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CEI Today: Energy & gov't transparency, FDA over-reach, CEI at CPAC 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
In the News Today

 Also featuring...



What Is “Open” and “Transparent” Obama Administration Hiding on Stream Buffer Rule?


While environmentalists loathe coal in general, they hate especially coal produced via mountaintop removal mining. Unfortunately for them, the mining practice, which is essential to the economies of West Virginia and Kentucky, is sanctioned by state and federal law. In 1977, the Congress enacted the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, legislation that created a regulatory regime for surface mining practices like mountaintop mining.

Now, thirty-five years after the Congress endorsed mountaintop mining, President Barack Obama is poised to radically reinterpret SMCRA—legislation that authorizes mountaintop mining—such that the law would ban it. This contortion of legal logic is an affront to Congressional intent.
>View the commentary on

> Read more by William Yeatman
> Read more on energy policy at


The Hill's Congress Blog:
The FDA has it dead wrong


When policy makers responsible for writing a bill send a letter telling an enforcement agency that it is out of line, one would hope the agency would sit up and listen. This week, Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wrote to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claiming that the agency's recently released guidelines on dietary supplements undermines the statutory framework for regulating such supplements, as outlined in a bill crafted by the two Senators. If the outcry in the supplement industry and consumer advocates hasn't got the attention of FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, perhaps the Senators' letter will. > View the full commentary on The Hill's Congress Blog

> Read more by Michelle Minton, CEI Fellow in Consumer Policy Studies




CEI is a co-sponsor of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Thursday, February 9 to Saturday, February 11 in Washington, D.C.

CEI will have a table in the exhibit hall of the hotel, the Marriot Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC.  Please stop by booth 1509 and say hello if you are attending CPAC.

Also, see CEI's Vincent Vernuccio talk labor policy on a panel entitled, Return of Big Labor: What Can We Learn from Wisconsin & Ohio?

Thurday, February 9
11:15am - 12:00pm

Visit for the full conference agenda.


Ten Thousand Commandments

By Wayne Crews

Welcome to The Other National Debt -- The Cost of Regulation

-> Read Today's Decrees


CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website,, and blogs, and  Follow CEI on Twitter!


CEI Today: Kagan & Obamacare, labor union politics, the EPA job killer & more

Tuesday, January 31, 2012
In the News Today

 Also featuring...



Justic Kagan Should Recuse Herself From Obamacare Case

Only in Bizarro World can you claim someone is your attorney — and thus shielded by attorney work-product privilege — and then insist in the very next breath that they never represented you. But that is what the Obama administration and Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan are doing. The Obama administration refuses to release its communications with Kagan about health care litigation back when she was the administration’s Solicitor General, on the grounds that they are covered by attorney work-product protection. Yet, contradictorily, it and Kagan insist that she never acted as the administration’s lawyer in the matter, and thus doesn’t need to recuse herself from hearing the constitutional challenges to Obamacare that will be decided by the Supreme Court this year.  >View the commentary on

Michigan SEIU Scam the Product of Government Collective Bargaining


Proponents of government collective bargaining view it as a fundamental human right. The shameful actions of SEIU in Michigan, however, undermine this claim.

In 2005, Michigan lawmakers signed off to create the Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQC3). MQC3 maintains a registry of homecare providers to assist Medicaid recipients looking for a caregiver. In reality, the primary function of MQC3 was to make 45,000 private homecare providers government employees and dues-paying union members.

In 2006, SEIU took advantage of Michigan law deeming homecare providers government employees. To gain exclusive representation SEIU organized a covert union campaign. The stealth-organizing tactic led to 20 percent voter turnout and SEIU won a landslide victory.

