disease and it would help reestablish borders as limits to tax state tax power.”

Conservative case for surveillance reform Hill briefing

Out of the Storm News - April 20, 2015, 7:00 AM

Two years ago, major revelations about the National Security Agency’s massive intrusion into the lives of all Americans kickstarted a national debate about the right to privacy and questions of government intrusion into our personal lives. With key sections of the Patriot Act set to expire in six weeks, Congress must address the constitutionality and effectiveness of the NSA’s mass-surveillance programs.

This panel set out to establish the “conservative case” for surveillance reform, demonstrating that preservation of individual liberty and privacy are necessary for a strong and vibrant economy.

Moderated by Nathan Leamer, outreach manager and policy analyst for the R Street Institute, panelists include:

  • Mike Godwin, director of innovation policy for the R Street Institute
  • Wayne Brough, chief economist and vice president of research at FreedomWorks
  • Patrick Eddington, policy analyst at the Cato Institute
  • Sunday Yokubaitis, president of Golden Frog


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

Public Policy Implications of Dramatic Decline of Cocaine Consumption, Rise of Marijuana Explored

Somewhat Reasonable - April 20, 2015, 6:54 AM

Seven articles in the May 2015 issue of the medical journal Addiction examine the public policy implications of new research findings that demonstrate cocaine consumption in the U.S. has dropped dramatically during recent years, just as marijuana use has multiplied.

The debate and commentary articles were written by leading researchers in addiction studies and public policy. Addiction has been published by the Society for the Study of Addiction since 1884.

Researchers indicate that from 2006 to 2010, the amount of marijuana consumed in the U.S. increased by about 30%. During this same time period, consumption of cocaine dropped drastically, by 50%. During the first 10 years of this century, drug users spent approximately $100 billion annually in the U.S. on illegal cocaine and marijuana.

“Even for established drugs, consumption can change rapidly,” note the authors, Jonathan P. Caulkins, et al, in the journal’s lead debate piece, entitled, Cocaine’s fall and marijuana’s rise: questions and insights based on new estimates of consumption and expenditures in U.S. drug markets. But, “the halving of the cocaine market in five years and the parallel, but independent, large rise in daily and near-daily marijuana use are major events that were not anticipated by the expert community and raise important theoretical, research, and policy issues.”

Pot Legalization Working?

There are theories as to why marijuana use has climbed, but no dispositive, scientific proof just yet. One theory holds that marijuana legalization has occurred in many states in the U.S. since 2006 for medical and recreational uses. Those who once illicitly consumed cocaine may have switched to the newly legal marijuana, the researchers speculate. In the language of addictions physicians, this is the result of a policy called harm reduction, as cocaine is seen as medically more harmful than marijuana.

Another hypothesis is that the reduction in cocaine use comes from supply interdiction efforts by federal, state, and local law enforcement, including crop eradication, and a shift in the activities of cocoa farmers and violence and instability in Mexico.

Further research will need to be done to test these hypotheses, and find the facts in order to develop evidence-based public policy recommendations for regulating these drugs in the future.

Categories: On the Blog

Weather Bulletin 10: Winter Hangs On

Somewhat Reasonable - April 19, 2015, 6:53 PM

Despite Spring having sprung, in some places Winter is lingering with troublesome results.
Heavy snow swept across much of the Rockies during tax week, resulting in multiple multi-car pileups and interstate closures.

ABC news reports, an early spring snowstorm was blamed for crashes involving some 60 cars and trucks on Interstate 80 in southeastern Wyoming. Two dozen people were taken to a Cheyenne hospital. The American Red Cross provided food and shelter to people stranded by the accident.

In Colorado, crashes resulting from snowy conditions also closed portions of Interstate 70. The National Weather Service winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories for southeast Wyoming said up to a foot of snow was possible while Colorado faced more than 2 feet of snow in parts of the mountains. The Weather Service said the late-season storm threatened increase the danger of avalanches.

Winter has also failed to abandon the Maritime regions of Canada. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Western Prince Edward Island (PEI) were blanketed with heavier than normal winter snowfall (PEI was hit with more than 16 feet of snow). The accumulated snow has failed to melt and leaving wildlife authorities fearing for the health of the region’s deer herd and other wildlife. According to Canada News, More deer are being hit by cars this winter as they search for food near roadways clear of snow.

There are even reports of deer aborting their unborn fawns due to of their inability to find food.
Predators are also suffering as their primary prey, small animals and rodents, have been able to remain hidden below the snowpack while foraging for grasses, resulting in less food for carnivores.

