March 21, 2015
High schoolers sent to lobby for ‘IUD bill’ in Colorado
By Jackie Moreau | Watchdog Arena
Ordinarily, when student groups visit their state Capitol, they do so to learn more about the political process. In Colorado, however, high school students with a nonprofit called “Colorado Youth Matter” were busy visiting their legislators the day before the vote on a bill that would continue a grant for free methods of birth control.
Implemented in 2008 with a multi-year grant requiring no appropriation from the state of Colorado, the Long-acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) program makes intrauterine devices (IUD) and hormonal implant contraceptives available at low or no cost to women between the ages of 15 and 24 throughout the state, targeting communities with high poverty rates. The grant that funds the LARC program, administered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, is due to sunset in June of this year. Those advocating for continuing the LARC program have worked with legislators to create House Bill 15-1194, also known as the “IUD Bill,” requiring a new appropriation of $5 million per year from the general fund.
Colorado Youth Matter, funded in-part by the state of Colorado, receives 16 percent of its monies through the Colorado Department of Human Services. The federal Personal Responsibility and Education Program (PREP) operates under the umbrella of the Affordable Care Act, and allots public health dollars to be given to programs aiming to decrease rates of teen pregnancy, sexually-transmitted disease, and related instances of school dropout. Colorado Youth Matter, which coordinates closely with other family planning and pro-choice advocates, is one such program.
Colorado Youth Matter scheduled their “Capitol Action Day” on March 9, in anticipation of the vote on HB 15-1194 that was originally scheduled for March 10. Youth Matter coordinator Taylor Stein made appointments for high school students to meet with legislators on both sides of the aisle.
One legislator indicated that the meeting with Colorado Youth Matter high school students consisted primarily of advocacy for the IUD bill. According to the legislator’s account, the students opened by asking for support for the LARC program and remained largely focused on the bill and related issues. The young men and women from both rural and urban Colorado high schools came armed with talking points and statistics gleaned from a number of reproductive rights websites, and lobbied the legislator on this specific bill.
The stated mission of Colorado Youth Matters is “WISE,” an acronym for “Working to Institutionalize Sex-education,” and it has branches in several Colorado school districts. The group finds interested participants through their Teen Outreach Program(TOP), and the CREATE, a national voter registration drive. Colorado Youth Matter offers ‘mini grants’ of $3,000-$5,000 to two or three school districts annually to implement comprehensive sex-education programs, despite the fact that, in 2013, Democrats in the Colorado Legislature passed a bill creating a new grant program tofund comprehensive sex-education programs for school districts which wanted it as part of their health curricula.
The Personal Responsibility Education Program, under which Colorado Youth Matter functions, awards grants to organizations which educate young people on abstinence and contraception, and seek to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Its title, however, denotes more learning and less activism.
To date, HB 15-1194 is waiting in the Colorado House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. If passed through that body it will then go to the Senate, which has a Republican majority.
This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.
Reposted with permission by Reagangirl.com 3/21/15
March 18, 2015
The Colorado Kill Blog is the good news of the Limited Government Gospel. Here, we chronicle, with gratuitous glee, the death of bad bills.
It’s mid-session in the Colorado State Legislature, and numerous bad bills have been dispatched with extreme prejudice by the various House and Senate committees. Here, we revisit the carnage.
SB15-172–High-performance Transportation Enterprise Accountability–Sponsor, Jones (D)
This bill, having something to do with HOV lanes, mass transportation, and inter-agency communications, was presented and passed by Democrat majorities in the House and Senate in 2014, then promptly vetoed by the Governor. One can justifiably surmise that it was vetoed by Governor Hickenlooper in 2014 for the same reason it was killed by the Senate Transportation Committee in 2015, which is its indecipherable language and convoluted objectives. Despite having a relatively small Fiscal Note, it’s best that SB15-172 was quickly dispatched this year, so as to save people the mental torture of trying understanding what the hell it means.
SAVED: $65,000 over 3 years
SB15-174–Uniform Substitute Decision-making Documents Act–Sponsor, Steadman (D)
The term “uniform” is misleading as used in the language of bill since it is asking for irregular, and possible illegal, documents to be recognized where critical decisions are being made on behalf of another party. Documents, such as Power of Attorney or a proxy delegation, created outside Colorado state statutes, could be used in life-or-death decisions for individuals lacking the capacity to decide for themselves. SB15-174 would require Colorado courts to accept any “substitute document” presented in good faith, despite doubts about its authenticity relative to the person in question. Long story short, you could write your Great Uncle Verle’s will on a napkin from Burger King, leaving you his chicken farm and his trunk full of pirate gold, and, if passed, the Uniform Substitute Documents Act, would require the court to accept it as valid.
