Tag Archives: regulation

Killing bats to save them!

In a wonderful example of government stupidity, environmental officials in Wisconsin want to try to “exclude” bats from caves in order to prevent the spread of white nose syndrome.

Some quick background: White nose syndrome appeared in upstate New York about four years ago, killing about 90 percent of the bats affected. It has since spread down the east coast following bat migration patterns as they travel during the summer months. (While human activity might spread the syndrome as well, the evidence all points to the bats as the primary vector.) A newly discovered fungus that is seen on all affected bats, for which the syndrome is named, is the prime suspect for killing them, as it disturbs them during hibernation, causing them to wake more frequently, burn up their reserves,and thus starve to death.

Wisconsin officials, in their infinte wisdom, have decide that the way they will save the bats of their state will be to declare the fungus an invasive specie. They will then be empowered to do anything they can to prevent its spread. And how will they do this? By preventing bats from entering caves and bringing the fungus with them.

Let me say that again: Wisconsin environment officials want to “exclude bats from caves” in order to save them. The result of course will be a biological genocide, since without access to caves during the cold hibernation period the bats will surely die.

If you don’t believe me, see this press release. To quote:

The third proposed rule adds provisions to NR 40.04 and 40.07 relating to early detection and prevention of the spread of the disease due to human activities, including the decontamination of clothes and equipment that have been used in mines or caves, and limited access of bats or people to caves or mines. [emphasis mine]

If you still don’t believe me, read the state’s actual proposed management plan [pdf]. To quote page 5:

Under the proposed rules, the department may ask any person who owns, controls, or manages property here a cave or mine may be present to install and properly maintain physical barriers to limit access to the cave or mine by either individuals or bats, in accordance with a plan approved by the department. The department is seeking funding to assist with the installation of barriers, and therefore cost to those parties who install such barriers should be negligible. Additionally, commercial caves will have the option to exclude bats from their cave(s) with the help of the department, allowing them to remain open for tourism, and resulting in no loss of tourism dollars. [emphasis mine]

Moreover, this plan will give these officials the power to enter private property without the landowners’ permission.

Cavers have been trying to explain to the Wisconsin officials that this entire approach is madness. So far, these pleas have had very little effect. You can see their efforts here.

This whole story might be one of the best examples of why it is always bad idea to concentrate a lot of power in the hands of government. Better to spread the power around among a lot of private landowners, as then you also spread the stupidity around as well, and reduce the chances that the only approach taken is the worse approach.

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What pilots think of the TSA

What pilots think of the TSA. I like this one:

THEY THINK THE AVERAGE TSA WORKER IS AN IDIOT.

If there is one theme that emerges clearly time and again in pilots’ online discussions, it’s disdain for the TSA checkpoint worker. They are “the government equivalent of being a Wendy’s burger flipper,” according to one typical comment from AirlinePilotForums.com. “Barney Fife is more suited for their job,” writes another. Anecdotes frequently portray TSA workers as mindlessly hewing to procedures at the expense of exercising the judgment needed to sniff out the evildoers.

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The coming train wreck for Commercial Human Spaceflight

This post by retired NASA engineer Wayne Hale explains why it probably is a good idea if Congress cuts the subsidies for new commercial space: The coming train wreck for commercial human spaceflight. This is the key quote, where Hale describes the regulations NASA is requiring these new companies to meet:

The document runs a mind-numbing 260 pages of densely spaced requirements. Most disappointing, on pages 7 to 11 is a table of 74 additional requirements documents which must be followed, in whole or in part. Taken all together, there are thousands of requirement statements referenced in this document. And for every one NASA will require a potential commercial space flight provider to document, prove, and verify with massive amounts of paperwork and/or electronic forms.

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The space program is dead, long live the space industry!

