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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:

 

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[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


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Environmental Collusion Attempts to Shutout Public Fishing

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 focuses on recreational fishing.

The Gulf States have an abundance of natural resources, from the vast supply of fossil fuels and minerals to the diverse fisheries. One economic power house in the Gulf is the recreational fishing sector, made up of private anglers and charter boat captains. The industry is expected to contribute more than $9.1 billion to the Gulf's economy over the next 18 years and currently supports over 139,000 jobs.[1] The Gulf Regional Fishery Management Council (Gulf RFMC), under the Department of Commerce, is responsible for governing fisheries in federal waters.

Environmental Collusion

Large far-left environmental groups have long fought against the interests of recreational fishermen in the Gulf. For decades now, national environmental groups, including the Ocean Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), have been responsible for funding smaller grassroots operations in order to influence policy decisions of the Gulf RFMC. Since 2009, the Ocean Conservancy has received hundreds of thousands of dollars each from Tides Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Marisla Foundation, and over $1 million each from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.[2] Furthermore, since the early 1990s, these national organizations have used traditional lobbying efforts, litigation, as well as access to certain boards and councils that manage fisheries, in order to limit the number of anglers on the water, as well as the overall number of allowable catch.

The Gulf Seafood Institute (GSI) is a prime example of this coordination. While the GSI represents itself as an independent entity, its funding tells a different story. The Ocean Conservancy gave GSI a $20,000 grant to help them launch the organization.[3] Members of the GSI's board of directors are also prominent members of the Gulf RFMC. Some of the Gulf RFMC members are working closely with EDF to push a shared agenda to limit access of recreational anglers to the Red Snapper fishery in the Gulf's federal waters.[4] As a result of coordinated efforts, the 2014 recreational fishing season was reduced from 40 days to 9 days.

Administration's Influence

EDF has allies in important places. EDF was recently awarded a $225,959 grant sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as Billionaire's Club regulars including Marisla Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.[5] The purpose of this grant is to support research into the economic and conservation performance of "sector separation," a rights-based management (catch shares) pilot program for Gulf of Mexico recreational fishing businesses. In other words, the grant pays EDF to study and build support for a position they are already advocating for.

Environmentalists' tactics were first deployed in the early 1990s when EDF pushed for the implementation of an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) system. This limited allocation system forced many smaller fishing operations to "sell their family business."[6] As a result, only 393 commercially licensed red snapper fishermen operate in the Gulf today, with only 28 in Louisiana. The IFQ rewards the small number of commercial fishermen with the right to fish 51% of the red snapper in the Gulf.  Essentially, these 393 individuals have guaranteed allocations, as they have the rights to these resources in perpetuity. These allocation percentages were determined using data from the 1980s.[7]  All stakeholders, including commercial fisherman and the governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Texas, agree that the federal management system has led to inefficiencies that have produced inaccurate baseline numbers underestimating the current stock.[8]

Commercial Red Snapper

Shareholders Per State

Florida

279

Texas

49

Louisiana

28

Alabama

20

Mississippi

9

South Carolina

3

New York

1

New Jersey

1

Georgia

1

Iowa

1

Montana

1

Source: Southeast Regional Office of the National Marine Fisheries Service

 

Lobbying Influence

Anglers have sought to redress the unfair allocations, most notably through an amendment to current fishing regulations, known as Amendment 28. This amendment would require Gulf RFMC to reallocate a larger portion of the Gulf's red snapper stock to the recreational sector, taking into account the growth of the recreational industry and associated revenues. However, EDF and their allies in the Gulf region have led a coordinated assault on this Amendment, going so far as to file a lawsuit against NOAA for failing to adequately manage the recreational side of the fishery,[9] a step that garnered additional support to table Amendment 28.

In their fight against Amendment 28, EDF was successful in luring boat captains to their side by promising[10] them the rights to half of the quota currently allocated for recreational fishing. This proposal, known as Amendment 40, sits before the Gulf Council. While there is virtually no public support for EDF's push for sector separation,[11] the Gulf RFMC has failed to delay or end further consideration and has scheduled a final vote on the proposal in October. If implemented, the red snapper fishery would become 75% privatized, assisting EDF's campaign to end public access to the federal fishery.

