Thursday, September 15, 2016

Why are Torrance refinery activists unhappy over long-awaited meeting Monday?

From:  Daily Breeze

By Nick Green, Daily Breeze

The Torrance Oil Refinery before it was sold to new owners PBF Energy. Local activists will get a meeting with industry regulators to express their concerns over toxic chemicals at the plant on Monday, Sept. 19. File photo. (Chuck Bennett/Staff Photographer)


Local activists concerned about a catastrophic release of toxic chemicals from the Torrance refinery will finally get their wish Monday — a public meeting in town with industry regulators.

But they’re pessimistic about how useful it will be.

Hoping for a dialogue so they can present technical information they believe shows the risk of such a disaster is understated, the activists fear instead they’ll be greeted with a PowerPoint dog-and-pony show with government officials talking at them rather than with them.  MORE

"Ending Regulation Without Representation" Debate Guide

As you and your friends think about issues to focus on for an upcoming candidate debate or issues forum, perhaps you or someone you know  might consider raising the issue of ending "regulation without representation" with a question or statement like the following:

"As we think about ways to create more good paying middle class jobs, one of the most powerful things we can do to spur economic growth is to end the fear of unreasonable and abusive federal over-regulation regulation that limits the creation of new jobs and new investment in our communities.

Today's federal regulators have the ability to re-write regulations to interpret laws in ways that were never approved by Congress.  The IRS can even raise taxes without the approval of Congress just by issuing a new regulation!

Do you agree that major new federal regulations should be approved by Congress, so that regulators are more accountable to Congress and so that regulations, like laws, have the consent of the governed?

Or, on the other hand, do you believe that federal regulators should keep their current power to dictate regulations without the approval of Congress?

BACKGROUND
In 2016  the House of Representatives voted to pass the REINS Act to require that major new federal regulations be approved by Congress but supporters have not been able to get 60 votes to defeat a Senate filibuster.

Every House Republican who cast a vote
voted for the REINS Act.  Two Democrats, Rep. Cuellar of TX and Rep. Peterson of MN voted for the REINS Act.

Now, to help break the deadlock in Congress, more than 900 State legislators, 6 governors, the 2016 GOP Platform, the RNC, the National  Federation of Republican Women, the American Farm Bureau, the National Taxpayers Union, and 19 state legislative chambers are among those who have urged Congress to propose the Regulation Freedom Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require that major new federal regulations be approved by Congress.
(See www.regulationfreedom.org)

Just as pressure from states helped force Congress to propose the Bill of Rights, and two other Amendments to the Constitution, pressure from governors, other state elected officials, state legislators, and Members of Congress could force Congress to propose the Regulation Freedom Amendment.

That is one reason why more and more elected officials and candidates for both federal and state office are joining the effort to persuade Congress to propose the Regulation Freedom Amendment.

RESPONSES TO COUNTER-ARGUMENTS

If your opponent argues:

"Congress is so dysfunctional that if we required Congressional approval for new regulations NO new regulations would ever get approved."

Say so you think that giving government the power to dictate the rules that govern us is more important  than Democracy?

Does that make you part of the "undemocratic party"

But seriously, we require the consent of Congress for every dollar that is appropriated by the federal government.
I'm sure many Presidents would have loved to have the power to spend money without having it appropriated by Congress, but most Americans think Democracy is more important.

That is why we require that Congress and the President negotiate, compromise, and come to agreement before the President can spend money.

And guess what, for every year since the founding of our Republic, Congress and the President have come together and agreed on appropriations to spend money.  It's difficult, it's messy, it requires compromise...it's called Democracy.

And if we require that consent of Congress to spend money, shouldn't we require the consent of Congress for rules that can put us in jail, take away our liberties, and take money out of our pockets?

Or do you still think those rules should be dictated by bureaucrats in Washington without the consent of Congress?

If your opponent argues:

So you oppose the Presidents regulation for __________ and ____________ (fill in the blanks) to protect _____ from _____.

Your Answer: I support reasonable regulations including regulations to protect the environment, and to protect the health and safety of workers and consumers.

What I don't support is the power of un-elected bureaucrats to make up and dictate those rules without the approval of Congress.

If your opponent argues:

It would be unconstitutional and violate the separation of powers to give Congress a veto power over federal regulations.

Your Answer:

That's why I am urging Congress to propose the "Regulation Freedom Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution to require that major new federal regulations be approved by Congress.

More than 900 state legislators, 6 governors, the National Taxpayers Union
the American Farm Bureau and legal experts like Boyden Gray a former Chief White House Counsel (for President George H.W. Bush), support it as well.

The Courts have given the President too much power to re-write federal laws without the consent of Congress. We need to restore the checks and balances on the abuse of Presidential power intended by the authors of our constitution.

