Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Obama administration to push for more government control in 2015

Here’s a rundown on some of the planned regulations, courtesy of Fox News. (H/T Dad)

Excerpt:

The Obama administration is trying to get fossil-fuel fired power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

The EPA proposed the rules last year and is set to finalize them by summer 2015.

[…]Among them is a controversial EPA proposal to expand regulatory power over streams and wetlands. The agency, set to finalize the rule in April, estimates it could impose costs of between $162 million to $278 million per year…

[…][D]etractors claim it is an opening for the EPA to claim authority over countless waterways, including streams that only show up during heavy rainfall. Critics warn this could create more red tape for property owners and businesses if they happen to have even small streams on their land.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, has called it an effort to “control a huge amount of private property across the country.”

In another EPA initiative, the agency is looking to October to finalize sweeping ozone regulations.

In proposing the limits on smog-forming pollution linked to asthma and respiratory illness in November, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy argued that the public health benefits far outweigh the costs and that most of the U.S. can meet the tougher standards without doing anything new.

“We need to be smart — as we always have — in trying to find the best benefits in a way that will continue to grow the economy,” McCarthy said. Of reducing ozone, she added: “We’ve done it before, and we’re on track to do it again.”

But business groups panned the proposal as unnecessary and the costliest in history, warning it could jeopardize a resurgence in American manufacturing.

[…]The rules are estimated to cost industry anywhere between $3.9 billion and $15 billion by 2025. That price tag would exceed that of any previous environmental regulation in the U.S. Environmental groups are pushing for stricter limits still.

On other fronts, the Federal Communications Commission could move in a matter of months to propose new “net neutrality” rules. Obama weighed in on that debate late last year, urging the FCC to regulate the Internet like other utilities.

The White House is calling for an “explicit ban” on deals between broadband Internet providers and online services like Netflix, Amazon or YouTube to move their content faster, a potential new source of revenue for cable companies.

[…]Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board has issued new rules for so-called “ambush” union elections — speeding up elections and requiring employers to give unions contact information for workers. The rules take effect in April.

These regulations will have nasty effects on job-creating companies and that will work its way down to consumers, who will have to eat the costs. But at least the social engineers will feel really good about themselves, and without having to do the hard work of creating products and services that people will actually pay their own money for of their own free choice.

The very funny thing about this is how unionized blue-collar Democrats complain that they cannot compete with countries abroad, then vote in the very people that make them uncompetitive. You can bet that leaders in other low-cost countries do not pass laws to make them less competitive. And that’s why everything is manufactured abroad. Democrat voters bring these problems on themselves by electing socialists who hamstring American industry.

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Technological advances make the Keystone XL pipeline safer than alternatives

My Dad loves to read Fox News, and he sent me this article about the technology behind the Keystone XL pipeline. We got into a good discussion on this article, too. My Dad used to be a big believer in big government, but now he only cares about what problems the private sector can solve.

The article says:

The Obama administration continues to block the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would transport nearly 35 million gallons of oil a day from Canada to the U.S., citing environmental concerns as the reason. But according to pipeline advocates, it would use the latest technology and best safety features to prevent spills.

Advanced steel is part of it. The current part of the Keystone pipeline that already exists uses 2,638 miles of hardened steel built to “withstand  impact from a 65-ton excavator with 3.5-inch teeth,” according to TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone pipeline.

The steel is also coated with alloys to prevent it from wearing out.

“They use all kinds of methodologies to reduce friction. Corrosion inhibition is pretty sexy stuff in this business,” Eric Smith, associate director of Tulane University’s Energy Institute, told FoxNews.com

Pumping stations are another critical part. All along the pipeline, pumps move the oil using centrifugal force: a motor spins and forces oil to the edges of the pump, which causes more oil to rush forward to take the place of the oil pulled to the edges.

Each pump has 6,500 horsepower – meaning that the pump exerts an amount of power roughly equivalent to that of 6,500 horses. Total pumping power on the existing pipeline is nearly half a million horsepower, according to TransCanada.