Soon thereafter, SEIU obtained a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the state. The events following the CBA expose the dangers of government union political influence and permanence of CBAs. > View the full commentary on

> Read more on labor policy at


Alcohol Regulation Roundup

In national news: Congressman Kurt Schrader of Oregon announced last week that he is withdrawing his support of the CARE Act, the piece of legislation that will likely make it more difficult for small producers of wine, beer, and spirits to reach the market. In his statement, Rep. Schrader noted that after listening to the concerns of Oregon’s wine growers he now believes the legislation would be detrimental to their industry.  > View the full commentary on state and national alcohol regulation on

> Read more by Michelle Minton, CEI Fellow in Consumer Policy Studies


EPA JOB KILLER’s Big Mercury Lie Already Killing Jobs

Recently, I blogged about EPA’s big mercury lie. In a nutshell, the Agency claims that its ultra-expensive new Mercury and Air Toxics rule is appropriate and necessary in order to protect fetuses from developmental disorders. Yet, according to EPA’s own analysis, the new mercury regulation serves to protect America’s supposed population of pregnant, subsistence fisherwomen, who eat 300 pounds of self-caught fish reeled in exclusively from the most polluted bodies of water. To put it another way, this regulation, which costs $10 billion annually, safeguards a population that doesn’t exist. > View the full commentary on

> Read more by energy policy experts on


Ten Thousand Commandments

By Wayne Crews

Welcome to The Other National Debt -- The Cost of Regulation

-> Read Today's Decrees


CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website,, and blogs, and  Follow CEI on Twitter!


CEI Today: Newt's Lunar Plan, Mega-Highway Bill, Energy Subsidies 

Monday, January 30, 2012
In the News Today

Drip, Drip, Drip: Yet Another Green Energy Stimulus Recipient Hits the Skids (the third this week!)

Earlier [last] week, Stimulus beneficiary Evergreen Energy bit the dust. Then, Ener1, a manufacturer of batteries for electric vehicles and recipient of Stimulus largesse, filed for bankruptcy. And today, the Las Vegas Sun reports that Amonix, Inc., a manufacturer of solar panels that received $5.9 million from the Porkulus, will cut two-thirds of its workforce, about 200 employees, only seven months after opening a factory in Nevada.

I foresaw this spate of bad news last November. As I explained yesterday,

In a previous post, I compared renewable energy spending in the 2009 Stimulus to a green albatross burdening the President. I argued that Stimulus spending was inherently wasteful, because politics invariably corrupts government’s investment decisions. The result is taxpayers losses on bankrupt companies that existed only by the grace of political favoritism, a la Solyndra. I predicted the green stimulus would haunt the President, in the form of a slow drip public relations nightmare, as a litany of bad investments go belly-up in the run up to the 2012 elections.

Mr. President, are you still sure you want to “double down” on renewable energy giveaways?
  >View the commentary on


Today, 11:30 a.m.
Don’t Drill and Drive: Weakening the “User-Pays” Highway Funding Principle Would Endanger Our Nation’s Transportation Infrastructure


The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday is scheduled to release details of its plans to reauthorize the federal highway bill, now two years delinquent (see Politico story).  CEI co-hosts a Capitol Hill event today with the Reason Foundation, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and the Natural Resources Defense Council on why transportation funding should remain based on a user-fee system. >View event details.

> View related commentary on

> Read more by Marc Scribner



What are the costs, technologies, and politics behind the speaker's promise of a moon colony as the 51st state?

It would be a tough sell to a Congress that is used to directing space funds to its campaign contributors — a prize wouldn’t give them an adequate amount of control over where the money ended up. And even if a President Gingrich could get the support of Congress to establish such a prize, there would be no guarantee that a future Congress wouldn’t rescind it, creating a great deal of uncertainty and risk for someone who wanted to pursue it. A private prize can escrow the funds, but there’s no sure-fire way for a fickle U.S. government to do so, particularly in times of trillion-dollar deficits, because the Constitution doesn’t allow a Congress to commit a future Congress to an expenditure. A prize fund would always be at risk of being raided for some more “worthy” social objective.

But there’s another problem. When Speaker Gingrich proposes that the settlement eventually become a U.S. state, he is implicitly advocating withdrawal from the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which explicitly prohibits claims of national sovereignty off planet.
> View the full commentary on PJ Media

> Read more on space technology & policy by Rand Simberg


Ten Thousand Commandments

Welcome to The Other National Debt -- The Cost of Regulation

-> Read Today's Decrees


CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website,, and blogs, and  Follow CEI on Twitter!


