Tired of the poor gas mileage on your current car? Boy, do I have good news for you! All new cars in 2016 will have much better gas mileage than they do now, as reported in the news today:

New cars and trucks will have to get 30 percent better mileage starting in 2016 under an Obama administration move to curb emissions tied to smog and global warming, sources said Monday.

President Barack Obama was expected to adopt the higher mileage standards on Tuesday, administration sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the official announcement.

The new requirement will mark the first time that limits on greenhouse gases will be linked to federal standards for cars and light trucks.

While the 30 percent increase would be an average for both cars and light trucks, the percentage increase in cars would be much greater, rising from the current 27.5 mpg standard to 42 mpg starting in 2016. The average for light trucks would rise from 24 mpg to 26.2 mpg.

If I were the CEO of an American car company, I would write the following letter to President Obama:

Dear Mr. President:

I read in the news today that your administration will mandate that all automobiles manufactured in 2016 meet the new standard of 42 mpg. I have enclosed both a yellow highlighter pen and a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution with this correspondence. Please have one of your people highlight the passage in Article II of the Constitution that grants the Executive Branch the authority to tell me how to run my business.

Unless you can identify the section of the Constitution that grants your administration the authority to mandate the gas mileage of the cars manufactured by my company, I must respectfully decline to comply with the administration’s mandate.

Sincerely,

Me
CEO, Hypothetical Motors

Go ahead and see if you can spot the part of Article II that grants the President the power to mandate the fuel efficiency of American cars. Go ahead. I’ll whistle the “Jeopardy” theme to myself while you go do that.

 

 

 

Back? So, did you spot it? Me neither. The closest thing I could find was this part of Section 3: “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” but this new standard is a mandate from the administration, not a law. Congress could pass a law requiring the higher gas mileage, but I would ask them the same question, pointing them to Article I which outlines the powers and responsibilities of the Legislature. The only section I can see that relates to the auto industry is the line of Article I, Section 8 which grants Congress the power “[to] regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”

This is called the Commerce Clause, and it is the reason often cited by Congress as the basis of its supposed authority to regulate our lives. If you sell or buy something from another nation, state, or Indian tribe, then Congress has the authority to “regulate” that act of selling or buying. The Commerce Clause has been used as the rationale for Congressional meddling in our lives for many years. Wikipedia outlines some of the far-reaching nature of Congress’ view of the Commerce Clause this way:

The wide interpretation of the scope of the Commerce Clause continued following the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which aimed to prevent business from discriminating against black customers. In Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964), the Court ruled that Congress could regulate a business that served mostly interstate travelers; in Katzenbach v. McClung (1964) the Court ruled that the federal government could regulate Ollie’s Barbecue, which served mostly local clientele but sold food that had previously moved across state lines; and in Daniel v. Paul (1969), the Court ruled that the federal government could regulate a recreational facility because three out of the four items sold at its snack bar were purchased from outside the state.

Gonzales v. Raich takes the Commerce Clause one step further and says that Congress can ban marijuana even if individual states have allowed it. This ignores the fact that people growing medical marijuana for their own consumption are not engaged in interstate commerce, and since Congress has banned the interstate transportation and use of marijuana, local growing and consumption has zero impact on interstate commerce.

But government is all about power, and the people in government, whether elected or faceless bureaucrats, seem to have an insatiable desire for more power. They won’t state it so boldly; usually they clothe these naked power grabs in language people have a hard time opposing:  they talk of the common good, or the environment, or the children. They have to pass laws or mandate regulations on every aspect of our lives; otherwise, how could puny Joe Sixpack possibly take care of himself?

The auto industry is already struggling as it is, so how do you think these tighter standards will affect the price of new cars in 2016? If you said it will make them more expensive, go to the head of the class. But I detect a whiff of arrogance in this new mandate. It is almost as if a voice were coming from D.C. saying, “Gas mileage will be 42 mpg in 2016 because I say it will be. Next, I shall command the tides and cool the sun because I wish it to be so!” As if simple fiat had the power to make it happen.