Due to EDF's attempts to manipulate federal policy and limit public access, each Gulf State has chosen to be noncompliant with federal regulations, opening state waters for prolonged periods of time.[12] In response, the Gulf RFMC proceeded to reduce this year's recreational season to 9 days.[13] The economic effects of this decision are far-reaching. Gulf anglers and the vast array of businesses that supply fishing gear, boats, and supplies will struggle to maintain in the face of this vast federal overreach.

The most astonishing realization is that the shenanigans surrounding the red snapper fishery in the Gulf serves as only one example of how far-left, national environmental groups are tampering with local economies and lifestyles. EPW Republicans will continue detailing exactly how these coordinated efforts are destroying jobs and punishing industries and families across America. Click here to read Collusion & Coordination to Shut Down the Oil & Gas Industry.

 

 

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[1] https://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/economics/publications/feus/fisheries_economics_2011

[2] Tides Foundation IRS Form 990 for 2010, 2011, 2012; Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation IRS Form 990 for 2010, 2011, 2012; Rockefeller Brothers Fund Grants Database, search for "Ocean Conservancy" http://www.rbf.org/content/grants-search; Marisla Foundation IRS Form 990 for 2010, 2012; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, search for "Ocean Conservancy" http://www.packard.org/grants/grants-database/?grant_keyword=ocean+conservancy&program_area=All+Programs&award_amount=All+Amounts&award_year=All+Years.

[3] http://gulfseafoodnews.com/2013/09/08/gulf-seafood-institute-becomes-reality-with-20000-grant-from-ocean-conservancy

[4] [A] http://www.gulfcouncil.org/about/fishery_council_members.php

[B] http://gulfseafoodinstitute.org/gsi-board-gulf-seafood-institute

[5] http://www.nfwf.org/fisheriesfund/Pages/home.aspx#.VCGiJ_ldV_p

[6] http://www.gulfcouncil.org/docs/amendments/Red%20Snapper%205-year%20Review%20FINAL.pdf

[7] http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/reef_fish/2013/am28/documents/pdfs/allocation_accountability_guide.pdf

[8] http://s3.amazonaws.com/assets.clients/cca/ckeditor_assets/attachments/539/govletterfinal41613signed_2.pdf?1400255231

[9] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=c710884b-7cb5-4096-863f-2162344ecea5

[10] http://www.newsherald.com/outdoors/anglers-divided-on-red-snapper-amendment-1.351054

[11]  [A] http://www.gulfcouncil.org/fishery_management_plans/Public%20Comment/RF%20Amendment%2040%20-%20Sector%20Separation/Comments.pdf

[B] https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Atgbk2rxQkqhdFlHMXpBb2Zld2J1dlpOZHp2RjZrQmc&usp=drive_web#gid=0

[12] [A] http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/news/37583

[B] http://governor.alabama.gov/newsroom/2014/06/alabama-open-red-snapper-season-state-waters-every-weekend-july/

[C] http://www.myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/snappers/gulf-red-snapper/

[D] http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/recreational/federal.phtml/

[E] http://www.dmr.state.ms.us/index.php/news-a-events/recent-news/654-14-59-mms

[13] http://www.nola.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2014/04/louisiana_bucks_federal_fish_m.html


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ICYMI: Vitter Op-Ed "Drowning our property rights: EPA's misuse of the Clean Water Act" in The Hill

U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, has been reviewing the Obama Administration's current attempt to expand the federal government's power under the Clean Water Act. Last month, Vitter hosted a field briefing in Louisiana to examine the potential impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed "Waters of the United States" rule. Click here to read more. Below is an op-ed by Vitter expanding on EPA's mishandling of the Clean Water Act.

 

The Hill

Drowning our property rights: EPA's misuse of the Clean Water Act
By Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) | September 24, 2014 


In several different ways, President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is using and abusing the Clean Water Act to improperly block economic development projects and take away Americans' property rights.

In one recent example, the EPA made plans to block a permit for a mining project before the project had even applied for one.

