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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Vitter Summary Statement on Joint EPW-HELP Oversight Hearing on Chemical Facility Safety and Security
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works & U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Joint Hearing on “Oversight of the Implementation of the President’s Executive Order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security”
I want to begin by thanking Chairman Boxer and Chairman Harkin for convening this hearing today. The chemical industry is incredibly important not only to my home state of Louisiana but to our nation as a whole. Before I continue on with my statement I would like to note that today Senator Inhofe and I sent a letter to our EPA witness on this very subject, and I would like to enter it into the record. [Click here to read the letter.]

When tragic accidents like the explosions in Geismar or Donaldsonville, LA, take place, it is critically important that they are thoroughly and expeditiously investigated. Genuine effort must be put forth to understand their causes, and we must strive to prevent similar accidents in the future.

Immediately following the explosion in Geismar, I requested the Chemical Safety Board dispatch a team to Louisiana, and I have appreciated their work and updates on the investigation.

It is no secret that chemical manufacturers spend billions of dollars annually in safety, health, environmental, and security programs through initiatives like American Chemistry Council's Responsible Care. Others in the regulated community have initiatives like the fertilizer industry which just this week launched their ResponsibleAg program aimed at improving safety and security within their industry.

Despite these important initiatives, nothing comes without risk, and accidents unfortunately happen. Whenever these tragic incidents occur, it reminds us all that we must collaborate to achieve real improvements that will better protect our local communities, citizens, and workers.

Today we are here to discuss President Obama's Executive Order 13650, "Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security." Unfortunately, I believe that many of the actions being contemplated as part of this order may actually result in outcomes contrary to our collective goals, and more specifically may result in less compliance with the law and less safety at these already highly regulated facilities.

To quote a previous Committee witness who testified on this very issue, Rick Webre from the Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security, "I cannot emphasize enough that all disasters are initially local." In Louisiana, we are fortunate to have robust Local Emergency Planning Committees which Mr. Webre called "the most critical function that a community can perform to prevent, mitigate, and respond to and recover from an industrial accident."

I believe that before we rush to create new complicated federal mandates, which in many cases can create more problems than they fix, we need to better understand what problems we are trying to solve and make sure we are giving folks within local communities the tools to ensure local safety.

Given that a great deal of our Committee discussions have centered around ammonium nitrate, I want to reference a May report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office on chemical safety which made clear unless OSHA takes additional action to "promote awareness of how to comply with its regulations, fertilizer facilities may not know whether their practices are in compliance with OSHA's existing ammonium nitrate storage regulations."

The report goes on to say that although OSHA already has requirements for safely storing ammonium nitrate, "OSHA has done little to ensure that the fertilizer industry, which is one of the primary users of ammonium nitrate, understands how to comply with its existing regulations."

Today we see a stark contrast in the way the two Agencies testifying before us are carrying out their respective rulemakings pursuant to the President's Order. While OSHA is taking a deliberative approach, allowing reasonable time for input, and planning to convene a panel to comprehend their rules on small business, EPA's process is noticeably different. EPA set an arbitrarily short deadline on itself, asked for responses to close to 400 complex questions in an unreasonably short period of time, and denied an extension request seeking a more appropriate timeframe. EPA also does not appear to be willing or interested in a small business review, seeking advice through a Clean Air Act Advisory Committee panel, or convening a committee of experts under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. These differences are particularly troubling when you consider the agencies and their rules are directed by the Executive Order to coordinate and be harmonized.

Ensuring the citizens, workers, and communities across Louisiana and the nation are protected from industrial accidents of all kinds should always be a top priority and based on considerate information from what we've learned, and I hope today this hearing helps us take a positive step in the right direction. Thank you again to both Chairmen for holding this important hearing, and I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.

 

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Vitter Summary Statement on Nuclear Regulatory Commission Oversight Hearing
“Oversight Hearing: NRC’s Implementation of the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force Recommendations and Other Actions to Enhance and Maintain Nuclear Safety”
Thank you, Chairman Boxer, for convening today's hearing, and I would like to thank our NRC commissioners for returning to testify in front of this committee. I would also like to thank our industry experts and stakeholders for being here today.

Before getting started I would like to bring some attention to the committee mark-up that occurred yesterday to consider several nominations, including the nomination of Commissioner Baran to fill the remainder of Chairman MacFarlane's term.

While it is true that we recently held a hearing to consider Baran's qualifications on September 11, 2014, the sole purpose of that hearing was to decide whether or not he was qualified to hold this position for the remainder of former Commissioner William Magwood's term, which will expire on July 30, 2015.

Chairman Macfarlane's term is set to expire on June 30, 2018. The difference between these two term lengths are drastic, and many questions remain concerning the qualifications of Baran who only recently visited a nuclear reactor power station for the first time after being nominated.

While I appreciate Chairman Boxer's commitment to the safety of our nuclear reactor fleet, it is clearly a misstep to move forward on Baran's nomination for a drastically longer term, without holding a full EPW nominations hearing. There is no precedent for disregarding the importance of making sure each member of the NRC is qualified for the exact position and term for which they have been nominated.

The decision to hold yesterday's EPW meeting is a clear change in committee precedent and will have long-term ramifications as we move into a new Congress.

There is no doubt that many will attempt to counter this statement, saying we can ask Commissioner Baran any questions we would like during today's oversight hearing. However, dividing our time and focus between the important oversight of the Commission and the future of the NRC's leadership undermines the purpose of this committee.

The bottom line is that no nominee, including Baran, should be given a free pass into office based solely on the merits of being handpicked by Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Ensuring our commissioners are well-qualified and that the NRC is conducting business in a fact-based and ethical manner are crucial to the health, reliability, and safety of our nuclear fleet.

It is the primary reason that our nuclear reactor fleet remains the safest in the world.

The NRC has made great strides since the departure of the previous chairman, and I fear that Senate Democrats continue to undermine that progress as they prioritize politics over facts, policy and safety.

Again, thank you very much for being here, and I look forward to hearing from you on these important issues.

 

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Vitter Summary Statement on Hearing to Consider the Super Pollutants Act of 2014
Hearing to Consider the Super Pollutants Act of 2014 (S. 2911)
Thank you, Chairman Boxer, for calling today's hearing, and thank you to our witnesses for coming here today. Last June, when President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan, we learned that he preferred his supporters not engage in straight economic arguments, overpromise on the impacts taking action will have, or debate the validity of the claim that the science is already settled. However, these are exactly the topics that need to be discussed, especially since the legislation that is brought before us appears to endorse certain aspects of the President's misguided Climate Action Plan agenda.

Our witnesses today will speak to the economic realities of climate policies the Administration seeks to put in place to regulate carbon dioxide and other emissions and thereby, in theory, prevent the Earth's climate from changing. The Administration plans to achieve this goal at the expense of hard-working Americans and their families, hoping the suffering such policies have created in other parts of the world will go unnoticed.

It is regularly stated that elections have consequences. As the elections and exit polls showed, the economy is the top concern for voters. Climate is a non-issue. Voters care about having a good job and increasing opportunities for the next generation. They care about putting a roof over their head, being able to heat and cool their homes at affordable prices, and feeding their families. As Dr. Peiser will testify today, climate policies and increased government intervention in energy development have been destructive to European economies and their citizenry, undermining the very things most Americans care about.

