Posts Tagged ‘Energy’
Sestak, Solyndra, Pigford, Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS targeting, AP phone records, HHS soliciting funds, and now the revelation of EPA double standards.
With this administration it’s just one lawless scandal after another. When will the American people finally say ENOUGH!?
The IRS may not be the only federal agency singling out conservative groups. Records suggest that the Environmental Protection Agency has made it easier for environmental groups to file Freedom of Information Act requests than conservative organizations.
According to EPA records obtained by the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute, since January 2012 the agency has granted fee waivers for 75 out of 82 Freedom of Information Act Requests sent by major environmental groups, denying only seven of them — meaning green groups saw their fees waived 92 percent of the time.
At the same time, the EPA frequently denied fee waivers to conservative groups. EPA records show that the agency rejected or ignored 21 out of 26 fee waiver requests from such conservative groups as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Institute for Energy Research, and Judicial Watch — an 81 percent rejection rate.
[...] “This is as clear an example of disparate treatment as the IRS hurdles selectively imposed upon groups with names ominously reflecting an interest in, say, a less intrusive or biased federal government,” said CEI senior fellow Chris Horner, author of “The Liberal War on Transparency.”
Horner described the EPA’s actions as “a clear pattern of favoritism for allied groups and “a concerted campaign to make life more difficult for those deemed unfriendly.”
This kind of favoritism springs from a worldview. The EPA that authored this bias was the same EPA led by Lisa Jackson. She left office last year amid her own scandal involving the use of personal, secret email accounts to conduct agency business — the “Richard Windsor” scandal.
It’s time to ask a serious question. In light of the IRS targeting conservatives and the EPA denying conservatives at the same time, do liberals even believe that conservatives are due fair treatment under the law?
The EPA has become an unaccountable, tyrannical weapon wielded by unelected bureaucrats to abuse unconstitutional powers to advance their agenda.
It’s time for the EPA to be abolished, along with every other agency that doesn’t fall under the specific, enumerated powers granted in the constitution to the federal government.
In Europe, “green” policies to eliminate nuclear and coal power for “green” alternatives worked so well that desperate Greeks and Germans resorted to stealing firewood from local forests to keep warm this winter.
Sadly, it doesn’t appear that Obama’s nominee has learned from their mistake. He insists that skyrocketing energy prices are just what we need to force people away from fossil fuels towards a gloriously “green,” utopian future:
President Obama’s Energy secretary nominee regards a carbon tax as one of the simplest ways to move the energy industry towards clean technologies, though he notes that government would have to come up with a plan to mitigate the burden this tax places on poor people, who would pay the most.
“Ultimately, it has to be cheaper to capture and store it than to release it and pay a price,” MIT professor and Energy nominee Ernest Moniz told the Switch Energy Project in an interview last year. “If we start really squeezing down on carbon dioxide over the next few decades, well, that could double; it could eventually triple. I think inevitably if we squeeze down on carbon, we squeeze up on the cost, it brings along with it a push toward efficiency; it brings along with it a push towards clean technologies in a conventional pollution sense; it brings along with it a push towards security. Because after all, the security issues revolve around carbon bearing fuels.”
Moniz position is not far from that of Energy Secretary Steven Chu before he took a job in the Obama administration. “We have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” Chu said in 2008. Last year, gas hit $9 a gallon in Greece.
As if poor and middle class families aren’t hurting enough trying to make ends meet as it is.
I gotta be honest…I just didn’t have it in me to watch this year. My BS meter was already maxed out, and every preview of the speech’s content pretty much assured me that a root canal would be preferable to sitting through this.
When I read the transcript, I toyed with the idea of going through it as I have in the past, debunking and translating the double-speak point by point. But there’s nothing he said that hasn’t already been debunked and exposed multiple times before. He really doesn’t have any new ideas…just the same old, tired, recycled talking points.
So I’m going to let the CATO Institute break it down for you. I honestly can’t think of anyone better (apart from their apparent agreement with Obama that Al Qaeda is “on the run,” but that’s to be expected of Libertarians):
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Here’s the Tea Party response from Sen. Rand Paul:
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Senator Marco Rubio delivered the official GOP response.
