masthead-highres

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Flaws in Clean Water Restoration Act Exposed in Congressional Hearings

From Mike Hardiman comes this roundup of information about recent Congressional hearings on the Clear Water Restoration Act:
Both the United States Senate and House of Representatives recently held hearings on the Oberstar/Feingold Clean Water Restoration Act. These hearings are a clear sign that the environmental community intends to push this controversial legislation to a vote in both houses of Congress sooner rather than later.

The Senate hearing was held on April 9 under the direction of bill co-sponsor Senator Barbara Boxer of California, and the House followed on April 16 with a hearing chaired by the legislation's House sponsor, Representative James Oberstar from Minnesota.

Contrary to the sponsors’ wishes, the two hearings exposed numerous flaws and very strong opposition to HR2421/S1870, the proposal to dramatically expand the federal government's role in land use regulation.

Senate Hearing

The Senate hearing, held by the Environment and Public Works Committee, unveiled several issues to which bill sponsors had difficulty responding.

Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma spoke at length regarding the bill's removal of the phrase "navigable" from the term "navigable waters." He claimed it would lead to a dramatic expansion of federal authority over wetlands from navigable waters to nearly anything that is wet.

Both witnesses and Senators supporting the bill denied that it would be an expansion of power, despite the removal of the key modifying word "navigable." Meanwhile, a witness opposing the bill, rancher Randall Smith, said of removing the word navigable, "it is a dream for litigators" and "it opens up a whole can of worms."

Supporters stated that the bill's purpose is only to clear up confusion generated by a recent Supreme Court decision, known as the Rapanos case, while opponents showed that it was actually a considerable expansion of authority.

Bill supporter Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a former federal prosecutor and state attorney general, lectured at length witness David Brand, a county engineer from Ohio opposed to the legislation. Whitehouse insisted repeatedly that "we are just picking up where we left off (before the Rapanos decision)."

Brand replied, "No, and repeating that doesn't make it true."

An exasperated Whitehouse responded, "Yes, it does make it true."

Senator David Vitter of Louisiana was opposed to the bill, and stated that he could not think of any kind of water that was not covered by the bill.

Attempting to contradict him, Clinton-era EPA Administrator Carol Browner said puddles were exempt. Vitter asked for a definition of a puddle, and Browner was unable to directly answer the question. Senator Whitehouse unconvincingly chipped in, insisting that "EPA has no interest in chasing puddles."

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming asked witnesses how the proposed bill benefits ranchers and farmers. Bill supporters did not address the question, while opponents said it would be harmful.

House Hearing

Representative James Oberstar is both the bill sponsor and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which held its own hearing April 15. This marathon session featured twenty-three witnesses and forty-four congressmen questioning them, resulting in an eleven hour hearing that stretched into late evening.

Oberstar accused the Supreme Court of "legislating from the bench" and said his bill only sought to repeal two court rulings on wetlands from recent years which protected private property, the SWANCC and Rapanos decisions.

This was challenged by congressman John Mica of Florida, who said the Oberstar bill would "fundamentally alter the course of water regulation" and produced a display featuring several hundred organizations opposed to the legislation and a pile of petitions several feet high opposing the bill.

Oberstar said his bill would clear up ambiguity that had been created by the Supreme Court. Mica agreed that there would be no ambiguity under the bill, because there would be no restriction on federal control of all water, since any non-federal or private rights would be overridden.

Congressman John Boozman from Arkansas pointed out that the bill proposes to regulate all "activities" near waters, instead of current law, which says only "discharges" into waters are regulated.

Some members were undecided. Congressman Nick Rahall from West Virginia did not take a position for or against the bill, but said "whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting." After several witnesses complained about both current law and the proposed legislation, Congressman John Salazar from Colorado told them there must be more than complaints, and asked how to make the bill better.

Witness Virginia Albrecht pointed out another major change proposed in the bill, that federal agencies be given the power to regulate "to the limit of constitutional authority." Congresswoman Thelma Drake from Virginia agreed that these are "absolute words" which could fundamentally change federal-state relationships.

Attorney Robert Trout testified that "if this bill passes, it will put my kids through college" because of all the new litigation that will be generated.
Witness Linda Runbeck, a former Minnesota state legislator, said the bill negatively impacts private property rights and hurts families because most of their net worth is tied up in the land they own, which may be sharply devalued by the bill. She also brought up the poll commissioned by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which shows that when the bill is described to them, most Americans stating an opinion do not support it.

Overall, a very thorough airing of opinion was had in the two hearings, and the legislation's many weaknesses were displayed out in the open and for the record. However, the bill's supporters remain determined first to wipe out gains made by property owners in the Supreme Court, and, second, to expand federal authority beyond current law.
Comments to author Mike Hardiman can be sent to [email protected]. Mike Hardiman, a Capitol Hill veteran, recently completed a special educational project on the Clean Water Restoration Act for the National Center for Public Policy Research.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:55 AM

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NCPPR Senior Fellow Helps Clear the Air on Clean Water

From David Almasi:
On the heels of congressional hearings in both the House and Senate, the Washington Examiner published a scathing editorial against the proposed Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA). The editorial came after National Center Senior Fellow R.J. Smith had a long conversation with Examiner editorial page editor Quin Hillyer about the April 16 House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on the CWRA.