What my Democratic colleagues seemingly fail to understand is that policies similar to President Obama's have had major negative effects in certain European countries. Not only have the carbon trading schemes, heavy mandates, and subsidies for otherwise uncompetitive energy technologies been a disaster for energy reliability and economic security, but they have also increased energy poverty and undermined the standard of living for Europe's elderly and low-income families.

Almost one month since the November elections, the President is asking us to follow him down a failed path that puts at risk the standard of living for the vast majority of the Americans we represent. Moreover, the Administration has become so desperate with their climate message that we're supposed to believe the recent "deal" China made with the President is worth commending. Lacking any benchmarks to measure progress or penalties to enforce it, my colleagues across the aisle use the word "deal" even though China does not have to implement a single economically destructive policy, while the United States is supposed to act now. Clearly, this is one of the worst economic policy negotiations in history.

It certainly appears as though growing government mandates and programs that will reward wealthy liberal donors and decrease the standard of living for all other Americans, while simultaneously blocking job-creating projects around the country is the new Democratic standard. If so, perhaps Terry O'Sullivan, President of the Laborers' International Union of North America, was correct when he stated, following the Keystone vote, "The majority of Democrats in the Senate and the White House just don't get it, even though the recent election results surely should have sunk in by now. They have lost their way, their purpose, and their base."

Abundant, affordable, reliable electricity drives economies and raises populations out of poverty. It drives our current manufacturing renaissance and competitive advantage around the world. Take that away, and families, communities, and small businesses all suffer - and suffer unnecessarily for no tangible gain.

Thank you.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Vitter Summary Statement on Wastewater and Water Management Practices
Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife Hearing on “Innovation and the Utilities of the Future: How Local Water Treatment Facilities Are Leading the Way to Better Manage Wastewater and Water Supplies”
Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for calling today's hearing. I would also like to thank our witnesses for testifying before the Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife.

The title of today's hearing invokes concepts with which few would disagree. There's no question that the federal government should foster innovative wastewater and water management practices, and that local treatment facilities are and should be leaders in ensuring safe water supplies. Unfortunately, as in so many other areas, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is acting as an impediment to innovation in the water utility sector.

In fact, EPA's hindering of effective water and wastewater treatment is symbolic of a larger, systemic problem throughout the agency. Many Americans view EPA as a rogue agency that imposes its regulatory will in a manner that harms local communities and is contrary to law. Too often creating unnecessary obstacles to technological improvements and progress, EPA's policies serve as a disincentive for innovation throughout the public and private sectors. Water and wastewater management are routinely frustrated by such challenges.

For example, EPA has improperly restricted many wastewater utilities from engaging in a treatment practice known as blending. Blending combines biological, chemical, and physical treatment processes and is used by wastewater facilities to manage large flow variations during major rainfall events. Blending is sometimes necessary during major wet-weather events that would otherwise overwhelm treatment systems, and historically the practice has received support from EPA.

In recent years, however, EPA has enforced a new policy that declares wastewater plant blending operations to be illegal. According to John Hall, one of our witnesses today, the cost of this new prohibition was projected by EPA itself to exceed $200 billion, and the blending ban has "slowed down the ability of communities to safely eliminate untreated overflows, by eliminating a viable, cost-effective option that provided treatment and met permit limits."

Worse yet, EPA's blending ban is an unlawful attempt to circumvent Congress and the agency's own, previously-established rules. As the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals determined in March 2013, EPA violated the Administrative Procedure Act by promulgating blending rules without using the statute's notice and comment procedures. The court also determined EPA's "legislative rule" exceeded the agency's statutory authority under the Clean Water Act.

EPA's illegal blending policy was a demonstrable failure by EPA to work with local communities to manage important water treatment issues, underscoring several fundamental problems with the agency. First, the blending case confirms EPA's disdain for transparency, having attempted to regulate in a manner that directly contradicted the Clean Water Act and established policies. Second, the case illustrates the red-tape and bureaucracy the agency seeks to impose on local communities, which rarely have the financial resources to take on the agency as the sewer systems did here. Third, it is worth noting that EPA has taken the position that this case only applies in the Eighth Circuit, and that the agency has authority to restrict blending on a "case-by-case basis." In other words, through its illegal blending regulation, EPA is now thumbing its nose at the courts, in addition to Congress and local communities.

It should also come as no surprise that EPA's deeply-flawed proposal to revise the definition of "waters of the United States" under the Clean Water Act will make it even more difficult to effectively manage local water resources. The proposed rule would automatically designate "tributaries," impoundments of "tributaries," and "adjacent waters" as "waters of the United States," thereby forcing local communities throughout the country to obtain costly permits just so they can properly manage wastewater and stormwater conveyances. Under the proposed rule, these same communities will no doubt face increased and crippling citizen suit litigation if their regulatory officials do not accede to the relentless demands of hostile environmental NGO's. Notably, for purposes of this hearing, waste treatment systems do not constitute "waters of the United States" under current regulations, but the proposed "waters of the United States" rule would create significant uncertainty about the scope of this long-standing exemption. Another of today's witnesses Jeffrey Longsworth indicated in his written testimony that "EPA's overly prescriptive and unjustified mandates and efforts to expand its Clean Water Act jurisdiction to drainage features within MS4s in contravention of the limitations set forth by Congress in the Act significantly hamper and threaten MS4 operators' ability to efficiently protect local water resources."

EPA's blending policies and its proposed "waters of the United States" rule both demonstrate why the agency's credibility has diminished in recent years. Today's discussion on innovation in water and wastewater management is important and provides a needed opportunity to examine how EPA is impeding local efforts. I appreciate the chairman holding this hearing today, and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

ICYMI: Vitter Op-Ed "Romance in Obamaland: The EPA & NRDC's Beyond Cozy Conspiracy"
Sen. David Vitter, top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, has been investigating the collusion between environmental activists, lawyers and lobbyists, billionaires and their supporting foundations who use large sums of money to influence environmental public policy. Earlier this week, Vitter released emails between top officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including Gina McCarthy, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which demonstrate the very close working relationship between the two organizations to develop the Agency's recently proposed carbon rule for existing power plants. Click here to read more.

Daily Caller
Romance In Obamaland: The EPA and The NRDC's Beyond-Cozy Conspiracy
By David Vitter | October 17, 2014

David Vitter represents Louisiana in the United States Senate. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1999, was elected to his first term in the Senate in 2004, and was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2010. As a long-time champion for Louisiana jobs created by domestic energy production, Senator Vitter now serves as the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

When a government agency initiates a policy that will affect literally every American family and business, that agency should consider all stakeholders' opinions in a serious, balanced way. It is absolutely inappropriate for one outside organization to have completely dominant influence on that regulatory process. That is simply not how our federal government was intended to operate.

But that's exactly what the EPA allowed in developing its existing source performance standards, the centerpiece of its war on coal and other traditional energy. What's worse, the EPA clearly tried to hide this from the public - until we called them on it.

This week, Republicans on our oversight committee released a series of documents that show just how the Natural Resources Defense Council (the NRDC) played a wildly oversized role in developing President Obama's proposed carbon plan. The NRDC is a far-left environmental group that uses an extremely well-funded litigation and lobbying strategy to force climate polices on the U.S.

Let me break down how this happened.

