Friday, October 26, 2012

A Visit to Boomtown

What will pull our economy into recovery? Contrary to the Obama administration’s dreamy pronouncements, it’s not windmills, solar panels, or other forms of “clean energy.” These heavily subsidized industries may eventually produce abundant energy, but that day is far in the future. For now, the 5 million “green-collar jobs” that Obama promised have not materialized, and the million electric cars he vowed to put on the roads are rarely seen.

What’s going to spark our economic recovery is traditional energy – that is, the proven energy sources that transformed America into an industrial powerhouse. As I explained on the John Batchelor show (listen here), I just returned from a trip to Williston, where I saw how oil drilling in the Bakken Formation - which stretches across parts of North Dakota, Montana, and southern Canada – has turned a sleepy North Dakota town into a bustling city. In Williston, the biggest employment problem is that they can’t get enough workers there fast enough to fill all the available jobs. Work on oil rigs often starts at $100,000 a year, and many other jobs offer higher salaries than I’ve seen anywhere else for comparable positions. Housing prices are skyrocketing, and the physical infrastructure is developing at a breakneck pace – the place is an absolute boomtown.

Williston, ND

This is all enabled by horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracking, and other advances in drilling technology and methods. These innovations have helped boost U.S. oil output by 7 percent this year, the biggest jump since 1951. As the AP reports, “U.S. oil output is surging so fast that the United States could soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest producer.” Furthermore, “Increased drilling is driving economic growth in states such as North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Montana and Texas, all of which have unemployment rates far below the national average of 7.8 percent. North Dakota is at 3 percent; Oklahoma, 5.2.”

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal finds that America’s recent surge in natural gas production is boosting our manufacturing sector. According to the Journal, “Economists at Citigroup Inc. earlier this year estimated that increased domestic oil and gas production, and the activity that flows from it, would create up to 3.6 million new jobs by 2020 and boost annual economic output by between 2% and 3.3%.”

This boom in oil and gas production is occurring almost entirely on private lands. That’s unsurprising – through its veto of the Keystone XL pipeline, its lavish funding of failing green energy schemes, the thickets of regulation it lays upon oil and gas drillers, and countless other incomprehensible decisions, the Obama administration has repeatedly shown a bizarre hostility to traditional energy.  

As usual, we have to rely on the private sector. America could become the world’s indispensable energy producer, and hundreds – maybe even thousands – of booming towns like Williston could pop up across the nation – if the government will just stay out of the way.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Kickstarting the economy through business tax reform

Tinkering with tax rates on business is not enough; we need to replace the entire business tax code with a new system that dramatically boosts economic growth. My proposal for a business tax overhaul appears in the Washington Post today.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Obama Administration “Resets” Relations with Mexico

Univision, the Spanish-language TV network, is reporting that a massacre by a Mexican drug cartel involved U.S. weapons trafficked to Mexico through the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious gun-walking operation.

Meanwhile, here’s a short analysis by the Heritage Foundation of my suggestion in National Review Online for redirecting U.S. foreign policy.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Lead from the Front with a New Economic Alliance

U.S. embassies are being torched, U.S. flags are burning, and American diplomats are being murdered in countries that are supposedly our allies. In National Review Online today, I outline an alternative to Obama’s policy of “leading from behind.” Read it here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Toward a New American Alliance

America has been slow to react as the international order is upended by revolutions in the Middle East and upheavals elsewhere in the world. As we watch passively, the world is being remade to our detriment. It’s time to re-establish America’s global leadership – not by promoting democracy in far-off lands with hostile populations, but by creating a new international alliance in which friendly nations voluntarily bind together through mutually beneficial free trade.   

Toward that end, today I introduced the Economic Freedom Alliance Act in the House of Representatives. The bill would advance global free trade through four measures:

·        The Transatlantic Commerce and Trade Enhancement Act would authorize the U.S. President to conduct negotiations with the European Union toward a comprehensive free trade agreement.
·        The United States-Brazil Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade Act would establish a commission between the United States and Brazil to work toward dismantling mutual trade barriers, promoting commercial opportunities, and in the long-term, establishing free trade between the two nations.
·        The Agriculture Trade Facilitation Act would establish U.S. negotiating objectives for removing improper sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to U.S. agricultural exports.  
·        The Generalized System of Preferences Improvement Act would reform the Generalized System of Preferences so that certain countries with rapidly developing economies will no longer receive trading preferences from the United States while blocking U.S. imports in their own markets. Instead, they will be encouraged to work with the United States to remove trade barriers on both sides.  

