Featuring the Work and Ideas of the National Center for Public Policy Research & Project 21
A “cap and trade” emissions scheme for the northeastern United States was dealt a serious setback after an overwhelming bipartisan majority of members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation requiring the governor’s plan to join a multistate plan to first undergo public investigation and receive legislative approval.
In June, National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen, Ph.D. told The Epoch Times that legislators in Pennsylvania “have good reason to be concerned” about Governor Tom Wolf’s crusade to enter the Keystone State into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
Unable to pass in the U.S. Congress over a decade ago, cap and trade schemes such as the RGGI seek to set limits on allowable emissions that would allegedly create a market for producers to peddle emissions credits amongst themselves. The National Center has long asserted that this will only raise energy costs and cause economic hardship for all Americans.
In Kevin Mooney’s Epoch Times article, he quoted Vince Brisini of Olympus Power calling the RGGI a “nuclear-tipped economic cruise missile aimed at coal-fired power plants and at the citizens” of many Pennsylvania counties involved in the coal mining and natural gas industries as well as related businesses.
The bill, which is expected to pass in the Pennsylvania Senate, does not bar entry into the RGGI. It does mandate public comment, legislative hearings and passage of a bill from the governor in order for the state to join it.
Wolf is now reportedly working on regulatory tricks to circumvent the legislature and impose the RGGI by 2022.
In the Epoch Times article, Bonner warned against such tricks:
Not only does Wolf’s unilateral action circumvent the legislature, it places tremendous financial burdens on ordinary Pennsylvanians – at the worst possible time.
Every state that has joined RGGI has wound up imposing significantly higher electricity costs to families and businesses. If one were to devise a scheme to guarantee outmigration of people and businesses, membership in RGGI would be one of the first steps.
While lawmakers supporting HB 2025 called the RGGI’s cap and trade scheme a “tax” that would destroy fossil fuel jobs and related services, its proponents claimed forcing changes in energy production by force of law would help the economy by reprioritizing largely unproven and infrastructure-lacking alternative energy sources.
Efforts to halt the reopening of the economy while making allowances for radical Black Lives Matter protests isn’t the only blatant hypocrisy from the left when it comes to COVID-19 protection measures.
Over at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a five-month hiatus for certain compliance reporting and regulatory enforcement has been a target of green extremists’ ire. A measure to protect nonessential workers and keep businesses operating in extreme instances of COVID-19 protection efforts, this hiatus is by no means turning a blind eye to polluters. Companies have been expected to comply with all existing regulations. But, as EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated:
This temporary policy is designed to provide enforcement discretion under the current, extraordinary conditions, while ensuring facility operations continue to protect human health and the environment.
The discretionary policy is scheduled to expire on September 1.
In a RealClearMarkets commentary, National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen, Ph.D. explains how the left is opposed to a “reasonable effort to keep workers safe in the face of a global health emergency.”
It would appear that safety – which is an absolute must for liberals in most aspects of pandemic precautions – gets a pass when it can be used in “unfairly smearing their political opponents.”
Describing the wisdom of the EPA’s short-term discretionary enforcement policy, Bonner explains:
Rather than force these firms to choose between paying a hefty fine and putting workers at risk, the EPA has granted them flexibility on these tasks.
That doesn’t mean energy firms have a free pass to pollute. The EPA will make exceptions on “a case-by-case basis,” and only if the agency determines COVID-19 was at the root of a firm’s noncompliance. The agency has also explicitly stated that the guidance “does not say that the COVID-19 pandemic will excuse exceedances of pollutant limitations.”
Regarding the cries of the green activists about safety, he adds:
These accusations miss the mark completely. With most non-essential workers staying at home, energy firms can’t meet every federal reporting requirement. The EPA’s guidance will allow firms to scale back administrative work without incurring a fine. The policy doesn’t change federal environmental standards in the slightest.
As to the politics of the situation – much like when advocates for reopening businesses were thwarted from gathering while Black Lives Matter protests were virtually exempt from social distancing orders – Bonner remarks:
Environmentalists are lying to score political points. The memo doesn’t lift limitations on pollutants or any other environmental regulation. And even if they wanted to, energy firms couldn’t just flip a switch and ramp up pollution on a moment’s notice.
To Bonner’s commentary – “The EPA Wants to Protect Workers. Environmentalists are Furious” – at the RealClearMarkets website, click here.
The following is a statement from David A. Ridenour, president of the National Center, on Paycheck Protection Program funding:
The leftist publications Slate and Daily Beast published articles suggesting that a number of limited-government groups have violated their deeply-held principles by accepting Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to weather the COVID-19 storm.
