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OpenMarket: December 2015

  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    December 21, 2015

    There are just eight more editions of the Federal Register remaining to be published this year. With new regulations in the last week covering everything from truck drivers to prisoners’ phone calls, it remains on pace to set the all-time record page count.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 62 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 55 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 43 minutes.
    • So far in 2015, 3,263 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 3,370 new regulations this year, fewer than the usual total of 3,500-plus.
    • Last week, 1,998 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,307 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 79,229 pages, the 2015 ...
  • “UN climate change goal? We’re there now” – John Christy

    December 18, 2015

    Every month John Christy and Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, report global temperature data from their satellite monitoring program, known as the UAH record in the scientific literature.

    Their just published year-end report features the decadal trends in Global, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, and Tropical temperatures over the 37-year satellite record.

    So here’s some very good news for the holiday season. The global climate system, all on its own with no help from the Paris Climate Treaty, is on track to meet the treaty’s goal of avoiding 2°C of warming above pre-industrial temperatures.

    From the UAH press release:

    “The average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere has warmed just over four-tenths of a degree Celsius (almost three-fourths of a degree Fahrenheit) during the past 37 years, with the...

  • COP-21 Adopts Big, New Paris Climate Treaty (But We’re Not Supposed To Call It a Treaty)

    December 18, 2015

    COP-21 (the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) concluded in Paris only one day late on Saturday, 12th December, with the adoption of a new climate treaty at 7:29 PM CET.  The new “Paris Agreement,” as it is being called in order to conceal the fact that it is a treaty, represents a significant victory for President Barack Obama and the European Union.  It is the result of several years of intensive negotiations that were initiated with the adoption of the Durban Platform at COP-21 in 2011.  This “successful” outcome, so different from the collapse of COP-15 in 2009 in Copenhagen, was at the end made possible by the skill of the French diplomats, particularly French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who ran the final negotiations.

    Many commentators immediately opined that the new treaty is of little consequence and poses few dangers...

  • Republican House and Senate Give Huge Victory to President Obama’s Climate Agenda

    December 18, 2015

    The House and Senate on 18th September passed omnibus appropriations legislation that provides $1.15 trillion to fund the federal government for the remainder of FY 2016.  Attached to the omnibus was a $620-plus billion package of tax cut extenders. The final bill dropped riders to prevent implementation of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for new and existing power plants and to prevent funds in the State Department budget from being transferred into the Green Climate Fund.  However, Congress appropriated no funds for the Green Climate Fund.

    The tax extenders package includes multi-year re-authorizations for the Wind Production Tax Credit and the Solar Investment Tax Credit.  The wind credit was extended to 2019, but declines by 20% for facilities that...

  • Automated Vehicles Update: California DMV Releases Draft Rules and Some Notes about that Crash Study

    December 18, 2015

    CALIFORNIA DMV AV OPPS RULES PROPOSED: On December 16, the California Department of Motor Vehicles released its draft licensing and operations rules for consumer automated vehicles, or “autonomous vehicles” as defined in California statute (CA Veh Code § 38750). The draft rules were supposed to have been released in August 2014, so California DMV is more than a year late. California DMV summarizes the rules here. AV consultant Brad Templeton provides a critical summary of the provisions ...

  • Obama Claims the Paris Climate Agreement Is Not a Treaty. Huh?

    December 18, 2015

    President Obama insists that the international climate agreement adopted at the COP 21 conference in Paris is not a treaty.

    His reason for doing so is obvious. Under the U.S. Constitution, the United States does not become a party to a treaty until “two thirds of Senators present” vote to ratify it (Article II, Section 2, Clause 2). There was no prospect of the Senate ratifying new international climate commitments even when Democrats were in the majority. If Obama acknowledges the Paris agreement is a treaty, it dies in the Senate.

    But if the Paris agreement is not a treaty, why should any U.S. citizen or policymaker pay heed to it?

    Obama’s answer is that the “commitments...

  • Congress Rewards Education Department for Overreaching and Flouting Checks and Balances

    December 17, 2015

    At Powerline, lawyer Paul Mirengoff writes about one of the many disturbing provisions buried in the budget-busting omnibus spending bill currently being passed by Congress as part of a compromise with the White House (a monstrosity known as “the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016”). It increases the budget of an office in the Department of Education that is a prime culprit in the spread of invalid, unvetted, and uncodified rules and regulatory “dark matter”: the Office for Civil Rights:

    The omnibus bill apparently grants a 7 percent increase in the budget for the Department of Education’s Office for Civil...

  • Obama Cements Status as King of Regulatory Bloat

    December 16, 2015

    Today marks a milestone for the one brandishing the Mighty Pen and Phone.  

    The Federal Register hit 78,648 pages today. The Register is where the federal agencies (50, or 400-plus, depending upon who’s counting) publish their rules, regulations, and other notices and errata. You are bound to obey those rules, so hope you’ve been keeping up.

    President Obama has no peer in Federal Register bloat, today setting records compared to both himself and all past presidents. Of the seven highest-ever annual page counts since the Federal Register...

  • Omnibus: No Financial Reg Relief, Dangerous GSE Provision, But a Little CFPB Sunshine

    December 16, 2015

    My Competitive Enterprise Institute colleagues and I have made the case for members of Congress to use the omnibus spending bill as an exercise of its “power of the purse” to hold the Obama administration accountable. Unfortunately, negotiators in Congressional leadership opened that purse way too soon and way too wide to give President Obama nearly everything in terms of the spending he wanted while inexplicably leaving out regulatory relief measures that members of both parties were clamoring for in the thousand-plus page omnibus bill (read it here) to be voted on later this week.

    While there were a couple good measures like lifting the oil export ban and repealing the expensive and...

  • Why the Omnibus Shouldn't Include Cybersecurity Legislation

    December 15, 2015

    Later this week, the House is slated to vote on a $1.1 trillion “omnibus” spending bill to fund the federal government through next fall. Naturally, the legislation will likely contain numerous riders and add-ons that address issues unrelated to appropriations, ranging from oil exports to compensation for 9/11 victims. But one potential addition to the lengthy omnibus bill is extremely troubling: according to several reports, House leaders are considering adding cybersecurity information sharing to the package. Rushing a cybersecurity bill through Congress before the holidays is premature, especially given how little we know about the details of a potential cyber addition to the omnibus.

    Congress has been busy with cybersecurity legislation this year. In October, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, known as...

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