SB15-174 was taken off life-support in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB15-118–Eliminating Tax Deductions for CollegeInvest for Those with High Incomes–Sponsor, Merrifield (D)
Colorado law allows for payments made to CollegeInvest, a college savings plan, to be 100% tax deductible for all participants. Another benefit of such programs is that certain investment earnings and withdrawals are exempt from being reported as taxable income. This bill would eliminate the deductions for people with incomes higher than $250,000. per year, while increasing the tax deduction for those with incomes less than $75,000. to 200% of what is actually paid into the fund. A cost-shifting measure which punishes “the rich,” this bill would potentially increase state revenues due to the elimination of certain deductions. However, this bill would also harm a private company, CollegeInvest, by increasing its administrative costs, and decreasing an important customer base. The old adage, “If you want less of something, just tax it,” certainly applies here, because eliminating that tax deduction for college savings plans for “the rich,” will surely result in less “rich” people pursuing such a means to fund college for their kids.
SB15-118 was choked out in the State Finance Committee, saving Colorado $169,996.00 in administrative cost over two years.
SB15-120–Electric Grid Modernization Plans–Sponsor, Jones (D)
This bill would force the investor-owned utility companies, and all rural and municipal electric associations working under the major providers, to submit a 10-year modernization plan by the end of 2015. Although this bill sounds like common sense, it’s an unnecessary directive from government since utility companies are already addressing grid modernization, integration, and reliability issues. With heaps of regulation and layers of oversight already in place for Colorado’s PUCs (Public Utility Companies), the last thing they need is another unnecessary piece of legislation written by a state senator who failes to acknowledge that “grid modernization plans” are already in progress.
SB15-120 was electrocuted in the Senate Agriculture, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, saving the state $288,000.00.
SB15-125–Statewide Registry for Advanced Directives–Sponsor, Steadman (D)
“Advanced directives” are those directions given by aging or terminally ill people, regarding end-of-life decisions, to those charged with ensuring their wishes are fulfilled. These matters are highly personal and extremely private, nevertheless, this bill would create a registry, run by the State of Colorado, into which all advanced directives given by individuals would be “registered” and recorded. The Department of Health and Environment would have to make this registry, filled with personal and highly-sensitive information, available to the public. Colorado county Clerks and Recorders would be tasked with entering the agreements, or advanced directives agreed upon by two or more parties, into a database within 14 days that such an agreement, or advance directive, was drawn up. This bill would increase costs for local governments, which makes it hard to calculate the true cost of this SB15-125. Above and beyond the costs and administrative headaches of implementation, are the dangers of placing into a government registry, private, sensitive facts and data about individuals and their loved ones.
SB15-125 was quietly euthanized in the Senate State, Veteran’s and Military Affairs committee, saving Colorado $163,222.00 over two years, and countless millions to counties over time.
SB15-132–Empowering Students in Higher Education Funding–Sponsor, Todd (D)
This bill suffered from a split personality. One aspect was simple; to include in state education standards of “Financial Literacy,” instruction on how to assess, choose and manage student loan programs. The other side of the bill, not so innocuous, would require the State Department of Higher Education to award money to programs in which students “demonstrate significant academic achievement.” In other words, the Mr. Hyde personality of SB15-132 would use tax payer money to fund programs which pick winners and losers in the student loan market.
SB15-132 was expelled from the the State Senate Education Committee, saving the tax payers of Colorado $5,008,790.00.
SB15-037–Youthful Offenders in Corrections–Sponsor, Garcia (D)
Under current Colorado law, youthful offenders who commit crimes and are incarcerated in an adult facility may be transferred to a juvenile facility, under certain circumstances, until they are 21 years of age. This law would allow criminals up to 24 years of age to be housed in facilities with juveniles. Given that many juvenile facilities house children as young as 12, SB15-037 would almost certainly open the door to older inmates preying upon younger, often emotionally-troubled, inmates. This legislation seeks to address the problems of overcrowding in adult incarceration facilities in the state, but in so doing, the Youthful Offenders bill would be placing older, harder, possibly predatory prisoners in facilities with the most vulnerable of juvenile offenders.
SB15-037 was humanely executed in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
This round of legislative slaughter saved Colorado $5695,008.00.
by Marjorie Haun 3/18/15
March 14, 2015
Grousing about promises
By Greg Walcher
Mesa County’s decision to join the lawsuit against the listing of the Gunnison sage grouse as “threatened” is the right move. Sometimes the courts are the last resort against bullies.
The controversy over the bird’s listing is not just ironic (we have been here before but reached an agreement to prevent it). It represents one of the worst broken promises in the history of conservation.