CEI Weekly: Obama's State of the Union Fails to Impress 

Friday, January 27, 2012




Feature: President Obama addressed the nation on Tuesday night.

FEATURE: Obama's State of the Union Fails to Impress


On Tuesday night, President Obama addressed the nation in his 2012 State of the Union. Read CEI experts' commentary on the speech, below.


Iain Murray: An America Built to Last? President Obama Wants an Economy Built for Last Place

Wayne Crews: Who's the Biggest Regulator: Bush or Obama?

Ryan Young: Liveblogging the State of the Union

Hans Bader: Five Million Missing Jobs Haunt  Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address

Hans Bader: Obama, the Outsourcer-in-Chief

William Yeatman: SOTU: Obama's Inapt Comparison of Fracking to Renewables

William Yeatman: SOTU: Obama's Sleight of Hand on Oil Production Data

Greg Conko: Obama, Scientific Integrity, and the State of the Union

Chris Horner: SOTU: The Inanity of All of the Above






Romney and the Burden of Double Taxation

John Berlau and Trey Kovacs' op-ed in The Wall Street Journal


When 'Being Green' Means Subsidies for Rich, Harm for Poor

Iain Murray and David Bier's op-ed in The Washington Examiner


President Obama's State of the Union? Hyper-Regulated

Wayne Crews' column in Forbes


A Really Inconvenient Truth Is Earth Is Not Warming After All

Matt Patterson's op-ed in The Washington Examiner


Ethanol Subsidies: Down But Not Out

Marlo Lewis' op-ed in Human Events


Social Security: The Birth of Big Brother

Matt Patterson's op-ed in The Washington Times


Graduate Law Schools, Lawyers, and the Public Interest

Hans Bader's letter to the editor in The Wall Street Journal







The Case Against "Drilling for Roads"

By Marc Scribner


Energy-Efficient WIndows: Guilty of First-Degree Melting

By Jackie Moreau


Regulation of the Day 207: Cold Medicine

By Ryan Young


The Silver Platypus

By Jack Mann







Cooler Heads Digest 27 January 2012

27 January 2012

In the News

No Need To Panic about Global Warming
16 Concerned Scientists, Wall Street Journal, 27 January 2012

Micro Solar: Eyesore NIMBYism and the Curse of Dilute Energy
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 27 January 2012

Three Green Energy Stimulus Recipients Hit the Skids This Week
William Yeatman,, 27 January 2012

Ethanol Subsidies: Down But Not Out
Marlo Lewis, Human Events, 26 January 2012

No Energy Is Good to the Greens
Nicolas Loris, New York Post, 26 January 2012

Energy Efficient Windows: Guilty of First Degree Melting
Jackie Moreau,, 25 January 2012

How Green Became Obama’s Albatross
Holman Jenkins, Wall Street Journal, 25 January 2012

Obama’s War on Energy
Rep. Fred Upton, The Michigan View, 25 January 2012

Bureaucrats Eyeing Your Device Chargers
Orange County Register editorial, 21 January 2012

News You Can Use
Poll: Global Warming Dead Last among Americans' Priorities

Global warming ranks dead last among Americans’ priorities, according to a public opinion poll released this week by The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Inside the Beltway
Myron Ebell

President Obama Wants to Help the Little Guys—Especially If They’re Named Boone Pickens and George Soros

President Barack Obama spoke up for the economic interests of the little guy in his State of the Union speech to Congress on January 24th.  On January 26th, the President spoke in Las Vegas about using taxpayer dollars to improve the economic well-being on one of those little guys in particular—Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens.  He urged voters to support the Pickens Payoff Plan (officially titled the NAT GAS Act), a bipartisan bill sponsored in the Senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and in the House by Representative John Sullivan (R-Okla.).  

