I Never Thought I Would Say This, but I Love the EPA

by: the Common Constitutionalist

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Needless to say I was really disappointed at the roll out and outcome of the Republican ObamaCare “fix.” And I’m sure I’m not the only one. So much so, that I went in search of some good news.

Son of a gun if I didn’t find some. It’s doubly good because it not only benefits us and America, but is driving the left batty. And it’s one of my hot button issues. Wins all around!

The Huffington Post somberly posted an article yesterday entitled, “Donald Trump Is About To Undo Obama’s Legacy On Climate Change.” From the left’s point of view, the subtitle, “The White House plans to scrap a rule on power plant emissions, kneecapping U.S. participation in the Paris climate accord,” is equally sobering. Ain’t it grand!

It’s funny, but it seems that left to do the things he is able to on his own, President Trump already has a good track record. Things go off the rails when the establishment wing of Congress gets involved, like RINOCare.

Now I’m certainly not advocating for Trump usurping the Legislative branch like the last guy did – I’m just stating the obvious. read more

Time To End The Myth Of Tax-Subsidized Big Oil

Let Energy Provide Our Economic Solution

Tax day has come and gone, leaving most Americans shaking their heads once again at all the time and effort involved in this annual rite of spring

Similarly, businesses of all stripes — not the least of which is the oil and gas industry — have their day of reckoning with the tax collector.

Contrary to the myth spread by detractors, there are no special subsidies for the industry, which supports more than 9 million jobs.

In fact, one overview from Forbes.com pegged the overall effective tax rates of the Big Three oil and gas firms at 41.5% to 48.3%, depending on the company.

These rates were the highest among the 25 top taxpaying companies (in terms of dollar amounts) that Forbes surveyed.

Others, ranging from the American Petroleum Institute to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, have also put the burden near or above 40%.

Furthermore, even though oil and gas firms report large profits measured in dollars, the margin they get to keep as a percentage of total receipts is much lower than many other industries due to the high cost of investment.

As statistics on Yahoo Finance indicate, the most profitable part of the oil and gas sector — drilling and exploration — stood at an 11.4% margin as of April 29.

More than three dozen other categories — such as brewers (15.2%), personal computers (20.7%) and periodical publishing (21.4%) — were ranked as more profitable.

Despite clear evidence that oil and gas companies are already paying their fair share, the industry remains a favorite whipping boy for politicians in Washington.

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How Far We’ve Fallen

by: the Common Constitutiionalist

Last month North Dakotans went to the polls. You know, the state with the lowest unemployment in America; the state that is quite literally Drilling its way to prosperity. That one.

Well, one of the bills that was voted on, was whether to amend the state constitution, abolishing the statewide property tax. Unfortunately, it was soundly defeated.

Why would one even propose such a thing, you ask? How could they possibly do without that revenue, you ask?

What about the teachers, the police and firefighters? Would they not all be laid off? That is what we hear, is it not?

Whenever anyone even suggests cutting the budget or lowering taxes (much less constitutionally negating one), do we not hear the wailing of discontent? Apparently the world as we know it will cease to exist.

Moving on. You see, North Dakota is awash in dirty oil cash. So much, I heard they are rolling it up and using it for kindling to light their fireplaces. Well that’s what I heard!

All right, that’s not exactly true., but they are in as good or better shape than any other state in the Union.

So if they have all this oil revenue coming in, why not abolish the property tax?

Do the citizens of North Dakota really like paying taxes or could it be people are afraid the oil might run out? Or maybe they’re afraid the feds will find a way to come in and shut them down. That’s probably more likely, but the fear mongering of elected officials & public employee unions have been very effective.

Typical Liberal Scare Tactics

The constant drumbeat of needing more funding by the public sector can and does cause voter paralysis.

Well, I know the oil won’t be running out for centuries. I recently published an article explaining how I know. Link here to read it. So that’s not it.

That leaves us with the ever intrusive federal government and the fear mongering of the public sector.

I have no doubt that in the backrooms of the Whitehouse and the EPA, they are developing strategies to kill the North Dakota oil industry.

Just look around. They’ve already banned drilling off virtually every American coast. The BP spill, which turned out not to be the catastrophe they predicted, pretty much cemented that.