The Gunnison Ranchlands Legacy project started in the mid-1990s and thrived through the administrations of four governors of both parties. The state in 2005 completed an agreement with the federal government that allowed landowners to enroll in a program of protective habitat management, with the assurance that their farming practices would not get them into trouble if grouse nests are accidentally disturbed.
As a result, the species was removed from the “candidate” list, and local participation has surpassed any similar program in the United States. All of this investment and local participation was made with the clear understanding that the species would not be added to the federal endangered list. This program was the alternative to that listing.
Habitat partnerships and management agreements are not unique to Colorado, of course. But no other state/local partnership has ever come close to our level of commitment to such a program. Coloradans have invested well over $50 million of state, local, and private money in conservation easements to preserve ranchlands in the Gunnison Basin, and have preserved ore than 64,000 acres of open space, ranchlands, and sage grouse habitat.
That’s a 20-year legacy, including another $3 million last year, and we are proud of it. Besides preserving the historic character of scenic mountain valleys, it demonstrates that species can be protected without heavy-handed federal regulation, while preserving vital local economies. As a member of the Great Outdoors Colorado board, I strongly supported the program for several years and remain proud of that inheritance for future generations.
Ranchers were understandably skeptical, with one final and difficult question: can we trust the government to do what it says? Without that trust, adding a species to the endangered list can actually harm the species, because its habitat is mostly on private land. Landowners, and the state, relied on that trust for a generation. Today, the Gunnison sage grouse population is strong and growing steadily — it is not in danger of extinction by any measure. Still, some national environmental groups and federal officials simply will not give up the “command-and-control” approach.
It is pathetic that decisions of this magnitude are sometimes motivated by lawsuits, not conservation. Yet here we are, faced not only with the listing and the broken promise it represents, but a sad and avoidable end to a proud legacy of conservation efforts in the area. If the goal is to end ranching and stop human activity, the effort will go on endlessly. But if species recovery is the goal, the government is going about it exactly the wrong way.
Greg Walcher is president of the Natural Resources Group and author of “Smoking Them Out: The Theft of the Environment and How to Take it Back.” He is a Western Slope native.
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 3/14/15
March 13, 2015
Despite ‘overreach’ admission by Grijalva, climate scientists still see politics
One of the climate scientists singled out by the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources says she’s glad the congressman has admitted he overreached but still thinks Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, is trying to bully scientists who question the degree that humans are responsible for climate change.
“I was pleasantly surprised, but it still doesn’t take away some of the more serious issues,”Georgia Tech climatologist Judith Curry told Watchdog.org Wednesday.
Grijalva has conceded his letters to the universities across the country that demanded the schools provide to him “communication” regarding the funding concerning seven climate scientists who testified before Congress went too far, saying it was an “overreach.”
However, Grijalva told the National Journal, he still wants the schools to provide information about the seven scientists’ funding.
“As long as we get a response as to the funding sources, I think everything else is secondary and not necessary,” Grijalva said.
Curry says she has nothing to hide, but said Grijalva’s funding request is superfluous.
“They already have the information,” Curry said in a telephone interview. “If you click on anybody’s testimony, you will see a financial disclosure statement.”
Grijalva’s letters to the schools employing the scientists who have been skeptical or made controversial remarks about climate change prompted a backlash. One of the seven — Roger Pielke Jr. of the University of Colorado — called it McCarthyism.
“It looks like I am up next for this ‘witch hunt,’” Curry told Watchdog.org last week.
The American Meteorological Society sent its own letter to Grijalva on Friday.
“Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers,” the group wrote.
“This is not a witch hunt,” Grijalva told the National Journal Monday. “We are not asking for all their data, for all their research. We are asking for disclosure, simple as that.”
The American Geophysical Union said “asking (professors) to share drafts of testimony or communications about that testimony goes too far” but, in a blog post, said asking for disclosure of funders is appropriate.
“When I have given testimony, I have complied with requirements for financial disclosure, these are a matter of public record,” Curry said. “Requirements for financial disclosure should be uniformly applied, or requested if there is some specific cause for concern. Selective requests for financial disclosure based on purely political reasons are not defensible.”
Grijalva has set a March 16 deadline for the universities to respond, saying his letters were prompted in part by a recent New York Times article reporting that Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics failed to disclose $1.2 million in research funding from fossil fuels sources such as ExxonMobil and the Southern Company.
The seven climate scientists whose schools received letters from Grijalva are: Curry, Pielke Jr., David Legates at the University of Delaware, John Christy at the University of Alabama, Richard Lindzen at MIT, Robert Balling at Arizona State and Steven Hayward at Pepperdine.