In 2010, the NRDC and its lawyers and lobbyists sued the EPA to initiate new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. While this might seem a hostile act toward EPA on its face, it was exactly the opposite - a coordinated strategy.

This kabuki dance then allowed the two supposedly opposing sides of the suit - in reality close allies - to settle behind closed doors on December 23, 2010. Practically all of the impacted parties were excluded from the discussions leading up to the settlement. This tactic is commonly referred to as "sue-and-settle."

As a recovering lawyer, I can tell you that in a normal lawsuit, one if not both sides walk away from the courthouse upset. But in this case, the NRDC and the EPA literally congratulated each other gleefully. In an email uncovered by our committee, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy wrote to NRDC's climate policy director, David Doniger: "I really appreciate your support and your patience ... . The success is yours as much as it is mine."

Following the settlement agreement, the NRDC then gave McCarthy and the EPA its carefully drafted proposal to regulate carbon dioxide at existing power plants and to force the entire country into costly compliance. In a June 2011 email exchange, Doninger wrote to Gina McCarthy: "Nice to bump into you yesterday. Here is the presentation we gave to the work group. I want to draw your attention especially to option 2 for existing sources."

Gina McCarthy's response: "Let me take a quick look. I would never say no to a meeting with you."

Sounds like quite a date.

For more details on these damning emails, just go to our committee website at epw.senate.gov.

From then on, the EPA practically cut and pasted the NRDC's proposed carbon plan and made it their own. Perhaps the only part of it that truly originated with the EPA was the EPA's logo inserted on the cover page. Even observers at reliably left-wing outlets like the New York Times have since reported on this unprecedented NRDC role.

When it comes to a major new regulation - especially one that would have devastating economic impacts - there must be an open and honest conversation between the government and the public, including outside organizations and impacted parties. But in this case, only the EPA and the NRDC were truly engaged - leading to a court agreement to regulate the entire U.S. economy. No other voices were heard.

Those at the EPA want you believe they created this rule on their own. They want you to believe that they didn't start working on the rule until President Obama publicly asked them to do so in June 2013. They want you to believe that the public got an equal opportunity to provide feedback starting in June 2014. But none of that is true.

The carbon rule they've concocted will permanently stymie our economy, limit growth, and kill hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. It will decrease electricity reliability and deal a crushing blow to low-income families and senior citizens as energy poverty becomes the new normal, just as it is in Europe.

And now the voluminous emails and other documents we've uncovered clearly demonstrate the EPA and the NRDC's beyond-cozy relationship that was behind it all.

You have to ask yourself, with regard to the EPA and the NRDC: So who is working for whom? Even more importantly, is anyone in this beyond-cozy conspiracy working for the American people?

David Vitter is the top Republican of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Environmental Collusion: Choosing Climate Policy Over Economic Stability in U.S. Manufacturing

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, has launched the second phase of his investigation into the collusion between environmental activists, lawyers and lobbyists, billionaires and their supporting foundations who use large sums of money to influence environmental public policy.

From farmers to miners to rig workers to manufacturers and fishermen, EPW Republicans have been examining how the jobs in those industries and their way of life are being targeted by well-funded environmental activists whose primary goal is maximizing government control, particularly over the land, water, and resources utilized by private industries and individuals. Today's focus is on manufacturing.

The U.S. manufacturing industry supports over 17 million jobs in the United States, and taken alone it would be the 10th largest economy in the world.[1]  American manufacturing is tied closely to the health of the middle class, providing high-paying jobs in the areas of the country that need them most. [2]  Unfortunately, since 2000, American manufacturing has lost 5.8 million jobs.[3]  While members across the political spectrum agree that a reinvigorated manufacturing sector would help the middle class, there is a major disconnect between this goal and the policies of the Obama Administration and far-left environmental groups that make it more difficult to secure better paying and more middle class jobs.[4]  A Louisiana petroleum engineer recently summed up this intellectual discrepancy, explaining, "There's a huge disconnect between quality of life and opposition to the oil and gas industry."[5]

Since 2010, the manufacturing industry has only been able to hire back 526,000 employees,[6] many of which are directly attributable to the shale gas revolution.[7]   Despite the vast economic and job creation benefits of shale gas, those on the far-left view cheap natural gas as a threat to their policy goals of limiting fossil fuel production and forcing an increase in the use of their preferred and more expensive energy sources, like solar and wind.  Harvard Professor Samuel Myers, a close contemporary of former EPA regional administrator James Martin and other far-left environmentalists, made this anti-natural gas sentiment clear when he stated, "I suspect that cheap gas is just what we don't want because it will make it very hard for renewables to compete and then the entirely wrong price signal to anyone thinking in alternative energy technologies.  I think what we want is expensive gas and a ban on coal fired power."[8]

Choosing Climate Policy Over Economic Growth

"Responding to climate change requires that we break every rule in the free-market playbook and that we do so with great urgency. We will need to rebuild the public sphere, reverse privatizations, relocalize large parts of economies, scale back overconsumption, bring back long-term planning, heavily regulate and tax corporations, maybe even nationalize some of them, cut military spending and recognize our debts to the global South."[9] - Naomi Klein, 2011.

Working hand-in-glove with the Obama Administration, far-left environmental organizations are laboring to implement policies that obstruct growth of the manufacturing sector, block domestic natural gas production, and shrink the economy,[10] while simultaneously expanding federal government control.  According to Naomi Klein, a poster child of the far-left environmental movement and frequent recipient of grants from the Billionaire's Club,[11] we must choose between a strong economy and combating climate change. In 2011 she said, "There is a growing body of economic research on the conflict between economic growth and sound climate policy."  Referring to attendees of the Heartland Institute's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, she drove the point home: "So when the Heartlanders react to evidence of human-induced climate change as if capitalism itself were coming under threat, it's not because they are paranoid. It's because they are paying attention."[12]  These views were recently echoed in a 350.org video, which promotes the idea of "planet before profit."[13]

Expanding Federal Authority with Over-Regulation

One of the principal tools intended to be utilized to shut down the manufacturing industry is regulation via the Clean Air Act (CAA).  The CAA is responsible for the many successes we have seen in the last forty years, including major reductions in dangerous pollutants.[14]  Despite these broadly supported successes, the EPA is now attempting to dramatically expand its regulatory authority with increasingly superficial benefits claims, while ignoring significant costs.[15] The climate benefits in EPA's CO2 regulations (as called for in the President's Climate Action Plan) are calculated using the Social Cost of Carbon estimates that were developed behind closed doors by a select group of unelected Washington bureaucrats at the urging of the environmental left.[16]  Outside groups, like the Energy Foundation and Merck Family Fund - both members of the Billionaire's Club, use their resources to support EPA's absurd "benefits" in analytic reports and national lobbying campaigns.[17]

Another tactic to expand federal regulation is known as the "sue and settle" method.  A precedential "sue and settle" arrangement occurred between the EPA and the American Lung Association (ALA) over the 1990 Amendments of the Clean Air Act.[18] The settlement agreement led to expediting the first particulate (PM) and ozone standards, which make manufacturing more expensive.  Since the initial standard was put in place, the supposed benefits of that standard have been used to justify the multitude of additional air regulations over the past twenty years.[19]  Unfortunately, EPA continues to refuse to make the underlying data public,[20] and so there is no way to independently verify the benefits claims.[21]