Amid the burning American flags and charred U.S. embassies that dot the world landscape today, we should try a new approach. The U.S. is now negotiating a multilateral free-trade agreement with Mexico, Canada, Australia, and seven other nations through the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Economic Freedom Alliance Act will expand this effort into the creation of a broad free-trade zone that unites us with peaceful, like-minded allies and sets clear conditions for U.S. friendship. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Unions work to create police state

Reports of union thuggery in California. (Public pension reform, anyone?) The police union is making the police look bad. Where is the mainstream media?

from the Orange County Register
printed August 29, 2012
Police union negotiator targeted city councilmen

Officials from Costa Mesa, Irvine, Fullerton and Buena Park on Tuesday accused an Upland law firm that represents police unions of employing thug-like behavior in its efforts to win favorable contracts for city police agencies.

Buena Park Mayor Fred Smith says he was pulled over and treated as a DUI suspect two years ago after attending a holiday party. He suspects the Buena Park officers targeted him because of his decisions on the city's council and his choice of police chief, he said.

Jackie, Dammeier and McGill, which represents more than 120 police associations in California, until recently had featured on its website a manual for tough negotiating tactics that included targeting city officials until they cave in to union demands.

Buena Park Councilman Fred Smith said he was targeted by a police officer after leaving a party in December 2010. Smith said he was pulled over, told that he smelled of alcohol, and asked to take a field breath test. Smith said that he blew "all zeros" but was ticketed for straddling a lane.
"I was told I should never disrespect officers," Smith said.

Smith said he also received threatening text messages last week from a political consultant that worked for the police union. One text asked Smith if he knew the meaning of "GJI." A later text explained: "Grand Jury Indictment."

It was followed by this message: "Say good bye Freddie."

The consultant, Jim Freeman of Torrance, admitted Tuesday that the messages came from his phone but said he did not send them. Freeman said his phone system was hacked by a disgruntled intern. "I've been in politics for over a decade and I've never had my systems breached before, though I understand that anything is possible in today's world -- even government agencies like the DOD get hacked," said Freeman.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said street cops were getting a black eye from their unions.

"This is a very sad occasion when police unions are destroying the good will that police officers are building," said Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach. He called for an investigation by the US Department of Labor and the US Department of Justice.

The officials spoke at a press conference outside of Costa Mesa City Hall organized by Councilman Jim Righeimer.

The Orange County Register on Friday linked the law firm of Lackie, Dammeier and McGill, with a private investigator who called in a DUI report on Righeimer last week. Police met the investigator at Righeimer's house and administered a sobriety test but reported that he was not intoxicated.

Righeimer has said he believes labor unions are behind the drunken driving accusation and the 911 call.

Both the law firm and the PI, Chris Lanzillo, acknowledged their affiliation but the police union and a principal in the law firm say Lanzillo was not authorized to follow Righeimer. Lanzillo told The Register on Tuesday that he happened upon Righeimer by accident and stands by his report that he appeared intoxicated.

Lackie, Dammeier and McGill's client list includes police unions in Anaheim, Buena Park, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, La Habra, La Palma, Laguna Beach, Los Alamitos, Santa Ana, Tustin and Westminster, as well as UC Irvine.

Attorney Dieter Dammeier denied his firm had done anything illegal.

"When our clients are treated unfairly or unlawfully, yes, we are aggressive, within the limits of the law, to vindicate our client's position," Dammeier wrote in an email to the Orange County Register.
Dammeier wrote that cities have fabricated evidence in cases against police officers, diverted money to executive pay raises and threatened to cut police positions, among other things'

"We will not apologize for 'aggressively' protecting those that put their lives on the line every day protecting all of us. We will continue to fight for our clients using every available legal tool at our disposal," Dammeier wrote. "When officials take actions that our clients feel deprioritize public safety, we will respond, in many cases publically, calling out the politicians on their actions."

Lanzillo, the man who made the 911 call, is a former Riverside police officer who took a disability retirement and works as a private investigator, for Lackie, Dammeier & McGill and others. Lanzillo's name was on the Lackie, Dammeier & McGill website last week but had been removed by Friday.
Lanzillo released a statement late Monday night denying that he was hired to follow Righeimer. He stated he was on an unrelated assignment when he saw Righeimer leaving Skosh Monahan's Steakhouse & Irish Pub in Costa Mesa. The bar and restaurant is owned by Costa Mesa Councilman Gary Monahan.

