Obama Administration OKs Bird Killing— As Long As Its by Windmill

Duke Energy turbineFriday’s announcement by the Obama administration that it will allow wind energy companies to kill certain bird species for 30 years without legal ramifications shows that its $1 million paltry fine of Duke Energy for avian slayings a week earlier was just for show.

Slamming the president for the application of double standards, not enforcing laws it doesn’t like, and acting unilaterally without Congressional authority is nothing new. It’s not often, though, you see such an obvious policy contradiction appear within such a short period of time. And now, without need to worry about re-election, he can pit his environmental constituencies against each other (wildlife protection vs. green energy promotion).

The latest decision, by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, extends the maximum possible term for permits to “take” (“molest or disturb”… “take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import…”) from …

Duke Energy Fine for Bird Kills is All Show, No Substance

Duke Energy turbineLast week’s punishment/settlement between the Department of Justice and Duke Energy over bird deaths caused by its wind turbines gives evidence that the Obama administration needed a scapegoat, to defuse accusations that it applies a double-standard in enforcement of wildlife laws.

The Friday before Thanksgiving both parties announced that Duke would pay $1 million for the deaths of more than 160 birds that are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The incidents occurred over the last four years at two Wyoming sites operated by the utility’s Duke Energy Renewables subsidiary.

“This case represents the first criminal conviction under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for unlawful avian takings at wind projects,” said Robert Dreher, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, in a statement.

That’s nice. The problem is the timing of the action coincided with a response by the Justice Department to Republican …

Senate Labor Committee Approves Five NLRB Nominees; Old Issues Remain

NLRB headquartersThe National Labor Relations Board, strictly speaking, should have shut down nearly five months ago. But it has kept on going anyway. And even if President Obama’s slate of five nominees takes office, the issues surrounding its legal limbo almost certainly will continue onward to the Supreme Court.  On May 22, the Senate Labor Committee approved all five and sent their names in one package for a full floor Senate vote.  In February the president had re-nominated two members, Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, both of whose recess appointments were declared unconstitutional on January 25 by a federal appeals court. And in April, Obama named three more persons to round out the five-member board – Harry Johnson, Philip Miscimarra and Mark Pearce. Sound complicated? It’s even more so in light of a new bill passed by the House that could shut down the agency indefinitely. 

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was established in 1935 as part of the National Labor Relations Act to serve as a neutral arbiter in private-sector …

Taxpayers Fund Impractical Cracker Barrel EV Recharging Scheme

CrackerBarrelIf you were going to run a pilot project that deploys charging stations in a network to enhance the use of electric vehicles, what kind of establishments would you locate them at? Whose customers might be most interested in that amenity?

Certainly Starbucks comes to mind, as might sustainability-crazy Walmart – but how about Cracker Barrel?

It’s true, the down-home chain of Old Country Store restaurants was chosen by Ecotality for a practice run in Tennessee as part of The EV Project, which is funded with a $115 million Department of Energy grant to create infrastructure to support EVs like the Nissan Leaf. The rollout features a dozen so-called “fast chargers,” which means they can provide an electric “fill-up” in 30 minutes, with the idea that an EV owner could consume his Cracker Barrel Sampler and a couple of sweet tea refills while the Leaf gets its electric infusion.…

NLRB’s Boeing Decision Sparks Senate Response

Boeing DreamlinerThe decision last month by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to side with a union trying to block Boeing Co. from operating in South Carolina has entered a new stage: the U.S. Senate. And the implications extend far beyond South Carolina. Last week, on May 12, Senators Jim DeMint, R-S.C., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., introduced a bill, the Job Protection Act (S. 964), to bar the board from overriding an employer’s decision to site a facility in a particular state. The measure, which has at least 34 co-sponsors, is a rebuke to NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon’s complaint against Boeing on April 20 that the company had acted unfairly against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) in opening a facility near Charleston, S.C. to build its planned “787 Dreamliner” jet. 

National Legal and Policy Center reported in detail on last month’s NLRB ruling. Boeing, …

Obama Takeover of Higher Ed Financing Could Bust Taxpayers

America’s colleges and universities might not qualify as bailout material, but the nation should get ready for what amounts to massive federal government intrusion into higher education financing. Legislation signed March 30 by President Barack Obama practically seals the deal. And despite the administration’s claims to the contrary, taxpayers may find the transition exceedingly expensive. The measure, tacked onto the health care overhaul, requires that campuses using the prevailing system – federally-guaranteed private-sector lending – must move to federal direct lending. The U.S. Department of Education would serve as loan originator, though with a likelihood of contracting with banks to perform servicing. 

Direct lending has been in place for more than 15 years. President Obama wanted to make it the only game in town — and he got what he wanted.  Under the new law commercial banks, credit unions and other private-sector lenders still could make college loans, but from now on they …