But in any case, the government has upped its standards. Now up yours!

I have written many articles about global warming and climate change, and with the way the proponents of the anthropogenic climate change theory keep acting, I don’t think I’ll run out of material for a long time to come. The current atmosphere of hysterical climate change sounds more and more like the Spanish Inquisition, with people who disagree being treated like heretics. And the Washington Times has written up a story about a letter written by Michael T. Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), to Marlo Lewis, senior fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI):

“It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar,” Mr. Eckhart wrote. “If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on.”

I can hear the knives of the global warming inquisition being sharpened and placed in a hot fire, ready to be used on the heretics who dare to disagree with their position. Believe in human-based global warming, infidels!

The Washington Times article ends the section about Eckhart and Lewis with the following two paragraphs:

However, this column earlier this week published another letter Mr. Eckhart sent in September to CEI President Fred Smith, saying “my children will have a lesser life because you are being paid by oil companies to spread a false story.”

He said he would give CEI, which advocates “sound science,” 90 days to reverse its “position” on global warming, “or I will take every action I can think of to shut you down,” including filing complaints with the Internal Revenue Service “on the basis that CEI is really a lobbyist for the energy industry.”

Eckhart has faith that global warming is caused by humans, and it is his faith that is driving him to attack the unbelievers so strongly. His faith is inspiring him to take on the role of inquisitor in the fight against the heretic and unbeliever. If Eckhart had the full force of facts and science to back him up, he wouldn’t need to bludgeon people into accepting the truth — it would be self-evident. But since he doesn’t have the full force of facts behind him, he has to discredit and ruin unbelievers with his hatred instead.

If I were Marlo Lewis, I’d have publicly responded to Eckhart’s letter with a very short one of my own:

E pur si muove!

If I were to walk up to you and take your wallet at gunpoint, that would be stealing. If I were to take your things with the mere threat of violence, that would be stealing. If I forced you to sell your $100 item to me for only $10, that would also be stealing. None of these examples of theft should be all that hard to identify, but the government doesn’t play by the same rules you and I do.

The right of eminent domain allows the government to take your property if there is a pressing public need for it. If the government is building a new highway, it can force the landowners along the route to sell, but it must pay fair market value for the land. This holds true for creating or expanding airports, public transportation networks, or any other valid public use. A strip of land near my home is owned by the city, and nothing can be built on it since the city needs full access to this land to work on the utility pipes that lie buried underneath it. The Fifth Amendment outlines the government’s power of eminent domain: “nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” But the government doesn’t always pay much attention to the Constitution.

In 1996, then-President Clinton staged a photo op in Arizona as he signed an executive order to establish the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. He mouthed some words about the monument being necessary to protect the cryptobiotic crust and other buzzwords by the environmental left. Never mind that the EPA didn’t see any need for this land to be set off-limits by the government. So why did this land grab happen? I can see two reasons: first, grabbing this land allowed Clinton to boost his popularity with environmental leftists while simultaneously sticking it to Utah – the only state where President Clinton had finished third in the 1992 Presidential election. The second reason is more conspiratorial. At the last minute, the Kaiparowits Plateau was included as part of the Monument. There is nothing on the plateau that warrants its being added, but it effectively blocked a multi-year deal to extract the low-sulfur coal beneath that plateau. Kaiparowits is the only known U.S.-based location where this low-sulfur, low-polluting coal can be found. The only other known location is in Indonesia and is owned by the Lippo Group, run by the Riady family – the same family implicated in the Chinese money scandals during President Clinton’s terms in office. Ignoring the possibly conspiratorial nature of this land grab, however, the order by President Clinton effectively stole the land and its use from the state of Utah. The profits from the sale of coal would have funded Utah’s already drastically underfunded public schools.

“Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kinda cool,” said Clinton presidential aide Paul Begala. Not really. With a stroke of the pen, President Clinton stole the land from Utah.

