Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Obama Environmental Protection Agency recently slashed the maximum allowable sulfur content in gasoline from 30 parts per million to 10 ppm. The agency claims its new “Tier 3” rule will bring $7 billion to $19 billion in annual health benefits by 2030.

“These standards are a win for public health, a win for our environment and a win for our pocketbooks,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy insists.

It’s all hokum. Like almost everything else emanating from EPA these days, the gasoline regulations are a case study in how America’s economy, jobs, living standards, health and welfare are being pummeled by secretive, deceptive, and indeed fraudulent and corrupt government practices.

Since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, America’s cars have eliminated some 99% of pollutants that once came out of tailpipes, notes air quality expert Joel Schwartz. Since 2004, under Tier 2 rules, refiners have reduced sulfur in gasoline from an average of 300 ppm to 30 ppm – a 90% drop, on top of pre-2004 reductions. In addition, because newer cars start out cleaner and stay cleaner throughout their lives, fleet turnover is reducing emissions by 8 to10 percent per year, steadily improving air quality.

The net result, says a 2012 Environ International study, is that ground-level ozone concentrations will fall even more dramatically by 2022. Volatile organic pollutants will plummet by 62%, carbon monoxide by 51% and nitrous oxides by 80% – beyond reductions already achieved between 1970 and 2004.

EPA (which once promised to be ultra-transparent) claims its rules will add less than a penny per gallon to gasoline prices; but it won’t say how it arrived at that estimate. Industry sources say the Tier 3 rules will require $10 billion in upfront capital expenditures, an additional $2.4 billion in annual compliance expenses, significant increases in refinery energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, an extra 5-9 cents per gallon in manufacturing costs, which will certainly hit consumers at the pump.

But regardless of their ultimate cost, the rules will reduce monthly ozone levels by just 1.2 parts per billion during rush hour, says Environ. That’s equivalent to 12 cents out of $100 million or 1.2 seconds out of 32,000 years. These minuscule improvements could not even have been measured by equipment existing a couple decades ago. Their contribution to improved human health will be essentially zero.

Not so, say the EPA, Sierra Club and American Lung Association (ALA). The rules will reduce asthma in “the children,” they insist. However, asthma incidences have been increasing, while air pollution has declined – demonstrating that the pollution-asthma connection is a red herring. The disease is caused by allergies, a failure to expose young children to sufficient allergens to cause their immune systems to build resistance to airborne allergens, and lack of sufficient exercise to keep lungs robust. Not surprisingly, a Southern California study found no association between asthma hospitalizations and air pollution levels.

Moreover, EPA paid the ALA $20 million between 2001 and 2010. No wonder it echoes agency claims about air quality and lung problems. The payments continue today, while EPA also funnels millions to various environmentalist pressure groups – and even to “independent” EPA scientific review panels – that likewise rubber stamp too many EPA pollution claims, studies and regulatory actions.

As Ron Arnold recently reported in The Washington Examiner, 15 of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee members have received $180.8 million in EPA grants since 2000. One CASAC panelist (Ed Avol of USC) received $51.7 million! The seven CASAC executive committee members pocketed $80.2 million. Imagine Big Oil paying that kind of cash to an advisory group, and calling it “independent.” The news media, government and environmentalists would have a field day with that one.

The Clean Air Act, Information Quality Act, Executive Order 12866 and other laws require that agencies assess both the costs and benefits of proposed regulations, adopt them only if their benefits justify their costs, and even determine whether a regulation is worth implementing at all. However, EPA and other agencies systematically violate these rules, routinely inflate the alleged benefits of their rules, and habitually minimize or even ignore their energy, economic, health and social costs.

Editor's note: This column was coauthored by Bob Morrison.
Henry Kissinger made Mideast “shuttle diplomacy” famous in the 1970s. The peripatetic Sec. of State then jetted back and forth between Israel and Egypt and fashioned an uneasy cease-fire in the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

President Obama has added a new twist to shuttle diplomacy. It seems whenever Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the air en route to Washington, the Commander-in-Chief chooses that time to apply the screws to Israel’s democratic government.

Three years ago, Mr. Obama made a major pronouncement: Israel should return to the pre-1967 borders as a basis for negotiating with the Arabs. He delivered these prepared remarks while Netanyahu was still in the air. Once Netanyahu came down to earth, he politely but firmly took the President to school on Mid Eastern affairs. Sitting in the Oval Office, and before live TV cameras, the Prime Minister noted that Israel could never return to those indefensible borders and remain a viable country.

Netanyahu was too diplomatic to use the phrase made famous by the late Abba Eban. The lines that existed prior to the Six Day War in 1967 were “Auschwitz borders.” But he made his point.

The White House quickly backpedaled. The President meant, of course, those pre-1967 borders “with appropriate territorial swaps” with the Arabs of Palestine. It would all be agreed upon. No pressure, Israel. Don’t feel pushed.