Another critical technology is leak detection systems. The existing Keystone pipeline, for instance, has sensors that collect data from 20,000 different points along the pipeline.

If a leak occurs anywhere along the pipeline, the pressure in the pipeline changes, and TransCanada notes that such changes travel through the pipeline at the speed of sound and so can be detected nearly instantly.

The company adds that the pipeline has “fail-safe” mechanisms that automatically reduce oil pressure in the pipeline to safe levels.

TransCanada also has airplanes monitor the pipeline from the sky, using both the eyes of human pilots and a “Laser Spectroscopy Unit” that shoots a laser near the pipeline and then analyzes the reaction of whatever material is hit by the laser beam. TransCanada says this is “capable of identifying tiny methane leaks at patrol altitudes.”

The human pilots also catch things. TransCanada reports that one of its pilots once noticed that a circus in Kansas had tethered an elephant to a pipeline stake, which posed a potential threat.

All the layers of security help, say experts.

“It’s a belt-and-suspenders kind of approach. You just don’t want even minute leaks,” Smith said, adding that pipelines are the safest way of moving oil across land.

Pipelines are actually much safer than transporting the oil by train, which is the method favored by environmentalist opponents to Keystone XL:

According to a 2006 study by Environmental Research Consulting using Department of Transportation data, pipelines have spilled far less than trucks or railroads per ton of oil transported.

Critics of President Obama’s delay of the Keystone XL construction say the holdup actually makes everyone less safe, as oil producers instead rely on comparatively dangerous railroads for transportation. From 2008 to 2013, the amount of oil transported by rail skyrocketed from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to 41 times that – 407,642 – in 2013.

My big point to my Dad about this is how the private sector responds to the desires of customers on their own, developing solutions for the people who they expect to buy their products. The government spends 2 billion on the Obamacare web site, and forces people to use it. They can never develop anything people actually want to buy. Government just taxes, regulates and restricts the businesses who seek to solve problems for customers.

It’s the private sector businesses who are the real heroes to customers – making the things that we want and need and competing with other businesses to sell the most quality at the lowest price. They even find solutions to our concerns about the environment, if we let them, because that is part of pleasing the customer, too. If we had to wait on public school teachers, politicians, Hollywood clowns and academics to innovate, we would be waiting a long time indeed. I stand with private sector business, and the free-market system in general.

UPDATE: Holy snouts. For the first time in 6 years I am actually proud of Obama for doing something:

The Obama administration has opened a new front in the global battle for oil market share, effectively clearing the way for the shipment of as much as a million barrels per day of ultra-light U.S. crude to the rest of the world.

The Department of Commerce on Tuesday ended a year-long silence on a contentious, four-decade ban on oil exports, saying it had begun approving a backlog of requests to sell processed light oil abroad. It also issued a long-awaited document outlining exactly what kinds of oil other would-be exporters can ship.

The administration’s first serious effort to clarify an issue that has caused confusion and consternation in energy markets for more than a year will likely please domestic oil drillers, foreign trade partners and some Republicans who have urged Obama to loosen the export ban, which they see as an outdated holdover from the 1970s Arab oil embargo.

The latest measures were wrapped in regulatory jargon and couched by some as a basic clarification of existing rules, but analysts said the message was unambiguous: a green light for any company willing and able to process their light condensate crude through a distillation tower, a simple piece of oilfield kit.

“In practice this long-awaited move can open up the floodgates to substantial increases in exports by end 2015,” Ed Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup in New York said in a research note.

[…]By opening the door to U.S. crude exports, the administration is offering a bit of relief to some domestic drillers that have said that they are forced to sell their shale oil at a discount of as much as $15 a barrel versus global markets as fast-rising domestic supplies overwhelm local demand.

Let’s hope Obama signs the Keystone XL pipeline in the new year, too. That will help people so much and hurt our enemies, Russia, Venezuela and Iran. There are ways to fight wars without firing a shot, and this is how you do it – he looks like Ronald Reagan, now. Well done, Barack Obama! Finally!