“It’s just a ludicrous situation when independent thought on this subject and speaking out publicly is not allowed to happen,” Curry said Friday.
Pielke Jr. said despite the “overreach” comment from Grijalva, the letters were attempts to smear reputations.
“That just goes to show, if all he wants is material that is already out there in the public record, the point of the letter was purely political,” Pielke Jr. told the Boulder Daily Camera on Tuesday. “If you’re a young academic, you see this kind of retaliation for giving testimony that one party or another doesn’t like, and it provides a pretty strong disincentive.”
“It’s selective, it’s for political reasons and designed to intimidate,” Curry said Wednesday.
“The communications back-and-forth is honestly secondary, and I would even on my own say that that was an overreach in that letter,” Grijalva said. “I want the disclosure (of funding sources). Then people can draw their own conclusions.”
March 12, 2015
This is the latest paper boat sailing down the Stream of Consciousness of Vietnam veteran, author and friend, Forrest L. Gomez, known affectionately as Old Sarge.
MEMORIES OF DAYS GONE BY:
He was my mom’s younger brother. He was a rough character, straight out of Lampasas, Texas. Uncle Paul was pretty typical for his day: rough, profane, bigoted, chauvinistic…and incredibly tough. But he was to gain a status that few have experienced. With his story, I will show how America has lost something of great value with the passing of generations.
Many of you history geeks (like me) know that our Congress and FDR had introduced limited military conscription in the years leading up to our involvement in World War II. Nazi Germany was murdering and raping its way across Europe and North Africa, and Imperial Japan seemed intent on making China and Korea a game preserve for vultures. Although isolationism was still strong among Americans and their government, it looked like we would become involved whether we wanted war or not.
The draft was limited to one year, after which the draftee would be expected to be in the standby reserves. This draft program survived by ONE vote in 1941 in Congress, so never think your vote doesn’t count.
Uncle Paul was drafted in January of 1941 for a one year stint. His discharge date was 30, December 1941. Well, as most of you know, Pearl Harbor happened on December 7th, and as you also know, it took more than three years for things to settle down again. My Uncle Paul was in the Army from January 1941 to six months after VJ (Victory over Japan) Day in, i.e. around February 1946, because that was when his unit was officially demobilized. Do the math, and you will see that he spent considerably more time that his 365 days as a draftee in the service.
Uncle Paul was in Combat Engineers in the Pacific, and finished the war on Okinawa. He was one of the few GIs to marry a French citizen from a Free French Territory in the Pacific, which our forces took before the Japanese. Sadly, his lovely wife would die from locked bowels less than two years after arriving in the states. My uncle had a hard life to the very end, part of it from events he could not control, and partly from his own making.
He never complained about his long, involuntary service in the Army, but he never talked about it either. To him it was part of life, something you did because you were born in and grew up in this country. There aren’t many left like him; the Greatest Generation which served not just because it was the right thing to do, but because it was the only thing to do. Those like him are passing into history, and this nation is poorer for that.
I salute you and your memory Uncle Paul!
(If you conspiracy buffs make any comment about that war, Pearl Harbor, etc. you will be blocked. I will not have you soiling the memory of my uncle with such silliness.)
May or Lord Jesus Christ walk with you daily and hear the desires of your hearts, brothers and sisters.
– The Sarge
reposted with permission of the author by Reagangirl.com 3/12/15
Colorado town trustees do ‘end run’ around citizens to allow marijuana operation in city limits
By Marjorie Haun | Watchdog Arena
A large swath of farmland in Palisade, Colo., was recently re-zoned by the town’s Board of Trustees and Planning Commission to accommodate a large outdoor medical marijuana growing operation. Palisade, famous for its peaches and vineyards, upheld a citizen-led initiative last November to prohibit commercial marijuana farms and retail operations within its city limits. A group in opposition to the marijuana operation, The Palisade Messengers, recently formed to bring attention to the “hasty” process through which the town’s board of trustees approved the marijuana operation despite the vote just months ago that prohibited such operations.
Although Mesa County, where Palisade is located, banned commercial marijuana shops and farming operations in 2013, the towns within its jurisdiction were left to create their own ordinances. The people of Palisade have been divided over having commercial pot operations within city limits for years.
In 2011, Palisade voted to allow a medicinal marijuana facility, Colorado Alternative Health Care, to do business within the town (At that time, it was required that marijuana growing operations supplying Colorado Alternative Health Care be contiguous with the retail location).
Then in 2014, a referred-measure paving the way for recreational marijuana shops in Palisade was narrowly defeated. Despite the contention erupting over marijuana, the Palisade Board of Trustees, between 2013 and 2015, used its powers to pave the way for the large medicinal marijuana farm now in question.
