Administration Will Govern By Fiat Until It’s Stopped By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER

The Supreme Court this week admonished the Environmental Protection Agency for overreaching in regulating greenhouse gases. The Clean Air Act covers polluters that emit 250 tons per year (or in some cases, 100 tons). This standard makes no sense if applied to greenhouse gases. Thousands of establishments from elementary schools to grocery stores would be, absurdly, covered. So the EPA arbitrarily chose 100,000 tons as the carbon dioxide threshold.

That’s not “tailoring,” ruled the Supreme Court. That’s rewriting. Under our Constitution, “an agency has no power to ‘tailor’ legislation to bureaucratic policy goals by rewriting unambiguous statutory terms.”

It was a welcome constitutional lesson in restraint, noted The Wall Street Journal. One would think — hope — that an administration so chastened might reconsider its determination to shift regulation of the nation’s power generation to Washington through new CO2 rules under the Clean Air Act.

Fat chance. This administration does not learn constitutional lessons. It continues marching until it meets resistance. And it hasn’t met nearly enough.

The root problem is that the Clean Air Act, passed in 1970, was never intended for greenhouse gases. You can see it in its regulatory thresholds which, if applied to CO2, are ridiculously low. Moreover, when the law was written, we hadn’t yet even had the global cooling agitation of the 1970s, let alone the global warming panic of today.

But with only two of nine justices prepared to overturn the court’s 2007 ruling that shoehorns greenhouse gases into the Clean Air Act, the remedy falls to Congress. It could easily put an end to all this judicial parsing and bureaucratic mischief with a one-line statute saying that the Clean Air Act does not apply to CO2 emissions.

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The EPA Overreaches Again By Blake Hurst

A new EPA rule is a disaster for farmers and the traditional understanding of the relationship between the federal government and the states.

In farm country, the joke goes like this: “I don’t want any more land, except my neighbor’s.” That’s a pretty fair description of how the EPA has treated America’s landowners. With a recent rule, the agency is continuing to broaden its jurisdiction over U.S. waters and is reaching to regulate more farmland.

Back in 1972, when Congress passed the Clean Water Act (CWA), the EPA was given jurisdiction over discharges from “point sources” like factories into the “navigable waters” of the United States. Jurisdiction over the majority of U.S. water and land was left to state and local governments.

By the 1980s the EPA was claiming jurisdiction over any spot a migratory bird might land. According to the EPA, a wandering goose established the needed link between actual navigable waters and waters far removed from Congress’s intent. In what was piquantly called the glancing goose test, if a goose paused during migration at any body of water, no matter how temporary, it was deemed a water of the U.S. and thus covered by the CWA. The Supreme Court called a halt to this bit of avian aggrandizement in a landmark 2001 case. In a split 5-4 decision in a second CWA case in 2006, the Supreme Court further reminded the agency that Congress had put strict limits on the EPA’s reach under the CWA; it ruled that the EPA had jurisdiction over waters if the agency could prove, as Justice Kennedy wrote, a “significant nexus” between a navigable water and the area over which the agency claimed jurisdiction.

Justice Kennedy’s infelicitous phrase was the judicial equivalent of handing a 16-year-old the car keys and a six pack. In a rule released on March 25, the EPA found a “significant nexus” between navigable waters and well, most everywhere else within the boundaries of the United States. Or as the EPA “connectivity study” claims, all waters have a chemical and ecological nexus, and not only that, each and every one of these connections is “significant.” It’s no surprise that a “connectivity” study found connections.

Read more at the American

Washington Wants To Regulate … Everything

Regulatory Excess: How much more control does the EPA want over an ostensibly free America? Given that it’s set its sights on rain-swelled ditches and soggy gullies, it seems there are no limits to its confiscatory ambition.

Under the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency have authority over the navigable waters of the U.S. But apparently that isn’t enough for this administration. It wants more private land to fall under federal control.

Both the EPA, which has launched the Obama administration’s war on coal, and the Army Corps of Engineers want to expand the definition of waters that would be under their regulatory boot. It looks like a scheme that will give them dominion over anything that’s already wet — and anything that might become so. We don’t exaggerate the plan’s potential intrusiveness.

