Rising Electric Bills

Rising Electric Bills

With economy-wide inflation still plaguing us and stretching paychecks thin, we should be paying extra close attention to energy prices. The cost of energy affects the price of almost everything. In the transportation sector, high fuel prices increase the costs of getting products to market or directly to your home. High electric and natural gas bills contribute to inflation not only by raising the cost of doing business, but also by directly increasing the cost of powering your home. In both cases, the higher prices can be attributed largely to the fact that fossil fuels are global commodities with their price set by international markets.  That means that events virtually anywhere in the world can increase our energy costs here in the United States. The recent spike in these energy costs are tied directly to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Sanctions on Russian energy in response to the invasion—and retaliatory measures by Russia—have tightened oil supplies and greatly increased Europe’s demand for U.S. natural gas. Russia is a major energy producer, and over the years, Europe became heavily dependent on Russia for its oil and natural gas supplies. Europe has finally woken up to the strategic vulnerability posed by being over reliant on Russian energy, and is now turning to the U.S., the world’s leading producer of natural gas (Russia is second) to help wean itself off  of Russian natural gas. That has dramatically changed the natural gas market here. For a long time we had to use all of the gas we produce domestically because there was no way to ship it overseas, which kept our natural gas prices...
The Devastating Impacts of Pollinator Decline

The Devastating Impacts of Pollinator Decline

People often do not realize just how much of the food we eat only exists because of insect pollinators, especially bees. Bees are in fact essential in the production of at least a third of our food. This includes most of the fruits, nuts, vegetables, and seeds that are essential to our diets. That is why the fact that the American Bumblebee has completely vanished from eight states (Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Oregon) should be a huge wake-up call for all of us. And this problem is not just limited to those states. In just the past two decades, the bumblebee population across the U.S. has declined by nearly 90 percent. A similar decline is happening with honeybees. Beekeepers across the country reported losing more than 45 percent of their managed honeybee colonies from April 2020 to April 2021. Pollinators directly contribute a whopping $24 billion to the U.S. economy. That number nearly doubles when you add in their indirect contribution to other agricultural products like milk and beef. Globally, 75 percent of the top 115 food crops depend on pollinators. In the Bible verse (Matthew 25) where Jesus talks about our duty to care for “the least of these,” meaning the less fortunate, His words seems equally applicable regarding our obligation to protect pollinators. Without these tiny pollinators, many will suffer. Crop scarcity not only leads to famine in parts of the world, it also will cause food shortages and prices to skyrocket here at home. Why is this happening? There are several reasons. Habitat loss and a changing climate play...
Protecting Our Atmosphere the Reagan Way

Protecting Our Atmosphere the Reagan Way

Way back in 1987, President Ronald Reagan pushed through an international treaty to phase out the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemicals that scientists suspected of eroding the earth’s protective ozone layer. That treaty, called the Montreal Protocol, has been the most successful environmental treaty in history. In fact, because of Reagan’s leadership, the ozone hole over Antarctica is healing. According to NASA, the hole should completely vanish in about 50 years. Today, however, we now know that the chemicals developed to replace CFC-based refrigerants, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) harm the atmosphere in a different way. They are extremely potent greenhouse gases. The most commonly used HFC is 3,790 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Back in December (2020), a funding bill passed by Congress included a bipartisan climate agreement to phase-down production and consumption of HFC super-pollutants. That legislation, which authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to slash HFC emissions, passed and was signed into law by then President Trump. Now the Biden administration is following through on that. Its new EPA rule seeks to decrease U.S. production and use of HFCs by 85% over the next 15 years. That is real progress, but HFCs and our warming climate are global problems, not simply something we can solve alone. Other countries must follow our lead—and that is where Reagan’s Montreal Protocol comes back into play. Kigali Amendment In 2016, the United States and other protocol signatories drafted and approved the Kigali Amendment. The Kigali Amendment is a global pact under the Montreal Protocol that focuses on the phase out of climate warming HFCs. The United States signed the amendment in 2016...