The potential impacts of a lower ozone standard include a reduction in GDP of $270 billion per year and lost jobs averaging 2.9 million per year.  In addition, a lower ozone standard will result in increased natural gas and electricity costs for manufacturers and American families.[22]  In close coordination with the EPA, the ALA has helped coordinate EPA's rollout of PM benefits claims as well as responses to litigation in an effort to clamp down on energy production.[23]  The many regulations that are now set to shut down coal fired power plants[24] go well beyond the EPA's original claims.[25]  In spite of all these negative consequences of EPA's activities, the looming ozone standards are likely to have the most significant impact on manufacturing.[26]

Targeting Successful Technologies

Despite the significant headwinds of EPA's regulatory prowess and the persistent litigation by wealthy environmental activists, advances in two drilling technologies have significantly undermined their anti-manufacturing agenda.[27]  Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have made it possible to advance access to abundant domestic energy resources that were otherwise inaccessible just a few years ago.[28]  Accordingly, the United States is seeing a resource boom that is working to lower domestic fossil energy prices, which benefits manufacturing.  In addition to lower energy prices, domestic fossil fuel production is providing an abundance of the base materials that are needed to manufacture every important product that our modern society makes and utilizes.  Every iPad, computer, television, and automobile in use today and every piece of advanced medical equipment that is saving lives is made from materials that are mined, refined, and/or manufactured from or utilizing fossil resources.[29]  Even solar panels and wind turbines include products made from fossil fuels.[30]

At the end of the day, the EPA and their environmental allies[31] recognize the success of these technologies and have big plans for over-regulation and limiting access to the domestic oil and gas resources that fuel the manufacturing sector.  Looming regulations coming from EPA and litigation by its allies are clearly targeted at undermining advanced drilling technologies, and as a consequence, our manufacturing sector and middle class are in the cross hairs.  Accordingly, the coordinated war on hydraulic fracturing is also undermining the U.S. manufacturing industry.[32]

EPW Republicans have been detailing exactly how these coordinated efforts are destroying jobs and punishing industries and families across America. Previous editions include:

 

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[1] http://www.nam.org/~/media/AF4039988F9241C09218152A709CD06D.ashx

[2] http://www.manufacturing.net/articles/2014/03/manufacturing-the-decline-of-the-middle-class

[3] Id.

[4] http://www.ajc.com/news/business/report-manufacturing-key-to-middle-class-health/ngK2r/

[5] http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/07/helis_oil_talks_about_st_tamma.html

[6] Id.

[7] http://www.investing.com/analysis/u.s.-manufacturing-renaissance-finally-happening-227257

[8] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=5356b97c-5051-4dbd-a7e7-af41115764f8

[9] http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate?page=0,0

[10] http://washingtonexaminer.com/how-camouflaged-activists-want-to-de-industrialize-the-west/article/2554201

[11] Rockefeller Brothers Fund IRS Form 990, 2011; Wallace Global Fund IRS Form 990, 2011; Schmidt Family Foundation IRS Form 990, 2011, 2012.

[12] http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate?page=0,0

[13] http://350.org/a-new-economic-paradigm-is-not-only-possible-but-plausible/

[14] http://www.epa.gov/air/caa/progress.html

[15] http://science.house.gov/press-release/icymi-tceq-criticism-epa-air-pollution-science; http://www.regulations.gov/#%21documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2007-0492-9522

[16] http://www.nrdc.org/media/2012/120917.asp

[17] http://www.analysisgroup.com/uploadedFiles/Publishing/Articles/Analysis_Group_EPA_Clean_Power_Plan_Report.pdf

[18] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=8C1A4F79-ECA0-F9D2-9636-B7286F3389A5

[19] https://www.uschamber.com/blog/these-9-charts-put-federal-regulations-different-light

[20] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=28FBCAF8-BFE1-6D91-5EC8-DA554F9FA85F

[21] Id.

[22] http://www.nam.org/~/media/29876087653A4D74BFE191551FC024EC.ashx

[23] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=d83e9197-13d9-423d-93b1-38d0a47cecfa

[24] http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/utility/utilitypg.html

[25] http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-672

[26] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=03ca1d5b-0f78-f77b-00d1-2dd279fc6db7&Region_id=&Issue_id=

[27] http://energyindepth.org/national/hydraulic-fracturing-good-news-for-americas-economy/

[28] http://www.ncsl.org/documents/energy/frackingguide_060512.pdf

[29] http://www-tc.pbs.org/independentlens/classroom/wwo/petroleum.pdf

[30] Id.

[31] http://washingtonexaminer.com/the-hidden-persuaders-of-the-environmental-elite/article/2551714

[32] http://capitolcityproject.com/meet-group-quietly-propelling-anti-fracking-movement/


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Environmental Attacks on American Family Farmers: The Dual Threat

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, has launched the second phase of his investigation into the collusion between environmental activists, lawyers and lobbyists, billionaires and their supporting foundations who use large sums of money to influence environmental public policy.

From farmers to miners to rig workers to manufacturers and fishermen, EPW Republicans have been examining how the jobs in those industries and their way of life are being targeted by well-funded environmental activists whose primary goal is maximizing government control, particularly over the land, water, and resources utilized by private industries and individuals.  Today's focus is on farming.

American farmers have been a dependable source of food and jobs throughout our nation's history.[1]  Their entrepreneurship, ingenuity, and good old-fashioned hard work have given rise to a reliable food supply.[2]  As the world experiences significant population growth and the global demand for food increases, farmers in the United States will play an integral role in keeping the world well-fed.[3]

However, endless litigation and regulation threaten the long-term viability of the American family farm.[4]  Hostile environmental groups are teaming up with regulatory agencies under the guise of environmentalism, stewardship, and conservation.  Yet the reality is that these efforts are an unprecedented regulatory assault to impair the agriculture industry, directed and controlled by the far-left political agenda of the Billionaire's Club.

Litigation Nation

Far-left environmental organizations are using litigation as a key strategy to target farmers.  They use the courts to shut down water supply, to diminish property rights, and to limit the use of crop protectors.

In California, these groups have made serious drought conditions worse by fostering a regulatory drought that pits farmers against fish.[5]  The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has repeatedly invoked the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to shut down water deliveries to Central Valley farmers with claims[6] that a two-inch bait fish known as the delta smelt must take priority over the needs of humans and irrigated agriculture.  Forced by this litigation to locate alternative water supplies, farmers have turned to groundwater.  Unfortunately, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association, Environmental Law Foundation, and the Institute for Fisheries Resources have banded together[7] to encumber access to groundwater, leaving California farmers with few options for water delivery.[8]

The battle against American family farmers spans across the U.S.  In Maryland, the Waterkeeper Alliance, an entity funded by the Billionaire's Club, sued a family-run chicken farm over disposal of chicken manure, threatening the farmers with exorbitant fines and penalties under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  As the ultimately unsuccessful litigation proceeded, it became clear that Waterkeeper's motivation behind the lawsuit was to use the CWA to force poultry farmers "to seriously alter if not abandon their operations on the Eastern Shore." [9]  The lawsuit made clear that "an elite, New York-based group that regularly held fund-raisers at ski resorts and counted Kennedy-friendly celebrities among its membership"[10] would go to great lengths to shut down a hard-working family farm.