These are not the first of such articles, and they certainly won’t be the last.
But the National Center for Public Policy Research will not be mentioned in any them as we neither applied for nor received PPP funds.
Even though the National Center experienced fluctuations in its revenue due to COVID-19-related economic fallout, we did not seek government funding because:
We’ve also always believed in the wisdom of the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis – about the need to save during periods of abundance for periods of scarcity.
Having said this, the decision of some groups – including Americans for Tax Reform Foundation – to take PPP funds does not mean these groups betrayed their limited-government principles.
These groups’ financial predicament was not of their own making, but caused by the economic tailspin precipitated by government lockdown orders.
Conservatives and libertarians acknowledge government’s authority to take private property for public use. But when it does so, the full costs should not be shouldered by the individual, but by the public. This is why the founders wisely added the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
While the National Center decided against participating in PPP, it recognizes there is a legitimate case to be made that government should clean up the messes it makes.
The liberal media should refrain from commenting on principles it clearly knows nothing about.
If the current protests destabilizing America are really supposed to end racism, then the words of Terry Crews should be revered. Instead, the former professional athlete-turned-actor has been vilified for warning protestors to check themselves to ensure that demands for racial respect don’t morph into beliefs of racial supremacy.
Crews, who currently stars in the television show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” had tweeted about how the protests over George Floyd’s death need to get away from pitting races against each other. He asserted that “defeating White supremacy without White people creates Black supremacy. Equality is the truth. Like it or not, we are all in this together.”
But in warning about what he feared was “dangerous self-righteousness,” Crews earned people calling him an “Uncle Tom” and worse.
More recently, Crews tweeted: “If you are a child of God, you are my brother and sister. I have family of every race, creed and ideology.” He added: “We must ensure #blacklivesmatter doesn’t morph into #blacklivesbetter.”
For this, some on Twitter alleged that Crews had succumbed to “right-wing narratives,” and that he was “crazy” for suggesting that newfound racial power could lead to race-based demands, segregation and threats against other races.
Rich believes Crews makes a point. No one is going to come together, Rich suggests, if the extreme demands of protest leaders and their willing followers begin splitting people further apart:
Terry Crews actually makes an excellent and critically important point.
Given the number of whites who have been killed in the name of the Black Lives Matter movement during protests after George Floyd’s death, you have to wonder if racism isn’t taking a dangerous course. The continued assault on whites – such as race-exclusive safe spaces and forcing whites to “check” their privilege – should make us all worry about how this anti-racist movement has itself become a very racist one.
War on white people isn’t the answer to improving the lives of black people and the historic discrimination we have faced. It is only through the upliftment of education, a love for our fellow man and assimilating fully into our non-hyphenated American identity that we can move beyond racism.
Amidst all the controversy it has stirred up, Crews – to his credit – has vowed not to shrink from the fight. He tweeted on Independence Day: “Knowing this reality – I stand on my decision to unite with good people, no matter the race, creed or ideology. Given the number of threats against this decision – I also decide to die on this hill.”
National Center Vice President David W. Almasi says Americans should be celebrating Independence Day, the genius of our Founding Fathers and the system of freedom and liberty that they created “now more so than ever.”
In an article by Hiram Reisner that has appeared so far on the websites of InsideSources, the Duluth News Tribune and the Prescott eNews, David says the United States stands out in the world as a government that has been able to live up to the ideals of its founders and has adapted to be able to meet and implement those ideals over the last 244 years:
Of all of the governments in the world’s history, we are the one that has actually grown and adapted to circumstances.
So, yes, we are a country that was founded [to deal] with actual current events that are happening right now – where people are talking about slavery, talking about racial intolerance – because we are a nation who had that in our founding.
The Founding Fathers were smart enough and interested enough in seeing change that they laid the groundwork in a document written almost 250 years ago that was able to adapt — as society as a whole was able to understand the problems of slavery and the problems of racial intolerance.
David also points out a distinction between the people who are truly moved by the death of George Floyd and participate in “black lives matter” protests and those who are leading the radical, deconstructionist and Marxist Black Lives Matter group.
Reisner writes, “Almasi… says he believes that most Black Lives Matter protesters are patriotic — though he questions the motives of the leaders. He also said he knows people in the rank-and-file and considers them very patriotic.”
To read all of Reisner’s article, click here.
Forget the Fourth? No way!
Scotty Smart, who doesn’t think Americans should honor the nation’s birth but must instead “hold America accountable” for racial injustice, got schooled by Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper on the Fox News Channel program “The Ingraham Angle.”
After Smart claimed that blacks in particular should not celebrate on Independence Day because “we weren’t free” on July 4, 1776, and also that blacks have been victims of “systemic oppression” for the whole of American history, Horace called Smart’s complaints “patent nonsense.”