The Feds are well on their way to regulating the coal industry out of existence and let’s not forget the full-scale assault on hydraulic fracking for natural gas. At least we still have windmills & algae. Hooray!

Then there’s the sainted public sector, complete with their rent-a-mob thugs that get bussed from state to state threatening & wreaking havoc upon any state that dares attempt to cut their budget or otherwise right their fiscal ship.

To date, there has been only one Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, with the stones to stand up to the onslaught of leftist attacks. In my opinion, he may be the only true public servant in the country. By that I mean, he stood up for what he believed was right without regard for his job. He knew he could have lost it all, yet he persisted. That is the founders view of a public servant. 

I understand the public fear of the federal government, especially this one. If left unchecked, they will find a way to curtail North Dakotas oil production.

What I don’t understand is the overarching fear of the loss of excess tax revenue. The state has proven they don’t need the revenue yet the voters still rejected it by about a 3 to 1 margin. Do they not get that there is no such thing as excess revenue in government? If money is coming in, it will surely be spent, thereby, simply expanding the baseline of the state budget. If, in the future, there is a disruption in oil revenue, what happens? Taxes will then have to be raised even further to accomodate for that shortfall.

By rejecting the amendment, they have potentially made it worse for their state. Instead, they should have accepted the amendment, doing away with the property tax. If, for whatever reason, the oil revenue does evaporate, the state can always go back to the polls and reinstitute the tax.

The moral of this story is a sad one. If a state that can afford to, but won’t cut taxes, what chance do the rest of us have? How far have we fallen. Could we really not survive without government?

Maybe we really have become a cradle to grave Nanny State society.

Say the Word and We’ll be Free

I’ve heard from many sources, even conservatives, who say the price of gas is no longer in our control. Maybe it never was. Blaming the president is good politics, but that’s all it is.

It is said, there is nothing Obama can say or do to effect the price of gas at the pump. This is a global problem. There are many more competing factions for a finite amount of oil. China, India, etc. They need oil like they have never needed it in the past. We have to compete with them. That drives up the price. Makes sense, I guess.

Then there are all the problems occuring in the Middle East. That whole region could collapse at any moment. That too, is driving up the price. Again, sounds logical.

It is also said by many that we can’t simply drill our way to lower gas prices.

So, I guess we’re just stuck. Or are we?

Before looking for a solution, let’s first take a peek behind the government’s regualtory curtain.

Time for some history.

In 1972 Congress passed the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act , which provided for the establishment of National Marine Sanctuaries. Oil and gas drilling are prohibited in these areas.

In 1982, the U.S. Congress directed that no federal funds be used to lease federal tracts off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, or central and northern California. Over the years, buried in appropriations bills,  Congress was able to add other areas until the prohibited area included all the east and west coasts, and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Congress repeated the effective ban on offshore drilling in these areas every year until September 2008, when an appropriations bill passed the House and Senate without the ban. We’ll cover 2008 in a bit. It’s an interesting year.

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush issued an executive moratorium restricting federal offshore leasing to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of Alaska. The moratorium banned federal leasing through the year 2000 off the East Coast, West Coast, the eastern Gulf of Mexico (offshore Florida Gulf Coast), and the Northern Aleutian Basin of Alaska. In 1998, President Bill Clinton extended the moratorium through 2012.

In 2002, Congress imposed a moratorium on drilling on or directionally beneath the Great Lakes. The ban was made permanent by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Part of the central and most of the eastern Gulf of Mexico was declared off-limits to oil and gas leasing until 2022 by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006.

The bottom line is, thanks to our government, drilling for our own energy is prohibited virtually everywhere. Now there’s an energy policy we can all be proud of.

Ok, so we’ve established that America’s domestic energy policy is suicidal. What was so exeptional about 2008?

In the summer of 2008, President George W. Bush announced that he would veto any appropriations bill that maintained the Congressional moratorium. Without the votes to override his veto, Congress subsequently let the drilling moratorium expire.

 In July 2008, President George W. Bush also rescinded those restrictive executive orders that had prevented oil & gas drilling.

So what. Politicians say many things and nothing changes. Everyone knows they never mean it. Spoken or written, these are just words. What effect could these policy changes have had?

Well, you be the judge.

Just prior to ‘W’s’ July, 2008 proclamation and action, a gallon of regular gasoline, on average, was a staggering $4.11. By August it was $3.69. A drop of over $0.40 in a month.