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Study: recessions result in lower birth rates

A new study from Princeton University caught my eye.

Excerpt:

[…][N]ew research from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs shows that women who were in their early 20s during the Great Recession will have fewer children in both the short and long term. This result is driven largely by an increase in the number of women who will remain childless at age 40.

The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to show that recessions have long-term effects on fertility, which actually increase exponentially over time.

[…]Their calculations show that a one-percentage point increase in the unemployment rate experienced between ages 20 and 24 reduces the short-term fertility of women by six conceptions per 1,000 women. When following these women to age 40, the same unemployment rate increase leads to an overall loss of 14.2 conceptions per 1,000 women. This increasing effect over time is largely accounted for by an increase in the fraction of women who remain unmarried and childless at age 40. These women not only forego first births, but forego later births as well.

In terms of the Great Recession, the researchers estimate that the increase in unemployment rates experienced between 2008 and 2013 will result in an additional 151,082 women who will remain childless at age 40, leading to a long-term loss of 420,957 conceptions (and 426,850 live births) – a 2.4 percent decrease.

People don’t just marry and have kids whenever they feel like it. However individual people may feel about romance and recklessness and risk-taking, the general behavior pattern is that if the economy is lousy, then people have fewer children. That’s because they can’t afford them. Maybe grown-ups should be thinking more about economic growth, by lowering taxes and reducing wasteful spending.

But there’s more to it than that:

But what are the economic mechanisms driving these results? Currie and Schwandt cite recent empirical studies showing that young adults – especially young men – who enter the job market during an economic downturn are likely to have persistently lower earnings as they age. This phenomenon may make young men less attractive matches for women, explaining the increase in the number of women who forego childbearing.

This quote made me think of another post from the liberal 538 blog.

Ben Casselman writes:

In its report last week, Pew suggested that one reason for falling marriage rates is the decline in employment among young men. That may also help explain the education gap in marriage. Put simply, men without jobs are much less likely to get married, and men without a college degree are much less likely to get jobs.

In the Pew survey, 78 percent of never-married women said it was “very important” for a prospective spouse (in most cases, a husband) to have a steady job. That ranked above any other requirement, including “same moral and religious beliefs” (38 percent), “at least as much education” (28 percent) and even “similar ideas about having and raising children” (70 percent). The survey results are borne out by women’s actual behavior. About half of men ages 25 to 34 with a steady job have been married, compared to just a third of those without a steady job.

For men without a steady job, having more education doesn’t help much in terms of finding a spouse — marriage rates are nearly identical regardless of education. But having a degree makes men much more likely to be employed — and therefore more likely to get married. According to the Current Population Survey, more than 20 percent of men ages 25 to 34 with a high school diploma are out of work, versus 10 percent of young men with a college degree. And when they do have jobs, less-educated men earn less and are more likely to be laid off.

For a long time in this country, we have had schools that discriminate against young men and punish them. There are virtually no male teachers in the classrooms. This has a profound effect on young men, causing them to become disinterested in school, which makes it harder for them to find jobs.

USA Today reports on a relevant study:

For all the differences between the sexes, here’s one that might stir up debate in the teacher’s lounge: Boys learn more from men and girls learn more from women.

That’s the upshot of a provocative study by Thomas Dee, an associate professor of economics at Swarthmore College and visiting scholar at Stanford University. His study was to appear Monday in Education Next, a quarterly journal published by the Hoover Institution.

Vetted and approved by peer reviewers, Dee’s research faces a fight for acceptance. Some leading education advocates dispute his conclusions and the way in which he reached them.

But Dee says his research supports his point, that gender matters when it comes to learning. Specifically, as he describes it, having a teacher of the opposite sex hurts a student’s academic progress.

Everything is connected together. We need a strong economy and well-educated young men in order to make marriage and child-bearing reasonable to men.