Dr. Ben Carson gave some great commentary, as well:
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In the address itself, President Obama made the case that liberty is not timeless; that it must adjust to the times, and that “preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action”–not to defend those freedoms from infringement, but to give them “meaning” through government regulation and redistribution.
White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer put the point more bluntly in remarks published earlier today:
“There’s a moment of opportunity now that’s important,” Pfeiffer said. “What’s frustrating is that we don’t have a political system or an opposition party worthy of the opportunity.”
Note the contempt in Pfeiffer’s words–not just for the political opposition, but for the political system itself–a system designed by the Framers to include checks and balances to hold government power firmly in check.
[...] A year ago, President Obama observed: “[I]t turns out our Founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change that I would like sometimes.” Back then, facing re-election, he promised to be patient. Today, he is impatient–with the opposition, and the system itself. He will destroy both, if necessary, to achieve his vision of America–one where “government alone” does not do everything, but rather dictates to individuals what they should do, and choose, and want, to serve its sweeping designs.
Ben Shapiro on Obama’s ‘Orwellian’ Inaugural Speech
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Throughout most of human history, transfers of power involved the coronation of a king or emperor, who’s only claim to power was either his birth or the conquest of his rival, whose reign was for life, and whose subjects were at his complete mercy.
Two centuries ago, our founders gave us a radically different system, where leaders were chosen from among the people to be public servants who were held accountable by the people, where no man (regardless of position) was above the law, where power was limited to prevent its abuse, where God alone was our King, and where government was prevented from taking that dictatorial role in people’s lives.
It is an awesome privilege to be the beneficiary of such a gift, and yet it carries a heavy responsibility of civic duty to hold our government and public servants accountable when they overstep their legitimate, constitutional authority.
Today was a day of inauguration, not coronation. We respect the results of the election, but we also remember that the constitutional limits of government power and the rule of law that protects our liberties are NEVER up for a vote.
Today, it was not just a president who is being inaugurated, but also We The People, who must shoulder our responsibility to uphold and defend the constitution against all threats, foreign and domestic. May we take that solemn charge faithfully and honorably, as our founders did.
And we start, by recognizing the threats promised by the newly inauguration president against our liberties:
Sounding the same themes of class warfare that propelled his re-election campaign, President Barack Obama devoted his second inaugural address to laying out his second term agenda: a struggle to undo the seeming injustices of America’s past, and to overcome the army of straw men that stand in opposition to progress.
In the process, President Obama attempted nothing less than an assault on the timeless notion of liberty itself:
Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.
But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.
After praising the “collective” and mocking the notion that America is a “nation of takers,” President Obama targeted the political opposition. He targeted those who “deny” climate change, attacked those who allegedly refused to reward the elderly for their contributions, and defied critics whom he said wanted “perpetual war.” He attacked the rich–as he has done so often over the past four years–and painted a caricature of an unjust nation: “…our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it….We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.”
President Obama’s address failed to deliver on promises earlier in the day by senior political adviser David Axelrod that the speech would sound themes of national unity on a day of national “consecration.” Instead, the president sounded combative themes familiar from his divisive first term, albeit wrapped occasionally in the lofty rhetoric of “hope” and “tolerance,” and punctuated by the repeated refrain: “We, the People.”
[...] Throughout his address, the President maintained his voice in a near-shout. This was not an historic address, a reflection on a moment in history; it was an exhortation to political action, in contrast to the political reality of a divided Washington, in defiance of the profound economic challenges still facing the American people.
It was a declaration of political war on individual liberty. It was a wasted opportunity–and a warning.
Obama spelled out his true agenda: destroying founding principles about limited government to meet changing times. While paying lip service to “our skepticism of central authority,” Obama said that times have changed, and “so must we”: “fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges … preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.” This was the sheerest form of rhetoric sophistry; equating freedom with government control is an perverse reversal of language. Of course, the Constitution was written based on the notion that human nature does not change – people are not angels, nor devils, but self-interested creatures capable of greatness or evil, who must be checked against each other. But Obama doesn’t believe that. He believes that man can be made anew.