The news following the midterm election results have not sounded good for NASA. Two stories on Monday alone signaled the bad news:

Earlier stories last week were no more encouraging:

While Republicans have, since the 1970s, generally been more enthusiastic than Democrats about NASA and manned space exploration, the new Republican Congress has a tone that seems decidedly different from past years. Above all, it appears the public is finally becoming aware of the recent explosion in the federal debt, as illustrated by the graph below. (hat tip to Gateway Pundit and The Captain’s Comments.)

Federal deficit

The public’s growing concern about these numbers was clearly reflected in the election results. First, there was the success of many tea party candidates advocating fiscal responsibility and a radical shrinking of government. Even in cases where conservatives lost, the closeness of the election in districts or states where liberals have rarely in the past been challenged suggests the mood of the electorate is decidedly shifting in a direction against federal spending.

Second, the electorate seemed surprisingly hostile to pork, expressing little interest in being brought off with baubles for their home districts. Thus, candidates who ran against pork seemed to get far more enthusiastic attention and positive publicity than those elected officials famous for “bringing home the bacon.”

In such an atmosphere, the priorities of Congress will be forced to change. The outlook therefore does not look good for the type of pork funding represented by the NASA authorization bill passed on September 29, with its billions of subsidies for the aerospace industry.

We can see an indication of this new tone by some of the initial plans announced by the Republican leadership. As a first step, the Republicans have proposed cutting the federal budget back 2008 levels. This change alone would reduce NASA’s annual budget by about $2 billion, or 10%.

This solution, however, will not close the budget gap, only shrink it slightly. The Republicans will still be faced with massive amounts of red ink and a public demanding that they deal with it. To prove they mean what they say, the new House leadership will be forced to propose some additional draconian cuts.

Unfortunately, the circumstances at this moment has made NASA a prime budget-cutting target. » Read more

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Warrentless raids and arrests at Florida barbershops

This appears to be an abuse of power: Since August Florida police have conducted two warrentless sweeps, raiding nine barbershops and arresting 37 people (for “barbering without a license,” a misdemeanor), using the state’s business regulations as a cover. Key quotes:

The operations were conducted without warrants, under the authority of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation inspectors, who can enter salons at will.

With the exception of two misdemeanor marijuana charges and Vasquez’s arrest, deputies were unable to connect any of the illegal activity to anyone. Meanwhile, store owners reported property damage from the raids, including a large hole employees said deputies busted into a wall at 809 Barbershop in Ocoee. However, several owners said the damage to their businesses and reputations has been much worse.

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UN conference passes broad ban on “geoengineering”

A UN conference in Japan today approved the extremely broad language that I had noted earlier this week, banning all “climate-related geoengineering activities that may affect biodiversity . . . until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities.” You can read some reactions here. Key quote from the ETC group, a Canadian non-profit organization which supports the language:

The agreement, reached during the ministerial portion of the two-week meeting which included 110 environment ministers, asks governments to ensure that no geoengineering activities take place until risks to the environment and biodiversity and associated social, cultural and economic impacts have been appropriately considered. The CBD secretariat was also instructed to report back on various geoengineering proposals and potential intergovernmental regulatory measures.

If the broad language of this policy is accepted by the United States government, it will effectively shut down almost all new construction and development, as practically anything people do “may affect biodiversity.”

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First ticket issued for deadly butter

Our government doing the really important work! Health officials in Baltimore have handed out their first ticket to a restaurant for not using the proper cooking recipe, as determined by the government. Key quote:

“They originally had a margarine that was above 3 grams, actually, which is very high compared to the .5 that is allowed. Then when we came back and they had replaced it, they replaced it with one that was 2 grams, so it still was too high,” [Health Department agent Juan] Gutierrez said.

And then there’s this: Fake health inspectors at restaurants on the rise.