The Time is NOW to Restore LWCF!

Last year Congress allowed the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), one of America’s most important conservation and recreation funding tools, to expire. Public lands legislation (S. 47) that just passed in the U.S. Senate includes a long overdue provision to permanently reauthorize this critical program. It is urgent that CRS members—and anyone who cares about America’s great outdoors—contact their representatives immediately and ask them to also pass S. 47 to restore LWCF. This longstanding program is based on a very conservative idea: use a small portion of revenues from the use of one type of natural resource, offshore oil and gas, to support the conservation of others, our parks, forests, rivers, and other conservation lands. Please click this link, RESTORE LWCF, and use the quick and easy interface to ask your Senators to permanently reauthorize LWCF. If you wish, you can edit and personalize the prewritten letter before sending. About LWCF LWCF, the brainchild of a commission established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, was created more than 50 years ago to ensure that we balance the use of our natural resources with investment in conservation and stewardship. It is a critical tool in the protection of land for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and virtually any other outdoor activity. In addition, LWCF safeguards our water supplies, protects critical wildlife habitat, reduces wildfire losses and helps prevent flooding. Investments in this program pay huge dividends, improving our quality of life, our health, and our economic well-being. LWCF accomplishes all of this without a dime of taxpayer money! What is more conservative than that? It makes sense that for more than 50 years,...

Bi-Partisan Climate Progress…Finally!

Comprehensive and bi-partisan legislation to address climate change, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2018, has recently been introduced in both the House and the Senate. This progress is long overdue. Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and George H.W. Bush were all calling for action to address climate change 30 years ago. Since then we have seen this important issue fall victim to special interests influence and partisan politics. This legislation will reduce greenhouse gas pollution by placing a modest fee on carbon intensive fossil fuels to spur innovation and encourage the use of cleaner energy sources. The money collected from the carbon fee will then be allocated in equal shares every month to the American people to spend as they see fit. The government would not keep any of the money from the fee. If passed, this revenue neutral and market friendly policy will reduce America’s emissions by at least 40% within 12 years. It will also give America’s energy sector the regulatory predictability it needs to plan its future investments. This approach has strong support from economists and scientists as a simple, comprehensive, and effective climate solution. Current co-sponsors of the House bill, H.R. 7173, include Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Francis Rooney (R-Fl), Dave Trott (R-MI), Charlie Crist (D-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), John Delaney (D-MD), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Scott Peters (D-CA). Current co-sponsors of the Senate bill, S. 3791, are Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Chris Coons (D-DE). While many conservatives in Congress privately recognize the need to address climate change, they have been reluctant to take a stand publicly. A...

CRS Files Briefs Opposing Monument Rollbacks

On November 19, CRS filed amici curiae briefs supporting lawsuits against the Trump administration over its dramatic rollback of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah. These briefs were filed in opposition to the administration’s motions to dismiss the cases. CRS argues that the Antiquities Act, which provides presidents with specific authority to establish national monuments, in no way authorizes them to diminish or undo previously established monuments. Under that law—and the U.S. Constitution—such two-way authority rests only with Congress. “We have always maintained that these national monument rollbacks are illegal. The Antiquities Act was enacted exclusively to protect America’s natural and cultural heritage, it in no way confers authority on the president to diminish or destroy it,” said CRS president David Jenkins. In the early 1900s our nation faced a serious problem with the rampant looting and destruction of historic and scientifically important artifacts on public lands, much of which was done to turn a quick buck. Time after time, Congress failed to act quickly enough to preserve them. With the Antiquities Act, Congress responded to that problem by specifically granting the president authority to protect these resources by designating national monuments. There was never any thought of giving presidents the authority to unprotect. Trump’s claim to the contrary is ludicrous. It is also worth noting that the Antiquities Act, and its subsequent use to safeguard America’s national treasures, has a rich conservative heritage. It was passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by Republican president Theodore Roosevelt. Sixteen Presidents (8 Republican and 8 Democrats) have since used its authority to create national monuments....

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