But only by government. And so Obama demonized limited government as anarchism, suggesting that meeting “the demands of today’s world by acting alone” is like forcing American soldiers to meet “the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias” – a straw man argument so blatant it appeared Obama would wheel out Ray Bolger to present it. In pursuing his agenda, Obama made clear that he will ignore basic realities – “we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.” He made clear that he will create false histories – “we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.” He made clear that he will redefine taking and giving – those who wish to save their money for their families and children are “takers,” and those who wish to confiscate the wealth of others “strengthen us.”
In the end, Obama’s argument was a collectivist one. And it was an argument designed to irreparably tear this nation apart. Obama himself said it: “Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way …”
But this renders the Declaration of Independence Obama cited completely meaningless. The founders may have disagreed on many things, but they agreed on the meaning of liberty: the right to live as an individual, without centralized planning infringing basic property rights, economic opportunities, and religious freedoms. Obama’s fundamental redefinition of liberty to include communitarianism is not merely wrong, it spells the end of the political commonality that has held the fabric of the nation together. If we define liberty differently, then there is nothing to talk about: my liberty is your tyranny, and vice versa. Our goals can never be shared. That gap can never be bridged.
Would you expect anything less?
Tucked into the “fiscal cliff” tax package approved by Congress are billions of dollars in tax breaks that should make the new year a lot happier for businesses of many stripes, including film producers, race track owners and the makers of electric motorcycles.
In all, more than 50 temporary tax breaks were renewed through 2013, saving businesses and individuals about $76 billion. Congress routinely renews the tax package, attracting intense lobbying _ and campaign donations _ from businesses and trade groups that say the tax breaks help them prosper and create jobs.
[...] Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the package is filled with “special-interest handouts” that make it difficult for him to justify his vote in favor of it.
“It’s hard to think of anything that could feed the cynicism of the American people more than larding up must-pass emergency legislation with giveaways to special interests and campaign contributors,” McCain said.
Another corrupt Obama administration official. Another scandal the media won’t investigate or expose. Another typical day in Washington.
A key agency in the “most transparent administration in history” is being investigated for dodging potential public scrutiny and possibly congressional oversight by using bogus electronic mail accounts to conduct official business.
It involves the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its administrator, Lisa Jackson, the Obama appointee who has dedicated tens of millions of dollars to an “environmental justice” movement that helps minority communities get green. Each year the agency doles out cash to leftwing community groups that help poor, minority and indigenous people increase recycling, reduce carbon emissions through “weatherization,” participate in “green jobs” training and avoid heat stroke.
The thought of this major government agency conducting secret operations is downright scary not to mention illegal. But that could be exactly what’s going on at the EPA and now the agency’s watchdog is investigating at the request of Congress. In amemo addressed to Jackson and other high-ranking EPA mucky mucks, the agency’s inspector general announces its plans to begin an audit of “electronic records management practices.”
“Our objective is to determine whether EPA follows applicable laws and regulations when using private and alias email accounts to conduct official business,” the EPA Inspector General writes.
Welcome to another installment of “Bureaucrats Gone Wild.” The EPA was originally created to advise congress and enforce federal environmental laws passed by congress (which constitutes a constitutional question in itself, since environmental issues, per the 10th Amendment, belong under the jurisdiction of the individual states, not the federal government).
Now, the EPA has become a monster that continually makes up its own rules and regulations – which are never voted on by the people or their representatives – and abuses its power to control individuals and their private property. Staying warm in winter is as much a matter of basic survival as food, water, and shelter – areas where it is incredibly dangerous for government to exert control at the expense of individual freedom.
So, you’re living in Fairbanks, Alaska, and it’s 45 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit. The high today will be -39 degrees below zero. The weather services all project lots more double-digit minus numbers in the coming days and weeks, with dips into the minus 50s and 60s. Heating oil prices are killing your family budget, so you crank up the wood stove and start burning some of the firewood you collected last summer. Uh-oh! Now you’re in trouble!
Yes, you’re merely trying to survive economically — along with trying to keep the wife, kids, and grandma from freezing to death. Of course, that’s not a mere theoretical possibility in these temps — but federal EPA bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., have determined that fine particulate matter (soot) in your wood smoke is verboten.
