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

    September 28, 2015 7:30 AM

    A slow week closed with a bang, with Friday’s Federal Register containing 15 proposed regulations, 25 final regulations, and 502 pages. Throughout the week, new regulations cover everything from bird-hunting to sorghum.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 84 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 77 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation precisely every two hours.
    • So far in 2015, 2,467 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 3,316 new regulations this year, far fewer than the usual total of 3,500-plus.
    • Last week, 1,301 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,876 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 58,108 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 78,210 pages.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. 21 such rules have been published so far this year, none in the past week.
    • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $1.69 billion to $1.81 billion for the current year.
    • 209 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
    • So far in 2015, 400 new rules affect small businesses; 56 of them are classified as significant. 
  • American and Chinese Presidents Agree To Continue To Work Together To Raise U. S. Energy Prices

    September 25, 2015 6:02 PM

    President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a three-and-a-half page joint statement on climate change on 25th September during the Chinese leader’s state visit to Washington, DC.  This follows the climate agreement that Presidents Obama and Xi made on 12th November 2014 when Obama visited China.   

    >Both leaders commit “to work together and with others toward an ambitious, successful Paris outcome” that makes progress toward keeping the increase in the global mean temperature below 2 degrees centigrade.  “Paris outcome” refers to the new international agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol that is currently being negotiated and is due to be signed at COP-21 (the seventeenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Paris in December.

    Press reports have focused on the announcement that China will begin an emissions trading (or cap-and-trade) system for greenhouse gas emissions from electric generation and most industries by 2017.  But just as with the Obama-Xi deal last year, China does not commit to actual emissions reductions. 

    Instead, the statement re-affirms “their commitment to reach an ambitious agreement in 2015 that reflects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances.”  Translated from UN-speak, this means that, as with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, developed countries will be expected to undertake targets and timetables for reducing emissions, while developing countries will not.

  • Hillary Clinton Opposes Keystone XL Pipeline

    September 25, 2015 6:00 PM

    Campaigning in Iowa on Tuesday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced she opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline. Keystone foes had pressed her for months to declare her opposition, but until this week she took no side in the controversy, explaining that, as former head of the department reviewing the project, she did not want to “second guess” President Obama and Secretary Kerry, and would “wait and see” what they decide. In July, she told a New Hampshire voter who queried her on Keystone, “If it’s still undecided when I become President, I will answer your question.”

    Well, officially it’s still undecided, so Clinton’s action confirms what many of us suspected – Obama and Kerry long ago decided to kill the pipeline through a deny-by-delay strategy.

    On announcing her opposition, Clinton criticized Keystone as “a distraction from important work we have to do on climate change.” She offered a fuller explanation the next day in a blog post on

    “We shouldn’t be building a pipeline dedicated to moving North America’s dirtiest fuel through our communities — we should be focused on what it will take to make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century. For too long, the Keystone XL pipeline has been a distraction from the real challenges facing our energy sector — and the job-creating investments that we should be making to meet them.”

    The Keystone project would be funded solely by private investors putting their own capital at risk. “We” – that is, political elites – shouldn’t allow that. “We” should only allow investment in “clean energy.” Sounds like central planning.

  • Pope Francis Barely Mentions Climate Change in Speeches at the United Nations, Congress, and the White House

    September 25, 2015 5:58 PM

    Pope Francis cooled his rhetoric on climate change and the need to de-industrialize the world in order to help the poor in his three speeches to political bodies during his first trip to the United States this past week.  Francis and his Vatican entourage arrived direct from Cuba on 22nd September at Andrews Air Force Base, where he was greeted by President and Mrs. Obama.

    Appearing the next morning on the White House lawn with the President, the Pope said, “I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation.”

    On Thursday morning, Francis became the first Pope to address a joint meeting of Congress.  He didn’t mention climate change once, although he did call on Congress to exert itself to “to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.”

    In his address to the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit at UN headquarters in New York City on 24th September, Pope Francis spoke at length on the connection between protecting the environment and “putting an end to exclusion.”  Francis uses “the excluded” as a catchall term for various categories of downtrodden people. 

    His argument is convoluted, but here is perhaps the key passage:

  • Celebrating a Great Editor: Max Borders and The Freeman

    September 25, 2015 2:20 PM

    Yesterday the Foundation for Economic Education’s “Anything Peaceful” blog carried the news that editor Max Borders was leaving his position directing content for and FEE’s long-running magazine, The Freeman. Over the past three years Max has been an eloquent voice for liberty and an excellent curator of editorial talent, publishing content from an impressive stable of regular contributors, including my colleague Iain Murray.