The Environmental Protection Agency is also guilty of stealing from the American people. Rather than just taking the land outright, the EPA will simply deny landowners the full use of their land. People have been denied the use of their property because standing water is somewhere on the land, and the EPA swoops in and declares it a wetland. Once a piece of property is declared a wetland, the landowner is not allowed to drain the land or build anything there. Stroke of some bureaucrat’s pen, and the owner loses control of his land without “just compensation.” The farmers in the Klamath basin in Oregon have seen this theft in action. In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt declared that the inhabitants of the Klamath basin would be guaranteed their water rights “forever,” but the promise of a President doesn’t matter as far as the EPA is concerned. EPA bureaucrats decided the needs of the endangered bottom-feeding suckerfish were more important than the rights of the Klamath farmers, so they descended on the Klamath basin and shut off the farmers’ water supply, diverting it to keep the rivers full and the suckerfish happy. But why does a river need to be kept running high when the “endangered” fish is a bottom-feeder? However, questions like this don’t matter when the greater good of protecting a fish is at stake. Do you imagine the EPA was in the least concerned about the endangered livelihood of the Klamath farmers? The EPA has shown itself over and over again to have far more interest in the welfare of a frog or a fish over a human being. Call me a species-ist, but I am more concerned with the welfare of my fellow humans over some bird, amphibian or insect.

North of Oregon is the beautiful state of Washington, where again we see governmental theft in action. King County is the largest county in Washington, incorporating the major metropolis of Seattle and more rural areas to the east of Lake Washington. King County Executive Ron Sims has proposed a new property plan, termed “65-10″ in some circles. Basically, the proposal would mandate that land owners in rural King County must leave 65% of their property untouched and undeveloped. 35% of the property could be cleared, but only 10% could be built on. If Executive Sims has his way, over half of the county’s rural acreage will be mandated by law to lie perpetually fallow. Do you think King County will compensate the owners for 65% of the total value of their land? Not bloody likely. This proposed governmental theft is being justified by the environmentalists living in urban Seattle because of the need to keep the watershed in place. It’s telling that these urban greenies are targeting only the areas where they do not live. Jill Boccla recently asked in a community forum, “Are you managing my property for me, or are you managing my land for you?” Of course King County sees the property as being its own to manage, rather than belonging to the people whose names are on the land titles, but this is pretty much the way bureaucrats always see private property. Last year California was ravaged by intense forest fires, fueled by fallen trees that had lain unharvested because the environmentalist bureaucrats felt it was better to let the forests lie untouched rather than cleaning out debris. When the fires came – and the fires always do come – the abundance of dry fuel ensured the fires would rage out of control for a long time. This King County plan would essentially do the same in Washington, since people would be kept from clearing fallen trees off their own property.

“Just compensation” would mean paying the King County landowners at least 65% of the value of their property, since the proposed law would effectively take away their rights of ownership. “Just compensation” would be paying the farmers in the Klamath basin for their lost livelihoods, or better yet, letting them keep their promised water. “Just compensation” would be paying the state of Utah for the billions of dollars it lost to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. But though it would be called stealing if it were done by private citizens, this is just another case of “government business.”

On Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2003, Governor Mike Leavitt of Utah made history as he became the first Utah governor to resign from office. On that same day, Lieutenant Governor Olene Walker also made history as she became Utah’s first woman governor. Leavitt had been nominated by President Bush to head up the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington D.C., and his recent confirmation by the Senate meant he had to quit his day job.

The EPA is not an agency without controversy. In my geography class, a student expressed her appalled outrage at the selection of Leavitt to head the EPA. She did not tell us why she disliked the appointment, but to be honest, there was no time to really discuss this issue. Since this student is a native Californian, I ask myself why she did not like Pres. Bush’s choice. I doubt she has followed Leavitt’s terms of office in Utah, so what was the source of her distress? Could it have been the liberal major media, or the even more liberal National Public Radio? If you had only listen to these biased sources, you would probably hold the same image of Leavitt dining on spotted owl after a hard day of clear-cutting forests and spilling oil into streams. And the Democrat senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee took Leavitt’s nomination as an invitation to start complaining about Pres. Bush’s environmental policies, as if Leavitt had any say in them.

