The Agency That Contaminated The Animas River Is About To Start Regulating Water That May Be In Your Backyard

Unless a federal judge issues a preliminary injunction, the definition of the “Waters of the U.S.” will change on August 28—giving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate the water in your backyard. Even, according to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey: “any area where agencies believe water may flow once every 100 years.”

Thirty-one states, in four districts, have filed motions with the federal courts to block the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) from beginning to enforce the new “Waters of the U.S.” rule (WOTUS), which represents a new interpretation of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

WOTUS was published in the Federal Register on June 29 and will become effective on August 28.

The CWA used to apply to “navigable waters,” which now, as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recently said: “include almost any piece of land that gets wet and puddles.”

While the word “navigable” hasn’t been removed from CWA—as that would require an act of Congress—the EPA has expanded that definition to include any water that has a “significant nexus” with navigable waters. Regarding the final rule, Paxton explains: it “is so broad and open to interpretation that everything from ditches and dry creek beds, to gullies, to isolated ponds formed after a big rain could be considered a ‘water of the United States.’”

The CWA’s single word, “navigable,” has, for decades, been contentious with those who want to expand government control and limit industrial activity such as oil-and-gas development, mining, ranching, and farming. Former Representative Jim Oberstar (D-MN) fought hard to have the word “navigable” removed from the CWA and to expand its control to any waters. Despite repeated bites at the apple, prior Congresses refused to pass his legislation.

A July 28, 2015 letter signed by officials from 31 states, sent to the EPA and the ACOE requesting a minimum nine-month extension of the WOTUS effective date, states: “the new regulation will also have a significant impact on agricultural, homebuilding, oil and gas and mining operations as they try to navigate between established state regulatory programs and the EPA’s and ACOE’s new burdensome and conflicting federal requirements.”

On August 11, thirteen states—including oil-and-gas “heavyweights,” as Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI) calls them, Alaska, Colorado, North Dakota, and New Mexico—became the latest to ask a federal judge to block the controversial rule from taking effect. The states have asked for a hearing on the motion during the week of August 24. NGI states: “The oil and gas industry is opposed to the regulations because they believe it could stifle development.” A statement from the Independent Petroleum Association of America supports this assertion: “The 297-page rulemaking would require a federal permit for any activity that results in a discharge into any body of water covered by the new definition of ‘waters of the United States,’ including small streams and wetlands.”

In addition to the 31 states, on July 2, a coalition of a dozen industry groups—from agriculture to manufacturers to mining—filed a complaint against the EPA and ACOE over the WOTUS rule.

The goal of the litigations is to delay or defeat the regulations before they go into effect.

Apparently, the EPA—which allowed millions of gallons of toxic waste to spill into the Animas River—believes the agency can do a better job of protecting waterways, streams and wetlands than the states. A wide majority of states and industries disagree. The coalition hopes the lawsuits will overturn the rule and prove that the EPA has, again, gone beyond its jurisdiction with this expansion of regulatory authority.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Obama’s Clean Power Plan: Solar Companies Win, Taxpayers Lose

The solar industry is jubilant over the Clean Power Plan, released August 3. That same day, however, some other news reminded the public of what happens when government policy mandates and incentivizes a favored energy source: Taxpayer dollars are gobbled up, and investors lose out.

“The fundamental objective of the Clean Power Plan,” according to Solar Industry Magazine, “is the phasing out of coal-fired power plants in favor of low- or zero-emission sources…” It does this through three “building blocks,” one of which is: “increase electricity generation from non-emitting renewable sources, such as solar and wind.”