NRDC and Waterkeeper Alliance are heavily beholden to the Billionaire's Club.  NRDC depends on millions of dollars in grants that flow from Climateworks Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Energy Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Marisla Foundation, Park Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Family Fund, Schmidt Foundation, Sea Change Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Tides Foundation.[11]  In recent years, Waterkeeper Alliance received support from Park Foundation, Energy Foundation, and the Marisla Foundation.[12]

Allies in the Administration

Far-left environmental groups also count on allies in the Obama Administration to implement regulations that devastate the agricultural community.  EPA's regulation of agricultural activities has spiked since President Obama took office.[13]  What's more, this trend of aggressive EPA regulation shows no signs of slowing.

The EPA's proposed Waters of the United States rule would greatly expand the scope of the federal government's authority over farmers and other land users under the Clean Water Act.  It increases federal permitting requirements and exposes American farmers to costly citizen suit liability. As such, it's not surprising that the proposal has support from the NRDC, Sierra Club, the Waterkeeper Alliance, and Organizing for Action.

Additionally, in 2011, EPA issued a controversial regulation known as a "Total Maximum Daily Load" (TMDL), which threatens farms throughout the Chesapeake Bay region by allowing EPA to determine whether particular lands can be farmed or developed, as well as the amount of fertilizer farmers can use.[14]  EPA's TMDL has strong support from the Gulf Restoration Network.[15]

The regulation could set a precedent allowing EPA to control land-use decisions throughout the country.[16] The Gulf Restoration Network, Sierra Club, NRDC, and again Waterkeeper Alliance, have adopted a similar strategy to establish a TMDL for the Mississippi River watershed - which covers 30 states.[17]  If the petition is successful, it would cripple agriculture through the Mississippi River basin, putting farmers at the mercy of EPA-developed water quality measures and ignoring the agriculture community's actions to improve the environment.[18]

The cozy relationship between these far-left environmental groups and the Obama Administration has also called into question the EPA's interest and ability to protect the private information of American farmers.  In 2013, EPA released confidential and private business information of animal feeding operations to Earthjustice, Pew Charitable Trusts, and the NRDC.[19]  Despite this breach of privacy, Nancy Stoner, then-acting Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Water and former head of NRDC's Water Program, defended the Agency, claiming the information "released, was all publicly available, either through a publicly accessible database or through a public records request to each state."[20]  The groups later claimed to have returned farmers' confidential and private business information to EPA, although questions remain over the close relationship between EPA and friendly environmental groups.[21]

Real World Consequences

The dual threat of litigation and regulation has taken a toll on the finances and morale of American farmers and their surrounding communities.  Implementation of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL could cost taxpayers as much as $50 billion between 2010 and 2025.[22]  The Waterkeeper lawsuit against the Maryland chicken farmer led to farmers "who now question any trust with environmental organizations."  And in California, years of misguided litigation and regulation have jeopardized the livelihoods of thousands of farmworkers and the viability of the farms they work on, and limited residents drinking water supply.[23]

EPW Republicans will continue detailing exactly how these coordinated efforts are destroying jobs and punishing industries and families across America.  Previous editions include:

 

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[1] http://www.usda.gov/documents/timeline.pdf

[2] http://farmfutures.com/story-resistance-contamination-concerns-forefront-biotech-crop-review-0-117752

[3] http://www.fb.org/index.php?action=newsroom.news&year=2014&file=nr0113j.html

[4] http://westernfarmpress.com/government/epa-regulations-suffocating-us-agriculture

[5] http://www.nationalreview.com/article/369490/green-drought-charles-c-w-cooke/page/0/1

[6] http://www.nrdc.org/media/2007/070526.asp

[7] http://calwatchdog.com/2014/07/23/lawsuit-could-expand-state-control-of-groundwater/

[8] http://www.envirolaw.org/documents/ScottPressRelease.pdf

[9] http://cg.capitalgazette.com/news/environment/perdue-wins-high-stakes-poultry-lawsuit/article_79acc4a3-fca2-5845-9647-ac28078d3ca1.html?mode=jqm

[10] http://www.bayjournal.com/article/wounds_from_suit_filed_by_waterkeepers_to_take_a_while_to_heal

[11] Climateworks Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011; David and Lucile Packard Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010; Energy Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Marisla Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Park Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Rockefeller Family Fund IRS Form 990, 2010, 2012; Rockefeller Brothers Fund IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Schmidt Family Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2012; Sea Change Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011; William and Flora Hewlett Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Tides Foundation IRS Form 990, 2011, 2012; Tides Foundation grants database 2013: http://www.tides.org/fileadmin/user/pdf/Tides_List_of_2013_Grantees.pdf.

[12] Park Foundation IRS Form 990, 2009, 2011; Energy Foundation grants database, available at http://www.ef.org/grants-database/#!/keywords=waterkeeper; Marisla Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012.

[13] http://regdata.org/?type=regulation_index&industry[]=11&industry[]=111&industry[]=112®ulator[]=111

[14] http://www.fb.org/legal/files/id_51/2014.01.27%20AFBF%20Joint%20Opening%20Brief.pdf

[15] See American Farm Bureau v. EPA, Third Circuit No. 13-4079 (amicus briefs filed in support of EPA).

[16] http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112hhrg65502/html/CHRG-112hhrg65502.htm

[17] http://docs.nrdc.org/water/files/wat_12031401a.pdf

[18] http://www.fb.org/legal/files/id_64/2012.05.10%20AFBF%20Joint%20Memorandum%20in%20Support%20of%20Motion%20to%20Intervene.pdf

[19] http://www.eenews.net/greenwire/stories/1059976700

[20] http://www.eenews.net/greenwire/stories/1059977391

[21] http://www.eenews.net/eedaily/stories/1059979265/search?keyword=CAFO

[22] http://www.chesapeakebay.net/channel_files/19062/660_--_environmental_workshop_report,_final,_spring_2012.pdf

[23] http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2013/07/01/regulations-bleed-california-farmers-dry-as-record-drought-continues/


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Environmental Collusion to Block Mining: Sue Early, Often, and At Every Step

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, has launched the second phase of his investigation into the collusion between environmental activists, lawyers and lobbyists, billionaires and their supporting foundations who use large sums of money to influence environmental public policy.

From farmers to miners to rig workers to manufacturers and fishermen, EPW Republicans have been examining how the jobs in those industries and their way of life are being targeted by well-funded environmental activists whose primary goal is maximizing government control, particularly over the land, water, and resources utilized by private industries and individuals. Today's focus is on mining.

The American mining industry is responsible for more than 637,000 direct jobs and support more than 1.4 million jobs in all 50 states.[1]  With an average salary of $71,075,[2] the industry outpaces the national average wage by approximately 36 percent.[3]  In addition to coal, the mining industry harvests the copper that makes up electrical wires and television cables, the gold and platinum that is found in many wedding rings, the rare earth elements used in wind turbines and hybrid-car batteries, and the soda ash that is used to manufacture glasses and wine bottles.[4]  In sum, the domestic mining industry contributes significantly to our economy and ensures that we are not forced to rely on foreign entities for important mineral products.