The Examiner editorial read, in part:
With the real estate market already reeling, Congress would be foolish to do anything that would further drive down property values. It would be even worse to do so while also mounting a wholesale assault on private property rights. But that's what would be done by the misnamed Clean Water Restoration Act sponsored by Rep. James Oberstar, D-MN. Oberstar's proposal is so bad it ought to be permanently buried six feet under dry land...

Now comes Oberstar, who is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He held an April 16 committee hearing on his misnamed bill, which would vastly expand the definition of "waters" covered by stringent regulation to include almost any area, "interstate and intrastate," that ever gets wet. Oberstar set a May 1 deadline for interested parties to respond to hearing testimony.
The National Center for Public Policy Research recently spearheaded a coalition letter of over 50 organizations concerned about the CWRA's threat on private property rights and published a National Policy Analysis paper on the threat the bill poses to hunting and sporting activity.

The full Washington Examiner editorial against the CWRA can be read by clicking here.
To contact author David Almasi directly,
write him at dalmasi @nationalcenter.org

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:42 PM

Biofuel-Fueled Food Crisis Requires Dramatic Response, Senator Says

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) has delivered a floor speech calling for "'dramatic' action to address global food difficulties caused in part by current biofuel mandates."

Inhofe said, in part:
Recently, the world has been confronted with irrefutable evidence that our current biofuels mandates are having massive and potentially life threatening consequences.

Once again, we are reminded how restrictive government mandates and ill-advised bureaucratic meddling produce unintended consequences. Trying to centrally manage and “plan” a global food distribution network and economy through clumsy, unrealistically high mandates has been a proven failure.

An April 28 article on our current biofuel mandates in the National Review by Phil Kerpen and James Valvo detailed the mindset of bureaucratic planners.
Each new generation of central planners believes the previous generation wasn't smart enough. Yet central economic planning is forever doomed to failure since the approach itself limits human freedom, ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
To put it into simpler terms: As Ronald Reagan once said, “The more the plans fail, the more the planners plan.”
There's lot's more.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:06 PM

Friday, April 25, 2008

Every Day is Arbor Day for Private Conservationists

From Casey Lartigue, Jr.:
Do we want more trees or more moralizing about trees?

Today, in Washington, D.C. and other parts of the country, Americans will plant a tree. Coming on the heels of the political brow-beating of earlier this week that has become synonymous with Earth Day, the Arbor Day festival - celebrated since 1872 - is a low-key, quaint and practical event by comparison.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, its members planted 8.5 million trees last year. Additionally, Enterprise-Rent-A-Car has pledged, in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, to plant a million trees a year for the next 50 years. Internationally, the United Nations Environment Programme recently celebrated the nearing of its goal of a billion trees planted for its Plant for the Planet campaign. A number of corporations such as Ebay, the Yves Rocher Group and Bayer Corporation have also joined the effort, launched in 2006 by 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, pledging to plant trees.

These tree-planting campaigns generate nice news coverage for the organizations, but they pale in comparison to what private landowners and companies do on a regular basis not only to plant trees but also to nurture them for future use.

According to the Engineered Wood Association, American landowners plant more than two billion trees annually. Participants in the industry-backed Sustainable Forestry Initiative plant 1.7 million seedlings daily. The SFI program, started in the mid-1990s by members of American Forest and Paper Association and developed by landowners, professional foresters, conservationists and scientists to sustainably manage forestlands, has resulted in participants planting almost five billion trees.

It isn't surprising. It's the miracle of private property ownership and stewardship.

After all, people don't typically burn their own homes, land or money. The razing of lands typically comes about because of the problem known as the tragedy of the commons. When no one - or the government - owns property, it is more likely that people will abuse it. Forest landowners and timber companies have the incentive to replant a tree they cut down. Often, they replant several trees for every one they take. But because these people go about this as a matter of doing business and not as a charitable act, they don't get the headlines that the smaller efforts do.

While organized alarmists make it seem that we're running out of trees, the reality is that there are 12 million more acres of forests in the U.S. today than there were in 1987. According to the United States Forest Service, the United States has more forest land now - 749 million acres - than the 735 million acres it had in 1920. That's even though the population has more than tripled (along with increased needs for forest-related products) during that same period.

It isn't just with trees and forests that we are better off with private ownership. As private conservationists prove on a daily basis, we can have more of an animal or species when they are put under private control. The duck population will continue to increase as long as Ducks Unlimited is allowed to raise ducks so they can shoot them. We'll never run out of cows or pigs as long as people are allowed to eat them. But if we all become vegans, you might want to invest in vegetables rather than farm animals.
To contact author Casey Lartigue, Jr. directly, write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:01 PM

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Project 21's Bob Parks Finds Hippie Ethic Alive and Well in Eco-Philosophy

From David Almasi:
"If it feels good, do it" was a hippie mantra from 40 years ago. Coincidentally, the same time as Earth Day was created (and first celebrated on April 22, 1970).

Just in time for Earth Day 2008, Project 21 member Bob Parks wrote a New Visions Commentary published in The Washington Times on April 19. In it, Bob observed:
Despite sensational rhetoric, very few people actually want to pollute. It's not good business, and we all want clean air and water. When we get sucked into eco-panic, however, cooler heads seldom prevail. Sometimes the end result is a loss of costing jobs and even lives.
Bob discusses, in particular, the potential problems related to the recent green congressional mandate to ban the incandescent light bulb in favor of compact flouresecnt bulbs (CFLs) containing toxic mercury that can cause problems if not disposed of carefully.