After intense pressure from and collusion with Washington D.C. and New York-based environmental lobbyists, the agency proposed to block an Alaska mining company from receiving a federal Clean Water Act permit for a project known as Pebble Mine. But the company had never even applied for a permit. In fact, EPA's proposed Clean Water Act veto was based only on speculation of what mining on private land might look like, not on an actual mining plan.

In other words, EPA manipulated its own bureaucracy in order to control potential and future projects of American businesses on private property. It did so to proactively discourage investment in the venture, so it could never begin to get off the ground.

What could be more questionable than a prospective veto? How about a retroactive one, years after the permits have been issued and the activity greenlighted.

In 2011, EPA revoked a Clean Water Act permit for a West Virginia coal company that had been issued four years earlier. There was no question over whether the business had faithfully complied with the permit's terms. And nothing material had changed. The EPA simply reversed itself after four years of company planning, investment and activity, determining out of the blue that the company's mining, fully authorized under federal law, now presented an "unacceptable adverse effect" on the environment. The EPA failed to provide details or the science used to justify the alleged "adverse effects." The company was forced to shut down and hundreds of potential jobs were shuttered.

A third head-scratching example involves the EPA holding landowners accountable for the amount of minerals and sediment that enters local water bodies not merely from their activity but from rain.

Specifically, the EPA's Chesapeake Bay "Total Maximum Daily Load" is so extreme that it has forced several counties in Maryland to impose a rain tax on landowners who have bodies of water that the EPA says doesn't meet their standard. Have you ever heard of a rain tax? This particular standard has led to lawsuits against EPA over the issue. If the courts fail to overturn this abuse of the Clean Water Act, there will be little to stop EPA from having de facto land use authority, displacing the proper role of local governments across the country.

Because of this type of arbitrary, aggressive action by the EPA, the American business community is worried about future investment and expansion, and justifiably so. Companies considering a natural resource project in the United States must now ask themselves whether they can risk navigating the costly and time-consuming Clean Water Act permit process, only to have EPA determine at some unknown date that the project must be abandoned.

And if all of this weren't enough, then there is the granddaddy of EPA abuse of the Clean Water Act -- its proposed and looming "Waters of the United States" rule. Even though the Clean Water Act was passed into law by Congress in 1972 and Congress has not passed any recent revision of it, the Obama Administration has decided it's time for a drastic rewrite. So on its own, with no provocation or input from Congress, it is proposing new rules that would dramatically expand the reach or jurisdiction of the law.

Up until now, the Clean Water Act has applied to navigable water bodies. But under this drastic administrative rewrite, it would govern virtually any activity impacting an area where water flows. That means federal government permits would be required for all sorts of routine activities.

This has profound implications for all Americans, not just large mining and other businesses. It means that installing a playground in a backyard or extending a driveway may well require expensive, cumbersome federal government permitting. And that means super-expensive and protracted litigation could be involved too.

I'm fighting this regulatory onslaught on many fronts. And I have significant allies in the fight, including a few Democrats. For instance, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has joined me in introducing the bipartisan Regulatory Fairness Act of 2014. This legislation would essentially prevent EPA from preemptively or retroactively vetoing Clean Water Act permits without just cause.

But we need a new U.S. Senate majority to really push back on this overreach. This should be a central rallying cry of this fall's election. We must stop Obama's EPA from continuing to limit our freedoms and block important job projects through abusive, arbitrary action that goes well beyond its proper authority.

Vitter is Louisiana's junior senator, serving since 2005. He sits on the Armed Services; the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; the Commerce, Science and Transportation; the Environment and Public Works; and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship committees.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Collusion & Coordination to Shut Down the Oil & Gas Industry

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, and 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.

The American oil and gas sector is responsible for creating over 400,000 direct jobs and over 2 million indirect jobs since 2003.[1]  Oil and gas production has added $300-$400 billion annually to the economy, without which America's GDP growth would have been negative.[2]  The American oil and gas industry stands out as a success story amidst a generally stagnant economic recovery.

Environmental Collusion

There are those in the far-left environmentalist movement who have twisted these facts to create an entirely different narrative, including themes of "we're running out of energy"[3] in order to justify federal controls and central planning, and to keep the oil and natural gas in the ground. There is coordinated lobbying, litigation, regulatory, and grassroots efforts that attempts to control and limit our domestic energy revolution. This same contingent calls for the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, reducing public lands available for resource extraction, and funds litigation designed to limit the productive use of private lands.