But I guess you prefer to let the President and his appointees keep their power to issue edicts that change the meaning of laws without the consent of Congress.

And if you opponent argues:

Congress does not have the expertise to make a judgment on every technical regulation.  Drafting regulations should be left to the experts.

You answer:

The Regulation Freedom Amendment does leave the DRAFTING of regulations to regulators.  But, they must be APPROVED, by Congress.  No matter how technical, regulations, like laws that govern us, should, in the end, have the consent of elected officials that represent us.

And if your opponent argues:

Congress does not have the time to review every regulation.  They will get bogged down and nothing will happen.

Your answer:

The Regulation Freedom Amendment provides that if 1/4 of the House or Senate object in writing to a proposed federal regulation, it must be approved by a majority of both the House and Senate"

That way only the most controversial regulations will be subject to Congressional review, and non-controversial regulations can be issued in the way they are now.

But if a Regulation is controversial enough to merit the objection of 109 Members of the House or 25 Senators, then it deserves to be reviewed by Congress and should not go into effect unless, like a law, it is approved by majorities in both the House and Senate.

The House and Senate have committees and staffs that can review and study  proposed new regulations and refer them to the full House or Senate for a vote.

The House or Senate rules, if adopted by the necessary majority, could even provide that a package of regulations be submitted together for approval in one vote.

But regardless of how much work it requires, does Congress have anything more important to do than ensure that the rules that govern us have the consent of Congress?

TEXT of the REGULATION FREEDOM AMENDMENT

"Whenever one quarter of the Members of the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate transmit to the President their written declaration of opposition to a proposed federal regulation, it shall require a majority vote of the House and Senate to adopt that regulation."

And if your opponent argues:

I support reforms to the regulatory process but I just don't think we need to re-write the Constitution.

Your answer:

A law passed by Congress can be weakened, repealed, or waived by a future pro-big government Congress or it could be challenged in Court.

A Constitutional Amendment, on the other hand, permanently restores checks and balances on the abuse of Presidential power.  It can't be repealed by a future Congress or overturned by a future Supreme Court majority that favors more unlimited Presidential power.

And if your opponent argues:

We can't get Congress to agree on anything, so we'll never get a 2/3 vote in both the House and the Senate, and a Constitutional Amendment will never happen.

Your answer:

Don't be so sure.

You may recall that the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, our Bill of Rights, to limit the abuse of power by the federal government, were proposed by 2/3 of the House and Senate because they knew that 2/3 of the states wanted a Bill of Rights.

In fact three times in American history, starting with the Bill of Rights and including the 17th and 22nd Amendments for popular election of Senators and Presidential term limits, pressure from the states has helped force Congress to propose Amendments that states wanted.

So 12 of the 27 Amendments to our Constitution were proposed with the help of pressure from the states.

Today there are many Republicans and Democrats in at least 34, 2/3, of the states who think that decisions about how their states are governed should be determined by elected officials, not by bureaucrats in Washington.

Polls show that by 2-1 margins voters favor a Regulation Freedom Amendment to require that major new federal regulations be approved by Congress.

If state legislators and governors in at least 34 states along with supporters in Congress and an overwhelming majority of the public demand that Congress propose the exact same Amendment, Congress might very well be persuaded to propose that Amendment.

19 state legislative chambers have already passed Resolutions urging Congress to propose the Regulation Freedom Amendment to require that major new federal regulations be approved by Congress.

Will you join with us in urging that Congress end "regulation without representation" or do you want to let regulators keep their power to dictate without the consent of Congress?

--------------------------------------------------------
For more information and answers to more questions you are welcome to contact me.

Roman Buhler
Director
The Madison Coalition
202 255 5000
www.RegulationFreedom.Org

Friday, September 9, 2016

CIA Says Israel Will Cease To Exist In 20 Years

From:  Your News Wire

Posted on February 23, 2016 by Sean Adl-Tabatabai in Middle East, News //

The CIA say that an “inexorable movement away from a two-state to a one-state solution, as the most viable model based on democratic principles of full equality that sheds the looming specter of colonial Apartheid while allowing for the return of the 1947/1948 and 1967 refugees. The latter being the precondition for sustainable peace in the region.

Globalresearch.ca reports:
The study, which has been made available only to a certain number of individuals, further forecasts the return of all Palestinian refugees to the occupied territories, and the exodus of two million Israeli – who would move to the US in the next fifteen years.