One can expect some second thoughts down the line about CFLs when more and more of them and their toxic contents mingle with our regular garbage. Bob points out this wouldn't be the only time a hasty decision by environmentalists has lead to a policy retreat:
For example, there was the panic that our use of paper bags at the supermarket resulted in the unnecessary cutting of trees. With public pressure from environmentalists, paper bags were phased out (a cost naturally passed down to consumers) and replaced by lightweight plastic bags. A few decades later, environmentalists now complain that those petroleum-based plastic bags are winding up in landfills, are not biodegradable and should be phased out and be replaced with paper bags.
Still worse, however, is the environmentalist ban on the pesticide DDT that is keeping effective mosquito control - and an effective means of controlling the spread of malaria - away from the hundreds of millions of Africans who contract the deadly disease every year. Also, on the horizon is a potential reduction in the food supply and biofuels compete for food staples such as corn.

If it makes the greens feel good now, we'll worry about it later. Remember - if it feels good, do it.

To read all of Bob's commentary, click here.
To contact author David Almasi directly, write him at [email protected]. David Almasi is executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:56 PM

Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's Not History, It's HBO

From David Almasi:
The Washington Post's Al Kamen poked fun at the ACLU and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in his April 16 column:
The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers are heading an effort to provide legal representation for alleged terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The groups say they've gotten involved in defending the detainees charged under the 2006 Military Commissions Act to ensure that constitutional rights are respected.

They've named their efforts the "John Adams Project," after the second president, who "defended the British soldiers charged with killing Americans in the Boston Massacre, and said that the case was 'one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country.'"

Wait a minute. John Adams? Wasn't he also the guy who signed the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts, which were intended to suppress opposition to an undeclared naval war with France and provided for fines and imprisonment for publication of "any false, scandalous and malicious writings against the government"? The law that led to imprisonment of a couple of dozen newspaper editors and the closing of their publications?
The mistake is understandable. When the John Adams Project was introduced on April 3, the John Adams miniseries on HBO had only progressed through Adam's inauguration as vice president in 1789. He didn't sign the Alien and Sedition Acts until 1798. That episode didn't air until April 13 (full disclosure: I still need to watch that episode as well!).
To contact author David Almasi directly,
write him at [email protected]. David Almasi is executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:45 AM

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Congressional Energy Diet Also Reduces Waistlines and Pocketbooks (Don't Even Ask About Global Warming!)

From David Almasi:
The liberal leadership in Congress came to power in 2006 saying they had a solution to rising gas prices. Did that solution involve prices continuing to go up and taking the cost of food with them?

When Americans decided to clean up the environment in the 1950s, there was a lot of trust in the American people. There were regulations to clean things up, of course, but voluntary action, anti-littering campaigns and appeals to our better nature went a long way.

But the trust factor has been eviscerated, and it's to no one's benefit.

As National Center Senior Fellow Dana Joel Gattuso points out in a Townhall column:
Congress doesn't trust consumers to make the right decision when it comes to selecting the right source of energy. Congress knows better. That's why legislation out of Capitol Hill is all about weaning us off oil and putting us directly on a "renewable energy" diet.

Witness the energy tax bill the House passed in February that slaps $18 billion in taxes on oil production to fund wind, solar, biofuels, and other "alternative" sources. Witness the new energy law passed in December mandating that Americans increase the use of ethanol and other biofuels at the pump to 36 billion gallons by 2022, up from 7 billion gallons required now. And witness the new farm bill that gives corn growers $10.5 billion in subsidies over the next five years, no matter how fast the price of corn rises - which, incidentally, has gone from $3.50 a bushel to a record $5.50 over the past three months.
Commenting directly on mismatched concerns over abundance and price when it comes to food and energy, Dana writes:
Even with oil topping $109 a barrel [on April 15], it is still relatively abundant. As the U.S. Geological Survey reports, there are 3 trillion billion barrels of oil reserves still available globally. For perspective, since the first automobile rolled off the assembly line, we've consumed only one trillion barrels.

Conversely, ethanol and other biofuels are extremely limited resources requiring enormous amounts of water, energy, and land otherwise used for growing food. The new energy law's requirement that Americans use 15 billion gallons of corn for fuel by 2015 - that doesn't include the other 21 billion gallons to come from non-food sources like switchgrass and corn husks - will consume an astounding 30 million acres of cropland. That means unless the mandates are repealed, more than a third of our corn crops will be diverted from food to fuel in just seven years.

U.S. policies forcing biofuel usage already are creating food shortages in third world countries, elevating food prices to historic levels.
It's worth it to combat global warming, right? Wrong.
Two independent studies in the journal Science report that the clearing of forests, grasslands, and other ecosystems throughout the world to grow corn, soybean, and other food-for-fuels will double greenhouse emissions over the next 30 years. Because plants and soil hold enormous quantities of carbon, destroying existing plants and tilling the soil releases the stored carbon.
Still in a mood to celebrate Earth Day this coming Tuesday?

To read Dana's commentary in its entirety, click here.

