Peter Flaherty's blog

Divestment Campaign Targets Fossil Fuels

fossil fuel divestment HarvardAmerica is on the verge of energy independence. We now pump as much oil as Saudi Arabia. Investments in new technologies are paying off, buoying our economy with new jobs and lower energy prices. What's not to like?

Well plenty, if you are an activist who takes your lead from an organization called 350.org that wants to end the use of oil, gas and coal. The "350" comes from the group's goal of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from its present level of 400 parts per million to 350. Its unclear what good such a reduction would do. CO2 is naturally occurring and is always present in the atmosphere. It's what we exhale.

Rep. Michael Grimm's Campaign Shakedown Scheme

Gregory Meeks and Michael GrimmToday's New York Post reports that Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), already under indictment, sought out and allegedly accepted campaign contributions in his initial 2010 race for Congress that exceeded contribution limits.

He asked for $10,000 donations from six people, when the legal limit for individual contributions is $2,400. The contributions were not disclosed on Grimm's campaign disclosure forms, evidence that Grimm may have been aware that they were illegal.

From the article by Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein:

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Must Resign

Roger GoodellNational Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell should resign or be fired. Goodell either saw, or should have seen, the elevator video of Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice clocking his fiancé.

Goodell's should be KO'ed by this episode. It would be an appropriate irony. Domestic violence is a serious issue. Goodell has jumped on a number of causes where there is far less consensus either within the NFL or society at large. He has obligated the NFL to politically correct stances on issues that seem to reflect his personal political beliefs.

McDonnell Going to Jail, but We're Stuck With His Taxes

McDonnellFormer Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife were found guilty yesterday of charges related to their acceptance of gifts from a businessman named Jonnie Williams, Sr. They are most likely going to prison where meals, soap and everything else will be free. Unfortunately, Virginia taxpayers will be paying the price for their misrule long after they are released.

McDonnell's transportation plan, signed in 2013, puts a huge tax burden on ordinary citizens and helped corrupt Virginia politics. It obligates taxpayers to funding projects like the recently opened Metro Silver Line, which will never come close to breaking even. Made possible by the issuance of bonds (debt), these capital-intensive projects cannot simply repealed by the Legislature and another Governor. We are stuck with them, and the costs, forever.

Meeks Pushed for Iran Sanction Exemption After Azerbaijan Junket

There’s fallout from the July 27 Houston Chronicle exposé of a trip to Azerbaijan by 10 member of the House that violated House rules. The trip was ostensibly sponsored by nonprofit groups but was actually funded by oil companies BP, Conoco Phillips and SOCAR, the national oil company of Azerbaijan. According to the New York Post today:

Rep. Gregory Meeks pushed to let an Iran-backed natural-gas project dodge US sanctions — after attending an illicit junket paid for by energy companies.

Azerbaijan Trip by House Members Broke Rules

Gregory MeeksThe Houston Chronicle yesterday published an account of a 2013 trip by 10 members of the House of Representatives to Azerbaijan that violates a House rule that prohibits the acceptance of overnight travel from corporations that employ lobbyists. The trip was indirectly paid for by companies doing business in Azerbaijan through nonprofit groups.

The fact set is similar to the 2008 case involving a trip to the Caribbean by then-Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), exposed by NLPC, and investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). OCE referred the matter to the House Ethics Committee, which "admonished" Rangel, prompting his resignation as House Ways and Means Chairman. The head of the nonprofit that sponsored the event was eventually convicted of lying to Congress.

McCaskill and Blumenthal Must Press GM's Barra for Brake Corrosion Recall

Claire McCaskillOn Thursday, July 17, General Motors CEO Mary Barra will be back as a witness on Capitol Hill, this time before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who has been an outspoken critic of GM's response to the deadly ignition switch defect, chairs the Subcommittee. Indeed, the hearing is titled, "Examining Accountability and Corporate Culture in Wake of the GM Recalls." Another subcommittee member, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), has been even more outspoken. Both deserve credit for seeking to make GM accountable, especially since some members on both House and Senate committees have pulled their punches on Barra and GM.

Lawsuit Seeks to Uncover True Costs of Green Energy Mandates

Fred N. SauerNLPC Associate Fellow Fred N. Sauer, in photo, filed a lawsuit on June 6 against the Missouri Public Service Commission to make it disclose what is happening to all the money being paid in artificially-high renewable electricity prices. The suit is an outgrowth of his 2013 Special Report titled, The Carnahan Wind Deal: Crony Capitalism is Missouri.

Here's the background on the lawsuit as explained by Fred:

On May 4, 2008, Missourians For Cleaner, Cheaper Energy filed a petition with the Missouri Secretary of State, Robin Carnahan, to put Proposition C, the Clean Energy Initiative on the November 2008 ballot in Missouri. This proposition created a renewable electricity standard in the state. The standard requires utility companies to gradually increase their usage of renewable energy annually until 15% of the energy used in the state is renewable.

Media Notices GM Refusal on Brake Line Recall Request

rusted brake lineOn May 13, we asked GM to recall Chevy Silverados and other pickups and SUVs with a brake line corrosion problem. GM responded by claiming that it was a "maintenance issue" and therefore not a reason to order a recall.

The media is finally paying attention to the issue. Yesterday, Bloomberg ran a story titled "GM's Rusting Brake Lines Don't Make the Cut in Record Recalls," by Jeff Plungis and Jeff Green. From the piece:

GM Resists Recall for Brake Line Defect in Chevy Silverado, Other Vehicles

General Motors has finally responded to our May 13 request that it recall 6 million Chevy Silverados and other light trucks and SUVs. In a letter from Jeffrey Boyer, Vice President for Global Safety, GM is sticking to its longstanding claim that a brake line corrosion problem results from "wear and tear." From Boyer's letter:

Brake line wear on vehicles is a maintenance issue that affects the entire automotive industry. As with every vehicle part, our safety personnel regularly investigate brake line complaints for possible defects.

This statement is directly refuted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data.  The kind of corrosion affecting GM vehicles does not plague the rest of the industry. In the only other situation with any similarity, Subaru last year undertook a recall.

 

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