Solar proponent’s excitement is palpable; however, it is surprising how shameless they are about sucking the government teat while bemoaning the low price of natural gas. Forbes.com contributor Lyndsey Gilpin states: “in all its 1,560 pages, the Clean Power Plan doesn’t directly address the actual deployment of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. It does, however, give states and utilities an incentive to create and enhance mechanisms that will increase deployment of solar.” (Italics added)

The International Business Times coverage acknowledges that subsidies and regulation are driving the “uptick” in solar deployment. It states: “exactly how much of an increase will be determined by subsidies …while new regulations encourage families and business to invest in solar power.” Though, as Gilpin points out: “The Clean Power Plan is geared toward centralized utility scale solar, meaning electricity sold to wholesale utility buyers, not end customers.”

One such “utility scale solar” company is Abengoa. The Spanish solar company was the single largest recipient of taxpayer funding through Obama’s 2009 Stimulus Bill—$2.8 billion—but has been beset with corruption and allegations that it routinely violates U.S. immigration, environmental, and workplace safety laws. The company is currently under investigation by U.S. Customs and Immigration Service and the Department of Labor.

In November 2014, Abengoa bonds were “hammered on accounting concerns,” Reuters reported. “The company has so many different buckets of debt and management has cleverly used this to report reductions in reported net leverage.”

In another November account, Reuters explains: “Abengoa, an engineering company that expanded massively into renewables, has been struggling with a heavy debt burden since a decade-long economic boom in Spain ended abruptly in 2008.” It must have seen Obama’s push for solar as the answer to its problems. It moved into the U.S. with its hand out and high-profile players—such as former Vice President Al Gore and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson—on its team.

I’ve written extensively on Abengoa, as a part of my “Obama’s green-energy, crony-corruption” series, and done a detailed report published by The Daily Caller. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised when headlines announced, once again, that Abengoa shares “plunged.”

Bloomberg reports that the August 3 drop—75.70 percent from its high on September 3, 2014–is because the “company’s plan to shore up capital failed to reassure investors that it can stop burning cash.”

A former human resources director at one of Abengoa’s subsidiaries, who served as my “deep throat” in my earlier reporting, said: “What I came to realize, and it took me a while because I didn’t want to realize it, is that they understood. They knew the law. They didn’t care. I really came to believe that they’re so politically connected that it’s just hubris and arrogance.”

So, when you hear the solar power proponents chirping about regulations that encourage investment in solar, incentives to help families, and mechanisms to increase deployment, remember that they are taking our tax dollars and giving them to companies like Abengoa that get the funding because of connections. They win, while we lose.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Hillary’s Energy Plan Is Like Obama’s Clean Power Plan On steroids

The Clinton campaign’s newly announced “ambitious renewable energy plans” move far beyond Obama’s highly criticized efforts. Obama’s policies push a goal of producing 20 percent of the nation’s electricity from renewables by 2030; hers is 33 percent by 2027. We are at 7 percent today.

At a rally in Ames, IA, Clinton said: “I want more wind, more solar, more advanced biofuels, more energy efficiency.” She added: “And, I’ve got to tell you, people who argue against this are just not paying attention.”

I’ve got to tell you, the Clinton campaign isn’t paying attention—or, it is paying attention to the demands of wealthy campaign donors.

The White House has received aggressive push back and a Supreme Court’s smack down over the administration’s policies designed to cut carbon dioxide by requiring renewables.

A growing list of governors refuses to comply with Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP)—the cornerstone of his climate agenda. Congress has pending legislation giving the governors the authority to “just say no” if such plans would negatively affect electricity rates, reliability, or important economic sectors.

Clinton pledged, according to The Guardian, “to uphold the Obama administration’s heavily opposed restrictions on carbon emissions of power stations, which are expected to accelerate the rapid shut-down of coal plants across the country.” Don’t worry, though, if you are one of thousands of employees put out of work because of these policies, according to the New York Times (NYT): “Mrs. Clinton promised that in coming months she would unwrap additional climate policies, including aid to workers in coal-producing regions who suffer economic harm.” So now, instead of having a good-paying job, those who used to work in the coal industry will become wards of the state—while those of us who still have jobs pay for the “aid” through our taxes.