To contact author David Almasi directly,
write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:52 PM

Friday, April 18, 2008

Washington Post Gets Conservative Concerns About the ANC 20 Years Late, and Almost Too Late Altogether

From David Almasi:
An unsigned house editorial in the April 15 Washington Post is very concerned about post-election unrest in Zimbabwe, where, it seems, President Robert Mugabe is willing to do whatever it takes to remain in power despite indications he lost the popular vote. The twist is that the Post is laying the blame for Mugabe's ability to remain relevant at the feet of South African President Thabo Mbeki.

And they aren't that happy with Mbeki's foreign policy elsewhere, to boot. My, my.

Mbeki is the former president of the African National Congress (ANC), the current South African ruling party that was a terrorist organization mere decades ago. It was the political entity that benefited from the American anti-apartheid protests of the 1980s. Mbeki took over the presidency after Nelson Mandela's retirement.

When I was involved in the South Africa protests of that bygone era, we warned that the ANC was not the moral equivalent of our own Founding Fathers. Mandela, for instance, was a co-founder of the ANC's militant Umkhonto we Sizwe wing. Mbeki was a member. We warned about the ANC's ties and kinship with radical groups and governments across the globe, but we were told we were crazy (and worse).

Now, with the ANC firmly entrenched and South Africa serving on the U.N. Security Council and other U.N. bodies, the chickens are really coming home to roost. In its editorial, Post editors lament:
Since that country began serving a term on the U.N. Security Council last year, the government of President Thabo Mbeki has consistently allied itself with the world's rogue states and against the Western democracies. It has defended Iran's nuclear program and resisted sanctions against it; shielded Sudan and Burma from the sort of pressure the United Nations once directed at the apartheid regime; and enthusiastically supported one-sided condemnations of Israel by the U.N. Human Rights Council...

Every Western democratic government has condemned Mr. Mugabe's maneuvering, and even many Africans have appeared to lose patience with the 84-year-old strongman. That he remains in office is due mainly to Mr. Mbeki, who has used South Africa's considerable influence and prestige to bolster Mr. Mugabe.
Mbeki is crisscrossing Africa to continue to prop up Mugabe. I don't think I could have written it better than the Post editors have, except I and other conservatives could have told you this would happen 20 years ago.

The one thing the world has in its favor is that the old breed typified by Mbeki is dying out. Democracy has held together. Other, younger ANC leaders are already distancing themselves from Mbeki, including his successor in the ANC and the presidency. Mbeki, like the apartheid government he once fought, is becoming isolated in the world as well as in his own country.

But it's a shame, for the people of Zimbabwe in particular, that the world had to suffer his leadership even one day.

To contact author David Almasi directly,
write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:13 PM

True Emancipation Would Be Something New to Celebrate

From David Almasi:
April 16 is a public holiday unique to the District of Columbia. It's "Emancipation Day" - the commemoration of President Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Compensation Emancipation Act in 1862. The Act freed the approximately 3,100 slaves in the nation's capital months before the Emancipation Proclamation freed them in Confederate states.

Along with the closure of public offices and the government-run schools, parades and performances mix are sometimes mixed with political action. Most notably, the day is often used as a rallying point for efforts to make the federal district a full-fledged state with two senators and a representative.

But how about using Emancipation Day to call for an emancipation from burdensome government, rather than demanding more of it?

As pointed out in a Washington Times commentary by Project 21 member and new National Center Policy Analyst Casey Lartigue, Jr. on April 16:
The focus was - as it is usually is in D.C. - on political power rather than policies to make citizens freer. Not to take away from the oppression of slavery, but Emancipation Day is more than an opportunity to celebrate the end of the oppression of slavery. It also is a good time to note that lawmakers typically look backward at liberty's advances rather than forward to find ways citizens can enjoy more personal freedom.
For example:
It won't be until a week after Emancipation Day that Americans will observe "Tax Freedom Day," the date when people essentially stop working to pay off their tax obligations and begin working for themselves. According to the Tax Foundation, April 23 is the national average. D.C. residents celebrate their particular Tax Freedom Day last - after all 50 states - on May 3...

Wouldn't it be a pleasant surprise today, Emancipation Day, if Mr. Fenty and the D.C. Council announced cuts in government spending or extended the occasional "tax-free" shopping periods?

Another way city leaders could expand freedom is to extend school choice, at a minimum, to every low-income student living in the District. Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute recently pointed out that when all costs are divided by the number of students, the District of Columbia is spending close to $25,000 per child. The District essentially is providing mediocre public schooling at elite private school prices.
Casey did point out one bright spot on the horizon. Unfortunately, if this happens, this reform will not be by the hands of the District's leadership but rather through a legal mandate from the U.S. Supreme Court:
When D.C. leaders can't be relied on to extend freedom, others may help. The Supreme Court may soon step in to help D.C. residents by ending the city's ban on firearms.

Since 1976, ownership of virtually all firearms in the District has been illegal. The gun ban hasn't curtailed gun-related crimes against D.C. residents, but it robs them of the means of self-defense. The Supreme Court is expected to rule by June on a lower court's rejection of the ban.
To see the full version of Casey's commentary, click here.
To contact author David Almasi directly,
write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:23 PM

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Washington Post Treats Insipid Barbara Boxer Comment as News; Ignores Bigger Story Behind Bush's Global Warming Speec

I already knew Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) wasn't a clear thinker, but I still had to chuckle at her quote in today's Washington Post article on climate change:
The president's plan to have America stand by while greenhouse gases reach dangerous levels and threaten America and the world is worse than doing nothing -- it is the height of irresponsibility.
What's the difference between "standing by" and "doing nothing"?

