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OpenMarket: Ben Lieberman

  • Fiscal Commission Should Support Increased Energy Production, Not Increased Energy Taxes

    November 15, 2010

    Among the many suggestions in the Fiscal Commission's draft report is a 15 cents-per-gallon increase in the federal gasoline tax. No doubt, this proposed tax hike would raise revenues and make a modest dent in the deficit, but it would do so at the expense of the driving public and would disproportionately burden low-income motorists. There's a better way. If raising energy-related revenues is the goal, why not fill federal coffers in a manner that actually reduces the price at the pump? Washington can accomplish this by allowing more oil drilling.


    The federal government controls all offshore areas beyond three miles from the coast as well as vast expanses of energy-rich western lands. Unfortunately, only a fraction of these areas have been opened to energy...

  • An Election-Night Win For Domestic Energy Jobs

    November 4, 2010

    Draw up a map of the U.S. and shade in the regions that rely on energy jobs -- places like Appalachia, the Rockies, western Gulf states, Alaska -- and that’s where we saw some of the strongest anti-Obama sentiment succeeding on election day.


    With few exceptions, the only Democratic congressional candidates who won in these areas were those able to distance themselves from President Obama’s energy policies -- or to be more accurate, his anti-energy policies. In its first two years, the Obama administration has tried to slam the door shut on domestic production of coal, oil, and natural gas.

    But now, many of the administration’s congressional allies in this effort have gotten a pink slip from their constituents. Obama will soon have to contend with a Congress that sees increased supplies of affordable domestic energy -- and the increased jobs that go with it -- as...

  • Moratorium Lifted, But Drilling Still Blocked

    October 13, 2010

    With much fanfare, the Obama administration has lifted its moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. But don’t expect much actual drilling any time soon, thanks to all of the administration’s other red tape strangling domestic oil and natural gas production.


    Even before the April 20th Deepwater Horizon spill, the Obama administration had clamped down on new leasing on federally controlled offshore and onshore areas. In fact, 2009 saw less oil and gas leasing than in any year under Bush or Clinton, and 2010 was on track to be no better.


    Nonetheless, the Obama administration Department of the Interior used the spill as an excuse to crack down further by imposing a six-month moratorium, until November 30th, on issuing any new deepwater drilling permits in the...

  • Washington's New War on the West

    October 4, 2010

    The economic track record of the current administration and Congress is not a good one. Unemployment remains stubbornly high at nearly 10 percent, and many believe federal missteps prolonged the recession and are weakening the recovery. While things like ill-advised spending, Obamacare, and looming tax hikes are doing damage nationwide, a number of other federal measures have particularly burdened the American West, the region suffering with the highest unemployment rate in the country. The Senate and House Western Caucuses’ recent study, "The War on Western Jobs," documents the host of environmental policies that have targeted the sectors crucial to the economies of Western states -- especially energy production but also mining, logging, farming, and ranching.


    It is important to...

  • The Failed Stimulus Package Reveals What Economy Really Needs

    September 29, 2010

    A failure can make for a valuable learning experience, and the stimulus package is no exception. Clearly the stimulus has not worked, and from its inception many economists doubted the wisdom of the federal government trying to spend our way into prosperity. But putting aside questions about the merits of spending as means of sparking an economic recovery, it appears that the feds were not even able to dole out the money in a timely manner. The culprit -- regulatory red tape.


    Several studies conducted by the Department of Energy’s Office of the Inspector General (here , here , and ...

  • An Annoying Regulation for Every Room in the House

    September 24, 2010

    The Obama administration isn’t satisfied giving the American people several big things we don’t want -- the stimulus package, expanded bailouts, Obamacare -- but it is also hitting us with a multitude of bothersome regulations. Perhaps most annoying of all is Washington’s attempt to redesign home appliances. Just weeks after taking office, the president announced an accelerated process to create stringent new energy efficiency standards for nearly everything around the house that uses energy. The Department of Energy is well on its way towards accomplishing this goal, boasting of more than 20 such regulations since President Obama came to office.


    If past experience is any guide, these regulations will raise the purchase price of appliances...

  • Kiss Your Ash Goodbye -- Regulating Coal Combustion Byproducts As Hazardous Is An Unnecessary Job Killer

    September 8, 2010

    The Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to regulate carbon dioxide as an air pollutant is currently garnering most of the attention from the agency’s critics, but it is far from the only problematic EPA regulation in the works. Another proposal that also deserves strong opposition is the agency’s attempt to label coal combustion byproducts (CCBs) as hazardous waste. Doing so is not only environmentally unnecessary but downright counterproductive, and would raise energy costs and kill jobs to boot.


    Like several other Obama administration regulations, this extreme proposal goes well beyond anything contemplated under Bush or under Clinton. In fact, it was the Clinton administration EPA that concluded in 2000 that CCBs, chiefly the fly ash from burning coal to produce electricity, should be categorized as non-hazardous and handled in a manner not unlike municipal solid...

  • Federal Regulators Making Laundry More Costly And More Dingy

    August 27, 2010

    In a classic case of a government solution in search of a problem, Washington has for years set energy efficiency standards for home appliances. By now, refrigerators, air-conditioners, and many other appliances have been subjected to multiple rounds of successively tighter requirements from the Department of Energy (DOE). The Obama administration has taken this pre-existing regulatory blank check and run with it, finalizing standards for over 20 products. As might be expected, such arbitrary government mandates come at a cost -- a higher purchase price for regulated appliances, but also compromised performance, features, and reliability. And the downside can easily swamp the often-modest energy savings. The regulations for clothes washers may be the worst of them all.


    The clothes washer standards currently in force were...

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