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AFF Sentinel V20#34-News Digest – 07/27/23

While You Were Busy Producing Things


Steve Dittmer | AFF Sentinel

Colorado Springs, CO

Originally sent to subscribers 07/27/23

While you might have been haying, irrigating, shipping cattle, traveling or fixing fence, various things of consequence have been happening. We’ll give you some highlights.


You are likely aware from our writings that Senate Majority Leader Schumer and President Biden traded Sen. Joe Manchin’s vote for the Inflation Reduction Act for a promise to bring up a permitting bill to streamline environmental and regulatory processes for fossil fuel an renewable energy development. Biden and Schumer, of course, didn’t keep their promise. But the debt ceiling bill written up by the Republican House contained a specific provision for the Mountain Valley pipeline in Manchin’s state of West Virginia. The pipeline construction has been nearly complete but government agencies have revoked permits granted years ago and courts have responded to continuing environmentalist lawsuits by blocking construction.


Just recently, even after Congress passed the debt bill with the provision for completing the Mountain Valley pipeline, a court blocked construction again.


This week, however, the Supreme Court vacated a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and allowed construction to be completed. The 300-mile pipeline was slated to be finished the same year construction was started -- 2018.


But wasn’t there other permitting language in the debt ceiling bill? Yes, but it was mostly window dressing. A report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies noted the bill sets two-year time limits for environmental impact studies and one year for more modest “environmental assessments” but there is a catch: agencies need only “consult” with permit applicants in the event those deadlines will be missed


The details regarding such “consultation” weren’t spelled out, so the opportunity for bureaucratic slow walking is obvious.


Of course, environmental groups love lawsuits and litigation reform was talked about but nothing came of it.

Supposedly, Congress still wants to field a major permitting bill this year but we’ll see.


Speaking of Schumer, in his continuing quest for more governmental power over the citizenry, a letter he presented to one governmental body is an attempt to shift the bill for leftist policies onto Americans not involved, often in red states.


One of the key problems with so-called renewable energy sources like wind and solar is that they tend to be located in more remote areas where there are no high volume transmission lines to carry the power to populated areas. The left in blue states don’t want to shell out the trillions it would cost to build all these transmission lines into their states. But state agreements have allocated costs of such projects according to what states would benefit from the ensuing higher reliability or better supplies.


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) sets the allocation rules. Schumer has told FERC they need to order states that don’t need or want new transmission lines to help pay for other states and force them if they refuse. States that have passed high percentage renewable energy mandates are under the gun to build out the transmission lines that cost 2-3 times as much as fossil fuel lines, (distance we presume).  One university study estimated that a net-zero transmission system would cost $2.4 trillion, (“Schumer’s $2.4 Trillion Tax Increase,” Wall Street Journal, 07/27/23).


As for West Virginia, the Journal story example was should that state not want to pay for transmission lines for New Jersey to connect its grid to its offshore wind turbines, Schumer wants FERC to make West Virginia pay anyway.


It’s a convoluted but typical leftist ploy. What they can’t get through Congress they attempt through agencies or the courts.


The Washington Post ran a story recently that Mexico had reported clenbuterol residues in some U.S. pork over a year ago. USDA had not confirmed such findings, there was no indication of what levels were claimed and no indication of resolution, beyond claims of rejection.


What got our attention was that this only came to light because PETA had someone combing through hundreds of pages of USDA records, looking for “evidence that workers had excessively beaten or shocked pigs” at a particular harvest plant.  The livestock industry must remain vigilant and careful, never underestimating the anti-animal production zealots’ fervor…and budgets.


Though not quite as strict as California’s Prop 12 law, New Jersey has passed a law regulating space requirements for pigs and calves. Smaller enclosures are permitted two weeks before parturition and when sows are nursing. The governor claimed that “agriculture is at the heart of New Jersey’s identity” and prohibiting small enclosures “is a reflection of our values.”


The U.S. House adjourned a day early for the August recess without passing the Ag appropriations bill. The bill included spending caps lower than those in the debt ceiling bill, which infuriated Democrats. Both Democrats and moderate Republicans oppose a provision nullifying a Biden administration regulation making an abortion bill more available. The spending levels in the House bill are lower than the ones in the Senate version. But House conservatives want more spending cuts (“House GOP Leaders to Start Recess Early After Being Forced to Punt Funding Bill,” Nexstar Media, 07/27/23).


The left is very sensitive to language, we guess because they are appealing to snowflake generations with “trigger” problems, but one Democrat official tore into Republicans refusing to vote for the bill with certain provisions because they are “extremist” and “divisive” and on a “reckless march to MAGA showdown” in September.


As a one-time federal investigator, radio host Dan Bongino often notes that free countries investigate crimes to find those responsible. Authoritarian governments have their man and then go looking or cooking for a crime to charge him with.


We will get into this shortly in more detail, but USDA has announced they are pumping money into an effort with state attorneys general to see if they can find instances where perfect pure competition does not exist. Not only are they hunting for lawsuits and enforcement targets, they are using as a team member a leftist anti-trust group that exists to oppose big business of any kind, mergers and so-called monopolies. That group includes an economist that does not feel any current agricultural markets and systems are fair.

 

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