Saturday, April 18, 2009

Environmental Power Grab: When Is a Tax Not a Tax?

"...Many business leaders argue - as did President Bush - that the Clean Air Act is ill suited to deal with climate change and that regulating carbon dioxide would hamstring economic growth...

"It will require a huge cascade of (new clean air) permits" and halt a wide array of projects, from building coal plants to highway construction, including many at the heart of President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan, said Bill Kovacs, a vice president for environmental and technology issues at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. . . .

An internal EPA planning document that surfaced recently suggests the agency would like to have a final endangerment finding by mid-April. But officials have made clear actual regulations are unlikely to come immediately and involve a lengthy process with public comment.

Gibbs, when asked about the EPA document Monday, emphasized that "the president has made quite clear" that he prefers to have the climate issue addressed by Congress as part of a broad, mandatory limit on heat-trapping emissions...."Full story here

On the surface the declaration by the EPA that CO2 is a "greenhouse" gas responsible for pollution seems like an innocuous statement. I mean we have heard it over and over and the debate has straggled on for years. But this time around, it has serious economic implications. By using this measure to control the production by factories or generating plant, the government through the EPA is putting us on notice that they intend to either exact payment in kind-which are basically more taxes, or that they will ration production through limiting supply to power. And this is just another clear case of the EPA trying to do political things through legislative fiat.

First of all, this will negatively impact manufacturing by adding surcharges or penalties for those entities seen as CO2 creators. That means that most gas and coal power generation facilities would see surcharges on top of those already levied by governments at the local, state and federal levels. Have you looked at your phone bill or energy bill lately? While you may pay a base rate for the actual service, there are charges upon charges added on to that final amount. So while it may not be an actual tax, it has the same effect of diminishing your ability to prosper in this American society.

Secondly, this will have serious impacts on the part of the nation that has extremely hot summers. Those regions naturally produce high CO2 amounts because of the heat. While those of us in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and other warm climates would love to control this, must of it has to do with weather-which despite the best efforts of environmental groups, we do not control. Likewise those of us along the border must also contend with Mexico. Traditional farmers annually burn off winter remains in the fields to create a more fertile field for spring planting. Clouds of smoke will cross into the United States and there is nothing we can do about it. But we deal with the smoke and the resulting higher ozone days. Those count against us with the EPA and bring down heavier sanctions and actions. Unless the feds are willing to tell Mexico to knock it off, how can we fall into compliance even under the best of circumstances?

Third, this is an economic power grab. Already this administration has shown that it is more than willing to grab control of industries. They have done so with banking, and have even shown umbrage that the banks that have managed to staunch their bleeding red ink want to pay back the TARP loans. They now virtually control two of the Big Three automakers going so far as to pick and choose who will lead them. And now they seek to control Big Oil. Please don't think that this isn't carefully planned. As I wrote earlier, economists realize that every economic downturn was the results of a precipitous rise in oil prices. At some point I think it behooves us to ask who is controlling the price and if they are doing so to effect economic havoc and to virtually control the political destiny of the United States.

If you look at this president and who has economically supported his candidacy, it's a very troubling scene. We have an outsider billionaire who has made money on the fall of Wall Street by betting against us. This same man is also the funding for and last year's winner in the election. While I am not much of a conspiracy nut, I know that all history is "cause and effect". So while the media has narrowed its message, I have to ask for what cause. Why is the media currently so obviously biased toward policies that are socialist? Why has the news pipeline narrowed to the point that some news which is non-news makes headlines and other more critical news is buried? When you looked at newspapers headlines on April 16th, why did some newspapers feature the Tea Party Rallies and why did other bury them in the business section? Is there a fear that more people are concerned about this administration's policies than the media wants to believe and therefore they are self-censoring any message contrary to the popular view? Isn't that in total opposition to the idea of a free press and free speech? And what of the "Fairness" bill wherein a sponsor is married to a man who is a producer for liberal radio talk shows? Why isn't the media talking about these things? What do they have to gain-or to lose?

If you find these trends troubling, you are not alone. That was the message of the Tax Day Tea Parties. The power grab cited above is but the tip of a very large menacing iceberg. It is going to require people getting out of the comfort zone and daring to talk to others about what is happening and why. The current president has said he won't raise taxes. But a surcharge, a fee, a penalty charge are all money coming out of your pockets and when the government takes money it doesn't always get spent where it needs to go. Instead of a PBS style liberalism, we are in the early stages of a major attempt to subvert the Constitution. There is something going on here, and I am not sure that it is for our own good.

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