Horace said to Smart:
You don’t know your history… Stay away from eating the Tide Pods and look at the history book!
And what you will see is there are a number of black Americans throughout history who stood on the side of freedom and liberty.
This celebration is for everyone who supports liberty. It’s not for whites. It’s not for blacks.
While not ignoring past injustices, Horace explained that America was founded on the basis of freedom and liberty. It may have not been completely free at the outset, but the ideas of the Founding Fathers have been fully realized over time:
In 1776, there were thousands of free black men who joined in the fight to secure liberty and freedom. It is an absolute insult to the sacrifice that these people made to say that we were not “free.”
Some were free. Some were not. Now, all are free.
America has lived up to the model that it set up. This experiment has been remarkably successful. And this weekend is a time we should all be coming together to celebrate that success.
Guest host Raymond Arroyo brought up that Senators James Lankford and Ron Johnson have proposed making the Juneteenth commemoration of the end of slavery a federal holiday (replacing Columbus Day). While Smart said he did appreciate them “steppin’ up and taking that stance,” he nonetheless continued to criticize “systemic oppression throughout the entire American history.” He added that “we still haven’t gotten.. liberty and justice for all.”
Calling Smart’s case “Marxist drivel,” Horace had to teach Smart about American history yet again:
The fact is that America gave more lives in the Civil War than any war American has ever been a part of. And, as a result of that war, three constitutional amendments came about. And as a result of that, American joined together and ultimately has said that it is going to commit – and has done so – committed to the idea that we did at our inception.
Every citizen is going to be recognized and supported equally before the law.
What they’re wanting to do now is throw that away. And yet it ignores the marvel of what our country is all about.
During a recent panel discussion about judicial reform and liberal efforts to block Senator Tim Scott’s police reform bill, Project 21 member Vince Ellison assured Newsmax viewers, “I’m an advocate of law enforcement.”
That being said, he pointed out police are not enough to keep people safe: “[I]f policing made anyone safe, Detroit, L.A. and Chicago would be the safest places in the world. And they’re not.” Vince explained that “[t]he police are not a security force… They’ll tell you that.”
What’s really important is that Americans are able to provide for their own security with a firearm:
If these riots did anything else, they proved that every argument against the Second Amendment has been obliterated. The things that keep people safe are their right to keep and bear arms. The police department is really an apprehension and investigative unit. Ninety-five percent of crimes are committed before they get there.
The right for people to defend themselves is an inalienable right given to them by God. It is irrevocable, nontransferable. It can be violated. It can be infringed upon and abridged. But it cannot be taken away.
And many of these liberal mayors have tried to do just that. And because of that, you have all of this violence and all of this chaos.
Noting that the police are “not clairvoyant” and are limited in their resources, Vince said the chaos in the cities is brought on by an inability for the people to protect themselves due to strict gun laws.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that congressional conservatives are “trying to get away with murder, actually – the murder of George Floyd” by not agreeing to liberal legislation for police reform. Vince countered that it is the liberal policies dominating large cities that can be blamed for out-of-control crime, violence and murders:
When Nancy Pelosi talks about committing murder to the black community… [t]hey should look at those inner cities where they have all the murders. This is something [liberals] control.
For years, David Almacy and I have been mistaken for each other. It’s understandable – the name is not that common.
We have both been involved in the Washington political scene since the late 1980s. It started with people approaching him with questions related to what I was doing. After his stint in the White House press office during the George W. Bush Administration, the tables turned.
We’ve met. He’s a nice guy. One of his neighbors has coincidentally become a good friend. We’ve jokingly referred to each other as “doppelganger.”
But, for the sake of IRS rules governing nonprofits, I need to make it clear we are not the same person.
David Almacy is on the organizing committee for “43 Alumni for Joe Biden” group endorsing the former vice president in the upcoming election. As vice president of the nonprofit National Center, I adhere to Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code that dictates that “public statements (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against campaign activity.”
In an official capacity, the National Center and its staff do not involve themselves in campaign activity for any candidate or political party and do not endorse any candidate or political party.
When a group of CEOs banded together to redefine the responsibilities of a corporation, leftists gave them an assist by relieving those captains of industry of lots of responsibility.
For the left, the redefinition is more than a foot in the door that makes the corporate world their oyster; it allows them to push an agenda in ways they could never do through government. For CEOs, the new focus on “stakeholders” frees them of having to be totally beholden to the pesky shareholders who are selfishly hoping for a return on their investment to fund their personal entrepreneurship or retirement nest eggs.