Why, no difference at all.

Even more amusingly, this was probably a prepared quote taken from a statement issued by her office rather than something she said off the top of her head.

Speaking of this Washington Post article, by Juliet Eilperin: It quotes six people taking the alarmist, hurt-the-economy position on global warming, and not one who believes either that alarm is unnecessary or that the hurt-our-economy approach is the wrong way to go. An acknowledgment is made that "senior GOP lawmakers... continue to reject mandatory curbs on emissions," but that's it. No reason why is given. Nor is a reader told that not all of Bush's critics are found on the anti-energy left, and what their take on all this might be.

There's a news story to be found in why President Bush took the action that he did, but the Post had no inclination to cover that story.

A insipid statement by Barbara Boxer was a higher priority.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:48 PM

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hunters, Anglers, Boaters, Shooting Sports Enthusiasts and Others: Beware the Clean Water Restoration Act

In a new paper for the National Center for Public Policy Research, Peyton Knight explains exactly how a new bill under consideration by Congress could make life difficult for hunters, anglers, boaters, shooting sports enthusiasts, users of all-terrain vehicles and others who pursue outdoor sports and activities.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:58 PM

EPA Jeopardizes Children in Potentially Dangerous Sludge Experiments

Project 21's Deneen Borelli is not happy about the EPA and other federal agencies conducting de facto experiments on families in poor, black families:
EPA Sludge Tests a "Modern-Day Tuskegee Experiment"

Children in Poor Black Neighborhoods Potentially Imperiled by EPA Studies


For Release: Immediate
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or
[email protected]

Washington, D.C.: Revelations that the federal government conducted potentially dangerous sludge-related experiments on children in Baltimore is condemned by Project 21 black leadership network fellow Deneen Borelli, who is demanding more answers about the origins of the experiment and wants to know how much other reckless policymaking is permeating federal agencies.

The Associated Press reported April 13 that researchers using federal grant money selected nine families in poor, black Baltimore neighborhoods to test if sludge could reduce child health risks from lead. Sludge derived from human and industrial waste was tilled into the families' yards and grass was planted over it.

The AP story said families were told that lead found in the soil in their yards posed a health risk and that the sludge was safe. The study, the findings of were published in 2005, did find that sludge bonded with the harmful metals lead, cadmium and zinc in the soil. However, concerns about the health risk of the sludge appear to have been overlooked, and no follow-up medical examinations of the families were reported.

The AP says, "epidemiological studies have never been done to show whether spreading sludge on land is safe."

A similar experiment was done in a poor, primarily black neighborhood in East St. Louis, IL.

"This is no less than a modern-day Tuskegee Experiment," said Borelli. "The government appears to have clearly failed - in the case of the EPA - in its mission 'to protect human health and safeguard the environment.' In fact, it is failure on both counts. For federal bureaucrats at EPA and HUD to knowingly allow this experiment to take place and jeopardize the health of children and adults is outrageous."

In 1993, the EPA began allowing Class B sludge containing human feces, medical waste and assorted chemicals to be used on farmland, in national forests and for mine reclamation efforts. EPA managers have been hostile to critics who questioned whether the sludge is safe. The hostility included angry calls and letters to public critics and unfounded ethics complaints imperiling the careers of critics within the agency. EPA scientists David Lewis and William Markus, who spoke out about the unknown potential dangers of Class B sludge, were retaliated against by their superiors, but later sued the EPA and won a $100,000 settlement.

In March a federal judge ordered the U.S. Department of Agriculture to compensate Georgia farmer Andy McElmurray because sludge used in his fields to grow corn and cotton to feed livestock contained extremely high levels of arsenic, toxic heavy metals and PCBs. U.S. District Judge Anthony Alaimo wrote that government-endorsed data on the sludge was "unreliable, incomplete and, in some cases, fudged." Judge Alaimo further wrote, "senior EPA officials took extraordinary steps to quash scientific dissent."

Borelli wants to know if there are other issues championed by the agency in which necessary assessment was bypassed to meet desired political goals.

"One can't help but compare the scandal in Baltimore to global warming policy promoted by environmental activists and many of their supporters in the government bureaucracy," added Project 21's Borelli. "In the case of the EPA, the agency's lack of sound analysis regarding climate change will undoubtedly lead to dire economic consequences. For instance, the American Council For Capital Formation predicts '...the United States would lose between 1.2 and 1.8 million jobs in 2020' and that the 'primary cause of job losses would be lower industrial output due to higher energy prices, the high cost of complying with required emissions cuts, and greater competition from overseas manufacturers with lower energy costs.' We can't be allowed to run headlong into a crisis without proper scientific evidence. In Baltimore and the nation as a whole, it looks as if the government is putting policy goals ahead of public welfare."

Between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service conducted a study on the effects of syphilis on black men. In the process, researchers intentionally denied full knowledge and treatment for the debilitating sexually transmitted disease to the 399 black men studied. Called the Tuskegee Experiment because government researchers used the renowned black institution's medical facilities, the race-based study led to the deaths of 128 of the study's subjects while 59 wives and children contracted or were born with syphilis.

The AP story was written by John Heilprin and Kevin S. Viney.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:49 AM

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Another 53 Major Organizations Warn Congress, Public About Clean Water Restoration Act

Following up on a letter signed by over 100 organizations and individuals last fall, the National Center for Public Policy Research is today releasing another coalition letter warning the public and the policymakers about the Oberstar/Feingold Clean Water Restoration Act.