The ordinances passed by the Palisade Board of Trustees closely coincided with attempts by Brian Cox, a peach farmer involved with Colorado Alternative Health Care and an outspoken supporter of recreational and medical marijuana, to apply his property specifically to the growing of and dispensing of medical marijuana. The Cox property, which is not contiguous with the Colorado Alternative Health Care location, is surrounded by orchards and vineyards, with Interstate 70 running along its northern boundary. According to records, the timeline is as follows:
- In August of 2003, Brian and Rebecca Cox deeded a “conservation easement” to the benefit of Mesa County Land Trust.
- In January 2014, Palisade Trustees passed Town Ordinance 2014-03, amending an existing ordinance to “clarify” what actions are criminal or non-criminal regarding the possession or transfer of marijuana.
- In July 2014, The Town of Palisade granted an annexation of 10.6 acres (the conservation easement) owned by Brian and Rebecca Cox, to off-site leases for (cannabis) cultivation operation–both indoor and outdoor–for Colorado Alternative Health Care, owned by Jesse and Desa Loughman.
- In July 2014, Palisade Town Ordinances 2014-07, 08 and 09 formally annexed the Cox properties for “agriculture, forestry, transitional” purposes.
- In August 2014, the Town of Palisade received a letter of intent from Colorado Alternative Health Care to lease the annexed Cox properties for the cultivation of cannabis.
- In September 2014, Town Ordinance 011 was passed amending section 6-103 of Article V of the Palisade Municipal Code by providing for an exemption from the medical marijuana center occupation tax for sales made to patients who have tax-exempt status as determined by the Colorado Department of Revenue.
- In September 2014, the Planning Commission granted permission to Colorado Alternative Health Care for use of the “agricultural” land owned by Brian and Rebecca Cox.
- In October 2014, the Town of Palisade passed an ordinance amending its Land Development code concerning zoning regulations governing medical marijuana operations.
- In October 2014, Palisade Town Ordinance 2014-14 amended sections 6-77, 6-85, 6-86 and 6-87 of Article IV of Chapter 6 of the Palisade municipal code by modifying the licensing and location restrictions and requirements for optional premises (cannabis) cultivation operations.
- In November 2014, the citizens of Palisade voted down a referred measure allowing recreational marijuana retail shops and cultivation within the city limits.
- In December 2014, the Palisade Planning Commission reviewed and reported on a Letter of Intent for a Conditional Use Permit for the cultivation and manufacturing of Medical Marijuana and Medical Marijuana-infused products.
- In January 2015, the Palisade Planning Commission issued a Conditional Use Permit to Jesse and Desa Loughman for Medical Marijuana Infused Product Manufacturing, and cultivation of plants for Palisade Apothecary Medical Marijuana Infused Products Manufacturing on the Cox farm.
The Palisade Messengers are beginning an effort to enact recall votes for the Palisade Town Board of Trustees, who, the Messengers believe, did an “end run” around the citizens in order to place a large marijuana operation within city limits. The Palisade Messengers, and the farmers they represent, have noted that the process paving the way for the medical marijuana farm was unusually quick, and that what little input was allowed from opponents, has been virtually ignored.
According to Palisade Messengers member Karen Hays, a Palisade farmer and life-long resident, the issue is not whether there will be a medical marijuana facility within city limits; it is the “hasty” way the Board of Trustees annexed a large parcel of prime orchard and vineyard property knowing that it would be used to grow marijuana. Also at issue is the role of the Mesa Land Trust, which, according to its website, is to “… retain the agricultural heritage, important habitats and beautiful open space that makes Mesa County so unique.”
Karen Hays and others with The Palisade Messengers further worry that allowing marijuana grows to be defined as “agricultural crops,” and the manufacturing of marijuana-infused products to be defined as an “agricultural operation,” sets a bad precedent for the potential misuse of trust lands and conservation easements throughout the state of Colorado.
Conflicting laws also complicate the Palisade marijuana farm issue. The voters of Mesa County instituted a ban on medical marijuana farms and retail stores in 2011. Early in 2013, in the wake of Amendment 64, the Mesa County Board of Commissioners passed an indefinite moratorium on recreational marijuana farms and retail operations as well. Colorado statutes indicate that any form of a marijuana retail outlet or farm must be at least 1,000 feet from public buildings such as schools and churches. Given the relatively small size of Palisade, this also raises questions about the legitimacy of an additional marijuana operation within its city limits.
