Tuesday, January 3, 2017


1. EPA Will Be in Good Hands With Scott Pruitt - via Director of the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality Scott Thompson via Tulsa World
In my time as the executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, I have worked with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and have been fortunate to experience a productive relationship. Having worked with Pruitt, I feel I can add a unique perspective that may currently be missing from the conversation. When Pruitt took office, his team exhibited deftness at moving complex environmental issues mired in protracted litigation toward workable solutions.
Over the past six years, Pruitt’s legal team has consistently shown deference to the legal expertise and professionals at DEQ. More importantly, I cannot recall an instance where they did not allow us to pursue legal action we deemed necessary. Read more here...

2. Obama Takes One More Shot in His War on Coal on His Way Out the Door - via FreedomWorks Foundation
Last Monday, the Obama administration’s Office of Surface Mining (OSMRE) issued its so-called Stream Protection Rule. This regulation, which the administration has been working on behind closed doors for six years, represents the logical culmination of this administration’s war on coal. This rule, if not overturned, would increase regulatory costs for coal mines to such an extent that candidate Obama’s promise to “bankrupt” coal companies will be largely achieved. There is a reason this regulation was snuck out the week before Christmas during the last weeks of the Obama administration: the rule is a massive, possibly illegal, regulatory overreach. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, the very law that gives the OSMRE its regulatory authority, specifically prohibits OSMRE from promulgating regulations which duplicate other environmental rules. Yet this is precisely what the new Stream Protection Rule is designed to do. Read more here...
3. Obama's National Monument Designation: Second-Term Environmental Policymaking at Its Worst - via Competitive Enterprise Institute
Federal ownership of land is a very live wire political issue in Utah, which is why I find it outrageous that President Obama, on the way out the door, would try to irrevocably federalize 1.3 million acres in the state, in spite of the ongoing controversy over this very issue. It says something that Utah Governor Gary Herbert, the state legislature, and the state’s entire congressional delegation are outspoken opponents of the designation. They argue that such designations are inconsistent with the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to return federal lands to the states. Simply put, Utah state officials want stewardship of Utah land, and they’ve been clamoring for it for a number of years. Yesterday’s decision is a slap to the face of these efforts. Instead of responding to the eminently reasonable desires of Utah (after all, why is it OK for half of Utah to be federal land, but virtually none of older states east of the Mississippi?), the President’s actions under the Antiquities Act effectively locks up these federal lands under either the National Park Service or the Bureau of Land Management. That is, the President did the exact opposite of what the overwhelming preponderance of Utahans wanted. Read more here...
4. How the 2017 Project's Alternative to ObamaCare Would Repeal and Replace ObamaCare - via Forbes
This is the second in a series that will briefly examine various plans designed to repeal and replace Obamacare. My first post examined the Patient CARE Act. Today I will focus on the Alternative to Obamacare, originally developed by Jeffrey Anderson and released by the 2017 Project as A Winning Alternative to Obamacare.
This plan is particularly interesting since President Trump's nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price (R-GA) modeled his own Obamacare replacement plan after it. Drafted with the help of Jeffrey Anderson, the Empowering Patients First Act (H.R. 2300) was introduced on May 13, 2015 and has 84 co-sponsors. So this approach very much reflects the thinking of key Republican policymakers as they debate which replacement plan to enact. Read more here...
5. New York's Cashless Toll Road Program a Recipe for Surveillance Abuse - via Reason
New York City is getting rid of its toll booths, but it will be replacing them with more state troopers, more surveillance, and more government enforcement, and it's probably going to end up hurting the people who can afford it the least. The state of New York and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are promoting a shift to a cashless toll road system for convenience, but seem to be downplaying some of the potential bad consequences (perhaps because it will serve the state).
While there's nothing inherently bad about an E-Z Pass system reducing the friction of drivers getting from place to place, Cuomo and New York are taking it up a notch. They're going to capture the license plates of everybody passing through crossings. One purpose is to send monthly bills to those who don't participate in the pass system. That still doesn't seem to be a problem, but then there's this: The license scanning isn't just for billing. It will check drivers' records, and New York will assign 150 state troopers to chase down those who have a history of not paying right then and there. Read more here...

Jason Pye
Communications Director, FreedomWorks

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