Lying low in the Tanana Valley, Fairbanks regularly experiences temperature inversions that trap smoky air over the area. That means people with respiratory problems can have more irritation from increased soot content. The federal Environmental Protection Agency’s revised fine particulate matter regulations (PM2.5) have cut the annual level of allowable fine particulates from 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 12 micrograms.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough, a county area roughly the size of New Jersey with under 100,000 population, has been under the EPA gun since the agency ratcheted down its soot standards in 2008. Along with 14 other cities and 53 other counties that were not then on the EPA’s “non-attainment area” list, the Fairbanks North Star Borough is under orders to clean up its air or face fines and a “compliance plan” imposed by EPA. In efforts to meet the federal mandate, borough politicians attempted to regulate wood burning. That got citizens heated up.
“Everybody wants clean air,” state Rep. Tammie Wilson told the Associated Press. “We just have to make sure that we can also heat our homes.” Rep. Wilson sponsored a citizen initiative passed in October that bans the borough regulation of home heating devices. The borough, she said, has no business stepping in with restrictions when no one knows if they will work. “We’re still waiting here for a model, a model that shows us that if we do A, B and C, we can then get into attainment,” she said. “We have not seen anything from the borough, from the state or from the EPA showing us that that is even possible with the technology that is available to us.”
The citizens have spoken; they have told the local, state, and federal officials that they would rather not freeze to death to satisfy federal bureaucrats who are in a fretting frenzy over theoretical deaths from soot. The citizens are on firm ground, as it turns out; the “science” the EPA has based its PM2.5 standards on is shoddy at best. Like the “science” cited by alarmists who are all in a twist over global warming, the studies providing the basis for PM2.5 are based on computer models and hidden data, not actual measurements and peer-reviewed analysis.
[...] The EPA’s brazen overreach and flawed science have been flayed and exposed repeatedly (see: Here, here, and here), but the Obama administration has marched on, determined to impose its “green” agenda on the nation.
Of course, even if the people of Fairbanks were to cease all burning of firewood, there is no guarantee that they would satisfy the EPA standards. There is no viable source of energy that meets EPA approval. The EPA is down on coal and oil, and even clean natural gas, which for years was the darling energy source of the greens — until the recent natural gas boom began making it cheap and abundant.
If it’s successful, convenient, inexpensive, and makes our lives better, environmentalists want to kill it. They won’t be happy until we’re all back in utopian bark hut villages, walking on dirt paths, illuminated only by moonlight.
Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission voted 4-1 today to require fuel distributors to begin reporting the carbon content of car and truck fuel used in the state.
Now, the 2013 Legislature will decide whether to take the next step: Requiring those same companies to cut the carbon content of fuel 10 percent a gallon by 2025.
The “clean fuels” initiative, similar to California’s newly implemented program, favors gasoline and diesel alternatives, such as ethanol, biodiesel, natural gas and electricity. It’s aimed at curbing climate change, with transportation generating a third of Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions, and at boosting in-state biofuels producers.
Opponents, including petroleum, trucking and farm groups, say it could increase gas prices and put Oregon companies at a competitive disadvantage.
Read more at the Oregonian
“A Low Carbon Fuel Standard will raise fuel costs, slow the state’s economic recovery, and create unnecessary overlap and confusion between Oregon’s existing alternative fuels programs,” cautioned Mike Salsgiver, Executive Director of the Oregon Columbia Chapter of Associated General Contractors.
“There is no doubt in our minds that an LCFS will increase the cost of fuel for Oregonians,” added Debra Dunn, President of the Oregon Trucking Associations. “Not only will increased fuel prices have an adverse impact on Oregon’s trucking industry but it will also harm Oregon’s economy as the trucking industry transports the vast majority of the freight in our state.”
A coalition has been formed to oppose implementation of these job-killing regulations:
We’ve lost 113,000 jobs in our state from 2007 through 2011. Tax revenues to fund our state’s schools and services are not keeping pace. More cuts may be necessary as the prospect for another economic downturn looms.
And yet regulators are now seriously considering emulating California’s new “Low Carbon Fuel Standards” regulations that will cost between 9,000 and 29,000 Oregon jobs, will cost Oregon families up to $1,200 per year in fuel costs, and decrease state economic activity by a minimum of $600 million.
In short, it’s another unnecessary obstacle for Oregon’s slow economic recovery.