Questions of water usage also persist. Marijuana is a water-intensive plant and in semi-arid Western Colorado the potential that scarce water resources could be used for a large marijuana operation will almost certainly be problematic. According to federal law, marijuana is still an illegal substance and thus, it’s illegal for federal water resources to be used to grow marijuana. Private, municipal, state, and federal jurisdictions govern Colorado’s complex water laws and it’s possible that directing agricultural water sources to grow marijuana, may itself be illegal.
This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.
Reposted by the author on 3/10/15
March 6, 2015
Brookes: Much to fear in possible Iran deal
Netanyahu’s speech opens up debate on nuke talks
by Peter Brookes, as originally published in Boston Herald
Much to fear in possible Iran Deal: Netanyahu’s speech opens up debate on nuke talk.
Putting both countries’ politics aside (talk about heavy-lifting!), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress was essential — if for no other reason than it threw a spotlight on an issue hiding in diplomatic darkness.
Few probably realized, especially outside Washington, D.C., that while Netanyahu was speaking to Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry was in Montreux, Switzerland, trying to cut a deal with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Indeed, Team Obama and Team Ayatollah had hoped to reach an agreement on nukes before the end of the month possibly without the public, perhaps even congressional, scrutiny that such an historic deal should unquestionably get.
Netanyahu changed that — and we should be thankful he did.
It might be said that if you weren’t paying attention to diplomatic developments in the nuclear negotiations, which is clearly one of the most important national security issues of our time, you are now.
The public/media attention the Iran nuclear issue will receive going forward could help ensure — clearly no guarantees, of course — that the administration gets America a better deal with Iran and not just a deal.
In fact, though President Obama criticized Netanyahu for saying “nothing new,” it’s likely that a lot of the supposedly already public information on Team Obama’s strategy was new to a lot of people — like the American public.
Perhaps that’s not something the White House wanted.
Actually, in his address, Bibi brought up a number of important points that we should be taking into consideration in our talks with Tehran.
For instance, the idea that a deal may allow Iran to keep a lot of its nuclear infrastructure in place, which would let Tehran pick up where it left off should it decide to depart an agreement.
More specifically, what about the nuclear reactor at Arak, which gives Iran a second pathway to the bomb using plutonium rather than uranium, Iran’s current choice?
Netanyahu also talked about the problem of relying on International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), inspectors to prevent Iran from moving forward with its nuclear program, citing North Korea’s nukes as proof of the folly of that course of action.
In fact, recent reports indicate that Tehran continues to fail to come clean on its past bomb-building work with the IAEA, a request for information that goes back years.
Not surprisingly, Netanyahu also brought up the problem of “trust” or lack thereof with Iran, a critical element for negotiations and for compliance afterwards with any agreement.
To that point, how can one get “warm-n-fuzzy” on nukes with Iran when it refuses to discuss capping its ICBM program, a long-range ballistic missile designed to carry the bomb?
Sure, this is tough stuff; we’re dealing with a hard-line regime like Iran after all — not exactly a Western-style democracy or a fan of the good ol’ U.S. of A. for several decades now.
The worry among many is that if you want it bad, which is where some believe Kerry & Co. are regarding a deal with his Iranian interlocutors, sometimes you get it bad.
Not exactly ideal when talking about an atomic agreement that involves angry, ambitious ayatollahs and the world’s most destructive weapons.
Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense. He tweets @Brookes_Peter
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 3/6/15
March 4, 2015
As originally published in the Washington Times
Obama’s Keystone XL pipeline veto: Whether to back the president puts Hillary in a bind
By John R. Bolton –
March 3, 2015
Experienced vote counters do not believe that either the House or the Senate will muster the two-thirds majority necessary to override President Obama’s veto of the Keystone XL pipeline bill. If so, Mr. Obama’s years of delay and disingenuousness on this issue, culminating in his veto, will guarantee negative consequences for America long into the future.
Keystone is a textbook example of the integral relationship between foreign and domestic affairs. The pipeline’s economic benefits are evident, including facilitating increased supplies of North American oil; helping integrate U.S. and Canadian hydrocarbon infrastructures; and providing energy without international political risk.
But blocking Keystone is not merely bad domestic policy. Equally unfortunate, and perhaps worse, are the negative implications for America internationally.
Mr. Obama’s veto thus provides a leadership test for prospective presidential candidates. In particular, the Keystone XL controversy highlights Hillary Rodham Clinton’s acute political dilemma over whether and how to separate herself from her own record as Mr. Obama’s first secretary of state. She has a lot to answer for, and she will have to state her position on his veto, if not now, then certainly when she becomes a declared presidential candidate. Will she support the veto, or will she finally find a major issue on which to distance herself from her former boss?