Buena Park Mayor Jim Dow also appeared at the news conference, saying he had received word a year ago that the union was gunning for him. Dow said he then moved his adult daughters to Idaho after reading a suggestion online that police unions should target the children of city officials. He said he's in the process of selling his house and plans to move after his term ends.

"I couldn't take that chance with my kids," Dow said.

Righeimer said in recent days he has received several calls from municipal officials throughout California, complaining of the threatening tactics employed by Lackie Dammeier and its clients. One of those calls was from El Monte, where a city official had been followed for days by a white car matching the description of the one that tailed Righeimer.

Several calls by the Register to this city official and El Monte City Attorney David Gondek went unanswered.

Fullerton Councilman Bruce Whitaker said intimidation by the Fullerton Police Association resulted in a 3-2 vote against pursuing cost estimates from the Orange County Sheriff's Department. The Council was looking into restructuring its police force, Whitaker said.

"We entrust (police) with the ability to take away our freedoms, to make arrests, to intimidate, to use discerning tactics. This clearly can cross the line and become an abuse of those powers," Whitaker said.

Righeimer said menacing tactics are forcing municipal officials to make decisions not based on what is best for the community but what will keep them from being publicly embarrassed – or worse. In the past year, he has been criticized by city unions and some residents for supporting outsourcing some city services and a charter city proposal on the November ballot.

"This has nothing to do with the working cops and firefighters," Righeimer said. "This has to do with the labor unions that have gotten in bed with this law firm."

The Costa Mesa Police Department is investigating the incident, but Righeimer said the department will be handing the investigation off to the District Attorney's Office.

Updated to remove Brea Police Association from the client list of Lackie, Dammeier & McGill. Brea Police Association stopped using the firm about a year ago.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Eco-extremists Strike Again

Along with California congressmen Jeff Denham and Kevin McCarthy, I sent a letter today to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack seeking the immediate re-opening of the Central Valley Meat Company meat-processing plant in Hanford, California.

The Department of Agriculture recently suspended all operations at the plant after a video surfaced purporting to show plant workers mistreating livestock. Citing the idling of hundreds of workers at the plant, the regional economic damage resulting from its closure, and the fact that the alleged violations never compromised the food supply, we asked Secretary Vilsack to re-open the plant under enhanced supervision while an investigation of the plant continues.      

The video was posted by extremists who are actively working to undermine production agriculture in the United States. In recent years, these kinds of “activists” have increased their attacks on animal agriculture, and have even carried out acts of domestic terrorism. For example, in early 2012 a group used improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to blow up fourteen trucks used for transporting livestock not far from Hanford, citing animal welfare as their excuse. Now, area residents are confronted with economic terrorism.

You can read our letter here.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

“Somewhere between Critical and Too Late to Deal with It”

Following the bankruptcies of Stockton, San Bernardino, and Mammoth Lakes earlier this year, Moody’s says it expects more California municipalities to go insolvent. The credit rating agency notes that more than 10 percent of the state’s cities have declared fiscal crises. 
I’m not sure why so many politicians believe their budgets are exempt from the laws of mathematics. But when you pay out unaffordable benefits to public employees – including lavish pensions found almost nowhere in the private sector – eventually, those costs have to be paid off. Budget tricks, accounting gimmicks, and low-ball cost projections – the methods used by the Obama administration (ObamaCare) and the California Governor’s office (high-speed rail) – can fool people for a while. But in the end, bills have to be paid, one way or another.
What’s disturbing is that in some respects, the main thing that distinguishes the federal government’s budget from those of California’s failing municipalities is simply the scale of the irresponsibility.  
Consider Social Security. In their latest 75-year budget projection, the Social Security trustees estimate the total Social Security shortfall at an unbelievable $134 trillion. Even adjusted for inflation, the figure is $30.5 trillion in today’s dollars, which the Associated Press notes is eight times bigger than the entire 2012 federal budget. 
Social Security trustee Chuck Blahous comments, “To me, urgent doesn’t begin to describe it. . . . I would say we’re somewhere between critical and too late to deal with it.”
A shortfall of trillions of dollars in a single entitlement program is not something our nation can afford. When you combine this shortfall with the trillions in unfunded liabilities in Medicare and Medicaid, and join that with the trillion-dollar deficit the federal government now posts every year, and add that to our current national debt of $16 trillion – you get a level of indebtedness that will shatter the United States.   
Nothing can protect us once we accumulate this kind of ruinous debt – not our military, not our scientists, and not our politicians. The only solution is to make tough decisions to restructure our entitlements today so that we don’t saddle our children with this disastrous debt tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Food Shortages in America, Part II

Readers of my blog may remember my warning last year about possible food shortages. Well, CNN is reporting that the worst drought in more than fifty years has pushed up U.S. corn prices 50 percent in the last six weeks, potentially leading to a spike in food prices across the board. While the government can’t do much to make it rain, it can ease the plight of both farmers and consumers by ending policies that make the crisis worse.

