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OpenMarket: February 2016

  • Is EPA Trying to Centrally Plan the Auto Sector (in Addition to the Electric Sector)?

    February 21, 2016

    With the Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s marquee climate policy, the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to run the electricity sector. Of course, the agency is an environmental regulator, and it has no expertise overseeing the generation, transmission, distribution, and consumption of electricity. Authority over the wholesale and retail electricity markets is instead shared by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the states, which have developed know-how and skill in their respective spheres of influence in the industry over the last 90 years. Despite its relative ignorance, the EPA wants to plan the entire electricity sector—both wholesale and retail—in the name of fighting climate change.

    According to Reuters, the EPA might have a new and similarly large sector of the economy...

  • Justice Scalia’s Death Scrambles EPA Power Plant Litigation

    February 19, 2016

    The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on 13th February has quickly ended jubilation among opponents of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants over the Supreme Court’s stay of the rule on 9th February.  Most legal observers who have made public comments, but certainly not all, expect the three-judge panel on the D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold all or most of the rule.  On the other hand, the 5 to 4 Supreme Court decision to stay the rule raised hopes that there were five votes to overturn the rule on appeal. 

    Justice Scalia’s death upends that calculation.  There are now only four Justices who thought that the rule was sufficiently unlikely to survive in court to issue an unprecedented stay. If the circuit court upholds the rule, then a 4 to 4 vote in the Supreme Court would not overturn the lower court.  Of course, President Barack Obama...

  • Todd Stern Reassures Europeans That Republicans Won’t Undo Paris Commitments

    February 19, 2016

    Todd Stern, the U. S. State Department’s special envoy for climate change negotiations, said in London on 18th February, that if the next President repudiates the Paris Climate Treaty the international “blowback” would be much stronger than the negative reaction after President George W. Bush announced in 2001 that he would not submit the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification. 

    The BBC quoted Stern: “There was a lot of blowback that the US got generally diplomatically across the range of diplomatic concerns and I have no doubt that it would be very significant if the US were to do that with regard to Paris, probably much, much more significant than what happened before.”

    Stern made the remarks to reporters as part of a three-day “reassurance tour” to Brussels, London, and Paris intended to...

  • CEI Remembers Justice Antonin Scalia

    February 19, 2016

    CEI general counsel Sam Kazman on meeting Justice Scalia a few years ago:

    “I met Justice Scalia only once. It was a brief encounter at a reception a few years ago. I introduced myself and mentioned how much I’d enjoyed his footnote in Massachusetts v. EPA, the 2007 decision in which the Supreme Court held, 5-4, that the agency could regulate carbon dioxide under the...

  • House Oversight Committee Demands Agencies Reveal Union Subsidy Data

    February 19, 2016

    On February 12, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent out letters to federal agency heads to provide more information on union “official time.”

    They sent the letters in order to inform the public of a practice they likely are unaware of. That is every work day, federal employees are freed from performing their governmental duties and instead perform private union business—void of any public purpose. Taxpayers pay for these employees’ wages, pensions, health care benefits, office space, supplies...

  • IBL's Trovato Presents Latest Index of Liberalization

    February 19, 2016

    The Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., recently hosted Massimiliano Trovato for a policy forum discussing whether the European Union is a friend or foe of economic freedom. The event was moderated by Cato Senior Policy Analyst Marian Tupy with comments from Dr. Richard Rahn, a senior fellow at Cato. Trovato is a Fellow at the Istituto Bruno Leoni (IBL) in Italy and was previously a Charles G. Koch Fellow at the Mercatus Institute in Washington, D.C. Trovato is most known for his work on the digital economy and state paternalism, but his presentation...

  • Save the Date - 2016 Annual Dinner and Reception

    February 18, 2016

    The Competitive Enterprise Institute's annual dinner and reception brings together an audience of policy professionals, distinguished scholars, congressional staff, and supporters to celebrate CEI's effective advocacy for freedom. The dinner is often cited as one of Washington's most enjoyable events. The theme for this year's dinner is "A Night in Casablanca!"

  • Regulatory Threats to Flexible Employment & Worker Freedom: What Can Congress Do?

    February 17, 2016

    The Competitive Enterprise Institute hosted a panel of experts last week to discuss the regulatory threats to flexible employment and worker freedom. The panel also outlined ways lawmakers could help protect entrepreneurs, small business owners, and their employees from new burdensome rules coming out of the National Labor Relations Board and the Department of Labor including the “joint employer” rule, overtime rule, and worker classification guidelines. Presentations from CEI’s labor policy expert Trey Kovacs, the Mercatus Center’s Eli Dourado, the National Restaurant Association’s Angelo Amador, and World of Beer franchise owner, Bob Dorfman are available below. More information about this event is available here


  • Congress Gets Some Common Sense on Nutritional Disclosure

    February 17, 2016

    Election years are particular divisive for lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Yet, last week members of the House managed to put partisan politics aside and approve a bill that would ease the regulatory burden of mandatory, one-size-fits-all menu labeling requirements. While some portray the proposal as “denying” consumers information, what it really does is give food service businesses flexibility in how they provide relevant nutritional information and other common sense alterations.

    The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015 (H.R. 2017), introduced by Reps. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), passed in the House 266-144, with 33 Democrats and 233 Republicans approving the measure. The bill amends the Food and Drug Administration’s labeling requirements for food vendors with 20 or more locations...

  • Spinning the Stay

    February 16, 2016

    A few days before the start of the COP-21 meeting in Paris, U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern filed a declaration urging the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to deny West Virginia and other states’ request to put a stay on EPA’s so-called “Clean Power” Plan (CPP). Stern argued that freezing the rule would undermine U.S. “leadership” on climate change, creating “a real threat that some other countries, including major emitters, might reduce the intensity or pace of their actions or even fail to achieve their commitments.” Horror of horrors, it might diminish their climate “ambition”.

    Although the appellate court declined to halt the rule, the Supreme Court this week...


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