Mrs. Clinton’s record on Keystone as secretary was ambiguous. State had a responsibility to evaluate whether the proposed pipeline, which would cross the U.S.-Canadian border, was in the national interest. In 2010, speaking in California, Mrs. Clinton responded to a question about the pipeline this way:
“So as I say, we’ve not yet signed off on it. But we are inclined to do so and we are for several reasons . We’re either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Gulf or dirty oil from Canada.”
She went on to bemoan congressional failure to pass Obama administration environmental and “clean energy” proposals, but her self-professed “inclination” favoring the pipeline was clear.
Subsequently, however, in 2012, Mrs. Clinton supported Mr. Obama’s objection to proposed legislation requiring the president to make a decision on Keystone XL within 60 days. In a carefully worded statement, the State Department did not object on the merits, but merely argued it hadn’t had enough time to complete its “national interest” review. Mr. Obama continued dodging a decision for three more years, until last week’s veto of a new legislative effort to force his hand.
Mr. Obama’s ideological intransigence on Keystone XL has already harmed our relationship with Canada. That takes work, but Mr. Obama succeeded both because of his policy objections to Keystone and because of his flip and gratuitous mishandling of Canada. For starters, Mr. Obama chastised Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government for weakening Canada’s environmental laws involving tar sands (which would produce a substantial part of the pipeline’s flow-through). Mr. Obama doubtless also opposes Mr. Harper withdrawing Canada from the Kyoto Protocol.
Mr. Obama then complained about the number of Canadian jobs Keystone would create, as if new jobs there reduce new jobs here. Obviously, the Canadian and U.S. economies are inextricably intertwined, to the enormous benefit of both. Mr. Obama complained further that only Canadian oil would be shipped through the pipeline, and it would all be sent overseas rather than used in the United States. Both these points are wrong. Oil from our own Bakken shale formation would be an important element of the pipeline’s business, and significant amounts could be refined and sold here.
Across both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, key U.S. allies are eager for U.S. energy production and technology to help free them from dependence on politically chancier sources of oil and natural gas. Europe, finally awakened by the Ukraine crisis, urgently wants to reduce its dependence on Russian hydrocarbons. North American oil and gas would provide an alternative source not only to help keep prices down, but also to provide a strategic alternative.
Similarly, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan would welcome alternatives to Middle Eastern oil, itself inherently risky politically, but also increasingly endangered by Beijing’s efforts to turn the South and East China Seas into Chinese territorial waters. Moreover, North American energy could also be sold directly to China, thereby helping mitigate the balance-of-payments deficits that have provided Beijing with enormous dollar assets in recent decades.
Given the undeniable deniable economic and international strategic benefits of increased North American oil and natural gas production, exemplified by Keystone XL, this issue will unquestionably loom large in 2016’s presidential campaigns. U.S. public opinion polls have repeatedly shown majorities supporting the pipeline, despite opposition from powerful, well-funded environmental groups.
And there, of course, lies Mrs. Clinton’s dilemma. This is only one of many, but her ultimate Keystone XL position is also directly tied to her performance as secretary of state, the one resume item that she is relying upon to qualify for the presidency. This is an issue to watch.
• John R. Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Reposted by Reagangirl.com 3/4/15
March 3, 2015
Opposition to ‘clean power’ plans growing in Colorado
By Marjorie Haun | Watchdog Arena
Colorado lawmakers are on the path to undo the strong affirmation bestowed upon the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signing of a 2013 renewable energy bill that increased the state’s rural renewable energy requirement from ten to 20 percent by the year 2020.
This bill, SB-252, designed purportedly to reduce carbon emissions from coal and natural gas-burning power plants, further widened the rift between urban (the Boulder/Denver Corridor) and rural (the rest of the state) Colorado.
Two years ago, Hickenlooper had the cooperation of a Democratic majority in the state Legislature, which represented mostly urban districts in the center of the state. Republican legislators, many of whom represented Colorado’s rural regions, were unable to overcome the Democrat-sponsored Rural Electricity bill, which eventually made its way to the governor’s desk. Consequentially, urban Colorado successfully used the power of government to force rural Colorado to pay for its pet carbon-reducing, renewable energy projects.
The opposition for renewable energy mandates goes beyond the sour grapes from 2013. Rather, the experiences in Colorado, other states, and other countries show these mandates are costly to taxpayers and harmful to local economies and family farms.
Colorado legislators have taken notice as the opposition to renewable energy mandates is gaining steam in both private and governmental sectors. State Sen. Ray Scott (R) from fossil fuel-rich Mesa County passed SB15-044 through the Republican-led Senate. SB15-044 would cap mandated renewable sources at 15 percent, instead of the 20-30 percent requirements in the existing law. SB15-046, run by Sen. Kevin Grantham (R), who also represents a rural Colorado district, expands the definition of “retail distribution” regarding solar energy sources.