The proposed Clean Fuel Program will only expose Oregonians to volatile price increases at the pump, additional government regulations of small businesses, and increase our already aggressive blending requirements for ethanol and other forms of bio diesel.
The power to stop these regulations rests with the Oregon legislature, which means ultimately, it rests with you. That’s why a group of fuel users, consumers and business organizations opposed to the adoption of the proposed Clean Fuels Program in Oregon has banded together to form Oregonians for Sound Fuel Policy.
It’s an environmentalist wacko’s dream come true, and it will drive up energy prices, making it difficult for the poor to afford electricity and heat. Yet these are the people who claim to be the “compassionate” party of the “common man.”
Barack Obama may consider introducing a tax on carbon emissions to help cut the U.S. budget deficit after winning a second term as president, according to HSBC Holdings Plc.
A tax starting at $20 a metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent and rising at about 6 percent a year could raise $154 billion by 2021, Nick Robins, an analyst at the bank in London, said today in an e-mailed research note, citing Congressional Research Service estimates. “Applied to the Congressional Budget Office’s 2012 baseline, this would halve the fiscal deficit by 2022,” Robins said.
So much for what’s left of our manufacturing. And they wonder why these industries are moving offshore?
I guess Americans have decided that they haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Obama will lead us down the road to Greece. Our own apathy and disregard for the Biblical principles of liberty, government and economics have led us down this path. Only a revival can save our nation now. Lord, we lay our future in your hands.
Here’s what we need to prepare for:
The mask will now come off. Obama doesn’t have to worry about re-election and will push hard to advance his Marxist agenda with no pretense of being a “moderate.”
A flood of regulations that Obama kept on hold and the media hid until after the election will start going into effect, strangling struggling businesses.
Taxmageddon – a record $494 billion tax hike – will go into effect on January 1st, 2013, plunging us into even deeper recession.
The Left will start going after the internet, citizen journalism, social media and talk radio – any competition to the Left-wing propagandist media.
Obama and the Democrat-controlled senate will begin ceding our national sovereignty to the United Nations, one treaty at a time. Parental rights, gun rights, and internet freedom are especially under threat.
Planned Parenthood will expand on the taxpayer dime, preparing to perform thousands of abortions via socialized medicine.
A direct assault on religious liberty as Obama’s HHS forces religious business owners to pay for abortions, and tries to force the Catholic church – the largest competitor to the Welfare State – out of the health care industry and other charities altogether.
With the Republicans still controlling congress, Obama will simply go around them and rule by executive diktat. Republicans will have to grow the spine needed to hold him in check.
With Democrats still in control of the senate, no budgets will be passed. All of Obama’s judges and appointments will be confirmed. And if they aren’t, he’ll go ahead and appoint them anyway.
Obama will likely appoint at least two more activist judges to lifetime appointments in the Supreme Court. The senate will confirm them.
Obama will continue to block drilling and natural gas development, driving up gas prices and making us dangerously dependent on the volatile Middle East while he dumps billions more into “green” energy subsidies.
Obama’s EPA will destroy the coal industry, causing electricity rates to skyrocket, as he imposes thousands more “green” regulations on what’s left of our manufacturing and other industries.
Illegal aliens will be granted amnesty, voting rights and welfare benefits.
Israel will be forced to attack Iran to prevent it from going nuclear. Obama will not support them. The Muslim world will not be afraid of action from the United States, and will feel free to join forces to destroy Israel.
Christian persecution across the globe will intensify, as the Obama administration looks the other way.
The Fed will continue to print more money out of thin air, creating hyperinflation.
These last four years have been exhausting. After this loss, it’s tempting to just put our heads back under the covers and give up.
But we can’t.
We have no choice but to fight back with every resource at our disposal. If we give up, our children and grandchildren will suffer under the tyranny of the USSA, while the rest of the world descends into chaos.
I can’t allow that to happen while there is still breath in my body to fight it.
Remember, THIS is what you’re fighting for:
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Who’s with me?
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” ~ Thomas Paine
First they cut the defense budget. Now they want to convert our navy to run on a $26 per gallon fuel.
Meanwhile, China is in the middle of a massive military build-up, Russia is restarting the Cold War, and Iran is on the verge of a nuclear weapon. Priorities??