One immensely damaging policy is the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires ethanol to be blended into gasoline. Along with other members of Congress, I have been warning for years that the RFS boosts food prices and suppresses corn production, as a rising share of the corn crop – currently 40 percent – is converted to ethanol. 

In the Ways and Means Committee last year, we helped to cancel the ethanol tax credit. But that is not enough; with price shocks and food shortages looming, we need action now. As more than 100 of my colleagues and I argue in this letter, the Obama administration must immediately ease the ethanol mandate, as it is entitled to do when the RFS stands to inflict severe harm on the economy.

It’s time to admit the truth – the government’s experiment in using food for fuel has failed.     

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Amazing Google Car vs. Scandal-Plagued High-Speed Rail

I recently took a ride in Google’s experimental driverless car. An engineer drove us to a certain spot, then took his hands off the wheel, his feet off the pedals, and flipped a switch. From there, the car drove along a pre-programmed route completely on its own based on radar, GPS, and other data. This incredible vehicle navigated complicated intersections and four-way stop signs without a hitch. It stopped for pedestrians and avoided parked cars on narrow streets while stunned onlookers snapped pictures. According to the engineers, this technology, which they hope to put on the market in the next few years, could significantly reduce road accidents, allow more cars onto the existing road infrastructure, and shorten travel times.

This breakthrough innovation is a testament to the ingenuity of American business. It stands in stark contrast to government planners who have an inexplicable, romantic attachment to trains. Take California’s extravagant high-speed rail project, whose initial cost estimate has already doubled to $68 billion, while many observers forecast a final cost as high as $100 billion. Recall that “green energy” enthusiasts championed China’s high-speed rail system as a model for our own – until a horrific high-speed rail crash in eastern China killed around forty people. That followed a slew of safety scandals and audits that revealed widespread corruption in China’s high-speed rail project. We don’t hear so much about the glories of Chinese railways anymore, but California’s high-speed rail boosters march blindly forward, oblivious to the fact that the state can’t afford it. 
There’s a clear choice here between two visions: investing tens of billions of dollars we don’t have in a train project whose principal model is mired in scandal, corruption, and death, or asking the government to simply get out of the way and let the creative genius of the private sector blaze a trail into the future.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Amid High Unemployment, Team Obama Brags About Government-Created Jobs

Two days ago, the Department of the Interior (DOI) released a report on the “economic contributions” it supposedly made to the nation last year. In an accompanying press release, the department claims it “contributed $18.75 billion to California’s economy in 2011 and supported 117,170 jobs.”

Sadly, $19 billion apparently isn’t enough money to secure a steady water supply for Central Valley farmers. Somehow, deliberately starving Californians of water didn’t make it into the DOI’s press release.

Mind you, the Department’s magnanimous “contribution” to California is just a drop in its giant bucket of government benevolence. Nationwide, the DOI says it “contributed $385 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 2 million jobs in 2011.”

Let’s pretend for a minute that the DOI did indeed “support” – whatever that means – more than 2 million jobs last year. This needs to be balanced against all the jobs suppressed by the Obama administration’s self-defeating energy policies. How many potential jobs were lost due to President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, his continued ban on energy drilling off the California coast and elsewhere, and his crusade to “bankrupt” – in his words – any company that builds a new coal plant?

This is not to mention the doomed jobs that won a last-minute reprieve when Congress rejected Obama’s cap-and-trade scheme – which may still be replaced by equally destructive EPA limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

And don’t forget about future job losses caused by Obama’s tax policies, including the huge ObamaCare taxes as well as his current drive to raise taxes on Americans making over $200,000, which would crush many small businesses.

Ironically, the smiley-faced DOI report was published just after we learned that U.S. unemployment topped 8 percent for the 41st straight month. It’s hard to believe the economy could be doing this badly when the DOI acts, in its own account, as a miraculous job-creating machine.