Anti-Mining Agenda

Unfortunately, far-left environmentalists and the Obama Administration fail to recognize the benefits of the domestic mining industry, and they have been attempting to shut down all resource extraction.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has publicly declared that "coal makes us sick," while President Obama promised to make electricity prices "necessarily skyrocket" under his progressive agenda.  Anti-development organizations praise the Administration for placing lands off-limits to mining, asserting that mining is a "dirty, dirty business that leaves a toxic and radioactive trail of impacts."

The Legal Strategy

The main tactic used to block mining is to sue early, often, and on every aspect of the process. Members of the Billionaire's Club fund the environmental activists, like WildEarth Guardians (WEG) and the Sierra Club, who file these frivolous lawsuits. For example, these groups have sued over the issuance of federal coal leases under the guise of needing to consider climate change - even though there are numerous steps before the coal will ever be processed.[5]

The Tides Foundation has been a regular contributor to WEG in recent years.[6] Sierra Club enjoys steady funding from the Rockefeller Family Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Wallace Global Fund, Schmidt Family Foundation, Energy Foundation, and Tides Foundation - all members of the Billionaire's Club.[7]

When activists are not able to stop minerals from being extracted, they then sue over the expansion of existing mines.  After the minerals are taken from the ground, activists sue over transport of those minerals.  Activists then sue over the air permits necessary to build the facility that will use the energy sources.[8]  If the state complies with environmentalists' demands on the air permits, they sue again - making new claims as to why the plant should not be built at all.

While the environmental community keeps mining operators tied up in the courts, the Administration simultaneously issues executive fiats that harm the industry. For example, when the Democrat-controlled Congress failed to pass the President's cap-and-tax proposal, the Obama U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took matters into its own hands and issued greenhouse gas standards for new and existing plants.[9]  When Congress declined to ban uranium mining in Arizona, the Administration issued a 20-year ban.[10]  When Congress refuses to restrict mining on certain lands, President Obama threatens to designate those lands as national monuments, effectively blocking all mining.[11]  And when the Administration decided it disliked a possible mine in Alaska, the EPA invented a process to block the operation and denied the owners the opportunity to even petition their government for a permit.[12]  

Coordinated Attacks

The case of Spruce Mine exemplifies the coordinated attack on the mining industry. Beginning in the mid-1990s, entities funded by the Billionaire's Club - including the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC), Appalachian Mountain Advocates (AMA), and EarthJustice -opposed the Spruce Mine, a proposed project in West Virginia.  AMA has received thousands of dollars from the Rockefeller Family Fund.[13]  OVEC has received grants from Tides Foundation.[14] EarthJustice sustains itself through funding from Energy Foundation, Marisla Foundation, Park Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Tides Foundation, and the Wallace Global Fund.[15]  United in their cause, these groups and their funders succeeded in stalling approval for more than a decade. [16]

In January 2007, the Army Corps of Engineers finally approved Spruce Mine's permit for a dramatically scaled-back project.[17]  The changes to the proposed project were not good enough for the anti-mining organizations, and so OVEC and others sued the Corps for allegedly violating the National Environmental Policy Act.[18]   As the case moved through the courts and President Obama assumed office, the activists doubled down and launched another strategy - a lobbying effort to convince the EPA to retroactively veto the CWA permit that the Corps had issued.

EPA embraced the strategy and requested that the Corps revoke the CWA permit it had previously issued.[19]  The Army Corps declined to do so as there was no new information available to justify such a reversal.[20]  Having failed to convince the Army Corps to take action, EPA asserted it had the authority to retroactively veto the CWA permit and did so in January 2011. Far-left environmentalists supported by the Billionaire's Club hailed EPA's actions as a victory.[21]

Real World Consequences

Due to President Obama's opposition to domestic mining and coal production, more than 200 electric generating plants are slated for closure, putting up to 17,000 jobs in jeopardy.[22]  In West Virginia alone, 3,500 miners were laid off or furloughed as of October 2013, and up to 15,000 indirect jobs were lost.[23]

EPW Republicans will continue detailing exactly how these coordinated efforts are destroying jobs and punishing industries and families across America. Previous editions include:

 

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[1] http://www.nma.org/pdf/economic_contributions.pdf

[2] Id.

[3] http://www.bls.gov/oes/2011/may/oes_nat.htm#00-0000 

[4] http://www.nma.org/index.php/minerals-publications/40-common-minerals-and-their-uses

[5] http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2018836459_apwycoalleaseslawsuit2ndldwritethru.html

[6] Park Foundation IRS Form 990, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013.

[7] Tides Foundation IRS Form 990, 2011, 2012, 2013; Energy Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Rockefeller Family Fund IRS Form 990, 2010; Rockefeller Brothers Fund IRS Form 990, 2011, 2012; Wallace Global Fund IRS Form 990, 2011, 2012; SeaChange Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011; David and Lucile Packard Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010; William and Flora Hewlett Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Schmidt Family Foundation IRS Form 990, 2011.

[8] http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2010/12/17/kansas-issues-permit-new-massive-sunflower-coal-plant-while-other-states-begin

[9] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=ba5b2aa8-f287-4eb7-a460-d7a1aef542af

[10] http://www.forbes.com/sites/oshadavidson/2011/06/20/interior-secy-salazar-extends-moratorium-on-uranium-mining-near-the-grand-canyon/

[11] http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-interior-secretary-jewell-20131112-story.html#axzz2kRVRBI94

[12] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=8e013319-c3f0-3a60-50b0-101e03d8a567

[13] Rockefeller Family Fund IRS Form 990, 2012.

[14] Tides Foundation IRS Form 990, 2007, 2009.

[15] Energy Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Marisla Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Park Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2012; William and Flora Hewlett Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2012; Tides Foundation IRS Form 990, 2011, 2012, 2013; Wallace Global Fund IRS Form 990, 2011.

[16] http://earthjustice.org/cases/2014/stopping-a-massive-mountaintop-removal-coal-mine

[17] http://www.wvgazette.com/News/MiningtheMountains/200701300003

[18] http://www.ohvec.org/links/news/archive/2007/fair_use/01_31a.html

[19] Mingo Logan Coal Co. v. U.S. EPA, 714 F.3d. 608, 610 (D.C. Cir. 2013).

[20] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=169f5270-666f-4130-87fe-9fbc3044a8ee

[21] [A] http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/2011/01/13/breaking-news-epa-vetoes-spruce-mine-permit/

[B] http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2012/05/14/epa-strongly-defends-its-veto-one-largest-mountaintop-removal-mines-ever

[22] http://www.americaspower.org/sites/default/files/Job-Losses-due-to-Coal-Plant-Shutdowns-FINAL-Oct-1.pdf

[23] http://www.friendsofcoal.org/20131009697/latest-news/epa-v-american-mining-jobs-the-obama-administrations-regulatory-assault-on-the-economy.html


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Environmental Lobbying to Shut Down One Nuclear Power Plant at a Time

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, has launched the second phase of his investigation into the collusion between environmental activists, lawyers and lobbyists, billionaires and their supporting foundations who use large sums of money to influence environmental public policy.

From farmers to miners to rig workers to manufacturers and fishermen, EPW Republicans have been examining how the jobs in those industries and their way of life are being targeted by well-funded environmental activists whose primary goal is maximizing government control, particularly over the land, water, and resources utilized by private industries and individuals.  Today focuses on nuclear facilities and energy production.