  • Education Department Power Grabs Criticized in Congress

    September 25, 2015 2:19 PM

    Yesterday, The College Fix published an interesting story titled “Department of Education shredded for lawless overreach in Senate hearing.” It was about Congress getting annoyed with the Education Department for illegally imposing mandates on colleges and schools out of thin air, without even going through rulemaking or the notice and comment required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Examples include school bullying rules and counterproductive mandates for handling sexual harassment and assault claims.

    As the College Fix notes, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, where I used to work, has dictated sweeping “changes in how colleges and universities handle sexual-assault allegations and investigations.” The Education Department requires colleges to comply with an intricate and very burdensome set of rules (66 pages), beginning with a 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, even though that letter explicitly (and falsely) claimed it was not adding any requirements to applicable law.

    As the College Fix observes, that letter “was issued without a notice-and-comment process, making OCR’s guidance arguably unenforceable, yet the office has launched Title IX investigations against scores of schools for allegedly violating its unenforceable rules emanating from that letter. OCR’s guidance overreach has been weighing on Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, chairman of the Senate committee that handles education, and President George H.W. Bush’s education secretary, who said the letter circumvented ‘the principles of transparency and accountability.’”

  • World Bank Increases Number of Poor

    September 25, 2015 11:22 AM

    The World Bank is considering changing its definition of what constitutes extreme poverty, raising the level below which someone is treated as extremely poor from $1.25 a day to $1.90 a day. This comes after a long trend of people moving out of the category, leading some to point out that the Bank may have an interest in maintaining high numbers of people defined as poor.

  • Jeb Bush Unveils Regulatory Reform Agenda

    September 24, 2015 4:48 PM

    Traditionally, presidents named Bush have not been friends of limited government. George H.W. Bush raised taxes after his famous “read my lips” speech, and oversaw the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. He also shepherded the Americans with Disabilities Act into law, to trial lawyers’ unending gratitude. George W. Bush created the TSA (currently being sued by CEI), nearly doubled federal spending, increased federal involvement in state and local education, doled out massive energy and agriculture pork, and helped set the stage for the bailouts and stimulus spending that marked the early Obama administration.

    If Jeb Bush becomes president, will he be different? This analyst is not optimistic. But there is a lot to like in the regulatory reform plan he unveiled this week in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Whoever wins the 2016 election would be wise to enact many of Bush’s proposals.

    Bush endorsed the REINS Act, which would require Congress to hold votes on every new regulation with more than $100 million in annual costs. By way of contrast, President Obama has said he will veto REINS if it reaches his desk. REINS has passed the House for the last several Congresses, but the Senate has never acted on it, even with its new GOP majority. Wayne Crews and I have repeatedly written in favor of REINS, most recently here. It is a minor reform, but would still make an important step in giving more accountability to agencies, and restoring a balance of powers that has gone far out of whack. So on this count, well played, Jeb!

    Bush also proposes a one-in, one-out reform, under which an agency wishing to issue a new regulation would have to balance the new rule by repealing an equivalent dollar amount worth of old regulations. Both Canada and the U.K. have had some success with variations on one-in, one-out, and the idea has attracted bipartisan support, from Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and in legislative form in Sen. Dan Sullivan’s (R-Alaska) RED Tape Act.

  • Corporate Ads Need to Sell Ideas, Too

    September 24, 2015 3:19 PM

    Tim Montgomerie, a columnist for The Times of London and founder of ConservativeHome, writes in CapX this week about the visit of Pope Francis to the U.S. Reviewing Francis’ frequently-cited (and alarmingly popular) critiques of capitalism, Montgomerie remarks on the frustrating inability of for-profit enterprises to defend themselves in the court of public opinion:

    …how can a belief system that spends $600bn advertising its products be so awful at selling itself?

    During this year the global advertising industry will spend an estimated $600 billion advertising the products of the free enterprise system to consumers. That’s about $90 per person in the key markets of the world. The $500 billion will include $189 billion in America, $73 billion in China, $40 billion in Japan, $28 billion in Germany and $25 billion in Britain. … It is amazing that capitalists as individuals are so attuned to the need to sell their individual products but so neglectful of the need to sell the system as a whole. It seems they can sell almost anything to anyone – including products we don’t really need – but can’t sell capitalism as a system.

  • Pope Francis Cools It on Climate Change Rhetoric

    September 24, 2015 12:17 PM

    Pope Francis in his speeches at the White House on Wednesday morning and to a joint session of Congress on Thursday morning toned down his rhetoric on climate change and modern industrial civilization. Way down.

    Here are the Pope’s key remarks on climate change at the White House:

    Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them.

    I don’t think many people are going to get excited about the Pope’s tepid support of President Obama’s energy-rationing agenda.


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