Popular Canadian television wildlife expert, Hope Swinimer, says the winter has been hard on a number of species. Swinimer reports, “We do have a reported incident in which a litter of newborn raccoons were found dead out in the open on a snowbank in the backyard of a caller that can be attributed to the harsh winter impeding wildlife in the search for food.”

In addition, Swinimer has seen “a number of different wildlife species, including bobcats, owls, robins, and woodcocks brought to us for rehabilitation due to the harsh winter.” Swinimer reports there have also been “an abnormally high number” of certain species of migratory birds in jeopardy, most notably robins and American woodcocks. These migratory birds are returning north from long journey’s in their southern wintering grounds expecting open ground to forage for worms and insects so that they can recover from their journey and prepare for breeding and nest building. Instead, they return to the same deep snow and thick ice that has been hindering the predators.”

It seems nature hasn’t heard the news that human caused climate change is making winter’s disappear.

Categories: On the Blog

America’s Position in Foreign Policy Fading Fast Because of Obama’s Climate Stance

Somewhat Reasonable - April 19, 2015, 7:57 AM

This story from the United Kingdom that details information that has not been mentioned on U.S. television or the print media. In order to shrink our nation’s international influence, the Chinese Government has established the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The AIIB is to compete with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund which is influenced by the United States to avoid loans involving use of coal. As shown in the article, most developed nations have joined the AIIB in spite of President Obama’s protests.

President Obama has established his legacy as leading the world in the fight against catastrophic global warming caused by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide from using fossil fuels. His government has placed impediments against fossil fuel production on federal lands and export of oil and natural gas. In addition, the fight has succeeded in curtailing use of coal in electric power generation with some increase in utility rates.

The goal is to reduce fossil fuel use by at least 80 percent below the 2005 level by 2050. President Obama wants the rest of the world to follow suit and hopes to seal world approval by a United Nations treaty signed in Paris this December. Nature has not cooperated in helping President Obama push his agenda.

Proponents argue global warming will melt all the sea ice at the North and South poles. As of April 10, Arctic sea ice is 6.2 percent below its average from 1981 to 2010 and Antarctic sea ice is a whopping 29 percent greater than its average.

Proponents said 2014 was the warmest year in recorded history (1880 to present). Satellite temperature data shows 2014 had an average temperature of 0.275 degrees Centigrade while higher temperatures were recorded in 1998 and 2010 of 0.42 and 0.40, respectively. The data shows no increase in global temperatures in 17 years in spite of highest increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide in millennia—30 percent of the increase in the past 250 years.

Proponents claim snowfall will be a part of the past. January 22, 2015, EPA Administrator McCarthy was in Aspen, CO, the famous ski destination, and warned without action on climate change, “Aspen’s climate could be a lot like that of Amarillo, Texas by 2100.” For what it is worth, it snowed in Amarillo this winter. It is snowed more than 10 inches in Aspen April 16 and snow is still falling. In addition, record snowfall occurred this winter in the Northeast.

Proponents claim global warming is causing sea level rise that may be as much as six feet by 2100. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains a data set of 128 tidal gauges in the United States and 112 in other countries that show no acceleration of sea level rise in more than a century. Global warming due to fossil fuel use is claimed to have started after 1950.

President Obama’s policies of thwarting fossil fuel production are diminishing our influence on world affairs by denying the United States’ unparalleled ability to supply fossil fuels to friendly nations. Developing nations need inexpensive coal to supply cheap electricity for their deprived masses. Attempts to stop funding coal plants in Asia saw creation of the AIIB and more ignoring U. S. interests.

Categories: On the Blog

Debate Over Global Warming Is Not Over, Despite Common Core Claims (Part 2)

Somewhat Reasonable - April 18, 2015, 10:42 PM

The scientific debate over global warming is not over.  According to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, only 20% of likely U.S. voters believe the scientific debate about global warming is over, while 63% disagree and say the debate still continues, and 17% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)  Neither is it true, despite numerous news reports, that 97% of scientists agree human activity is causing a climate crisis that demands we move on to government directed “solutions” to the crisis.

A poster produced by The Heartland Institute can be downloaded here with the faces, names, and titles of 58 experts who are current and former professors of climatology, geology, environmental science, physics, and economics at leading universities around the world. [NOTE: Because of its size in downloading, the Heartland Institute can send you a free copy delivered by mail (only in the U.S., please) by writing to: Global Warming Poster, The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive #2740, Chicago, IL  60606.]