“The EPA is proposing that puddles, ponds, ditches, ephemerals and isolated wetlands fall under the Clean Water Act and expand the regulatory authority to the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,”

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The Natural Gas Boom: Questions and Complications By Vaclav Smil

Complex changes do not bring unalloyed benefits, and rather than adhering to a simplistic infatuation with new riches, we should recognize a number of already obvious complications and ask a number of necessary questions.

America has been buoyed by an abundance of natural gas. The bulk of its vast resources of this precious fuel is locked in shale formations under more than 20 states, unable to escape without drilling horizontal wells through the most promising layers and fracturing the rocks surrounding the bores with highly pressurized mixtures of water, chemicals, and sand. Use of this process, decades in the making, expanded rather suddenly after 2007, and it has become widely known by the rather unappealing term “fracking.”

The facts are easy to summarize. Thanks to a rapid expansion of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the United States in 2009 again became the world’s top producer of natural gas. Gas imports (mainly by pipelines from Canada) peaked as recently as 2007 at nearly 20 percent of the total supply; in 2013 they were just 11 percent. In 2013, the gas supplied 27 percent of the country’s primary energy use (compared to about 23 percent a decade ago), and its combustion generated 30 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2012 and 27 percent in 2013 (compared to about 18 percent a decade ago). Coal-fired steam turbo-generators are being shut down as the capacity of gas turbines, the preferred machines for generating electricity from a fossil fuel, keeps on expanding.

Dreams of potential benefits are, as befits a gaseous substance, properly inflated. While nobody is repeating the famous claim advanced about nuclear energy in the 1950s (that it would be too cheap to meter), the fuel is predicted to remain inexpensive even as its domestic consumption rises and as intercontinental exports help to reverse America’s balance of payments, to undercut the dominance of Russian exports to the European Union, to provide Asia with a cheaper alternative, and to assure America’s strategic supremacy for decades to come. And domestically the cheap fuel — in 2013 its monthly averages fluctuated between $3.3-4.2/million Btu while the EU paid $11-12/million Btu for its imports and spot prices have recently surpassed $20/million Btu in East Asia — will attract not only petrochemical industries, but also energize America’s manufacturing renaissance and create large numbers of jobs.

There are certainly great benefits to such a boost in recoverable supply of the cleanest of all fossil fuels (especially after decades of slowly declining and stagnating extraction of conventional gas…

Read more at the American

Kill Keystone Pipeline And You Kill Americans

Energy: As a big Dem donor talks of pipeline terrorism, new federal reports warn that killing Keystone XL will overburden rail transport of oil and result in more frequent and deadlier environmental disasters.

Environmentalists who claim that the Keystone pipeline from Canada represents an unprecedented environmental threat ignore that the pipeline would pose no greater danger than the more than 50,000 existing miles of safely operating pipeline already crisscrossing the U.S.

They also ignore the very real and growing environmental danger in the only viable alternate for transporting oil — by rail. Keystone would not only carry oil from Canada to U.S. refineries but also have a link to the Bakken formation oilfields of North Dakota. As the North Dakota boom expands, so does the amount of tank cars full of Bakken crude riding the nation’s rails.

The Energy Information Administration has just released a report that documents how the lack of pipeline capacity is forcing increasing shipments by rail.

“The number of rail carloads of crude oil began rising in 2012, as production in the Bakken shale and other shale plays grew,” the report found. “According to the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, Bakken rail outflow capacity totaled 965,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) at the end of 2013, compared to 515,000 bbl/d of pipeline capacity.”

About a dozen crude-oil unit trains depart daily from the oil region in western North Dakota. Due to the lack of pipelines, some 69% of the state’s oil is currently shipped to market by rail. The state’s top oil regulator has said that as much as 90% of North Dakota oil is to be carried by train this year.

Many rail shipments from the Bakken fields are being handled by BNSF Railway, which has more than 1,000 miles of tracks in the region. President Obama’s favorite one-percenter, Warren Buffett, made a good investment when he bought BNSF in 2010 for $26.5 billion.

With increased reliance on rail for oil shipments comes increased danger to the public.

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