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DRIESSEN: Double standards for regulators

Feds give themselves a pass for flimsy facts

Americans must no longer ignore false realities and double standards that threaten our health and prosperity.

Private-sector errors and transgressions generally affect limited numbers of people, whereas government actions have far wider impacts, and regulators get away with misrepresentations and behavior that would ensure punishment for corporate executives.

Clinging to antiquated ideas or technologies in free markets will consign companies to oblivion. By contrast, blinding reality often has no effect on government programs, and cloaking policies in rhetoric like environmental protection, social justice, renewable energy or sustainable development can grant them enduring approval.

These truths are especially self-evident in two assertions that continue rationalizing government powers, programs, expenditures and harm to people and planet.

First, the 1970s-era Club of Rome "peak oil" thesis assumes we are rapidly exhausting the oil and natural gas on which modern civilization and living standards depend. However, three- and four-dimensional seismic hydraulic fracturing and other technologies have unlocked another century of petroleum, giving us decades to develop new technologies that will not require perpetual subsidies and environmental sacrifices to prop up "renewable" energy technologies.

We may eventually run out of fossil fuels, but only when we exhaust our ability to innovate or government prohibits innovation and declares even state and private lands and resources off-limits.

Second, "man-made global warming disaster" claims have likewise foundered on rocky shoals of reality. Even as carbon-dioxide levels have "soared" to 395 parts per million, average global temperatures have not budged in 16 years, and hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts and sea levels have shown no statistically significant variance from century-long averages or fluctuations.

Moreover, "climategate" and other revelations have demonstrated that United Nations climate change pronouncements are based on computer models that are no more reliable than palm reading. "Studies" were actually environmentalist press releases, student papers and hikers' anecdotes, and papers were generated by closed cabals of self-interested scientists who jealously guard their raw data, computer codes, methodologies, power, prestige and funding.

Yet, while even the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is finally recognizing the newly emerging "consensus," the Environmental Protection Agency continues to rely on obsolescent documents to justify economy-punishing regulations that it claims will prevent carbon dioxide from "endangering" human health and welfare. In the process, the EPA ignores extensive science that doesn't support its "findings" and illegally prevents peer review of its analytical work products, even by the agency's own Science Advisory Board.

The EPA, White House, Interior and Energy Departments, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal agencies also employ oil depletion and climate chaos to rationalize wind, solar, biofuel and other programs, exempt favored programs from environmental laws, and condone job-killing restrictions on coal use, the Keystone XL pipeline, and onshore and offshore drilling.

The EPA claims its regulations will save thousands of lives, which it values at $9 million each. However, it unilaterally mandated vehicle fuel-efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2020, which will force Americans to travel in cars that are smaller, lighter, less crashworthy and likely to injure and kill many more people. It also illegally exposed human test subjects to what it says are lethal doses of diesel engine pollutants, and ignores how its rules raise poor families' cost of living and force businesses to lay off people.

Unemployment brings poor nutrition, increased stress and higher rates of heart attacks and strokes, spousal, child, alcohol and drug abuse, suicide and premature death. This is especially true for older Americans who have lost jobs, end up on welfare, have limited prospects for new full-time work, or must hold several jobs below their skill level and previous salaries in this anemic, hyperregulated economy.

Ethanol programs mean millions of acres of farmland must produce energy equivalent to what could come from oil and gas prospects that government has put off-limits. The EPA now promotes E15 gasoline (15 percent ethanol) and demands that refiners blend in "cellulosic" ethanol that does not exist. Even more corn is thus turned into fuel that produces 35 percent less mileage per gallon than gasoline.

Just to meet current ethanol quotas, Iowa-sized acreage must be planted in corn and nourished with billions of gallons of water and vast amounts of fertilizers and insecticides. Converting food to fuel has tripled corn prices in just eight years, bringing wealth to corn growers but skyrocketing costs for poultry, egg, meat and fish producers, families with hungry children and aid agencies trying to save starving Africans.

"Eco-friendly" wind turbines maim and kill millions of birds and bats every year eagles, falcons, hawks, whooping cranes and others. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service exempts wind-turbine operators from protected-species laws and helps them hide the gruesome statistics, while other agencies ignore adverse health effects from incessant turbine noise and flicker.

The examples are legion. If the ruling elites didn't have double standards, they wouldn't have any standards at all. Legislators and regulators would never tolerate such behavior in the private sector. Citizens should no longer tolerate it in our government.

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT.org) and author of "Eco-Imperialism: Green power Black death" (Merril Press, 2010).

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