Friday, June 22, 2012

My Health-Care Alternative for the Old and Poor

It’s time to move beyond ObamaCare.

Whether it is struck down by the Supreme Court, defunded by Congress, or simply collapses from its unsustainable costs and the impossibly complicated bureaucracy it seeks to impose, ObamaCare won’t work. It will depress the economy, increase the national debt, discourage medical innovation, and erode the quality of healthcare.

The fundamental mistake of ObamaCare’s architects is that they refused to recognize the systemic failure of government-provided healthcare – Medicare and Medicaid had begun malfunctioning long before Nancy Pelosi bribed and bullied Congress into approving Obama’s healthcare bill. Now we need to begin assembling the components of a replacement plan that works better than ObamaCare and more efficiently than the current system.

To that end, I am introducing the Choice in Healthcare Act, which will create a voluntary, 10-year pilot program for a new healthcare delivery system, beginning in June 2013.

Geared toward low-income individuals and seniors, this simple plan will replace participants’ Medicare and Medicaid benefits with roughly equivalent funds put on a debit-style “Medi-choice” card. Participants can then use their card to buy the health insurance of their choice on the open market and to pay for out-of-pocket expenses such as co-payments and deductibles. In succeeding years the card’s funding level will be adjusted for inflation, and any unused funds will roll over to the next year.

This plan will streamline healthcare delivery by replacing hospital insurance, Medigap, prescription drug programs, Medicare, and Medicaid with a simple debit card. Instead of dealing with the notorious restrictions, exclusions, and red tape of government-provided healthcare, participants will be empowered to control their own healthcare and force insurers and providers to compete for their business. Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries will be freed from these failing, regimented programs, and will gain the same access and choice in healthcare enjoyed by other Americans.

The pilot program would be launched in eight counties in California’s San Joaquin Valley, an impoverished area whose residents are woefully underserved in healthcare. According to a December 2005 Congressional Research Service report, “By a wide range of indicators, the SJV [San Joaquin Valley] is . . . one of the most economically depressed regions of the United States” and is “suffering from high poverty, unemployment, and other adverse social conditions.” The report found that the region had nearly double the percentage of Medicaid participants (22.9 percent) compared with the national average (11.7 percent) and around half the ratio of active doctors (1.4 doctors per 1,000 people in the San Joaquin Valley, compared with 2.3 doctors per 1,000 nationwide).

The valley’s poorer inhabitants are precisely the kind of people whom government-provided healthcare is supposed to help. Yet their access to quality care is severely limited due to myriad restrictions and bureaucratic obstacles. As a result, local hospitals, doctors, and medical professionals have shown enthusiastic support for our plan.

The pilot program’s costs will be minimal, since it will largely redirect today’s inefficient government spending. But its potential rewards are high. It will constitute a voluntary real-life experiment – applying only to those who choose to participate – in using choice and competition to eliminate the waste, inefficiencies, and restrictions of the current system. Best of all, if it works in the difficult conditions of the San Joaquin Valley, it will likely work across the country – with essentially no additional costs.

In fact, if the program is implemented on a large scale, it will have beneficial ripple effects throughout the healthcare sector and the national economy. It will encourage widespread entrepreneurship, innovation, and competition as providers seek to meet the needs of empowered consumers. It will harness the free market to drive reforms that will benefit all Americans, particularly the poorest.

Big, powerful reforms don’t have to be complicated. To improve healthcare, you don’t need a thousand-page bill like ObamaCare that engineers a government takeover of one-sixth of the U.S. economy and criminalizes the failure to buy a health insurance product. The program outlined in the Choice in Healthcare Act could be a crucial part of an affordable, free-market alternative. It deserves a chance to prove its effectiveness in the real world.

This editorial originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal on June 22, 2012. Read the article at:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Press Release: 500 Jobs in Jeopardy While “MoFo” Law Firm Packs-in the Cash

Members of Congress call for quick action by the Obama Administration to save jobs and halt activist judge and former partner at Morrison & Foerster (

Washington DC – Congressmen Devin Nunes and Jeff Denham, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Chairman Rob Bishop, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, today called on the Obama Administration to act to protect the jobs of backcountry horsemen who are being threatened by a liberal activist judge and a National Park Service decision to delay permits for commercial operators.

“There are approximately 500 jobs hanging in the balance.  The Obama Administration must act swiftly to seek permission from the courts to issue a one year permit to save these small businesses,” said Rep. Devin Nunes.  “I am working with Chairman Bishop and the House Natural Resources Committee in an effort to convince them to do just that.”

