Good Intentions Leading to Bad Policy – The Ethanol Quagmire

The American Petroleum Institute this week filed suit against EPA, seeking to overturn the agency’s renewable fuel standards that require 10% of gasoline to be blended with biofuel or ethanol, made from grass, wood chips, corn and other plant materials.  This is one of those requirements DCF 1.0with many detractors and odd bedfellows, that is opposed by not only oil and gas, but by conservative and environmental groups as well.  As John Upton over at Grist points out, only the ethanol lobby seems to like it.  While environmental groups oppose it on environmental grounds, CEI and Cato have long argued that federal subsidies for ethanol should be phased out, as ethanol harms fuel and food prices.  And there simply isn’t enough of it to provide a steady cost-effective supply to blenders.  The blended ethanol fuels, e.g., E10, are also causing havoc with drivers, whose engines may not tolerate the ethanol.  AAA has cautioned drivers about the potential for damage to vehicles and voided warranties. Continue reading

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EPA’s Assault on State Sovereignty

Is the title of a stinging new report by the American Legislative Exchange Council.  For those who are unfamiliar with ALEC, it’s a non-profit composed of legislators, businesses, and foundations, and is strongly supportive of state rights, free-markets, and limited government.  It’s a good organization and on balance promotes thoughtful ideas and policies on more effective government.  The report itself was authored by William Yeatman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), whose tagline is “Free Markets and Limited Government” and leans notably libertarian.  So, right out of the start-gate, one can appreciate the underlying anti-EPA biases that may emanate from its pages. The raging battle is particularly acute with respect to national energy policies and air regulations (think climate change regulations), as reflected in a July 10 CEI report titled EPA’s Woeful Deadline Performance Raises Questions About Agency Competence, Climate Change Regulations, and “Sue and Settle”.  Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently weighed in with a report challenging EPA’s long-standing claim that more regulations yield more jobs.  Make no mistake, this reflects an all out insurrection against a powerful and oft tone-deft Agency by freedom-loving, large-government hating groups. Continue reading

Too Big to Fail or Too Big to Control – What’s the Greater Risk?

On June 6, 1788, two weeks before New Hampshire would become the ninth and last state necessary to ratify the U.S. Constitution, James Madison remarked,

I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

Madison’s wisdom and insight over 225 years ago seems as relevant today as it did then.  A similar caution by Jonathan Turley, penned in a WaPo piece this past week, warns of an increasingly unresponsive, behemoth administrative state that has morphed into the fourth branch of government.  Turley’s caution

There were times this past week when it seemed like the 19th-century Know-Nothing Party had returned to Washington. President Obama insisted he knew nothing about major decisions in the State Department, or the Justice Department, or the Internal Revenue Service. The heads of those agencies, in turn, insisted they knew nothing about major decisions by their subordinates. It was as if the government functioned by some hidden hand. Continue reading