The bill, H. R. 1380 in the House and S. 1863 in the Senate, would provide huge new subsidies to buyers and users of heavy duty trucks that use natural gas.  Pickens owns Clean Energy Fuels, which builds and runs natural gas service stations.  He also has major investments in a number of companies in the natural gas industry.  The value of these investments would probably increase by several billion dollars if the bill were enacted.    

However, Pickens has been clear that he has spent $100 million “of his own money” to promote the Pickens Your Pocket legislation only out of love for his country.  “I’m sure not doing this for the money,” he told the New York Times last May. 

Another little guy who would do well if this Boonedoggle becomes law is billionaire George Soros, who has recently invested heavily in a company that builds natural gas-powered trucks, according to a story in the Daily Caller. This makes President Obama’s concern for the little guy truly bipartisan.  Pickens is one of the biggest donors to Republican candidates, while Soros is the biggest donor to left-wing groups. 

One heartwarming aspect of this story has just come to light.  It seems that the White House doors are always wide open for visits by the little guys.  Politico reports that Pickens has visited the White House seven times since Obama became president. He was also a frequent visitor during the Bush years.   

The Boonedoggle bill was introduced in the House last April and quickly gained 186 co-sponsors, including around 80 Republicans.   A number of free market and conservative groups sent a joint letter to Congress opposing the bill, which has convinced 19 Republicans to withdraw as co-sponsors.  This means that the Pickens Payoff Plan has very little chance of passing the House as a separate bill.  However, President Obama’s support could improve the chances that Senator Reid will be able to include it as a provision in a larger bill.  The most likely candidate is the bill extending a wide variety of other business tax breaks that will probably be taken up in the next month or two.

The Pickens Payoff Plan is just one of many brazen attempts to pick the pockets of American taxpayers.  Many similar schemes have been enacted that benefit corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, wind power, solar power, electric and hybrid vehicles, and a number of agricultural commodities.  What’s odd about President Obama signing on to this particular Boonedoggle now is that natural gas prices are now so low that no taxpayer subsidies are needed to encourage the switch from diesel to natural gas trucks.  Big companies are investing billions of dollars of their own money to build natural gas trucks and the infrastructure needed to fuel them.  Natural gas cars are probably only a few years away, as well.  It already makes economic sense, and therefore it is already starting to happen.

Across the States
William Yeatman

EPA’s Absurd Mercury Rule Already Hurting Economy

Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. yesterday announced that it would retire six coal-fired power plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, in order to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule. According to the company, 530 employees will be affected. EPA promulgated the mercury rule last month. It is one of the most expensive regulations, ever, and its purpose is to protect America’s supposed population of pregnant, subsistence fisherwomen who eat more than 300 pounds of self-caught fish annually.

Around the World
Brian McGraw

Cuba to Begin Drilling off Florida’s Coast

Earlier this week Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum answered a question indicating that he would support drilling off the coast of Florida. It appears that Floridians won’t have much of a choice, as Cuba will begin drilling its first deepwater well in the next week or two, roughly 50 miles south of Key West.

While support for offshore drilling in Florida tends to correlate closely with gasoline prices, offshore drilling in state waters has been banned since the early ‘90s, while Florida also opposes offshore drilling in federal waters. The rig is being leased by Repsol, a Spanish oil company, which appears to have a good safety record. Nonetheless, it seems obvious that Floridians would prefer that drilling off their coast be done by the U.S. rather than Cuba.

Spain Eliminates Subsidies for New Renewable Projects

The Spanish government announced today that it would end subsidies for future renewable energy projects. Spain subsidizes renewable energy through feed-in-tariffs, whereby utilities are required to purchase energy from renewable sources at above market rates, with the difference subsidized by government.

Though Spain has had “success” in building out renewable energy capacity (it receives about 13% of its electricity from wind and solar), it does not appear that support for renewable energy is sustainable in a country where debt reduction is a necessity. Spain’s incredibly high unemployment rate, currently at 23%, isn’t helping. Though Spain has previously cut subsidies for renewable energy, the need to drastically lower public debt has Spain’s eye back on energy subsidies.

Recall that our President used to hail Spain’s energy policy as a model for the United States to follow.

The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website,