CWRA is to be the focus of hearings in the Senate and House on April 9 and 16, respectively. We can be sure that the very liberal Senator Barbara Boxer (D-MN), and the bill's main sponsor, Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), the chairmen of the committees holding the hearings, will examine the bill quite objectively. (Not.)

More about the letters, and links to the letters, including a list of signers:
Representatives of 53 Organizations Warn Congress, Public about Oberstar/Feingold Clean Water Restoration Act

Farm Bureaus, Manufacturers, Sportsmen, Taxpayer Advocates, Think-Tanks and Others Express Concern About Expansion of Federal Power

Washington, D.C. - A letter signed by representatives of over 53 organizations expressing grave concerns about the Oberstar/Feingold Clean Water Restoration Act, or CWRA, is being delivered to Congress this week.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Barbara Boxer (D-CA), has scheduled a hearing on CWRA for April 9. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, chaired by CWRA sponsor James Oberstar (D-MN), has a hearing scheduled April 16.

The letter says CWRA sponsors are wrong in claiming CWRA would restore the original intent of the 1972 Clean Water Act. Instead, the letter says, CWRA would greatly expand its scope.

The letter is signed by representatives of nineteen state farm bureaus. Other organizations with representatives signing include the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Public Lands Council, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the Family Farm Alliance, the Family Water Alliance, the National Water Resources Association, the Blue Ribbon Coalition, the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy, the California Land Institute, and very many public policy advocacy groups and think-tanks.

"The Clean Water Restoration Act would not restore the original intent of the Clean Water Act, but significantly expand it. It would expand federal clean water regulations to often dry land by re-defining dry lake beds, intermittent streams and, possibly, even tiny backyard fish ponds as 'waters of the United States,'" said David Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, which organized the letter. "This expansive federal power goes far beyond what Congress intended when it passed the original Clean Water Act in 1972."

The letter also says CWRA would increase confusion within the already highly-litigated question of what waters are subject to regulation. Although the bill itself greatly expands federal power, as Congress' authority to regulate waters rests on the Commerce Clause, those waters that have no impact on interstate commerce would be immune from the authority of the Act. Knowing which waters meet the Commerce Clause test could be nearly impossible for the average landowner, however. Many cases would be settled only after expensive and protracted litigation.

"Rather than eliminate the ambiguity of the original law, CWRA would codify it. Instead of providing clear, predictable standards of regulation, CWRA would punt these decisions to the courts," said Ridenour.

This letter follows another letter, signed by 100 conservationists, family advocacy groups, civil rights leaders, sportsmen organizations, seniors advocates, think-tanks and taxpayer action groups in October 2007, expressing nearly identical concerns about CWRA. As hearings in the House and Senate about CWRA neared, this second letter was organized in response to demand from organizations concerned that the public, and many legislators, remain unaware of serious problems within this legislation.

The letter and list of signers is available online here (pdf). The October letter can be found here (pdf).

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation based in Washington, D.C, now in its 26th year.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:08 AM

How Trial Lawyers Threaten Patients' Health

Husband David has an op-ed on excessive lawsuits and our health care system in Investor's Business Daily today.

Check it out here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:04 AM

Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie Named "Conservative Man of the Year"

Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie will receive the "Conservative Man of the Year" Award from the Suffolk County, New York Conservative Party on April 10.

Here's what David Almasi had to say: "The members and staff of Project 21 are extremely proud of Mychal. Mychal has earned more than his fair share of criticism from the left for daring to speak his mind and promoting the diversity of opinion among black Americans that is largely overlooked in the media. It is high time for him to be congratulated for it."

World Net Daily is covering the award here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:59 AM

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Green is the New Red

If you read one global warming article this year, make it this one.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:02 PM

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

National Wildlife Federation's Global Warming Expert Calls for Voluntary Action

By David Ridenour:
Laura Hickey, senior director of global warming education at the National Wildlife Federation said, "If people participate in a voluntary system, then I don't see the need for a legislative strategy," according to an article in the March 19 Washington Post.

Okay, to be fair, Hickey wasn't referring to regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

She was referring to Catalogue Choice, a project set up by the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups to combat efforts to create a federal "do not mail" registry designed to stop junk mail. Catalogue Choice encourages retailers to voluntarily stop sending materials to people who sign up on Catalogue Choice's own "do not mail" registry.

All this is a bit confusing: The National Wildlife Federation supports voluntary action in this case, but also supports the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, which would impose an involuntary cap on carbon emissions.

It's not as though people don't already "participate in a voluntary system" to reduce carbon emissions. There is, for example, the Chicago Climate Exchange.

Why does NWF support voluntary action and see "no need for a legislative strategy" in one case, but not the other?

Perhaps because NWF would have to pay a price in one case, but not the other. The NWF derives a significant portion of its revenue through the mail and a federal "do not mail" list could cost it dearly. Lest we forget, junk mail can not only be annoying, but is transported by carbon-spewing planes and trucks -- something NWF is supposed to be against.