Economic Contribution of Nuclear Energy

With high output capability and low variable operating costs,[1] nuclear energy is an indispensable contributor to our base-load electricity needs and will continue to be for years to come.  The industry provides over 100,000 jobs[2] and 19% of the country's electricity[3] with over 100 nuclear reactors in the United States.[4]  Nuclear energy emits no carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, or nitrogen oxide.[5]  Nuclear energy facilities typically employ up to 3,500 people during construction and 400 to 700 people during operation, at salaries 36 percent higher than average in the plant's supply region.[6]

Despite the obvious benefits of nuclear energy, the trend in the industry is unfortunately bleak.  While U.S. electricity demand is expected to rise 28 percent by 2040:[7] a new nuclear reactor has not opened for commercial operations since 1996,[8] and four reactors were shut down in 2013.[9]

Coordinated Lobbying Strategy

Far-left environmentalists and their allies in the U.S. Senate and the Obama Administration apparently fail to recognize the benefits of the nuclear energy industry.  In fact, evidence suggests that there is a coordinated campaign, financed in part by the Billionaire's Club, which seeks to undermine the economic viability of the industry.  These efforts have leveraged tremendous political pressure to influence the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and their decisions and have made it difficult to advance nuclear power.

At the forefront of this effort are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and their allies, including Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth (FOE) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).  Each has advocated for the immediate shut down and decommissioning of nuclear facilities.[10]

"We aim to stop proposed new nuclear plants and license extensions of old plants."[11] - Sierra Club, Nuclear Free Campaign

In recent years, Sierra Club/Sierra Club Foundation received millions of dollars, in total, from Billionaire's Club Foundations that include Energy Foundation, Rockefeller Family Fund, SeaChange Foundation, Wallace Global Fund, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Schmidt Family Foundation, and Tides foundation.[12]  In recent years FOE has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Tides Foundation, Energy Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Park Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Marisla Foundation.[13]  Likewise, UCS has received generous funding from David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Energy Foundation, Park Foundation, Wallace Global Fund, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Rockefeller Family Fund, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation, Marisla Foundation, and Tides Foundation.[14]

By attacking the industry at every turn, this coordinated campaign succeeded in obtaining the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear General Station (SONGS).  Senator Boxer and her allies aggressively sought to shut down the facility by targeting a technical issue with one of the SONGS new steam generators - in spite of the fact that the concern had not caused any injuries.[15]  The NRC conducted an investigation into the integrity of the facility, and SONGS-owner and operator Southern California Edison (SCE) took corrective actions. Then SCE requested permission from the NRC to restart the plants.

Before NRC could issue a ruling, Senator Boxer and her allies intervened and pressed the Commission to reject the request.  At the same time, FOE filed an intervention petition, hearing request, and application to delay the restarting of SONGS.  NRC agreed to Senator Boxer's demand and delayed the restart of the plant.[16]  Having secured additional time to delay restarting the facility, Senator Boxer alleged[17] that SCE knew of the steam generator defects and had knowingly withheld information during the NRC's investigation.  This allegation was the justification for her expansive document request from the NRC, which resulted in her receiving 70,000 documents, none of which have justified her claims.

After the two years of the coordinated attack to stall the restarting of SONGS, SCE decided to permanently shut down the facility

What's Next?

Having shut down SONGS, Senator Boxer and her allies have turned their attention to the sole remaining nuclear plant in California - Diablo Canyon.[18]  Following the devastating Fukushima earthquake and tsunami in 2011, Diablo Canyon "voluntarily suspended its license renewal application while it completed advanced seismic studies of earthquake faults in the region."[19]  Reports show that the facility is capable of withstanding earthquakes from fault lines posing the greatest threat.[20]  Even so, Senator Boxer is pressing the NRC to shut down the facility based on unsubstantiated claims[21] regarding the structural integrity of the plant.  Her actions jeopardize over 1,500 jobs, over 9% of California's electricity generation, and over $1 billion into the California economy annually.[22]

Real-Life Consequences

The negative effects of a nuclear plant closure extend to more than just a diminished power supply.  Economic hardship, job loss, and negative environmental impacts are the result of this coordinated attack on the industry.  According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, shutting down SONGS alone "changed the California electricity market," leading to less energy independence.[23]  It also resulted in "an extra 18 million tons of CO2 per year delivered to the atmosphere"[24] and cost the state 1,500 local jobs and $50 million in lost revenue annually.[25]

EPW Republicans will continue detailing exactly how these coordinated efforts are destroying jobs and punishing industries and families across America.  Previous editions include:

 

-30-



[1] http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Economic-Aspects/Economics-of-Nuclear-Power/

[2] http://www.nei.org/Master-Document-Folder/Backgrounders/Fact-Sheets/New-Nuclear-Energy-Facilities-Will-Support-Growth,

[3] http://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=nuclear_power_plants

[4] http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=207&t=3

[5] http://www.nei.org/Master-Document-Folder/Backgrounders/Fact-Sheets/New-Nuclear-Energy-Facilities-Will-Support-Growth,

[6] http://www.nei.org/Master-Document-Folder/Backgrounders/Fact-Sheets/Nuclear-Power-Plants-Contribute-Significantly-to-S

[7] http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/pdf/0383(2013).pdf

[8] http://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=nuclear_power_plants

[9] http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=207&t=3

[10] [A] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Majority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=c0a594e4-802a-23ad-4c55-7578565a257a&Region_id=&Issue_id

[B] https://www.boxer.senate.gov/en/press/updates/060713.cfm

[11] https://content.sierraclub.org/grassrootsnetwork/teams/nuclear-free-campaign

[12] Tides Foundation IRS 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Energy Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Rockefeller Brothers Fund IRS Form 990 2010, 2011, 2012; Park Foundation IRS Form 990, 2011, 2012; Rockefeller Family Fund IRS Form 990, 2011, Marisla Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2012; Schmidt Family Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011; SeaChange Foundation IRS Form 990, 2011; Wallace Global Fund IRS Form 990, 2012.

[13] Tides Foundation IRS 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Tides Foundation Grants Database 2013, available at http://www.tides.org/fileadmin/user/pdf/Tides_List_of_2013_Grantees.pdf ; Energy Foundation IRS Form 990, 2012; Energy Foundation Grants Database 2013, available at  http://www.ef.org/grants-database/#!/keywords=friends%20of%20the%20earth; Rockefeller Brothers Fund IRS Form 990 2010, 2011, 2012; Park Foundation IRS Form 990, 2011, 2012; David and Lucile Packard Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Marisla Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2012.

[14] ClimateWorks Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; David and Lucile Packard Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2012, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Wallace Global Fund IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation IRS Form 990, 2011; Tides Foundation IRS Form 990, 2011, 2012; Energy Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011; Marisla Foundation IRS Form 990,2011,  2012; Rockefeller Family Fund IRS Form 990, 2011

[15] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/06/barbara-boxer-san-onofre_n_2633202.html

[16] http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/congress-docs/correspondence/2013/boxer-04-26-2013.pdf

[17] http://a4nr.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/020613-Boxer-Markey-to-NRC-SONGS.pdf

[18] [A] http://a4nr.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/UCS-Seismic-Shift-Final.pdf

[B] http://www.foe.org/news/news-releases/2014-07-diablo-canyon-secret-document-details-federal-safety-alarm

[19] http://www.nei.org/CorporateSite/media/filefolder/Backgrounders/Reports-Studies/PGE_Diablo-Canyon_Economic_Impact_Report_June_2013.pdf?ext=.pdf

[20] [A] http://www.pge.com/en/safety/systemworks/dcpp/seismicsafety/report.page

[B] http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2014/09/10/3238399_nrc-response-diablo-canyon-shutdown.html?rh=1

[21] http://www.foe.org/projects/climate-and-energy/nuclear-reactors

[22] Id.