There are countless examples of attacks on oil and gas, but to be succinct, we'll stick to just a few examples of wealthy individuals in the "Billionaire's Club" based primarily out of New York and California who are funding a coordinated litigation and lobbying strategy at the "grassroots" level[4], which include a push for local drilling bans, especially in New York and Colorado.[5] These attempted bans are promoted by DC-based Food and Water Watch, which is supported by CA-based Schmidt and Tides Foundation, and NY-based Park Foundation.[6]

When it comes to the Billionaire's Club funding an anti-oil and gas campaign at the "grassroots" level, a prime example is Bold Nebraska, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit whose primary cause is opposing the Keystone XL pipeline's planned path through Nebraska. This group has accepted over $140,000 from the Tides Foundation in 2012 and 2013, and additional funds from the Advocacy Fund, which gave $15,000 in 2012.[7] While claiming to fight for their "home" in Nebraska, the organization accepts most of its funding from outside special interests.[8]

Administration's Influence and Revolving Door

President Obama and his Administration have served as willing accomplices in this effort. During his tenure, the Administration has unilaterally cut off access to federally managed resources[9] in the Atlantic[10] and offshore Alaska,[11] even going through the great lengths of falsifying a National Academy of Engineers report in order to justify a moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico. [12]

To help oversee its environmental agenda, the Obama Administration hired environmental allies, including Rhea Suh to work as the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget at the Department of the Interior. The Administration later nominated her to work as Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. A former employee of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, with strong connections to the Environmental Grantmakers Association, Ms. Suh awarded grant money to many of the Billionaire's Club's favorite groups, including Friends of the Earth, the Wilderness Society, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Environmental Defense Fund.[13] During Ms. Suh's time with Interior, the Administration issued the moratorium on energy production in the Gulf of Mexico, entered into sue and settle agreements with radical environmental groups, and restricted access to federal lands on and offshore.[14] Ms. Suh was brought on in spite of the fact that she called expanded natural gas development "the single greatest threat" to the environment.[15]  Ms. Suh recently announced her decision to leave the Administration to become President of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which is funded by the Billionaire's Club.[16]

Because the Administration cannot stop energy development on private lands, the far-left has fought to limit that development through attacks on the oil and gas industry.[17] They have also facilitated the "support" for the decline in production on federal lands.[18]

Litigation Manipulation

One tool used by liberal environmentalists is the Endangered Species Act (ESA). By abusing the original intent of the ESA,[19] the Obama Administration and their allies have engaged in litigation in order to target oil and gas rich regions with ESA determinations for species like sage grouse[20] and prairie chickens.[21]  One particularly impactful sue and settle agreement[22] requires listing determinations on more than 250 species. Not only was the settlement agreed to behind closed doors and without any of the potentially impacted parties or industries present,[23] but listing one species, the sage grouse, could shut down or obstruct production activity across 11 western states.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the WildEarth Guardians[24] entered into settlement agreements with the Administration over the ESA. Both of these groups have been funded by the Billionaire's Club. At the same time they enter into secret sue and settle agreements with the Administration, they are receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants from organizations, including the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Tides Foundation, and Marisla Foundation.[25]

At the end of the day, the rate of growth in the oil and gas industry on State and private lands has continued its impressive streak,[26] while on federal lands it has fallen.[27] There is untapped potential to create new jobs and spur economic growth with oil and gas development. But until we can change the Administration's policy and end this assault on oil and gas, lawyers, lobbyists, bureaucrats, and far-left environmentalists will continue to encroach on property rights and cripple domestic production.

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[1] U.S. Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Businesses, http://www.census.gov/econ/susb; FRED Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?s%5B1%5D%5Bid%5D=CES1021100001;

[2] http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/pgi_04.htm#notes

[3] http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/07/28/has-gulf-mexico-hit-peak-oil

[4] http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrisprandoni/2014/07/30/breaking-senate-committee-report-details-environmentalists-inner-workings/

[5] http://www.ithacajournal.com/story/opinion/readers/2014/09/01/guest-viewpoint-billionaires-fund-anti-fracker-claims/14821915/

[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, p. 40.