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UN treaty language threatens to ban all “climate-related geoengineering”

Treaty language being written at a United Nations conference on biodiversity is so vague it threatens to bar almost all new development. Here is the language, via Science:

8 (w) Ensure, in line and consistent with decision IX/16 C, on ocean
fertilisation and biodiversity and climate change, in the absence of science-based, global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanisms for geo-engineering, and in accordance with the precautionary approach and Article 14 of the Convention, that no climate-related geoengineering activities (1) that may affect biodiversity take place, until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities and appropriate consideration of the associated risks for the environment and biodiversity and associated social, economic and cultural impacts, with the exception of small scale scientific research studies that would be conducted in a controlled setting in accordance with Article 3 of the Convention, and only if they are justified by the need to gather specific scientific data and are subject to a thorough prior assessment of the potential impacts on the environment.

(1) Without prejudice to future deliberations on the definition of geo-engineering activities, understanding that any technologies that deliberately reduce solar insolation or increase carbon sequestration from the atmosphere on a large scale that may affect biodiversity (excluding carbon capture and storage from fossil fuels when it captures carbon dioxide before it is released to the atmosphere) should be considered as forms of geoengineering which are relevant to the Convention on Biological Diversity until a more precise definition can be developed. Noting that solar insolation is defined as a measure of solar radiation energy received on a given surface area in a given hour and that carbon sequestration is defined as the process of increasing the carbon contact of a reservoir/pool other than the atmosphere. [emphasis mine]

This language is so broad that, if agreed to by the United States, it could easily put almost any activity that affects the environment, including technology, business, property, recreation, or practically anything at all, under the control of UN regulators.

But wait, there’s more. The goal of this UN conference, to quote their own webpage, is to achieve “a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth.” Obviously, this UN group is not merely interested in protecting the biodiversity of life on Earth, but to also redistribute the wealth so as to help poorer nations.

God help us if our government agrees to this.

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EPA’s Own Estimates Say Greenhouse Gas Regs Could ‘Slow Construction Nationwide for Years’ — and Take a Century to Reduce Temperature 0.0015 Degrees

The EPA itself believes that its effort to regulate carbon dioxide under its Prevention of Significant Deterioration program could “slow construction nationwide for years”. And what would this accomplish? Global temperatures would be reduced a whopping 0.0015 degrees! Key quote:

“It is clear throughout the country, PSD (Prevention of Significant Deterioration) permit issuance would be unable to keep up with the flood of incoming applications, resulting in delays, at the outset, that would be at least a decade or longer, and that would only grow worse over time as each year, the number of new permit applications would exceed permitting authority resources for that year.”

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Watch out for those toxic paper clips!

The bureaucracy marches on! The Consumer Product Safety Commission wants the manufacturers of kids’ science kits to test the paper clips in those kits for lead and other toxic chemicals, even if the paper clips were purchased in an ordinary office supply store. Key quote

“It is crazy that the Hands-On Science Partnership needs to be concerned about doing lead tests on products purchased at an office supply store and then packaged into a science teaching kit for use with children,” Commissioner Nancy Nord wrote on her blog. “Even crazier is the fact that if a teacher buys the same paper clip at the same store and uses it for the same science teaching project, it’s okay.”

To me, this quote is even more disturbing:

Commissioners insist the regulations will not ban science kits and would be applied on a case-by-case basis. [emphasis mine]

In other words, the regulation will not be applied objectively, but subjective, at the whim of the regulators. Every product of every manufacturer will have to get the Commission’s approval before it can be sold.

If that isn’t a mandate for mischief, I don’t know what is.

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Texas responds to EPA’s effort to regulate CO2

In a letter response to the EPA’s effort to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, Texas has essentially told the EPA to go to hell. Three key quotes from the letter:

In order to deter challenges to your plan for centralized control of industrialized development through the issuance of permits for greenhouse gases, you have called upon each state to declare its allegiance to the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently enacated greenhouse gas regulations — regulations that are plainly contrary to United State law. ….. To encourage acquiesence with your unsupported findings you threaten to usurp state enforcment authority and to federalize the permitting program of any state that fails to pledge their fealty to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [emphasis mine]

The State of Texas does not believe the EPA’s “suggested” approach comports with the rule of law.

Texas will not facilitate EPA’s apparent attempt to thwart these established procedures and ignore the law.

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