For additional information to counter those who are trying to force the general public (and school children) to accept climate change as a catastrophic future happening, the Nongovernmental International Panel of Climate Change (NIPCC) has produced a series of comprehensive research reports and easy-to-read summaries addressing all aspects of the scientific debate over global warming.

The co-founder of the Weather Channel, John Coleman, shocked academics by insisting the theory of man-made climate change was not scientifically credible.  According to Coleman, what ‘little evidence’ there is for rising global temperatures points to a ‘natural phenomenon’ within a developing eco-system. In an open letter attacking the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, John Coleman wrote:

  • “The ocean is not rising significantly.”
  • “The polar ice is increasing, not melting away. Polar Bears are increasing in number.”
  • “Heat waves have actually diminished, not increased. There is not an uptick in the number or strength of storms (in fact storms are diminishing).”
  • “I have studied this topic seriously for years. It has become a political and environment agenda item, but the science is not valid.”

To be listened to, and with good reason, is Patrick Moore, who as a co-founder and leader of Greenpeace for 15 years, is now chair and spokesman for Allow Golden Rice .  Mr. Moore was clear and direct in his article of March 20, 2015, “Why I am a Climate Change Skeptic.”

I am skeptical humans are the main cause of climate change and that it will be catastrophic in the near future. There is no scientific proof of this hypothesis, yet we are told ‘the debate is over’ and ‘the science is settled.’

My skepticism begins with the believers’ certainty they can predict the global climate with a computer model. The entire basis for the doomsday climate change scenario is the hypothesis increased atmospheric carbon dioxide due to fossil fuel emissions will heat the Earth to unlivable temperatures.

In fact, the Earth has been warming very gradually for 300 years, since the Little Ice Age ended, long before heavy use of fossil fuels. Prior to the Little Ice Age, during the Medieval Warm Period, Vikings colonized Greenland and Newfoundland, when it was warmer there than today. And during Roman times, it was warmer, long before fossil fuels revolutionized civilization.

The idea it would be catastrophic if carbon dioxide were to increase and average global temperature were to rise a few degrees is preposterous.

Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced for the umpteenth time we are doomed unless we reduce carbon-dioxide emissions to zero. Effectively this means either reducing the population to zero, or going back 10,000 years before humans began clearing forests for agriculture. This proposed cure is far worse than adapting to a warmer world, if it actually comes about.

A sure sign that the push by government and other environmental organizations isn’t working, despite frantic efforts to convince the American people that global warming if unchecked will produce all manner of future catastrophic happening for Mother Earth, is that advocates of global warming have started to call for the arrest and punishment of those they label as climate-change liars.

It is indeed a credit to the American people that many aren’t stupid enough to buy into the manmade climate change crisis narrative being advanced by the Obama administration and other legislators at the state and national level.  It is telling that those who do believe in manmade global warming, including Al Gore, refuse to debate experts who disagree with them, preferring instead to label and further sensor those who challenge them as global skeptics “skeptic.”

Should the enactment of agenda-based political policies mandating the use of renewable energy while curtailing the use of fossil fuels continue to be legislated at the federal and state level, the end results will be higher costs for energy and for all goods we purchase and periods of blackout when existing energy supply cannot meet demand.  To most Americans the continued obsession over the effects of manmade global warming when in reality man has little if any ability to control the climate, should be a no brainer.

It you are not yet convinced that climate change (global warming) is mostly natural and not man-made, here are 100 reasons released by the European Foundation that should convince all but the most ardent Climate Change believer that man cannot control the climate.  Consider that man-made carbon dioxide emissions throughout human history constitute less than 0.00022 percent of the total naturally emitted from the mantle of the earth during geological history.

Through the process of elections, American citizens can replace administrations and legislators who advocate for faulty and unrealistic measures that breed economic disaster.  But what about our children, who, through no choice of their own, are being schooled in a global warming doctrine that is linked to a political agenda that is all about power and control.  Bravo to the state of West Virginia, but it is unrealistic to believe that Illinois will respond willingly in a similar way. West Virginia has altered its standards for teaching science to introduce doubts about what is incorrectly being described as the “scientific” consensus on climate change that is occurring and greatly influenced by human activity.

Parents must know what their children are learning and reteach faulty information if necessary.  Attend school board meetings to confront your school administration about Common Core Curriculum guidelines for Science, Math, Language Arts, and History.  By all means contact your state legislator to advice that Global Warming (also known as Climate Change) is at best a hypothesis which would only further exacerbate the dismal economic conditions that now exists in Illinois if followed through. The bill Scott Drury is proposing for Illinois must be stopped.  It is bad for Illinois and must not become law.

Read Part 1 here.

[First published at Illinois Review.]

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