[7] [A] Tides Found., IRS Form 990, 2012.

     [B] Advocacy Fund, IRS Form 990, 2012.

[8] http://boldnebraska.org/

[9] http://naturalresources.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=175106

[10] http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/12/01/us-usa-offshore-drilling-idUSTRE6B046K20101201

[11] http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/salazar-plan-puts-half-of-alaska-petroleum-reserve-off-limits-to-drilling/2012/08/13/d542863c-e57f-11e1-8741-940e3f6dbf48_story.html

[12] http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/11/10/10greenwire-white-house-changed-report-implying-experts-su-96097.html

[13] http://www.packard.org/grants/grants-database/

[14] http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303725404579461812837507246

[15] http://www.hewlett.org/newsroom/news/foundations-qa-rhea-suh

[16] http://washingtonexaminer.com/top-environmental-group-names-new-chief/article/2553565

[17] http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/09/09/guest-commentary-offshore-is-next-target-for-enviromentalists/

[18] http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/oil-and-gas-production-decline-on-federal-lands-again/

[19] http://esawatch.org

[20]  http://www.ogj.com/articles/2014/08/wea-launches-new-greater-sage-grouse-public-information-campaign.html

[21] http://www.kansas.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/article1151099.html

[22] http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=e5eb7572-ddc0-06ef-6c5b-280064f59349

[23] http://www.nationalreview.com/article/373810/sue-and-settle-racket-stephen-moore

[24] http://www.eswr.com/2011/07/cbd-fws-reach-separate-agreement-on-listing-deadlines/

[25] 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

[26] http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/u-s-oil-production-reaches-highest-levels-since-1989/)

[27] http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/04/report_oil_and_gas_production.html


Friday, September 19, 2014

Revealing the Money Trail Behind Environmental Collusion

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, yesterday launched the second phase of his investigation into the collusion between environmental activists, lawyers and lobbyists, and billionaires and their supporting foundations who use large sums of money to influence environmental public policy. Vitter and the EPW Republicans believe this collusion, and the public policy that results from it, have an adverse effect on jobs and the economy.

While individuals like Tom Steyer garner attention for their very public decrees and promotions to make climate change a top-tier issue, it is not easy for the public to track the money that goes into the far-left environmental movement. Yet we know Steyer has thus far failed to fulfill his pledge to raise $100 million to make climate change a central election year. When asked about his failing to reach his goal, Steyer responded, "We have gotten a lot of people who I think would put money alongside us as opposed to through us.  Because I think people like, particularly people when they think they're spending a lot of money, like to feel as if they have some control over it, and if it's their effort."[1]

Steyer unintentionally acknowledged the existence of the far-left environmental machine that the Committee's report revealed.  As detailed in the report, members of the Billionaire's Club direct the actions of nonprofits by providing multiple millions in funding through prescriptive grant making. This ensures that they receive a political return on their "charitable" investment.  In addition to being reliable and effective, the machine also offers funders anonymity and separation from the causes they support.

One alarming example of the environmental machine is the Sea Change Foundation, one of the most generous donors to environmental causes.  The Sea Change Foundation receives a percentage of its money from hard-to-track foreign sources. One of these sources is a Bermuda-based company called Klein Ltd. Klein only exists on paper with no internet presence and was set up for the sole purpose of funneling anonymous offshore donations to Sea Change.[2] Incorporation in Bermuda offers Klein, and consequently Sea Change, government guaranteed anonymity for the sources of their donations.

In 2011, Sea Change gave $13,966,672 in grants to the Energy Foundation. This totaled to nearly 15% of the Energy Foundation's total contributions and grants revenue. The Energy Foundation then distributed the wealth to various organizations, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, and the Tides Foundation, among others.[3]

The Billionaire's Club also avoids public scrutiny by exploiting fiscal sponsorship arrangements to channel tax exempt dollars to entities that the IRS has not evaluated or separately classified as "charitable."[4] The New York-based Sustainable Markets Foundation (SMF) receives vast sums from the Billionaire's Club.  It only exists on paper and has zero public presence - no website or other forms of media. But one entity it supports is well-known - 350.org.  Between 2011 and 2013, 350.org collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Park Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, the Tides Foundation, Marisla Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation and Rockefeller Family Foundation - through grants to SMF.[5]  These groups were all highlighted in the EPW Republicans report as part of the Billionaire's Club. All of their donations were made tax free - based solely on the judgment of SMF.