[23] http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=8770

[24] http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/energy-and-climate/california-gets-coal-for-christmas

[25] Id.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Environmental Litigation to Shut Down Forestry Projects

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, has launched the second phase of his investigation into the collusion between environmental activists, lawyers and lobbyists, billionaires and their supporting foundations who use large sums of money to influence environmental public policy.

Over the coming weeks, EPW Republicans will be detailing exactly how these coordinated efforts are destroying jobs and punishing industries and families across America. From farmers to miners to rig workers to manufacturers and fishermen, EPW Republicans will examine how their jobs and way of life are being targeted by well-funded environmental activists whose primary goal is maximizing government control, particularly over the land, water, and resources utilized by private industries and individuals. Today's focus is forestry.

The forest and forest products industry ranks among the most important job producing sectors in the United States.  More than 887,000 jobs are related to forestry and logging, wood products, and pulp and paper production, and 47 states count the industry among the top ten manufacturing sector employers.[1]  The industry pays more than $4.6 billion in state and local taxes each year, [2] and plays an important role in everyday life, including providing materials for houses, toilet paper, grocery bags, and even some photographic films.

Environmental Collusion

Despite the importance of the industry, environmentalists seek to "stop commercial logging on public lands" as part of the crusade to control climate change.  When federal agencies authorize forestry projects on public lands, groups like the Cascadia Forest Defenders take disruptive actions to prohibit any activity, including innovative, sustainable growth efforts to mimic natural processes.  Others seek to "end all profit-driven extraction of resources" in National Forests.  These far-left groups are not interested in finding a middle ground that promotes responsible forestry.  Rather, they want to shut down the logging industry.

Litigation Strategy

To accomplish their goal, these activists use lawsuits - suing often and over everything.  Far-left environmentalists sue over access to forest products.[3]  They sue over efforts to manage national forests that are being destroyed by the bark beetle.  They sue over logging roads.[4]  They sue over small projects and "innocuous logging" projects. Although they lose more than half of the time,[5] their efforts make it more expensive to move forward with any forestry project.  While these groups claim to have the best interests of the local communities at heart, they are often funded by liberal elites on both coasts.[6]

Two of the leading opponents of forestry projects, and other development in general, are the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and WildEarth Guardians (WEG). As detailed in the Billionaire's Club report,[7] hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for these entities comes from groups like the Tides Foundation, the Marisla Foundation, the Rockefeller Family Fund, and the Wallace Global Fund.[8] In addition to the funding that CBD receives from coastal billionaires, the entity has received millions of dollars in attorney's fees from the Obama Administration. As detailed in documents provided to the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee by the Department of Justice, between 2009-2012 CBD received more than $2.1 million in taxpayer resources to fund these anti-development lawsuits - many of which were filed against the federal government.[9]

These efforts to stop forestry are not a recent phenomenon. Environmental groups have effectively shut down projects in the West.  In 1989, CBD filed a petition requesting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) list the Mexican Spotted Owl as an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).[10]  In 1993, CBD's request was fulfilled, and the species was listed as threatened.  The following year, CBD filed a lawsuit to require the FWS to designate critical habitat for the owl and now boasts that its legal battles against the Forest Service and FWS "halted all logging in the Southwest for 16 months.

While the spotted owl is a familiar story to families in the West where forestry typically occurs on public lands, the Obama Administration and their allies are working to shut down private forestry in other parts of the country.  Behind closed doors, the Obama Administration reached a sue-and-settle agreement with CBD and WEG in 2011 to make listing determinations under the ESA on more than 250 species in all fifty states.  EPW Republicans have worked to obtain details of how that agreement was reached, but the Administration continues to hide documents related to their settlement agreements.[11]  Among the species included in the settlement is the Northern Long Eared Bat, which is found in 38 states.[12]  Groups from Minnesota[13] to Pennsylvania[14] to Louisiana,[15] have warned the Administration about the devastating impact such a listing would have on the forestry industry, yet it remains unclear whether FWS will list the bat.

The Administration and their allies have also targeted individual timber leases.  Starting in 2001 CBD began litigation to force listing of the dusky gopher frog as an endangered species.[16]  The Gulf Restoration Network has supported CBD's efforts, and pursued parallel litigation strategies in 2010, at which point the FWS agreed to designate 1,957 acres as critical habitat for the frog.[17]  Facing even more litigation from the activist pair, FWS included additional critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana despite the fact that the frog has not been seen in the state since the 1960s.[18]  Alarmingly, the lands in St. Tammany Parish were included only after a peer reviewer for the FWS's 2010 critical habitat proposal trespassed while those lands were under a timber lease.[19]  With the CBD-Obama Administration critical habitat designation, development in that area of St. Tammany Parish will be extremely difficult.

With new rules on critical habitat designations and potential designations of national monuments,[20] forestry is under attack from the Obama Administration and its environmental allies.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a decline of jobs in the timber industry in the coming years, which continues a trend of declining employment in timber communities.

Extreme environmental efforts directed by out of touch millionaires and billionaires have real consequences for the average American. EPW Republicans will continue detailing exactly how these coordinated efforts are destroying jobs and punishing industries and families across America. Previous editions include:

 

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[1] http://www.afandpa.org/docs/default-source/default-document-library/click-here.pdf?sfvrsn=0

[2] http://www.afandpa.org/docs/default-source/default-document-library/click-here.pdf?sfvrsn=0

[3] http://www.westernlaw.org/article/enviros-sue-forest-service-stop-ore-logging-project-ee-61814

[4] Decker v. NW Env. Def. Center, 133 S.Ct. 1326 (2013).

[5] http://forestpolicypub.com/2014/03/07/twenty-years-of-forest-service-land-management-litigation/comment-page-1/

[6] The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama's EPA, U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, July 30, 2014.

[7] Id.

[8] Tides Foundation IRS Form 990, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013; Marisla Foundation IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012; Rockefeller Family Fund IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011; Wallace Global Fund IRS Form 990, 2010, 2011, 2012.

[9] http://naturalresources.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=301242&utm_content=buffer93f99&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

[10] http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/birds/Mexican_spotted_owl/pdfs/19248_1540.pdf

[11] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=E5EB7572-DDC0-06EF-6C5B-280064F59349

[12] http://www.fws.gov/endangered/improving_esa/FY13-18_ESA_Listing_workplan.pdf

[13] http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/272075441.html

[14] http://www.bradfordera.com/news/article_e8e96c80-37b4-11e4-9463-001a4bcf887a.html

[15] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=f3054f08-4e4f-4d57-8a36-235b15b16c41

[16] http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=D031

[17] http://www.pacificlegal.org/document.doc?id=1343

[18] http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=D031

[19] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=64c63953-d7c4-43ba-879e-888457acebce

[20] http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-interior-secretary-jewell-20131112-story.html#axzz2kRVRBI94


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