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Ohio late-term abortion clinic closed for failure to comply with regulations

I'm Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this decision

I’m Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this decision

From Life News.

Excerpt:

An Ohio judge issued a ruling today ordering a late-term abortion practitioner to close his abortion facility.

Previously, Ohio passed a law requiring that all ambulatory surgical centers must be licensed by the state and, in 1999, it came to the attention of the Ohio Health Department that abortion clinics were not in compliance with the law, having never applied for licensing. The OHD began the process of insuring that all abortion clinics came into compliance.

Haskell (pictured below right), a nationally-known late-term abortionist who helped develop the now outlawed Partial-Birth Abortion procedure, has fought with the state for years and he sued the Ohio Department of Health this month for ordering his Sharonville abortion facility to close because it does not meet the minimum medical safety standards in Ohio law.

[…]Officials with Ohio Right to Life also applauded the decision.

“Shutting down Haskell’s facility is a long-sought victory for the pro-life movement,” said Stephanie Ranade Krider, executive director of Ohio Right to Life. “As the self-proclaimed ‘poster child’ of partial birth abortion, Martin Haskell has endangered southwest Ohio children for the last 30 years. We are hopeful that this will be the final order that puts Haskell out of business in Sharonville.”

“This decision is about common-sense, as evidenced by the non-partisan nature of this ruling,” said Krider. “We are grateful to the Ohio Department of Health and the office of Attorney General Mike DeWine, but we are also grateful to Judge Metz, a Democrat, for ensuring that abortionists aren’t skirting basic health and safety regulations.”

Although the Democrat made the right decision in this case, we have to keep in mind that Senate Democrats want to pass a law to strike down ALL state and local restrictions on abortion. If you vote for a Democrat, this is what you are voting for – unregulated abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.

I also hope this news story is a lesson those pro-lifers who are opposed to incremental measures that fall short of an immediate, full abolition of abortion. We have to pursue an incremental approach – that’s what works.

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How the green movement makes war on jobs and the poorest Americans

This article by Stephen Moore from Investors Business Daily is important, because it shows that there is a cost to environmentalist advocacy.

Excerpt:

Last month we saw firsthand one impact of Big Green on our economy with the White House announcement that the Keystone XL pipeline won’t be built for at least six more months.

Ten thousand blue collar jobs, almost all paying more than $50,000 a year, down the drain.

It’s a project that polls show almost all Americans want, except for the deep-pocketed green elite in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

Then the Los Angeles Times recently warned that electricity prices could be driven upward in California and other states due in part to renewable energy mandates that cause electric power shortages and spike prices paid by homeowners.

Meanwhile, around the country, from Seattle to Bangor, Maine, property owners are locked into fights with green groups preventing people from building on their land in responsible and productive ways.

Out West, the Endangered Species Act has become an Endanger the Oil and Gas Industry Act, as energy companies confront higher regulatory hurdles and bans on development on potentially tens of millions of acres.

Whole communities that depend on natural resource development are being wiped out.

Big Green is already fast at work wiping out America’s coal industry, with entire mining towns nearly shut down in states like Kentucky and West Virginia, thanks to the left’s war on coal. These are small towns where the median household income is often less than $40,000 a year. Liberals used to pretend to care about these people.

[…]In fact, the environmental movement’s entire agenda — stop fracking, stop coal development, stop pipelines, stop nuclear energy, stop drilling on federal lands, require expensive “renewable energy,” enact cap-and-trade schemes, impose carbon taxes, and on and on — victimize poor and middle-class Americans the most. Rich donors to the Sierra Club get hardly a scratch from these policies to save the planet.

If you ask most Americans whether they are more worried about global warming or having a job, they’ll say having a job is more important. Paying less for electricity is more important. Paying less for gas for their car is more important. The only people who don’t care are the rich. But not just any rich – the Hollywood rich. The people who have no idea how the economy works. If only young people and the middle class could realize what the real price tag is for all this fine environmentalist rhetoric. Maybe we should be telling them how environmental policies affect their day-to-day lives.

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