EPW Republicans recently released a report entitled, "Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama's EPA." The report revealed details about the secret collaboration between millionaires and billionaires seeking to spread their influence and a vast network of far-left environmental nonprofit groups, many of whom are organized and funded by the aptly named "Billionaire's Club." These nonprofits tout their independence from outside influence, but in reality, they serve the interests of foundations and ultra-wealthy elites in New York, California, and Washington, D.C., in exchange for generous donations. Over the coming weeks, EPW Republicans will be detailing exactly how these coordinated efforts are destroying jobs and punishing industries and families across America.

 

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[1] Alex Guillen, Steyer PAC gets just $501K from outside donors in July, POLITICO, Aug. 29, 2014, http://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/tom-steyer-nextgen-climate-pac-110231.html

[2] 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, p. 63.

[3] Id. at 47.

[4] Id. at 53.

[5] Id. at 40.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Vitter Summary Statement for Hearing to Examine NRC Nominees
Full Committee Hearing to Examine Nominations of Jeffery Baran and Stephen Burns to be Members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Thank you, Chairman Boxer, for convening today's hearing, and I would also like to thank Mr. Burns and Mr. Baran for being here to testify before this committee.

Nuclear energy has long been an indispensable contributor to our base-load electricity needs, and despite best efforts by far-left activists to undermine the industry I don't see nuclear's contribution changing drastically in the years to come. As such, it is imperative for this committee to support nominees for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who are highly qualified, with the relevant expertise and extensive professional experience needed to ensure that the Commission continues to promote the necessary safety standards that have contributed to our nuclear reactor fleet being the safest in the world.

Each Commissioner has a responsibility to guarantee that the NRC maintains an appropriate degree of regulatory stability by adhering to its own principles of good regulation: independence, openness, efficiency, clarity, and reliability.

There is absolutely no sense in regulating for the sake of regulating. It leads to unnecessary rules that can burden the nuclear industry, raise electricity prices, and decrease stability. We have seen the devastating effects caused by the improper involvement of outside entities that push for the needless closure of our nuclear facilities. Not only does this create a hardship and diminished capacity for our energy sector to meet the needs of this nation, but there is also a strong economic toll in local communities resulting from the loss of employment opportunities. That is why it is so important that before any vote is cast for these nominees, each one pledges that in their future roles they will only consider rules that have actually passed a clear cost-benefit analysis.

We must also take a detailed look at the competence and background of each nominee. It would be unfortunate for the NRC to take a step backward and revert to a work and regulatory environment similar to the regime that undermined the work of the NRC under the previous chairman. Progress has been made at the Commission, including their recent ruling on Waste Confidence, now known as The Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel Rule.

While I greatly appreciate this positive step, it is still vitally important finding a final solution for our nation's nuclear waste. A solution should continue to include Yucca Mountain, as over $15 billion in taxpayer dollars have already been expended on this project. Unfortunately, the partiality and qualifications of today's nominees matters little in light of Senator Reid's and the Democrat majority's desire to push forward under the new Senate rules. Whether these two nominees will act with impartiality and make decisions based on prudence and sound judgment will be seen.

Again, thank you for being here today, and I look forward to hearing your responses on these important issues.


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Monday, September 8, 2014

Vitter Summary Statement for Subcommittee Field Hearing on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement
Subcommittee on Water & Wildlife Field Hearing “Examining the Strategy for Achieving the Goals of the New Voluntary Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement”
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.

Standing alone, the June 16, 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement appears worthy of celebration. The Agreement establishes several laudable principles that are intended to serve as a framework for the continued work on the Chesapeake Bay Program. These principles include collaboration, transparency, science-based decision-making, and a pledge to work closely with local governments in pursuing Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. Given these commitments, it may be difficult to imagine anyone having reservations about the Agreement, especially when one also considers that the Agreement is apparently a voluntary accord between the Chesapeake region states and the federal government.