Not impressed? How about this. By the end of December, 2008, a gallon of regular plummeted to $1.61. and a barrel of oil went from a high of $147.00 to $30.28.

Am I saying that this precipitous drop was due solely to Bush’s actions. No, but I guarantee it played a big part. Why? Because the rest of the world knew someone in this country finally meant it. They knew Bush was serious about domestic drilling.

It’s human nature. When the worlds oil producing nations concluded we were actually serious, I mean really serious about exploiting our own resources, the price of a barrel of oil would naturally plunge. They simply couldn’t afford for us to produce most of our own energy. Foreign oil would drop just to price out domestic production.

The evil speculators, you know, the ones that always get blamed for jacking up the price of oil. Those same speculators would drive the price down so fast it would make your head spin.

Now, I am not an oil or energy expert. I am neither a foreign policy expert, nor an energy speculator. I don’t have to be.

 This is not about oil or gas or market speculation. As I said, this is about human nature, which is quite predictable.  It happens everywhere & in every industry. With competition comes lower prices. It’s really that simple.

So, why didn’t the prices stay low, you ask? Well, we had an election and Barack Obama won. He reinstated all the moratoriums and here we are again, at the mercy of foreign suppliers and subject to Middle East upheaval.

Attribution: Government/Senate Archives

Profits are Obscene

Six House Dems Would Confiscate Oil Company Profits
by Steve Maley

Six House Democrats, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D’OH), have filed a bill aimed at controlling gasoline prices. Styled the “Gas Price Spike Act”, H.R. 3784 would establish a “Reasonable Profits Board” which would have the power to confiscate 100% of oil company profits above a level that they deem to be “reasonable”.

I know: “You had me at ‘Kucinich’.”

Which is which?

Which is which?

Kucinich is either a naive fool, a craven panderer to his electorate, or a throwback to Soviet-style central planning. That he could find five other elected nitwits (Reps. Woolsey, Langevin, Conyers, Fudge and Filyers) to put their names on such an anti-capitalist, unconstitutional fantasy is an indication that the Far Left Wing of the Democratic Party has left the ranch.

Consider, too, what it says about “Republican” presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who recently declared that he would consider Kucinich for a cabinet post in a Paul Administration.

Paul said his libertarian political philosophy helps him connect with some on the far left — including Kucinich, who shares Paul’s general anti-war stance.

Paul joked that if he brought the Ohio congressman aboard in his administration, he might have to create a “Department of Peace.”

“You’ve got to give credit to people who think,” he said.

The Gas Price Spike Act, H.R. 3784, would apply a windfall tax on the sale of oil and [natural] gas that ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent on all surplus earnings exceeding “a reasonable profit.” It would set up a Reasonable Profits Board made up of three presidential nominees that will serve three-year terms. Unlike other bills setting up advisory boards, the Reasonable Profits Board would not be made up of any nominees from Congress.

The bill would also seem to exclude industry representatives from the board, as it says members “shall have no financial interests in any of the businesses for which reasonable profits are determined by the Board.”

Oil companies would only be able to make less than a reasonable profit without penalty. Anything over 105% of reasonable would be taxed at 100%. Proceeds of the confiscation would be dedicated to tax credits for high-milage vehicle purchase and mass transit subsidies for the poor.

Peeling back the layers of stupidity in H.R. 3784 would be akin to peeling an artichoke. In the interest of time, I will cut to my central point.

Implicit in the very suggestion that a Windfall Profit Tax is called for is the notion that somehow the oil companies are able to manipulate the price of oil, and hence, gasoline.

Gasoline prices are at historically high prices. Despite the spike above $4.00 per gallon in 2008, you actually paid 10% more at the pump in 2011.

When we refer to the industry as “oil and gas”, we mean “oil and natural gas”, not oil and gasoline. All oil companies make a substantial fraction of their revenue — many more than half — from natural gas.

The price of natural gas has plunged to 10 year lows recently as a result of warm winter temperatures, slack industrial demand and burgeoning supplies.

Natural gas prices have fallen to levels that make it difficult to justify drilling for more. Many of the new supplies of gas that come on will be incidental to the successful search for oil.

I challenge anyone who believes that oil companies control the price of oil and gasoline to explain how they do it, and why they seemingly have no control of natural gas.