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  • Senate Likely To Vote on Resolutions To Block EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Rules for Power Plants Next Week

    November 13, 2015 5:19 PM

    The Senate is tentatively scheduled to take up the two resolutions of disapproval of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for new and existing power plants on Tuesday, 17th November, and vote on them on Wednesday the 18th. 

    Senate Joint Resolution 23, sponsored by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and 47 co-sponsors, blocks the NSPS for new power plants.  Senate Joint Resolution 24, sponsored by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and 48 co-sponsors, blocks the ESPS for existing power plants.

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee is likely to mark up and pass their versions of the CRA resolutions on Wednesday as well.  The subcommittee mark-up resulted in straight party-line votes on H. J. Res. 71 and H. J. Res. 72. Because of the week-long Thanksgiving recess, the full House may not vote on the resolutions until the first week of December, which is also the first week of COP-21, the UN climate conference in Paris that is supposed to conclude negotiations on a new climate treaty.

    Although President Barack Obama is almost certain to veto both resolutions, the votes will provide support for including appropriations riders in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill to block the EPA rules and will also undermine the credibility of the Obama Administration at COP-21. 

  • Farewell and Toast to CEI's Future

    November 12, 2015 5:41 PM

    When in the course of social discourse I am asked, “And why did you ever leave California?” the response I give is often not the one expected: “Because the weather drove me crazy!” You see, I like seasons. Seasons mirror life. They provide anticipation for what’s to come while showering us with the blessings and challenges of the here and now.

    I write as the leaves are falling. In a few minutes, a charity’s tow truck will remove my 20-year-old car for greener (or rustier) pastures. My daughter has completed her college applications; a penultimate step signaling a house soon to be empty of our two children.

    And I am out of time as leader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Something I did not anticipate happening, at least not now. But seasons come, and seasons go. In the opening of Dylan Thomas’s verbally illustrative play, “Under Milk Wood,” the First Voice repeats, “Time passes. Listen. Time passes.”

    Time has passed indeed. Whiskey and kilt parties, uproarious annual dinners, redesigned logos and revamped mission statements, revolving staff doors (and EPA administrators!), mergers and acquisitions, U.S. Supreme Court replays and refrains, coast-to-coast radio broadcasts, White House denunciations, Michael Mann insults, the Dodd-Frank energizer bunny lawsuit, 10,0000 Commandments becoming 15,000, and agency lawyers and FOIA processors realizing the Glenn Close intensity of CEI’s “We’re not going to be ignored…!” philosophy.

  • CFPB's Database Should Be Bipartisan Privacy Concern

    November 12, 2015 4:43 PM

    ​The behemoth Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) played a big role in Tuesday night’s GOP presidential debate on Fox Business, both during the commercials and in the candidate’s answers.

    A new ad by American Action Network that made its debut during commercial break correctly linked the CFPB—created by the Dodd-Frank so-called financial reform act rammed through Congress in 2010—to denial of mortgages and car loans due to the CFPB’s costly and paternalistic rules that hit Main Street bank and credit unions. The candidates critical of Dodd-Frank dinged those same policies, but often without naming the CFPB.

    Carly Fiorina called out the CFPB directly and for another disturbing policy. She pointed out that the CFPB is an entity with “no congressional oversight that is digging through hundreds of millions of your credit records.”

    The “digging” refers to CFPB’s massive database of mortgage and credit card info that rivals that of the National Security Agency in both size and intrusiveness. As former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal, “Every month the CFPB … gathers data on 22 million mortgages, 5.5 million student loans, two million bank accounts with overdraft fees, and hundreds of thousands of auto sales, credit scores and deposit advance loans.” My Competitive Enterprise Institute colleague Iain Murray and I have been writing about the troublesome database and its threat to privacy since the CFPB created it more than two years ago.

  • Five Infuriating Facts about Federal Regulation

    November 12, 2015 1:02 PM

    Each year, we produce Ten Thousand Commandments (10KC), an extensive report on the size, scope, and true cost of federal regulations.  10KC exposes the burdens put on the American economy -from small business owners to everyday taxpayers - by federal regulations. The expansive reach of the federal government’s regulations leaves no one unharmed and grows daily, which is why we at CEI continue to issue this annual report.

    Of course, we understand 10KC is no short read so we've put together an infographic that provides a glimpse at “5 Infuriating Facts about Federal Regulation.”

    If you are interested in the full report or finding specific sections, you can read it at our website here.

  • Daily Fantasy Sports Betting: Gambling or Game of Skill?

    November 11, 2015 12:40 PM

    That is the big question in New York today after that state’s attorney general issued a cease and desist order to DraftKings and FanDuel—the two most popular websites in the daily fantasy sports wagering. In the order, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman contends that that the websites constitute illegal gambling under state law, according to which gambling is when a person “engages in gambling when he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.” The question for courts, assuming this case goes to court, is whether or not online fantasy sports bettors have any control or influence over the outcome of their wagers.