This time, President Obama sat for an interview with Bloomberg View correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg while Netanyahu was jetting westward. Previewing their forthcoming talks in the White House, the President said he would warn the Prime Minister that “time is running out.” He saw fit to quote the Jewish sage, Hillel: “If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, who?”

The time is running out for Israel to give over to the PLO major portions of the West Bank of the Jordan River, an area known for millennia as Judea and Samaria. The President will not suggest surrendering Judea and Samaria to the PLO, of course.

Too many Americans remember that the Palestinian Liberation Organization led for decades on the U.S. State Department’s list of international terrorist organizations. The late Yassir Arafat, the PLO Chairman, was the inventor of airline hijacking for terror purposes. Britain’s leftwing Guardian has noted that Arafat’s loyal lieutenant, Abu Daoud, organized the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Arafat’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded him in 1994 despite his orders to his gunmen in Khartoum in the Sudan in 1973. “Execute the diplomats,” Arafat said then. U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel was among those brutally murdered.

No, the President will refer to Israel’s negotiating partners as the Palestinian Authority. The PLO morphed into the PA twenty years ago in order to qualify for U.S. and EU recognition. And with that recognition came billions of dollars and Euros in foreign aid.

Much of that aid wound up in the Swiss bank accounts of Arafat and his PLO cronies.

Since the death of Arafat in 2004, the PA has been headed by Mahmoud Abbas. He holds a Ph.D. from Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, during the Soviet era, where his dissertation expressed the view that Zionist leaders collaborated with the Nazis. Thus, Abbas is effectively one of the leading Holocaust deniers in the world.

Abbas is routinely referred to in Western media as “leader” of the Palestinian Authority. But since 2006, when the overtly terrorist group, Hamas, won an election in the Gaza Strip, Abbas has indefinitely postponed scheduled elections in PA-controlled areas. He is, therefore, the leader of an Authority without authority.

President Obama wants Benjamin Netanyahu to yield strategic territory to Abbas, who could not guarantee compliance with any signed agreement. Start with the PLO pledge to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and cease “incitement” of the Arab masses to murder of the Jews. The PA actually names public squares for suicide bombers and teaches school children to model suicide vests. PA maps of Palestine show no territory for Israel.

In those areas that would be ceded to the PA, Abbas assures the world, no Jews would be permitted to live. We’ve seen this movie before. The Nazis sought to rid Poland and Ukraine of Jews, calling for those regions to be Judenrein—lands free of Jews.

Abbas’ friends in the PA-administered territories greeted the collapse of the flaming Twin Towers on September 11th with dancing in the streets. They fired their Soviet-supplied rifles into the air in celebration. They gave candy to their children.

It is by no means clear why any American should want to deal with the PLO, much less the American President. Or try to put pressure on Israel’s democratically legitimated government to yield to this gang of not-quite-reformed terrorists. They are inveterate enemies of the United States.

The President is obviously feeling second term pressures. He wants to be that “transformational President” that he promised his voters he would be. When he says “time is running out,” he’s right.

President has just 1029 days left in office. The Jews have been in Judea and Samaria for six thousand years.
US Now World's Top Energy Producer

Thanks to fracking technology and horizontal drilling techniques, the United States has gone from a large-scale energy importer to the world's top producer — a development with far-reaching consequences.

America produced an average of about 12.1 million barrels of crude oil, natural gas liquids, and biofuels a day in 2013 — that’s 300,000 barrels a day more than Saudi Arabia and 1.6 million more than Russia, the two previous leaders.

U.S. production of crude oil alone rose by a record 991,000 barrels a day last year, according to the International Energy Agency. And oil imports declined by 16 percent, from $310 billion to $268 billion.

Fracking has enabled shale-gas production in North Dakota, Texas, and the formation that crosses parts of West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York to account for 44 percent of total U.S. natural gas output.

"The hydrocarbon boom in the United States is driven by fracking," according to a report from the Hoover Institution headlined "Three Cheers for Fracking."

In the 1970s, some experts predicted that America would run out of natural gas, and between the early 1990s and 2008, U.S. oil production fell steadily. World oil prices rose and American imports increased, especially from unstable, often unfriendly nations.

"Fracking has upended all of this," declared Gary D. Libecap, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and an economics professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Fracking and horizontal drilling enable drillers to extract hydrocarbon deposits that would otherwise be inaccessible or too expensive to extract.

As a consequence, fracking has:

  • Lowered overall energy prices
  • Increased U.S. exports of natural gas
  • Eliminated imports of liquid natural gas by the United States, saving $100 billion a year
  • Benefited most world economies by tempering oil and gas price increases
  • Lowered U.S. demand for oil from Venezuela, where rulers have been increasingly autocratic
  • Shown the way for new oil and gas production in Europe, reducing dependence on supplies from Russia
  • Expanded American manufacturing due to lower and more certain energy costs compared to other nations
  • Contributed to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as the country shifts from coal-fired energy plants to natural gas-fired facilities
  • Directly increased U.S. employment in oil and gas extraction by 28,000 jobs between 2007 and 2011 alone, and indirectly by 45,000 in new employment in support industries

     Fracking and natural gas production, Libecap concludes, have been "good for the economy, good for democracies worldwide, and good for the environment."