Say what one will about global warming skeptics: At least skeptics aren't hypocrites.
To contact author David Ridenour directly,
write him at dridenour@nat[email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:02 PM

Racial Bias Is What Some People Want Us to See... No Matter What

Townhall.com has published an op-ed by our David Almasi on the Vogue magazine-LeBron James-Gisele Bundchen mini-scandal (covered on this blog previously here):
Racial Bias is What Some People Want Us to See… No Matter What

Comedian Chris Rock used to play a recurring character on "Saturday Night Live" named Nat X. During the humorous, nonsensical rants of this Black Nationalist talk show host, Nat X would sometimes be chased by his studio's "white-man cam.” When it caught him, bars would appear on the screen and Nat X would yell "That's what you wanna see!"

April's cover of Vogue magazine, featuring an Annie Leibovitz photo of basketball phenomenon LeBron James and supermodel Gisele Bundchen promoting its "shape issue," is drawing fire for what magazine critic Samir Husni calls an image that "screams King Kong."

Leibovitz's photo featured James, dressed to play and bouncing a basketball, looking like he is yelling while clutching a smiling Bundchen around the waist.

Adding to Husni's criticism, University of Maryland assistant professor Damion Thomas told the Associated Press that the Leibowitz photo "reinforce[s] the criminalization of black men."

This criticism turns a high-end fashion magazine with a circulation of around a million into an international news story and a potential flashpoint for racial hostility.

The controversy over the photo is the creation of conspiracy theorists willing to find a racial angle in just about anything.

The alleged victim James' response was one of indifference. He told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "who cares what anyone says?" and that he was "just showing a little emotion."

Darryn "Dutch" Martin, a black conservative with Project 21 (full disclosure: a group with which I work), said in a press release: "There are people who are, and probably forever will be, racially hypersensitive for either personal or professional reasons. Nothing that reasonable people say or do will convince them otherwise. I believe critics are using this canard of racial stereotyping as a smokescreen to hide their true disdain for any images of interracial closeness or intimacy between black men and white women."

Hours after Project 21's press release hit the Internet, I received an e-mail from liberal blogger Rogers Cadenhead suggesting I visit his blog. A fellow liberal blogger had already gone to the trouble of tracking down a World War I-era army recruiting poster that closely resembles the Vogue photo. On his "Watching the Watchers" blog, Cadenhead reproduced the magazine cover and the poster and opined: "Leibovitz, who has a history of referencing iconic images in her photographs, appropriated the composition from a famous poster that's believed to be an inspiration for the film King Kong… I wonder if James, presented with the two images, would be as generous."

Leibovitz has not yet said this is what she did – it is only speculation. And the poster was comparing Germans to apes (and not necessarily King Kong).

Vogue's cover didn't personally make me draw a comparison between LeBron James and King Kong until I read Husni and Thomas's criticism. Nor was I aware of the recruiting poster until Cadenhead contacted me. Despite now being exposed to it, I don't think of James as an ape not do I hold him in the same contempt as I do Kaiser Wilhelm II and the German empire of nearly a century ago.

To be honest, the first thing I thought about when I saw the photo was how it resembled the way James looks on the bottle of Powerade that is sitting in my refrigerator. James is an endorser of the sports drink.

LeBron James is a noted basketball player who is at the peak of his physical prowess, which is what Vogue was celebrating by featuring him on the cover with one of the world's top supermodels. Rather than judging James – and, by extension, other blacks – by the content of their character, skills or intellect as Vogue intended, the race-mongers instead seem more interested in bringing things down to the lowest common denominator. There never seems to be a party where they don't want to be a skunk.

After all, Nat X said that's what we wanted to see.
Go to Townhall.com if you'd like to make a public comment on this op-ed or this issue generally. To contact author David Almasi directly, write him at [email protected].
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:27 AM

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

If Animals Ran Political Ads, What Would They Look Like?


To draw a bit of fun attention to the polar bear question (should they or should they not be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act due to "global warming"), The National Center for Public Policy Research, in conjunction with Citizens United, has released a parody political ad that reveals a few facts about the polar bear situation while having some fun.

The video has had over 5,000 YouTube views since its release four days ago, and has just been posted on the Media Research Center's new video sharing website Eyeblast.tv (worth checking out!).

For those who like a few more facts than a one-minute parody of a political commercial can deliver, we also offer a 5,000-word policy paper on polar bears. Or you can read our press release, reprinted below:
Parody Ad Takes Up Cause of Ringed Seals, Says Polar Bear Populations are Prosperous and Growing

Listing the Polar Bear as "Threatened" Under the ESA Could Harm Bears and Humans Alike; Says New Study Released with the Ad


In light of environmentalist campaigns pressuring the Administration to list the polar bear as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act, the National Center for Public Policy Research, joined by Citizens United, has released for the Internet a lighthearted parody political ad to remind the public that the polar bears' situation isn't as dire as some environmental organizations are leading the public to believe.

The ad, a parody of the wild charges and breathless style of many political campaign ads, lets the public know what is not always clear from environmentalist lobbying campaigns: The global population of polar bears is 22,000, about double what it was just four decades ago.

"Many people will be surprised to learn there are 22,000 polar bears and their population has doubled," said David Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "While obviously many aspects of our parody ad - such as the polar bears in suits, lobbying Congress - are complete fiction, the steady growth in the global polar bear population is real. We hope that people who view our parody ad seeking a laugh will remember that fact, and perhaps be inspired to look a little more deeply into the basis of environmentalist claims regarding the polar bear."