It’s unlikely that a full repeal of the 2013 renewable mandates would make it through Colorado’s Democrat-led House of Representatives, but both existing Senate bills are supported by rural electric cooperatives, farmers and ranchers, and other organizations representing Colorado’s rural counties.
Scott’s SB15-044 was originally heard in the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee on Jan. 29. Most of those who testified against the renewable mandates rollback were representatives of the renewable energy industry. Several organizations which benefit financially from the government mandates, including Solar Energy Industries Association, Interwest Energy Alliance, Colorado Cleantech Industries Association, and Western Resource Advocate, spoke in opposition to SB15-044.A representative from the Colorado Mining Association and the Associated Governments of Northwestern Colorado spoke in support of the bill.
The opposition for renewable energy mandates goes beyond the sour grapes from 2013. Rather, the experiences in Colorado, other states, and other countries show these mandates are costly to taxpayers and harmful to local economies and family farms. EPA’s standards are even tougher for rural Colorado than SB-252, and its plan would force rural cooperatives to show a 34 percent reduction in carbon emissions by traditional source power plants by 2030.
The conjoined mandates of increasing renewable energy sources while eliminating cheap and abundant fossil fuel-powered electricity plants have proven burdensome and unrealistic. Many in Colorado are starting to push back, and the following are a few points in the case against the Clean Power Plan:
- Forms of Renewable Energy require massive taxpayer-funded subsidies in comparison to fossil fuel resources: A 2013 Forbes article revealed how per unit subsidies for renewable sources, (wind, solar) are 25 times greater than subsidies for fossil fuels.
- The EPA lacks legal authority to implement its Clean Power Plan: In a 2014memorandum from the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry (CACI), the organization challenged the EPA’s standing on implementing new regulations in the State of Colorado. The memorandum reads, “…we believe the EPA lacks the legal authority to implement the Clean Power Plan (CPP) under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. “ It continues, “CACI believes this rule creates unnecessary costs and burdens for electricity providers and those businesses that rely on affordable energy.”
- Renewable energy mandates have severely harmed Colorado’s coal industry:Stuart Sanderson, the President of the Colorado Mining Association, in a statementregarding EPA Hearings on Regulations for Existing Sources, noted, “These regulations will threaten the livelihoods of the hard working men and women in Colorado’s coal industry, which pays average wages and benefits in excess of $116,000 annually. Equally appalling, the (renewable) rule will produce nothing in the way of claimed benefits to the environment.” Of the costs he said, “…hardest hit will be states like Colorado that rely heavily on (clean) coal for affordable electricity.”
- Renewable energy mandates place excessive burdens on rural cooperatives, family farms and ranches: In a statement to the EPA, Colorado Rural Electric Association (CREA) indicated, “While CREA understands the basic objective of the plan, the requirement for a 34% reduction in carbon emissions from coal plants state wide by 2030 is overly aggressive and will result in excessive costs for our membership. CREA member cooperatives serve some of the lowest income counties in Colorado. Increased costs will disproportionately impact low-income consumers in our service territory.”
- Renewable energy mandates negatively impact the reliability of electric service:The Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) in its comments to the EPA said, “The potential reliability impacts associated with the transition from these traditional high-inertia resources (coal, oil and gas steam), and related loss of essential reliability services such as frequency and voltage support…need to be studied to ensure that proposed state compliance plans do not reduce the reliability of (electric services).”
- Renewable energy cost caps on electric bills have failed: Colorado’s Clean Energy bill promised a 2 percent cap on energy rate increases, yet in 2014 Colorado’s electricity costs rose 4.5 percent, more than twice that of the rest of the country. The average cost per kWh in the state is nearly 12 cents, giving Colorado the highest residential electrical rates in the Mountain West.
- Renewable energy costs impact farm operations by increasing energy costs for farmers, decreasing farm income, increasing retail and transportation costs of fertilizer and feed: In 2011 the USDA produced a publication titled, “Impacts on Higher Energy on Rural and Agricultural Economies.” In the abstract of the study, the USDA warned, “Higher energy-related production costs would generally lower agricultural output, raise prices of agricultural products, and reduce farm income…”
The parties for and against decreasing Colorado’s renewable mandate illustrate the same rift that existed in 2013, wherein green special interests located primarily in urban districts seek to force rural counties to pay for a product they can’t afford.
With data pouring in from recent years indicating that renewable mandates in Colorado and elsewhere are unrealistic, costly, and economically harmful, those most impacted will push for further roll-back of “carbon-reducing” government green energy initiatives.
As originally published on Watchdog.org