    The sudden legal and congressional interest in fantasy sports comes as the industry is becoming big business. Since beginning in the 2000s, online daily fantasy has bloomed into a multi-billion dollar industry. In North America alone, players spend around $27 billion a year! To make matters even stickier, the professional sports leagues have gone all-in with the online fantasy industry, with Fox Sports, MLB, NHL, MLS, and individual teams investing in the industry. While it might seem strange that pro-sports leagues, who are known for vehemently opposing legalizing sports gambling, would throw in their lot with fantasy sports, there’s a very simple reason why they’ve done so: money. According to reports, fans consume 40 percent more sports content after they started playing on FanDuel. So, is it game over for online daily fantasy sports?

    Operators of DFS sites have contended that their operations are not in violation of any law because they are not gambling, but rather games of skill which are considered legal under federal law and the laws of 45 of the 50 states. Another fact that bolsters the case for legal DFS is that there are no federal laws criminalizing DFS and a few that specifically exempt DFS from being considered gambling.

    However, the ultimate determining factor is state law. A handful of states, such as Washington, consider a game “gambling” if there’s even a “material degree” of chance involved in the outcome. Other states, like Arizona, have laws that explicitly make fantasy sports gambling for money illegal. To their credit, DFS sites like DraftKings voluntarily restrict access for players in these states where fantasy sports betting is most likely illegal. However, for most states, including New York, the laws are vaguer and consider games “skill” if the player has some degree of control over the outcome.

    According to gaming expert Mark Hichar, “In true skill contests, the outcome of the contest depends on the participant’s  relative knowledge, judgment, decision-making ability, experience, skill, dexterity, quickness, athletic ability and/or understanding of the contest and its rules (collectively, “skill”). Gambling laws do not apply to true skill contests because the outcome is within the control of the participant.”

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

    November 9, 2015 2:27 PM

    New rules last week covered everything from relaxed grape handling to unclaimed funerary objects.

  • Churchill: A “Foolish Moth”, and FDR’s Raw Deal

    November 9, 2015 1:21 PM

    On RealClear Radio Hour this week, we return to the era of the greatest generation taking a critical look at two of its towering icons, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.  America, the lumbering giant, remained mired in the Great Depression right up to the eve of war despite, or perhaps even because, of FDR’s economic interventions. Meanwhile across the pond, the fate of Western Civilization fell into the hands of an extravagant risk-taker who would carry Great Britain through its finest hour.

  • China Burns 17% More Coal Than Reported

    November 7, 2015 7:21 AM

    China has been burning up to 17% more coal per year than previously reported, according to new data released by the Chinese government.  New York’s Times announced this news in a top-left, front-page story on 4th November. According to reporter Chris Buckley, “The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated.  The increase alone is greater than the whole German economy emits annually from fossil fuels.”

    This is important news in at least three respects.  First, it means that global greenhouse gas emissions have been much larger during a period when the global mean temperature has not gone up as predicted.  This suggests that the climate could be even less sensitive to carbon dioxide levels than recent research has found.  The alarmists are going to have to move quickly to explain this possibility away.

  • O Says No to Keystone XL

    November 6, 2015 5:09 PM

    President Barack Obama on 6th November determined that the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline is not in the national interest and therefore denied the cross-border permit necessary for the pipeline to be built.  The President’s shameful decision concludes the administration’s shameful six year delay in making a decision.

    My view for a long time has been that the Obama Administration’s strategy was to delay the decision until TransCanada Corporation gave up.  That strategy came up against TransCanada’s request on 2nd November to suspend the State Department’s consideration of its application until 2017—that is, until President Obama has left office and a new President could approve the permit.

    One day later, White House press secretary Josh Earnest responded to TransCanada’s request by saying, “Our expectation at this point … is that the President will make a decision by the end of his administration on the Keystone pipeline.”  Instead of by the end of next year, the President made a decision by the end of this week.  My guess is that he did so now because COP-21 begins in Paris at the end of the month and he hopes to build support from environmental pressure groups for what is almost certainly going to be a modest and uninspiring climate treaty.

  • CEI FOIA Reveals Clinton Email Security NDA

    November 6, 2015 12:55 PM

    Earlier this year, CEI filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department as part of its inquiry into developing a successor regime to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. For example, CEI hopes to obtain records shedding light on the Global Climate Fund (GCF) that then-Secretary Hillary Clinton proposed as a means to rescue the December 2009 Copenhagen "climate talks" from collapse, and why and how the administration decided to claim that an obvious treaty isn't a treaty, after all.


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