Join me today from 10 to noon on KFMB AM 760 as I talk about PLF’s fight against the Competitor’s Veto—and chat with my friend Dan Caldwell of Concerned Veterans for America about the latest news about the Veterans Administration’s … Continue reading
On Wednesday, May 20, 2015, I testified before a senate subcommittee seeking to make EPA’s Science Advisory Board more transparent, effective, and fair. The senate bill at issue, S. 543, is being proffered in response to criticism that EPA is not using the Board properly to provide peer review of the scientific bases of its regulatory proposals. My testimony criticized EPA’s failure to send proposed regulations governing carbon dioxide emissions to the Board for expert analysis before finalizing the rules. Carbon dioxide is a natural substance that is everywhere and in everything. By regulating that ubiquitous substance, EPA gives itself the potential authority to regulate virtually everything, everywhere. That is an unprecedented reach for power by a federal administrative agency. Accordingly, if anything merits peer review from the top scientific experts, it is the scientific analysis forming the foundation of EPA’s carbon dioxide regulatory proposals. For more details, see my written and oral (time stamp 41) testimony.
In defending the constitutionality of the Utah prairie dog regulation, the government makes a paradoxical claim. Conceding that federal intrusions into areas of traditional state authority are unconstitutional, the government nonetheless argues that the Necessary and Proper Clause allows the … Continue reading
May 15 was Endangered Species Day. For some farmers, ranchers, and other property owners who can’t develop or use their land in a productive manner because of federal dictates, every day is devoted, unwillingly or not, to endangered species. As … Continue reading
A rotten idea was born 82 years ago today called the Agricultural Adjustment Act. Like many New Deal policies, the Act worsened the Great Depression and struck a blow to liberty. … Continue reading
On Friday, May 1, 2015, we filed our final brief in California’s appellate court in connection with our challenge to CARB’s scheme to sell carbon dioxide emissions allowances at auction to the highest bidders. CARB intends to generate billions of dollars of revenue for the state from the auctions and use the funds for a variety of purposes that have little if anything to do with reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Those unrelated purposes include diversion of funds to California’s general fund, high speed rail, and projects to benefit disadvantaged communities.
The California Constitution requires that such uses of the revenues be authorized by at least a two-thirds supermajority vote of both houses of the legislature. CARB purported to create the auction under a 2006 statute known as A.B. 32, which was not enacted by a supermajority legislative vote. Accordingly, the auction revenues are unconstitutional taxes. Moreover, nothing in A.B. 32 actually authorizes CARB to sell emissions allowances at auction for billions of dollars.
CARB argues that the auction revenues are not illegal taxes because those who purchase emissions allowances at auction do so voluntarily. But that ignores the realities facing California businesses that must comply with the cap and trade regulation, such as PLF’s client Morning Star Packing Company. Morning Star makes tomato paste from tomatoes received from farms by heating the tomatoes in boilers fueled by natural gas, which causes carbon dioxide emissions in excess of CARB’s regulatory threshold. As a result, Morning Star’s tomato processing facilities are required to obtain a sufficient number of emissions allowances in order to continue operating in California. Because Morning Star does not receive all its required emissions allowances free of charge from CARB, it is forced to obtain them through other means, including purchasing them from CARB at the auctions. Under the cap and trade regulation, this is a necessary cost of staying in business in California.
To characterize such payments as “voluntary” stretches the meaning of the term beyond recognition. One could just as well argue that the payment of California income tax is “voluntary” because a California resident could choose to move out of the state and no longer be subject to the tax. But, for those who choose to remain in California, the state income tax does not somehow become “voluntary” and not a tax. Merely because a company like Morning Star chooses to continue to do business in the state by purchasing emissions allowances at auction does not make the auction payments any more “voluntary” or any less of a tax.
A PLF video provides additional insight into the case, and more information can be found at PLF’s website.
Yesterday, PLF and the Heritage Foundation co-sponsored a forum on the Corps and EPA’s controversial proposed rule redefining the scope of the Clean Water Act. As we have previously reported, this rule is a massive power grab in direct violation … Continue reading
On Thursday, Pacific Legal Foundation and The Heritage Foundation are co-sponsoring a panel discussion on a draft regulation that would vastly expand the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdiction to regulate the nation’s water and … Continue reading
Imagine that your state creates a government-run grocery store chain because food is essential to survival. You don’t pay for your groceries, but your taxes skyrocket. The stores don’t need to compete for profit, so they don’t bother to win you over. Thus, the stench of slimy produce … Continue reading
This week the staff of the PLF Atlantic Center in Florida and the leadership of PLF nationally took time to celebrate a few of our recent east coast success stories. We celebrated local wins, like the Flash Beach Grille case, and … Continue reading