To meet her goals, NYT reports: “Congress would have to mandate production of renewable power, or to tax greenhouse gas pollution—both proposals that have floundered on Capitol Hill.” If she’s paying attention, Clinton would acknowledge that she’ll have virtually no chance of that succeeding as a President Clinton would likely still have a Republican-controlled Congress.

Meeting her 33 percent goal would also require “further federal investment,” which would require “resuscitation of tax credits and some innovation and regulatory incentives”—all of which add up to more government spending of taxpayers dollars.

Leading climate alarmist James Hansen, formerly with NASA, surprisingly announced that Clinton’s plan “is going to make energy more expensive.”

Due to dire economic consequences, other countries have abandoned, or at least, dialed back on, CO2 reduction plans—but, perhaps, she isn’t paying attention.

The Guardian coverage of Clinton’s climate plan warns: “People in the U.S. may care less about climate change than they do about cost.”

Why isn’t Clinton paying attention to the backlash against renewable energy and the higher costs it imposes on consumers and industry? The answer is clearly laid out in the NYT: “Mrs. Clinton’s strategists see climate change as a winning issue for 2016. They believe it is a cause she can advance to win over deep-pocketed donors.” Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer has announced that “for candidates to receive his support in 2016, they must offer policies that would lead the nation to generate half its electricity from clean sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.” Clinton’s press secretary tweeted: “Counting nuclear, as Steyer does, she exceeds his 50 percent goal.”

If you pay attention, you’ll realize that the priority of Clinton’s ambitious plan is to further her ambitions, putting money in her pocket while taking it from the average American.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Japan’s Nuclear Lesson: Expensive Energy Hurts The Economy

Despite public protest, Japan is going nuclear—again.

Following the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant, all of Japan’s nuclear reactors were gradually switched off for inspections. Meanwhile, new regulatory standards have been developed. Reactors are undergoing inspections.

Prior to 2011, nuclear power provided nearly one third of Japan’s electricity. Lost power-generation capacity has been replaced by importing pricey fossil fuels. Japan has few natural resources of its own. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports: “Japan imports more than 90% of its fossil fuels, and is particularly dependent on the Middle East for oil and natural gas.”

The loss of nuclear power has raised household utility bills and made it harder for industry to operate profitably.

The economic impact of shifting from nuclear power to imported fossil fuels is evident in Japan’s trade deficits. In OilPrice.com, John Manfreda sees a direct correlation. He says: “Before the Fukushima accident occurred, Japan’s economy was driven by its large trade surpluses, which it achieved year after year. However, since Fukushima, Japan reversed that trend, and began posting trade deficits on a yearly basis.”

Japan’s fourth Basic Energy Plan, approved in June 2015, concludes: “Nuclear power is an ‘important power source that supports the stability of our energy supply and demand structure.’” The plan increases nuclear energy from current levels by restarting most of the idle plants, while calling for an approximate 10 percent reduction from the pre-Fukushima level of 30 percent. WSJ adds: “Japan also plans to continue its use of coal, the cheapest of its energy imports. … Already this year, the nation’s utilities have announced the construction of seven new coal-fired power plants.”

Addressing Japan’s plan, World Nuclear News states: nuclear power “gives stable power, operates inexpensively and has a low greenhouse gas profile.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government reportedly wants to operate as many nuclear plants as possible “to meet the nation’s energy needs and grow the economy.” Twenty-five reactors are seeking a restart.

“There is no greater issue for the health of the Japanese economy,” Robert Feldman, managing director of Morgan Stanley’s MUFG Securities Co., opined in WSJ, “than energy.”

Japan is restarting its nuclear program. Iran, supposedly, wants nuclear power. Driven by the need for clean reliable power, to bolster energy security, and to reduce dependence on imported fuels, many other countries are pursuing nuclear power. Russia has eight reactors under construction—which will double its nuclear capacity. China has 26 reactors in operation and 24 under construction, and is now building identical power plants that allow for cost efficiencies that come with mass production. Many new plants, such as the reactors being built in the U.S., utilize “third-generation designs that improve safety and cut costs,” E&E News reports. Fourth-generation reactors, which use different coolants and fuels, are in the proposal stages.