    It could be even better. According to the Institute for Policy Innovation, the federal government owns 28 percent of U.S. land, including 62 percent of Alaska and 47 percent of 11 Western states. Companies would be willing to drill there, but the Obama administration has delayed and denied drilling permits, and production on federal lands has fallen 23 percent since 2007.

  • Netanyahu to Kerry: Terrorist release would topple government

    Pamela Geller / Atlas Shrugs

    “Binyamin Netanyahu told US Secretary of State John Kerry that his governing coalition may fall apart if Israel goes ahead with the fourth planned tranche in the terrorist release that it agreed to as a ‘goodwill gesture’ toward the Palestinian Authority.” Gd bless Netanyahu for having the courage to speak common sense and truth to Secretary of State Thurston Howell III and the O-bumbler in the White House. Obama is desperate to weaken Israel drastically before he leaves office; we can be grateful that Netanyahu is having none of it.
    Prime Minister Netanyahu allegedly told US Secretary of State John FN Kerry that releasing another 26 terrorists would topple his government.
    The pan-Arab London-based newspaper Al-Hayat has reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told US Secretary of State John Kerry that his governing coalition may fall apart if Israel goes ahead with the fourth planned tranche in the terrorist release that it agreed to as a “goodwill gesture” toward the Palestinian Authority.
    Al-Hayat said that Kerry has asked PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas to extend negotiations even if Israel fails to release additional terrorists. Abbas, for his part, told Kerry he would not discuss continuing negotiations until the terrorists are freed, including 14 Israeli Arabs.
    According to another report, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refuses to release any more terrorists until the PA recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.
    The leadership of Hamas said that Israel’s refusal to carry out the fourth tranche is “a ringing slap in the cheek” to the PA. Hamas said that the way to free terrorist prisoners is by abducting Israeli soldiers – and not in a deal that involves a PA commitment not to take action against Israel in the UN.
    If it was a ringing slap in the cheek (I hope it was), it was long overdue.
    Jihad Watch

    New moderate Iran names 1979 U.S. Embassy hostage-taker its UN envoy

    / Jihad Watch
    Hamid Aboutalebi
    Here is yet another indication that the Iranians aren’t “moderate” at all, but are reveling in their victory over Barack Obama and John Kerry, and are well aware that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that they can do or say that will bring Obama and Kerry and Co. to reconsider their abject capitulation to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

    “Iran Names 1979 U.S. Embassy Hostage-Taker Its UN Envoy,” by Kambiz Foroohar for Bloomberg, March 29 (thanks to Kenneth):
    Iran has named a member of the militant group that held 52 Americans hostage in Tehran for 444 days to be its next ambassador to the United Nations.
    The Iranian government has applied for a U.S. visa for Hamid Aboutalebi, Iran’s former ambassador to Belgium and Italy, who was a member of the Muslim Students Following the Imam’s Line, a group of radical students that seized the U.S. embassy on Nov. 4, 1979. Imam was an honorific used for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution.
    Relations between the Islamic Republic and the U.S. and its allies are beginning to emerge from the deep freeze that began when the self-proclaimed Iranian students overrun the embassy and took the hostages. The State Department hasn’t responded to the visa application, according to an Iranian diplomat.
    A controversy over Aboutalebi’s appointment could spark demands on Capitol Hill and beyond during this congressional election year for the Obama administration to take the unusual step of denying a visa to an official posted to the UN. It also could hamper progress toward a comprehensive agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program, which the U.S. and five other world powers are seeking to negotiate with Iran by July 20.
    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani chose Aboutalebi to serve at the UN, which is headquartered in New York City on international, soil after the interim nuclear deal was forged last Nov. 24.

    Compensation Issue

    “There’ll not be any rapprochement with Iran until hostages are compensated for their torture,” said Tom Lankford, an Alexandria, Virginia-based lawyer who’s been trying to win compensation for the hostages since 2000. “It’s important that no state sponsor of terror can avoid paying for acts of terror.”
    Anyone connected with the hostage-takers shouldn’t get a U.S. visa, said a former hostage and U.S. diplomat. He requested anonymity to avoid renewed attention.
    Aboutalebi has said he didn’t take part in the initial occupation of the embassy, and acted as translator and negotiator, according to an interview he gave to the Khabaronline news website in Iran.
    “On a few other occasions, when they needed to translate something in relation with their contacts with other countries, I translated their material into English or French,”
    Aboutalebi said, according to Khabaronline. “I did the translation during a press conference when the female and black staffers of the embassy were released, and it was purely based on humanitarian motivations.”
    He referred to the release of some embassy staff members during the first few weeks of the crisis in November 1979.