Just when you thought the Obama administration could not do any further damage to the military that it already has, now we learn the he is forcing his “green energy” agenda upon the U.S. Navy by forcing all non-nuclear powered vessels to use “bio-fuel.”
This month, a carrier strike group that is headed to the Pacific for a six-week multinational naval exercise off the coast of Hawaii, will have its non-nuclear powered escort vessels, which include a destroyer and a tanker, use a newly formulated 50-50 mixture of standard [diesel] fuel, and a cocktail of seeds, algae and chicken fat, according toa July 2, 2012 FOXNews article.
A Navy official stated that operating the so-called “Great Green Fleet” on this blend of alternative and conventional fuel is part of Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ plan to have half the Navy fleet on alternative fuel by 2020.
The Navy official answered…
Investments in biofuel will produce a competitively priced — and domestically produced — alternative to conventional fuel. Such investments help the Navy and the nation become less dependent on foreign oil and thus less subject to volatility in oil prices that directly affect our readiness.
Not so fast.
What will really ‘affect the readiness’ of our Navy is it having to file for bankruptcy–because this biofuel mixture was confirmed to cost $26 a gallon–more than seven times the $3.60 a gallon cost for conventional fuel.
Like food prices aren’t hurting American families enough already!
Campaigning in Missouri Valley, Iowa, yesterday, President Obama announced yet another government spending program — this time designed to inflate meat prices in Midwest swing states. “Today the Department of Agriculture announced that it will buy up to $100 million worth of pork products, $50 million worth of chicken, and $20 million worth of lamb and farm-raised catfish,” Obama explained to reporters in front of a drought-stricken cornfield.
“Prices are low, farmers and ranchers need help, so it makes sense,” Obama explained. “It makes sense for farmers who get to sell more of their product, and it makes sense for taxpayers who will save money because we’re getting food we would have bought anyway at a better price.”
None of this makes sense. In fact, Obama’s move only harms American consumers while protecting a corrupt federal program.
A drought is currently driving down corn production. The shortage of feed is forcing livestock producers to slaughter animals early, putting downward pressure on meat prices in the short run and guaranteeing shortages and higher prices next year. But nature is not the biggest factor in this crisis — the government is. Specifically, the federal government’s ethanol mandate, which requires that 13.2 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol be produced in 2012.
Thanks to the ethanol mandate, more than 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop now goes into the production of a useless fuel that hardly anyone would buy if the government didn’t require it. That’s up from just 17 percent in 2005, before the mandate went into effect. Only 36 percent of the corn crop now goes for feed, and 24 percent goes for food.
Obama could solve this problem instantly by suspending the federal ethanol mandate — something his EPA actually can do unilaterally and legally. Instead, Obama will buy up meat — a move that meat producers say won’t help them much anyway. “It doesn’t solve the problem of having enough affordable corn next summer,” industry analyst Steve Meyer told Reuters. “Without changing the ethanol program, nothing can be done,” he said.
The higher corn prices caused by the mandate and the drought have also driven up the price of ethanol by 33 percent since May, which means — again, thanks to the mandate — higher gas prices at the pump.
For years, the US Dept. of Agriculture has subsidized corn to keep the price artificially low, which is why so many products use High Fructose Corn Syrup and so many farmers use it for livestock feed (as opposed to grasses, which they are naturally designed to eat instead). It’s why grass-fed beef and other natural foods cost so much more than those that have become dependent on corn. If not for federal interference in the the corn market, many farmers and companies would have already moved towards alternatives and would not be so vulnerable to the current shortage.
The federal mandates for ethanol only exacerbate the problem further.
This has been a cruel season for America’s agricultural economy. It was partly unavoidable, as our nation’s farmers are being devastated by this summer’s brutal and worsening drought. The farm economy has withered along with the crops, and the American consumer, once again, will pay for it with higher food prices.
One of the hardest-hit commodities, corn, plays a critical role in our food chain. This year’s crop yield could be the worst in 15 years, and corn prices have already hit record high levels.
But aggravating the problem and adding to the crisis is the U.S. government’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires that a certain volume of ethanol (15.2 billion gallons in 2012, mainly derived from corn) be blended into gasoline. This is an arbitrary figure, set irrespective of market supplies, demands or price. It applies to corn that’s desperately needed for livestock feed and food for consumers.