However, the Agreement before the Subcommittee today cannot be examined in a vacuum. If we are to understand helpful ideas or potential hurdles to achieving the goals of the 2014 Agreement, we should be mindful of the history associated with past Chesapeake Bay agreements. In my opinion, and in light of the regulatory developments which occurred after the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement, any strategy regarding the 2014 Agreement deserves caution and careful deliberation.

The Chesapeake 2000 Agreement was similar to the 2014 Agreement before the Committee today. Like the 2014 Agreement, the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement contained voluntary commitments and goals for the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. Following this agreement, EPA in 2003 developed regional criteria guidance for water quality standards for the Chesapeake Bay. These criteria led several Chesapeake Bay states to adopt new water quality criteria, and between 2004 and 2006 the seven Chesapeake watershed jurisdictions committed to "Tributary Strategies" so that the Chesapeake Bay could meet water quality goals. Thanks to these cooperative efforts, which were supported by environmental groups, local governments, agricultural organizations, and other stakeholders, the Chesapeake Bay was well on its way to achieving the goals that had been established in the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement. In fact, as we know from U.S. Geological Survey research on the time lag between taking conservation measures and seeing water quality changes, the improvements we are seeing today are as a result of those voluntary efforts taken years ago.

But this collaborative progress was interrupted in 2009, when the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other plaintiffs sued EPA, claiming that progress was too slow and the voluntary goals in the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement were in fact mandatory duties under the Clean Water Act. In other words, rather than a mutual commitment to work together on Chesapeake Bay restoration issues, the lawsuit painted the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement as containing inflexible standards which bound the Chesapeake states to a nonnegotiable mandate.

Unfortunately, even though the scientific evidence undercut the claims of lack of progress, the Obama Administration acquiesced to this counterproductive approach. In a highly questionable 2010 "sue and settle" agreement that ended the CBF litigation, EPA agreed to establish a Total Maximum Daily Load (Bay TMDL) for nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment flow into the Chesapeake Bay. But when EPA finalized the Bay TMDL later in 2010, the final product was an unprecedented federal regulation that could not have been envisioned when the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement was signed. EPA's TMDL is a costly command and control mechanism that deprives state and local governments of their traditional land use decision-making authority. EPA has purported to dictate not only the total amount of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment that can flow into the Chesapeake Bay, but, by allocating those loads in excruciating detail and crediting only the load reduction actions that are included in its Chesapeake Bay Watershed Model, EPA also dictated the manner in which individual companies and sectors within the economy must comply with the total load limitations.

EPA's Bay TMDL has enormous repercussions for private landowners, small businesses, and local governments throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. According to the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy, implementation of the Bay TMDL could cost as much as $50 billion between 2010 and 2025. Left unchecked, the TMDL could represent a national precedent that would force state and local officials across the country to cede their land use authority to EPA. These concerns led me to sign on to an amicus brief with several other members of Congress urging the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to invalidate this intrusive regulation.

The lesson of the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement and Bay TMDL is that certain groups and organizations are all too willing to turn a cooperative agreement into a federal mandate, by whatever means necessary. As Peyton Robertson, the Director of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration's Chesapeake Bay Office who is here as a witness today, once said, the Bay TMDL "fundamentally altered the nature" of the Chesapeake Bay Program, noting that "[y]ou can't reasonably argue that it is a voluntary approach anymore."

Thus, although the June 16, 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement is nominally voluntary, certain questions must be asked with the understanding that history tends to repeat itself. For example, by establishing the Agreement, have the states inadvertently laid the groundwork for a future lawsuit against EPA? Would EPA settle such a future lawsuit by forcing state and local officials to devote more of their limited resources towards unfunded federal mandates? To what extent does this Agreement impede current voluntary efforts towards Chesapeake Bay restoration?

I am glad there will be a robust discussion of these issues, and I appreciate Senator Cardin holding this hearing today. I also would like to thank Maryland State Senator Stephen Hershey for serving as a minority witness. Senator Hershey understands firsthand how federal regulation can affect the land use decision-making authority of state and local officials. I look forward to the testimony of Senator Hershey and our other witnesses.

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