Any group is conceivably a stakeholder, including ill-defined groups like “activists” of various sorts, whose interests are malleable and whose leadership structures are either unclear or entirely fanciful. Hence, almost any decision made by corporate leaders under a stakeholder-primacy standard can be defended according to some concatenation of interpretations of stakeholder interests. And ultimately no one would have the necessary standing objectively and conclusively to assert that, no, this amorphous collection of ill-defined interests required some different result as a matter of law.
To do this dilutes the authority of the shareholder by giving CEOs the opportunity to justify their actions on the part of the company as something for the freeloading type of stakeholder without a vested interest in the company:
[M]ake no mistake: a move to a stakeholder primacy model would ultimately give corporate leaders more discretion, not less. Responsibility to one set of interests – shareholder primacy – necessarily implicates other considerations, such as employee retention and customer service policies, but still provides an ultimate and objective yardstick against which corporate managers can be measured. A broad smear of potentially infinite and ultimately illimitable “stakeholder interests” does not.
And don’t think this isn’t something the left has been anticipating. The rise of the stakeholder also heralds the rise of left-wing corporate influence:
It’s this opportunity for hectoring interference in other people’s lives that has attracted the strange-bedfellow supporters of increased corporate-director autonomy: the National Professional Left. This congeries of pressure groups has worked – with increasing strength and success – to fuel the left’s long march through American institutions. These groups have taken over American education almost completely, and have throttled Silicon Valley, pushing its center-right employees into the fearful, hiding closet that the left once abjured. Now they are coming after American corporations generally – and they think that this move toward stakeholder primacy gives them their chance.
While employees, suppliers and customers also constitute stakeholders, the dynamic is different. In many ways, these stakeholders are in the same boat as shareholders after the left sinks its teeth into a corporate flank. As Scott writes:
We know who the losers in this process will be: shareholders, employees, customers – everyone who has been protected by shareholder primacy, whether they realized it or not. But when trying to identify the winners, it would be useful for all of us, especially those who lean liberal but who aren’t part of the National Professional Left, to ask: who’s playing whom? And why?
To read all of Scott’s commentary – “Stakeholder Primacy: Who’s Playing Whom?” – click here.
With America on the verge of leaping into a new era in space, commercial operators are being forced take baby steps as government regulations threaten to ground their lofty ambitions.
Not only does the plan for Spaceport Camden offer an exciting prospect of “provid[ing] a nearly unrestricted range for the launch of spacecraft in a wide array of orbits,” it also “eliminates the need for space companies to sequence their launches alongside government-directed payloads or be saddled with certain legacy systems, processes and concomitant friction costs.”
Furthermore, the plan for the launch site and related aerospace office and industrial park is “spearheading the region’s post-COVID-19 recovery by bringing high-paying aerospace jobs to the Savannah-Jacksonville corridor.” Camden County has a per capita annual income of $22,022.
Bonner also notes the historic chance Spaceport Camden offers for advancing man in space:
Unlike the Apollo era of a half-century ago, when NASA called the shots and private companies served as mere contractors, today, it’s increasingly the private sector that is leading the way in all aspects of space innovation. From reusable rockets to plans to install a satellite-based internet, nimble private companies are already showing that they will be the vanguard of America’s space future.
Yet the county officials and companies that want Spaceport Camden have been waiting five years for approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). And a recent decision to pivot the site from medium-size rockets to “focus exclusively on smaller rockets that will ferry satellites into orbit” has essentially pushed the reset button. The FAA now wants a new environmental review despite the first one finding no issues.
In his analysis, Bonner points out the folly of this process:
This would be like the FAA requiring a new EIS for the Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport because a new commercial carrier wanted to fly small Cessna aircraft, and not Boeing 747s. The FAA projects that completion of the revised EIS will take until October 2021, adding nearly 18 months to a process that has already gone on for five years.
What to do? The White House may have two solutions to get Spaceport Camden off the ground:
Breaking the logjam at FAA may require intervention by the White House. One way to get at the FAA’s insistence on a revised EIS is through President Donald Trump’s June 4 Executive Order. It instructed federal agencies to expedite the permitting process for construction and energy projects as a means to confront the economic emergency brought on by COVID-19-related lockdowns.
Separately, the Trump administration in January proposed new regulations speeding up the notoriously slow EIS-approval process. The White House might be persuaded that FAA’s mandating another lengthy EIS for a launcher class that is 80–90 percent smaller than the original evaluated and acceptable launcher class would further unnecessarily delay the spaceport and undermine southeast Georgia’s economic recovery.
To read all of the Bonner’s analysis – “Federal Aviation Administration Slow Walks Proposed Georgia Spaceport” – click here.