Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More Administration Regulatory Fiat

Today we have two new examples of the Obama Administration's efforts to operate via regulatory fiat in order to enact their version of 'fundamental change'.

The first comes from the National Labor Relations Board.  Just days prior to Democrat NLRB member Craig Becker's recess appointment expires, the 2 Democrat members on the Board slammed through rule (by 2-1 vote, the sole Republican voting to oppose) to define new procedures to govern union elections in the workplace.  The new NLRB rule shortens the time period between the day an employee requests an election to unionize and when that election has to take place.  The new rule will take effect on April 30, 2012.

This rule change had been opposed by the Republicans who see it as a way to make it far easier for unions to enter workplaces.  The House of Representatives has passed a bill to establish via legislation a minimum 35 day election period, but the bill is sitting in the Senate where it is unlikely to get passed by the Democrat majority.

Combining this rule with 'card check', another pro-union initiative supported by the Administration to eliminate secret balloting in these elections, and the Administration will have dramatically simplified the process for unions to enter workplaces across the US.  Rather than undertaking these steps through Congress and the legislative process, the Administration is doing so by the actions of just 2 people and regulatory fiat.

At the end of year, when Craig Becker's recess appointment ends, the NLRB will have three open seats - seats that President Obama is looking to fill either via the nomination process (if the Senate GOP doesn't fillibuster the nominee) or via another round of recess appointments.

The second example comes from our friends at the Environmental Protection Agency.  This afternoon the EPA formally announced regulations that will require power plants to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxins within the next three years.  Targeting specifically power plants that use coal, the rules will force plants to close, electricity rates and compliance costs to skyrocket, and cost jobs across the US in another effort to limit the use of fossil fuels in the US.
“Utility MACT will undermine job creation in the United States in several different ways,” Segal explained. “It will result in retirement of a significant number of power plants and either fail to replace that capacity or replace it with less labor-intensive forms of generation. It will increase the cost of power, undermining the international competitiveness of almost two dozen manufacturing industries, and it will reduce employment upstream in the mining sectors. All told, it is anticipated that the rule will result in the loss of some 1.44 million jobs by 2020. While some jobs are created by complying with the new rule, the number and quality of those jobs is far less than those destroyed. We estimate that for every one temporary job created, four higher-paying permanent jobs are lost.”
The EPA tries to justify the new regulations by claiming the new regulations will save up to 17,000 lives per year - a number that lacks any real scientific basis in fact - much like the 'jobs created or saved' statistic touted by the Administration to support the $800 billion stimulus program. 

Rather than addressing a common-sense and reasonable approach via partnering with the industry towards retiring older plants, retro-fitting plants to leverage clean coal technologies, and actively support the development of viable replacements like constructing new natural gas and nuclear power plants, the Administration through the EPA regulatory process is attempting to achieve cap and trade. This is the policy that it couldn't achieve via the legislative process even though it held a 60-40 vote majority in the Senate and a huge majority in the House. 

It's just another case of the Administration wanting what it wants, and only what it wants, regardless of the real world implications and costs associated with that decision. 

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