“There is over 500,000 Israelis with American passports and more than 300,000 living in the area of just California,” International lawyer Franklin Lamb said in an interview with Press TV on Friday, adding that those who do not have American or western passport, have already applied for them.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Aquaponics Startup in South Africa

From:  Resilient Freedom

by Kent Hastings

September 8th, 2016 at 23:06
 
Here’s a notable aquaponics story this Thirst-day. A 13-year-old girl from north of Pretoria, South Africa runs a promising aquaponics startup while still in school as shown in this inspiring video from October, 2015. On the Expresso Show.
Rikalize Reinecke employs assistants to care for the fish and check the system while she’s in class. Challenges include electricity, water quality testing, and temperature control.
From the YouTube video narration, “Not yet in high school, Rikalize is leading the way, showing that age is no barrier to success.”




Monday, August 22, 2016

The West's "New Normal": Another Long Season of Volatile Wildfires

From:  Truth Out

Sunday, 21 August 2016 00:00

This story was originally published on August 13, 2016 at High Country News (hcn.org).
The morning of July 23, the city of Los Angeles was covered in a dusting of ash. An apocalyptic haze muted the sun, and the sky was an eerie, unnatural pink. Just a day before, a wildfire had broken out on private land 30 miles northwest, near Santa Clarita. Within 24 hours, the Sand Fire scorched 20,000 acres, and in a week, it burned another 21,000 acres. At least 10,000 people had to evacuate before it was contained by early August.

The most volatile fire activity in the West this year has occurred in Central and Southern California -- from Big Sur to Carmel-by-the-Sea to San Bernardino -- causing the closure of the Pacific Coast Highway, the destruction of hundreds of homes, and the death of at least six people. According to experts, these blazes -- along with the 85 large fires currently burning across the country, many in the West -- offer a glimpse into the West's "new normal" wildfire season that has been intensified by climate change in recent years. Warmer temperatures, less snowfall and increased drought mean that fire season begins earlier in April and lasts longer, until November or December.

Last winter, California breathed a sigh of relief during El Niño, expecting it to drench the parched landscape after four years of drought. Northern California got more rain and remains relatively wet, but El Niño didn't deliver enough to prevent fires in the southern part of the state. "It's the legacy effect of the long-term drought: these large, volatile, fast-moving wildfires in California," says Crystal Kolden, fire science professor at the University of Idaho. By the first week of June, firefighters in the state had already tackled over 1,500 fires that burned almost 28,000 acres -- twice as many acres burned as in the first half of 2015.  MORE


Monday, August 15, 2016

Evidence Suggests the Oil Industry Wrote Big Tobacco's Playbook, Then Used It to Lie About Climate Change

From:  Truth-Out

Monday, 15 August 2016 00:00  
By Reynard Loki, AlterNet | News Analysis



(Photo: Huxley_slides)
A recent analysis of more than 100 industry documents conducted by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), a Washington, DC-based advocacy group, has revealed that the oil industry knew of the risks its business posed to the global climate decades before originally suspected.

It has also long been assumed that, in its efforts to deceive investors and the public about the negative impact its business has on the environment, Big Oil borrowed Big Tobacco's so-called tactical "playbook." But these documents indicate that infamous playbook appears to have actually originated within the oil industry itself.

If that is true, it would be highly significant -- and damning for Big Oil -- because the tactics used by the tobacco industry to downplay the connection between smoking and cancer were eventually deemed to have violated federal racketeering laws by a federal court. The ruling dashed efforts by Big Tobacco to find legal cover under the First Amendment, which just happens to be the same strategy that ExxonMobil and its GOP allies are currently using to defend the company against allegations of fraud. If the playbook was in fact created by the oil and gas industry and then later used by ExxonMobil, it ruins the company's argument of plausible deniability, making it highly likely that the company violated federal law.  MORE
 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Exxon’s Latest Campaign to Stymie Climate Action

From:  EcoWatch 

by Union of Concerned Scientists

By Elliott Negin

Recent press accounts report that ExxonMobil is now actively promoting a carbon tax. If true, that's big news. It would mean that, after nearly 20 years of blocking action on climate change, the world's biggest energy company has finally come to its senses.

 
Rex Tillerson is the chairman, president and CEO of ExxonMobil.

But wait a minute. If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. So one might well ask: Is this anything more than a PR ploy?
Let's take a closer look.

As I reported earlier this year, ExxonMobil has paid lip service to the idea of a carbon tax since 2009 but, all the while, has continued to fund federal lawmakers who resolutely oppose it. In March 2015, for example, the Senate voted 58 to 42 to pass a budget amendment prohibiting a carbon tax. Thirty of the 40 senators who had received ExxonMobil campaign contributions since 2010 voted in favor of the prohibition. Meanwhile, in March 2013, 156 House members cosponsored a nonbinding resolution stating that "a carbon tax would be detrimental to American families and businesses and is not in the best interest of the United States." Ninety-three percent of the cosponsors were funded by—you guessed it—ExxonMobil.  MORE