The RFS has diverted so much corn as a questionable substitute for gasoline that in the face of this drought-depleted harvest, major food-producing companies such as Smithfield are being forced to seek alternative markets for grain to meet the demands of their livestock and at more affordable prices. Ironically, if the ethanol mandate did not exist, even this year’s drought-depleted corn crop would have been more than enough to meet the requirements for livestock feed and food production at decent prices.
To give you some idea of the magnitude of the problem, look at Smithfield. We’re the world’s largest pork producer. We purchase roughly 128 million bushels of corn and corn equivalents a year from U.S. farmers to feed our 16 million pigs on farms across 12 states. This makes us one of the largest consumers of corn in the country. In addition, we contract with about 2,135 U.S. hog producers.
This year, the double whammy of a drought that’s ravaging crops and ethanol demand has pushed corn prices to what are now record-high levels of over $8 per bushel, a quadrupling of prices in less than a decade. This has compelled food producers like Smithfield to find ways to control skyrocketing feed costs. For the first time in memory, corn is cheaper when it’s delivered to the U.S. from abroad than if it’s purchased from domestic suppliers. Smithfield was forced to take the unfortunate but absolutely necessary step of buying corn from Brazil—spending money that under normal circumstances would have gone to U.S. farmers.
This is what happens when the corn market, which already has to count on the whims of Mother Nature and is governed by the laws of supply and demand, is victimized by the whims of Washington and the unintended consequences of the diversion of food to fuel.
This has nothing to do with protecting the environment or promoting energy independence. It has EVERYTHING to do with corrupt leftists abusing unconstitutional powers to target specific industries they ideologically oppose simply because they exist at all.
This abuse of power demonstrates why such unelected, unaccountable, and unconstitutional agencies and departments need to be completely abolished.
It’s bad enough that government regulations and environmental legal defense groups have prevented us from building oil refineries for over 30 years. It’s even worse when the existing ones are forced to blend fuel mixtures that don’t exist.
We are all painfully aware of the Soviet style mandate that requires 10% of petroleum to be comprised of ethanol. This unconstitutional mandate has killed jobs, driven up the cost of fuel and food, lowered gas mileage, and damaged car engines – all to benefit corporate cronies in Big Ag. This odious fuel source is primarily made from corn. But since 2010, the EPA has mandated the blending of more than 20 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel into the nation’s fuel supply. The problem is that while creating efficacious fuel from grass, wood, and algae might sound great in theory, it doesn’t exist on the commercial fuel market.
On December 19, 2007, President Bush signed a disastrous socialist energy bill that contained numerous green energy mandates and subsidies. It also banned the sale of incandescent light bulbs. The “Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007” passed with support from 39 Republican senators and 95 Republican congressmen. It created a Renewable Fuels Mandate requiring that 22 billion gallons of renewables be blended into our gasoline supply by 2016 and 36 billion gallons by 2022. The bill also created a few sub-mandates, one of which required a blend of 100 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel by 2010, rising to 250 million in 2011, 500 million in 2012, and 16 billion by 2022. The bill also established a tax credit of $1.01 per gallon produced.
Despite the tremendous tailwinds of tax credits and the boot of the government used to force fuel blenders to purchase cellulosic fuels, the industry has failed to perform magic and become commercially viable during the past 5 years. Some of the plants that were given subsidies to produce this phantom fuel were never even built. Yes – this is a scandal far worse than Solyndra.
What is even more scandalous is that oil companies are forced to pay a tax for not blending this phantom fuel!
Because oil companies are deemed to be in violation of the renewable fuels mandate, they are forced to purchase waiver credits from the EPA or face large fines. Oil companies have been forced to pay $14 million in these credits so far (more than all the green energy companies have paid in taxes). Yes, indeed we already have a cap and trade program in place.
At present, there is a pending lawsuit against the EPA over the phantom fuel mandate filed through the D.C. Circuit Court by industry groups. However, we cannot count on the courts to uphold the Constitution. After all, liberal judges hold that government can regulate inactivity, presumably, even if that activity doesn’t exist.