Is Congress Fiddling As Obama Usurps Its Authority?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a legislative hearing on nine bills to prevent the President from unilaterally designating National Monuments under the century-old Antiquities Act and to ensure greater public participation in the process. 
Commentary by
Dave Harbour
An Obama Executive Order created a new government bureaucracy that, like a leech, is siphoning strength from other federal agencies–without Congressional authority.
Here Are Some Useful National Ocean Policy Coalition Quick Links.  The NOPC seeks to better educate Americans about the impact of such federal overreach.
A citizens’ watchdog group, the Ocean Policy Coalition, reported today that the National Ocean Council has just released the National Ocean Policy Final Implementation Plan, which is accessible here.
NOPC provides an Appendix to the plan here.  The White House Council On Environmental Quality — orchestrator of the Executive Order — also issued this press release.

Since the President first created this entity by Executive Order — without Congressional enabling or budget legislation — we have feared for the result.  America probably has the most tightly regulated water and air quality, commercial fishing, oil and gas, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, etc. society in the world.  Yet, with Marine Spatial Planning — as proposed by this plan — and the effective zoning of the oceans, America is about to place an additional matrix of control around economic wealth producers…and all without Congressional consent.  

We believe the Members of Congress fiddle while their branch of government and their authority are being ignored, disrespected and dismantled by an overreaching federal administration.

Case in point (among many): The President established the National Ocean Policy, by Executive Order on July 19, 2010.  

This order created a National Ocean Council consisting of 27 Federal agencies and departments.  It required those agencies to perform new tasks with money the Congress had budgeted for other purposes.  It provided a mandate — without Congressional support — for agencies to divert Congressionally authorized personnel and focus to an unplanned, unauthorized program of environmental activism.

The Council developed its so-called Implementation Plan over the past two years but was planning to execute the plan a year ago until the reelection effort intervened.

 White House bureaucrats have now succeeded in compelling massive contributions of time, personnel and treasury from countless national, regional, and local stakeholders representing all marine sectors; tribal, State, and local governments; the private sector, scientists, and the public.     -dh

To interior states’ citizens who believe that this tightening noose of economic control is restricted only to ocean areas, note:
1.  America’s coasts are among the longest and most productive of any nation–affecting the health of the whole nation.
2.  Alaska hosts about 3/4 of the entire U.S. coastline, including prospective, Arctic OCS areas.  As Russia and Canada seek to delineate and control their own Arctic jurisdiction, America creates duplicative,  new environmental rules as Congress fiddles.
3.  The planners also seek control over watersheds that feed the oceans and Great Lakes, thus potentially affecting almost every American enterprise and lifestyle and freedom … one way or another.
Alaska just completed a legislative session during which gas pipeline and oil tax reform could lead to greater, responsible economic activity.  Federal overreach, such as that reflected by the President’s National Ocean Council, could completely negate any steps forward the free enterprise segments of the economy hope to contribute to economic strength, job creation or national defense.
We fear for the future of our constitutional form of government as we continue to witness the Administration’s, as yet unbridled, exercise of overreaching authority.

Tax Reform

 The Make Alaska Competitive Coalition has circulated the following statement in wake of oil tax reform legislation that passed the legislature last weekend (Here is more):