The ad is being released in conjunction with a National Center for Public Policy Research policy paper, "Listing the Polar Bear Under the Endangered Species Act Because of Projected Future Global Warming Could Harm Bears and Humans Alike," by Peyton Knight and Amy Ridenour.

The paper questions the wisdom of listing the polar bear as threatened based on environmentalist organizations' projections of future global warming because:

* Listing the polar bear could have adverse affects on bear conservation efforts.

* Global polar bear population levels presently are healthy.

* The anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming theory remains only a theory, and climate science is in its infancy. Even those who agree with the global warming theory disagree about the extent of its projected effects.

* Listing the polar bear as threatened on the basis of projected future global warming would most likely be extremely expensive to the U.S. economy.

* Listing the polar bear based on projected global warming can be expected to greatly expand federal regulatory powers under the ESA.

* Because of its great expense and controversial nature, federal policies regarding global warming should be made only by Congress with input from the Executive Branch, not by a presidential appointee charged with enforcing a 1973 law written for other purposes.

"Having failed despite spending tens of millions of dollars to convince the public, or even a Democratic Congress, that drastic and very expensive greenhouse gas emission reductions are warranted to deter theorized global warming, environmental organizations are now hijacking the Endangered Species Act to do an end-run around our democratic institutions," said Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research and co-author of the paper. "The formal petition to the government seeking 'threatened' status for the polar bear makes it very clear: The environmental groups behind this scheme are trying to use the polar bear to force the government to impose a -- in their words -- 'drastic' reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. They want policies like those in the Kyoto global warming treaty forced upon Congress and the American public. The tragedy is that, if the environmentalists succeed, Americans -- especially lower-income Americans -- will be harmed, and so will the polar bears."

"Listing the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act could harm bear conservation efforts by eliminating revenues from the carefully-regulated sport hunting of polar bears by Americans and the importation of polar bear meat and trophies into the U.S. As hunting by non-Americans would replace hunting by Americans, nothing would be accomplished in terms of reducing the number of polar bears killed, but the revenue currently generated by American sport hunters for conservation and research efforts would be eliminated," added Amy Ridenour. "And what's more, global warming -- if the global warming theory turns out to be accurate -- would still occur, because greenhouse gas emissions in China, India, Europe and elsewhere are still growing by leaps and bounds."

The parody ad and policy paper can be viewed on the National Center's website at http://www.nationalcenter.org/PolarBear.html.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-partisan organization located on Capitol Hill and established in 1982.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:51 AM

Lights out at MichelleMalkin.com

I love what Michelle Malkin is doing here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:46 AM

Who Are These Clowns?

An absolutely wonderful polar bear cartoon. Note the words on the director's bullhorn.

Here's the blog of Roger Maynard, the guy who drew it, and some more I like are here, here, here, here, here, and especially here.

(Our own take on polar bears is here.)
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:24 AM

Is Annie Leibovitz Picture of Gisele Bundchen and LeBron James Racist?

Project 21 has weighed in on the question: Is the Annie Leibovitz picture of Gisele Bundchen and LeBron James on the cover of April's Vogue magazine racist?

Here's what Project 21's Deneen Borelli and Darryn "Dutch" Martin had to say:
Black Activists See No Racial Double-Meaning in LeBron James-Gisele Bundchen Vogue Magazine Cover

While some might consider it a milestone that basketball star LeBron James became the first black man to grace the cover of Vogue for the fashion magazine's April issue, critics are saying the photo of him with supermodel Gisele Bundchen is racially insensitive and "screams King Kong." Members of the Project 21 leadership network join with James and others in saying those complaining about the photo are making a big deal out of nothing.

"There are some people who view everything through the lens of racial stereotypes," said Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli, who has worked as a professional model. "LeBron's accomplishments on the basketball court lead him to the cover of Vogue magazine, making him the first black man to do so. Given the numerous disappointing stories involving professional athletes, LeBron's story of success should be a focus and cause for celebration."

Vogue's April cover, advertising its "shape issue" that features articles on top models and athletes, is a photo taken by award-winning celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. In the photo, James - wearing athletic clothing, bouncing a basketball and seemingly yelling at the camera - has an arm around a smiling, gown-clad Bundchen.

Magazine analyst Samir Husni told the Associated Press the cover "screams King Kong" and that "when you have a cover that reminds people of King Kong and brings those stereotypes to the front, black man wanting white woman, it's not innocent." University of Maryland assistant professor Damion Thomas said photos such as this "reinforce the criminalization of black men."

James dismissed the criticism of the photo. He told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "who cares what anyone says?" Regarding his expression in the photo, he said he was "just showing a little emotion."

Others suggest the criticism of the photo is racially-motivated for different reasons. In a Fox Sports column, Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock wrote: "Would we be having this discussion if LeBron struck the same pose on the cover of Ebony while holding [model] Selita Ebanks? Think about it. And if we wouldn't be having the discussion, what does that say about us? Are we only bothered by negative images of black men when the primary/sole consumer of the image is white people?"

"Do you want to know what I think is the real reason behind this non-controversy? There are people who are, and probably forever will be, racially hypersensitive for either personal or professional reasons. Nothing that reasonable people say or do will convince them otherwise," said Project 21 member Darryn "Dutch" Martin. "I believe critics are using this canard of racial stereotyping as a smokescreen to hide their true disdain for any images of interracial closeness or intimacy between black men and white women."
Not everyone agrees.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:50 AM

Copyright The National Center for Public Policy Research