A recent federal court decision has resulted in alterations to the permitting process necessary for pack and saddle backcountry horsemen to enter the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. If commercial operating permits are not granted, backcountry operations will be suspended. Many of these family businesses cannot survive an economic blow of this magnitude. According to the Park Service, Judge Richard Seeborg denied a request to expedite a hearing on issuing permits. 

“The Obama Administration must issue these permits immediately. Issuing the permits would prevent the cancellation of tourism associated with the pack and saddle companies, and the subsequent revenue upon which so many jobs and businesses in this area rely,” said Chairman Bishop.  “Congress clearly intended for these family owned and operated companies to continue at these parks as they have for decades. This is another example of this Administration’s ongoing assault on access to public lands and further illustrates that they will always place radical special interest groups before hard-working Americans.”

“At a time of unacceptably high unemployment rates, refusing to act to save these jobs and preserve access to our public lands is intolerable. I will continue to fight against the Obama Administration's war on western jobs, and instead work for commonsense policies that help create jobs and preserve important access to our national treasures,” said Majority Whip McCarthy.

It is within the Obama Administration’s power to once again seek permission for a one year permit for commercial backcountry horsemen operations.

“Preventing access to federal lands harms small, rural communities that rely on tourism to bring dollars in to the community,” said Rep. Jeff Denham.  “There has been a concerted effort by this Administration to limit access to public lands without due consideration to the impacts on local communities. Federal lands are publicly owned and should be managed in the best interest of the public, not to their detriment.” 

“I don’t agree with the ruling by the newly appointed liberal activist judge. Federal law is clear. Congress intended that backcountry horsemen have access to the park,” said Rep. Nunes.  “The ruling in itself is not an excuse to shut down an entire season of commercial operations.  It defies common sense that officials have so far refused to actively protect jobs.”

This lawsuit, filed in late 2009 by the High Sierra Hikers Association, was bankrolled by Morrison & Foerster a politically connected San Francisco law firm. Judge Richard Seeborg, who presided over the case, is a former partner at Morrison & Foerster. The law firm, better known as “MoFo” as chided by Jay Leno (see video), has contributed more than $100,000 in campaign contributions to liberal Democrat Members of Congress and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

Law firms such as “MoFo” claim to do this type of legal work “pro bono”.  In this case, “MoFo” who is reported to have a record $930 million in revenue last year, will see a big payday from the federal government as a result of the Equal Access to Justice Act.  This law stipulates that attorney’s fees be reimbursed by the taxpayers in successful cases.

“The conflict of interest in this case is appalling. At a minimum the judge should have recused himself,” said Rep. Nunes.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Job Killers Loose in our National Parks

Our jobs are under attack.

Rural mountain communities are once again in the cross-hairs of liberal politicians and regulators. Having already devastated California’s mining and timber industries with laws and regulations limiting access to public lands, environmental radicals have moved full speed into a new round of limitations that impact recreational use of our National Parks. They want to eliminate the backcountry horsemen, the only means left by which the vast majority of Americans, including those with disabilities, are able to gain access to the American wilderness.

Backcountry horsemen are part of the American story and have, since the settling of the West, been responsible for packing people and supplies into some of the most remote places. They are environmentalists, not in the modern sense, but in the true sense. These hardworking entrepreneurs understand that public access and conservation belong together and are sharply contrasted with the vast majority of urban activists who fund and support the modern environmental movement.  Unlike the urban zealots, backcountry horsemen actually understand the wilderness and are personally invested in its survival.

Despite these facts, well-funded radicals are working to put backcountry horsemen out of business. They filed and won a lawsuit which alleged that operating permits for these businesses required compliance with environmental laws related to wilderness areas. The activists and court would have us believe that horses and pack mules are a threat to the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, despite their longstanding presence in the area and despite a specific Congressional directive to the contrary (see here).

Ironically, the Obama Administration is pushing backcountry horsemen out of business at the same time it is urging Americans to “get outdoors.” The White House initiative is based on President Obama’s belief that government investments in outdoor activities are good for the economy.

The White House could demonstrate an interest in protecting these “outdoor” jobs with a simple act – one that it has so far refused to entertain. The Administration simply needs to ask the court for a one year extension of existing permits. A one year extension would allow adequate time for the permitting process to be updated in order to reflect new wilderness requirements and it may spare the small but time honored industry from the chopping block.