Thank you, Governor. Thank you, 28th Legislature.
As the clock ticked down on this year’s legislative session, the House passed SB 21 in the wee hours of Sunday morning, followed by the Senate a few hours later.
The vote was 27-12 in the House and 12-8 in the Senate.
SB 21, which was debated the entire session, is designed to move Alaska forward by charting a new course for the state’s future by increasing oil production and implementing a balanced tax system.
“We voted tonight for the future – our kids’ and grandkids’,” said Rep. Eric Feige, House Resources Committee co-chair. “We voted tonight to give them the opportunity to have a state and economy that will be prosperous.”
“I applaud legislators for fostering an open, respectful and honest dialogue with Alaskans,” Gov. Sean Parnell said. “They have passed legislation that meets our four guiding principles: this legislation is fair to Alaskans, it encourages new production, it is simple and restores balance to the system, and the tax structure is competitive and durable. Alaska’s oil comeback starts now.”
The bill that passed both houses carries a base tax rate of 35 percent, a new credit on produced oil up to $8 per barrel, a gross revenue exclusion (GRE) that taxes producers on 80 percent of new oil, a 30 percent GRE for fields with higher royalty rates, a 4 percent gross minimum tax, a manufacturing tax credit on equipment and supplies produced in Alaska and creation of a competitiveness review board to examine the State’s tax regime and recommend changes as needed.
“It’s time to reverse the trend that’s led to TAPS being three-quarters empty,” Alaska Speaker of the House Mike Chenault said. “Alaskans need to know that 90 percent of our state’s revenues come from oil, and if we don’t act now, make our state more competitive, the cuts in services and loss in the quality of life we’ve come to appreciate will take an even more drastic hit. We took a tremendous amount of time and effort over the last five years and we did it right.”
The House and Senate gave the bill dozens of hearings, took hours of public testimony and received comments and input from North Slope operators, independent explorers, the governor’s administration, legislative consultants and others.
Click here to read the final version of the bill.
Click here to read the governor’s statement.
Click here to view the Senate Majority press availability.
Click here to read the House Majority statement.
How they voted:
Republicans voting yes: Click Bishop (Fairbanks), John Coghill (Fairbanks), Mike Dunleavy (Wasilla), Fred Dyson (Eagle River), Anna Fairclough (Eagle River), Cathy Giessel (Anchorage), Charlie Huggins (Wasilla), Pete Kelly (Fairbanks), Lesil McGuire (Anchorage), Kevin Meyer (Anchorage), Peter Micciche (Soldotna).
Democrat voting yes: Donald Olson (Golovin).

Republicans voting yes: Alan Austerman (Kodiak), Mike Chenault (Nikiski), Mia Costello (Anchorage), Eric Feige (Chickaloon), Lynn Gattis (Wasilla), Mike Hawker (Anchorage), Pete Higgins (Fairbanks), Lindsey Holmes (Anchorage), Shelley Hughes (Palmer), Doug Isaacson (Fairbanks), Craig Johnson (Anchorage), Wes Keller (Wasilla), Gabrielle LeDoux (Anchorage), Bob Lynn (Anchorage), Charisse Millett (Anchorage), Cathy Muñoz (Juneau), Mark Neuman (Big Lake), Kurt Olson (Soldotna), Lance Pruitt (Anchorage), Lora Reinbold (Eagle River), Dan Saddler (Eagle River), Paul Seaton (Homer), Bill Stoltze (Chugiak), Steve Thompson (Fairbanks), Peggy Wilson (Wrangell), Tammie Wilson (North Pole).
Democrat voting yes: Benjamin Nageak (Barrow).
Excused Absence: David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks).

Thank you, Alaskans.
We would like to personally thank the hundreds of Alaskans who supported the Make Alaska Competitive Coalition by talking to their legislators, friends and neighbors, participating in testimony on behalf of meaningful tax reform – and opening their checkbooks to support MACC. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Jim Jansen and Marc Langland
Co-chairs, MACC Steering Committee

What they said
“Alaska’s oil comeback starts now.”
– Gov. Sean Parnell
“We’re racing to the bottom of an empty pipeline, and we’re going there very quickly."
– Rep. Craig Johnson
“This vote is really about providing for future generations.”
– Rep. Mia Costello
“This is a turning point for Alaska.”
– Rep. Mike Hawker
“It’s a step forward in doing what’s right for our kids and the next generation.”
– Sen. Anna Fairclough
“Alaskans want action and we gave them a tax package that strikes a balance and makes us more attractive to industry.”
– Rep. Eric Feige
“Alaska has tried the ACES experiment to see if we can punish our way to prosperity. It has clearly failed.”
– Rep. Dan Saddler
“What a difference an election makes.”
– Sen. Fred Dyson