The lesson here is less about nuclear power and more about the need for energy that is cost-effective, reliable, and secure.

In a country such as Japan, with limited natural resources, nuclear power meets the need. In the U.S., where we are rich in coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium (the fuel for nuclear power), we have more options and should select the energy source that is right for specific needs and locales. As Japan has learned, energy is one of the most important components of the economy; and expensive energy has hurt it.

In the U.S., instead of having an energy plan, we drive up costs by regulating away our energy advantage and throwing money at expensive energy. It is time for America to really evaluate our energy needs and maximize our advantage.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Solar Energy’s ‘Stunning Growth': 99% Pays, 1% Benefits

If you live in the United States, vote, pay taxes, and get your electricity from a utility company, you’ve helped the solar power industry through a variety of tax and regulatory policies—voted in by politicians you elected—that favor it over other lower-cost forms of electricity generation.

When you read headlines such as CNBC’s touting “Solar power’s stunning growth,” realize that it’s thanks to you—even if you’ve never even thought of putting solar panels on your roof or live in an apartment where you couldn’t install them if you wanted to.

Hoping to benefit from the “stunning growth,” Sunrun Inc., on June 25, filed its initial public offering. The Wall Street Journal summarizes: “Sunrun installs solar panels on residential homes either for no upfront cost or at low cost. Sunrun owns the solar panels and receives monthly payments from homeowners for the power generated by the panels. It also receives government tax incentives to cover its costs.”

Reading through the 234 pages of fine print in Sunrun’s form S-1, it becomes clear that growth comes from government policies. Page 104, under the heading “Government Regulation,” brags that Sunrun maintains a “policy team to focus on the key regulatory and legislative issues impacting our entire industry.” The “policy team” consists of lobbyists whose job is to ensure policy favorable to its business model.

Under the heading “Policies and Incentives,” the S-1, on page 89, outlines several specific “federal, state, and local policies” that have “been strong factors affecting the market for distributed solar generation.”

The S-1 states: “Tax incentives have accelerated growth in U.S. solar energy system installations.” Under today’s policy, businesses and homeowners who install a solar system can receive a tax credit worth up to 30 percent of the system’s cost—though it is scheduled to drop to 10 percent on January 1, 2017. In bold print, page 18 states: “Our business currently depends on the availability of utility rebates, tax credits and other financial incentives in addition to other tax benefits. The expiration, elimination, or reduction of these rebates and incentives could adversely impact our business.” Extending the Federal Investment Tax Credit is likely a top priority of the “policy team.”

All U.S. taxpayers, then, are paying for solar’s “stunning growth.”

Net metering, according to page 18, provides “homeowners with a one-for-one full retail credit within a monthly billing period for electricity that the solar energy system exports to the electric grid.” Interestingly, the only states where Sunrun operates are those states that have “adopted net metering policies.” Sunrun’s S-1 acknowledges that “we rely on net metering and related policies to offer competitive pricing to homeowners,” and “changes in net metering policies may significantly reduce demand for electricity from our solar service offerings.”

It is net-metering policies that have made all ratepayers shoulder the tab for solar’s “stunning growth.” As the S-1 points out, homeowners get “a one-for-one full retail credit” for the electricity the system generates. What it doesn’t make clear is that the policy requires the utility to pay the retail rate for the excess electricity generated from the homeowners solar system, even though it can get lower-priced electricity from existing conventional sources. To stay in business, the utility has to raise rates on all its customers so that the few can benefit. Page 88 points out: “Residential solar has penetrated less than 1% of the 83 million single family detached homes in the United States.”

If you are tired of your tax dollars raising your electricity costs—benefiting the 1 percent while the 99 percent pays twice—your best investment may come at the ballot box.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth