Energy Policies That Make No Sense

The Epoch Times is reporting the following today:

The Biden administration has canceled the sales of three major offshore oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, blocking the opportunity to drill for oil in over 1 million acres amid soaring gas prices in the United States.

The article reports:

Federal law requires the Interior Department to adhere to a five-year leasing plan for auctioning offshore leases. The current five-year offshore drilling program is due to expire at the end of June; the department had until then to complete the lease sales. Although federal law requires the Biden administration to prepare a replacement plan before it can hold new oil and gas lease sales, it has yet to release any such plan.

A total of 11 lease sales had been planned under the current five-year program, of which seven have been held successfully.

In January, a federal judge in Washington blocked the sale of offshore oil and gas drilling leases across some 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico—lease 257—ruling that the environmental review that underpinned the sale was flawed. The Biden administration did not appeal the ruling. The auction of lease 257 held in November by the Interior Department was the largest offshore oil and gas lease auction in U.S. history.

The Biden administration’s latest move to cancel offshore oil leases comes as gas prices in the United States hit another record high of $4.404 on May 11, according to AAA, just a day after hitting an earlier high of $4.374, while crude oil continues to remain above $100 per barrel.

The Biden administration’s war on fossil fuels is seriously impacting the spending power of Americans. Gasoline at the pump is almost $2 a gallon higher than it was during the Trump administration. Elections have consequences, and even though we could debate whether President Biden’s win was legitimate, his becoming President has completely wrecked a growing American economy in less than two years. The mid-term elections may be able to correct some of the Biden administration’s destructive policies, but only if the elections are honest and Americans vote their pocketbooks.

Are There Any Honest People Left In Washington?

I know that there are some honest people in Washington, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem that way. What is really disturbing to me is that corruption seems to run from top to bottom. We may have to get rid of politicians with questionable ethics, and we may have to get rid of their staffs as well. This does not bode well for America.

Last week The Wall Street Journal posted a story that illustrates the total disregard for ethical behavior now running rampant in Washington. The story has to do with a company named Cadiz, Inc., and their plans to build an underground pipeline along the Arizona & California Railroad’s right-of-way to transport 50,000 acre-feet of water annually to Southern California.

The article reports:

The Department of Interior’s longstanding policy allowed railroads to run power, telephone and fiber optics lines along their rights-of-way without a federal permit, thus expediting environmental review. However, in November 2011, after Cadiz had modified its plan to reduce environmental opposition, Interior at the insistence of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein revised its policy to limit the use of railroad rights-of-way granted in 1875 to “activities that derive from or further a railroad purpose.”

The Cadiz pipeline was the only project subject to the new rules. Cadiz spent several years and $12 million reconfiguring the pipeline to “further a railroad purpose,” proposing the likes of hydro-turbines, power safety systems and automated fire suppression. None of Cadiz’s compromises satisfied regulators.

On Oct. 2, 2015, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) informed congressional staff—who tipped off Cadiz—of an imminent adverse ruling. A letter circulated by the bureau noted that the pipeline “does not derive from or further a railroad purpose” because the fire suppression system was “an uncommon industry practice,” among other complaints. The kicker was that the ruling could not be appealed because it “is not a final agency decision.” Thus the pipeline would have to undergo a formal environmental review. Ms. Feinstein has attached riders to every Interior appropriations bill since 2008 barring a review.

Within a week of the BLM ruling, Cadiz’s stock plummeted 65%. Yet one Cadiz investor had inside information that could have allowed him to make a killing. Emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Cadiz reveal that BLM realty specialist Erik Pignata (who oversaw the Cadiz review from the Sacramento bureau) shared non-public information with Cadiz investor Thomas McGannon of Whetstone Capital Advisors. Cadiz provided the emails to us.

Thomas McGannon sold short based on the information that Erik Pignata shared and Mr. McGannon profited greatly. Just for the record, there is a 1990 executive order forbidding government employees from improperly using non-public government information to further a private interest. Let’s hope the government chooses to separate Mr. McGannon from his ill-gotten gains.

Just a note–I love the Freedom of Information Act.

Demanding Transparency And Accountability

Yesterday Congressman Walter Jones, a Republican from North Carolina, released the following Press Release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) has signed onto a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Department of Interior, asking for all correspondence relating to federal lands that were considered, analyzed, or designated as national monuments since January 20, 2009, when President Obama began his first term as president. In the past six years, special interest groups have been pushing the Obama administration to use the Antiquities Act to lock up large tracts of federal land – both onshore and offshore – by designating these areas “national monuments.”

Led by Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, the FOIA request comes in response to increasing speculation that President Obama may follow the example of his predecessor George W. Bush and unilaterally designate large swaths of America as “national monuments.” In September, Congressman Jones became a cosponsor on H.R. 330, the Marine Access and State Transparency (MAST) Act. The bill would prevent President Obama, or any future president, from unilaterally designating offshore areas as “national monuments” and restricting the public’s ability to fish there. Instead, the bill would require a president to get the approval of Congress and the legislature of each state within 100 nautical miles of the monument before any “monument” designation could take effect.

“Presidents from both parties have abused their monument designation authority for far too long,” said Congressman Jones.  “No president should be allowed to just lock up millions of acres of fishing grounds by fiat, with no public input whatsoever.  Frankly, it’s un-American, and it must be stopped.  The public deserves to know about any back room conversations between special interest groups and the Obama administration regarding shutting down large parts of our coast to fishing.”

Thank you, Congressman Jones.

When Common Sense And Government Part Ways

I love flowers and shrubs. I don’t have a green thumb, but I keep planting, and the strong survive. I do try, however, to keep things in perspective. I think most of us do. But then, there is the government.

Yesterday CNS News posted a story about moving a bush as part of a highway renovation project. Doesn’t sound like much–all of us occasionally move plants around our yard, right? Well, when the government gets involved, strange things happen.

The article reports:

The bush—a Franciscan manzanita—was a specimen of a commercially cultivated species of shrub that can be purchased from nurseries for as little as $15.98 per plant. The particular plant in question, however, was discovered in the midst of the City of San Francisco, in the median strip of a highway, and was deemed to be the last example of the species in the “wild.”

Prior to the discovery of this “wild” Franciscan manzanita, the plant had been considered extinct for as long as 62 years–extinct, that is, outside of people’s yards and botanical gardens.

So I guess it doesn’t matter what the plant is–it matters where it grows. Since the plant was in the “wild,” various federal agencies needed to be consulted (not to mention scientists and other concerned organizations). Before this story was over, it involved comments by and information from the Department of Interior, Dr. Daniel Gluesenkamp, a botanist who was then the director of Habitat Protection and Restoration for Audubon Canyon Ranch, a  biologist from the Presidio Trust , the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California Department of Fish and Game. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was developed for saving this one bush from the highway project, for which ground had been broken in December 2009.

The article further reports:

While the MOA did not detail all the costs for moving the bush, it did state that in addition to funding removal and transportation of the Franciscan manzanita, Caltrans agreed to transfer $79,470 to the Presidio Trust “to fund the establishment, nurturing, and monitoring of the Mother Plant in its new location for a period not to exceed ten (10) years following relocation and two (2) years for salvaged rooted layers and cuttings according to the activities outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

Furthermore, Presidio Parkway Project spokesperson Molly Graham told CNSNews.com that the “hard removal”—n.b. actually digging up the plant, putting it on a truck, driving it somewhere else and replanting it–cost $100,000.

The MOA also stated that Caltrans agreed to “Transfer $25,605.00 to the Trust to fund the costs of reporting requirements of the initial 10-year period as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

Please read the entire article to get the detailed picture of moving this plant. The article states that the cost of moving this plant was at least $205,075 in 2010. It was partially funded by the stimulus program. I’m glad to see that Vice-President Biden was keeping a close watch on how the stimulus money was spent.  

 

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