Context: Living Under the Heavy Hand
We have discussed before how the administrative state has grown like topsy under so-called progressive politicians.
The Obama administration issued a record number of new regulations on its way out the door in 2016, leaving an administrative state that saps the economy of nearly $2 trillion a year, according to a report being released in May 2017. 3,853 federal rules that were finalized in 2016 — the most for any year since 2005.
The government itself spent $63 billion in 2016 to administer and enforce all of its own regulations, the Competitive Enterprise Institute said.
Since President Obama assumed office in 2009, the EPA alone published over 3,900 rules, averaging almost 500 annually, and amounting to over 33,000 new pages in the Federal Register. The compliance costs associated with EPA regulations under Obama number in the hundreds of billions and have grown by more than $50 billion in annual costs since Obama took office.
Under climate crusading Governor Inslee of Washington State, in just 60 days last year, 300 bills were passed regulating everything from school breakfasts to workplace sexual misconduct and teenage voting rights.
California out did them by passing 1000 bills by the end of Jerry Brown’s 16th and last year as Governor. Laws included requiring 100% renewable energy by 2045, bans on sugary drinks on school menus and offering plastic straws in restaurants.
California governor-elect Gavin Newsom promised that he, after his inauguration on January 7, 2019 and with the huge Democrat majorities elected in both houses of the state Legislature, will pass a much broader social justice agenda. Newsom’s top agenda goals include “Guaranteed Health Care for All,” an affordable housing “Marshall Plan,” a “Master Plan for Aging with Dignity,” free college tuition, ending child poverty, and middle-class workforce strategy.
Methane Shows the Market’s Hidden Hand Works, Government’s Heavy Hand Fails
Present Trump made it a priority to cut deeply into the red tape, and claims his administration has killed 22 regulations for every new one approved. The recent action to rescind the EPA methane rule illustrates why this is the better approach. Paul Gessing writes at RealClearEnergy ‘Green Activists’ Opposing Trump’s Methane Rollback Are Full of It Excerpts in italics with my bolds
The Trump administration recently rolled back an Obama-era environmental rule that restricted oil and natural gas drilling. Almost immediately, the Environmental Defense Fund, California, and New Mexico sued to block the move. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra warned the administration’s rollback “risks the air our children breathe.”
Children can breathe easy — and so can adults, for that matter. The old “Waste Prevention Rule” governing methane emissions was counterproductive. Forcing energy firms to comply with its onerous red tape would have harmed workers and discouraged natural gas production, which benefits the environment.
Energy companies often capture methane, the main component in natural gas, when they’re drilling for crude oil. This methane byproduct is valuable, so companies try to sell it whenever possible.
But sometimes, safety concerns or a lack of available pipeline capacity compels firms to burn the gas instead. This practice, known as “flaring,” prevents dangerous gas buildups in wells. Similarly, firms sometimes have to release the gas, a practice known as “venting.”
The Waste Prevention Rule, which was finalized by the Bureau of Land Management in 2016 but delayed by the Trump administration, aimed to discourage venting and flaring. It forced energy companies on public and Indian lands to upgrade their equipment and pay royalties on any flared or vented gas.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the technology and infrastructure upgrades required by the old rule would have been prohibitively expensive for many producers. This is especially true of those operating so-called “marginal” wells — which produce no more than 90,000 cubic feet of gas per day, and thus aren’t as profitable.
More than 70 percent of oil and gas wells on federal land are classed as “marginal.” If the rule had forced these wells to close, America’s natural gas production would fall and unemployment would rise. If all marginal wells were shut down, over 240,000 Americans could have lost their jobs.
Ironically, the environment would suffer from such shutdowns. Thanks to new technologies such as fracking and horizontal drilling, America’s natural gas production has soared in the past decade. We’re now the world’s largest producer of the fuel.
This surge in natural gas supplies has caused prices to plummet. As a result, many utility companies have transitioned from using dirty, more expensive coal to cheaper, cleaner-burning natural gas to generate electricity. Thanks to this shift, domestic carbon dioxide emissions recently hit their lowest levels in 25 years.
In other words, by limiting natural gas production, the Waste Production Rule would have incentivized utilities to continue relying on dirty coal, thereby harming the environment.
The rule was also unnecessary. Controlling methane emissions is already a priority for oil and gas companies — and has been for years. Methane emissions have dropped 16 percent over the past quarter-century even as natural gas production has increased 50 percent.
In 2017, The Environmental Partnership, composed of nearly 30 domestic oil and gas companies, launched a comprehensive methane reduction program based on EPA guidelines. Similarly, the international Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, which includes BP, Shell, and Saudi Aramco, recently committed to reducing methane emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.
In short, the Trump administration is rolling back a rule that threatened our economy and our environment without delivering any significant benefits to the planet. The green activists fighting this much-needed reform need to calm down and take some deep breaths. And they needn’t worry — the air will be just as clean as before.
Paul Gessing is president of the Rio Grande Foundation, an independent, nonpartisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting liberty, opportunity and prosperity for New Mexico.
Summary: Progressive politics long ago ceased being liberal, i.e. concerned about individual freedom of choice and speech. Progressives are increasingly a coalition of drama queens, know-it-alls, and control freaks.
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