Now do not get me wrong — I love a nice clean environment as much as the next man. Who does not favor a beautiful forest over a city dump? Who wants to live in his own filth? OK, so having seen some teenagers’ bedrooms, I can imagine some people do, but most of us do not want to live like that. While we love the environment, there are people who take this love a bit too far. As much as I miss the wonderful green forests of the Pacific Northwest, I do not reverence them as others do. Where a rabid environmentalist sees a forest and dreams of ways to keep people out of it, I appreciate the beauty of that same forest and imagine how many homes could be created from those trees. After all, trees can be replanted.

Weyerhaeuser, the wood and paper magnate, plants over 100 million trees each year — many more than they cut down. It is in their best interest to ensure there are plenty of trees available. But how many trees does the Sierra Club plant each year? You may be assured that it is not near as many as Weyerhaeuser plants. This is a good example of the difference between a company that sees trees as a useful and renewable resource and a group of tree-huggers who worship the trees more than they appreciate what trees can do for people. The Sierra Club wants to “save” the environment by using the ham-fisted force of government, while Weyerhaeuser actually does more for the environment because it wants to keep making money. Weyerhaeuser’s self-interest does more for the forests than all of the environmentalists’ self-righteous actions.

One of the big news items in the last month was the huge forest fires that destroyed almost 3,000 buildings and about 110,000 hectares of land in California. As tragic as these fires were, they could have been prevented easily. People both in and out of government had been petitioning for permission to go in and clear out the forests. This does not mean clear-cutting every tree; it means selectively harvesting the dead trees. A forest that is kept clean in this way will not be devastated by fire as we saw in California. Any wildfires will not be as big if all the deadwood has been removed. No fuel means no fire, or at least not the roaring fires we witnessed. With the deadwood cleared away, a forest fire will merely clear out the dead underbrush.

As I mentioned, people have petitioned for permission to clear out the forests, but environmental groups have succeeded in their fight to prevent this from happening. They claim to operate from the notion that any clearing and maintenance of the forest is a bad thing, but I wonder if they secretly cannot stand the idea that someone might gain financial benefit from clearing the forests. I do not have a problem with people clearing the deadwood, selling it, and benefitting from their hard labor. It is true that the forests are public lands, but if these people put in the hard work, they should reap the rewards. Yet it is clear that groups who claim to champion the environment are usually more anti-capitalism than pro-environment.

The anti-logging ecofreaks are not the only ones who claim to be for the environment, but whose actions cause more harm than good. The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is a radical pro-animal rights group that has caused its own share of damage in the name of helping the environment. In northern Utah, members of the ALF broke into a mink ranch, freed the minks and set fire to the buildings. Minks were meant to live free, according to the ALF. But since these minks had been raised in captivity, they had no skills to survive in the wild. Many either stayed in the burning buildings or ran back into them, burning to death. Others were killed by predators. Many ran headlong onto a nearby freeway and were mowed down by trucks. The ALF wanted to save the minks, but they ended up being responsible for their deaths. This is a common error in the actions of environmental groups. They want to free “captive” animals, but they usually cause more problems than they solve. ALF does not confine its activities to just Utah. You can read a self-congratulatory description of its recent activities here or here. Thankfully, the government is starting to recognize ALF activities for the terrorist actions that they are. Clinton Colby Ellerman was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in bombing a Utah mink farm. The actions of ALF are a great example of how liberal nut-jobs, believing that they are somehow protecting the environment, are spreading death and destruction among the very creatures they claim to be protecting.

In the years that Mike Leavitt serves as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, the environment will be better served if it is treated more like Weyerhaeuser and less like the Sierra Club or ALF.