By Jon Decker
Last week, the developers of Alaska's proposed Pebble Mine finally submitted a permit for their long-delayed project to develop a critical source of copper and other minerals.
This decision follows a major policy shift by the Trump administration which forced the EPA to use science and review actual permit applications when evaluating development projects like Pebble Mine. It sounds like common sense, I know. But under the Obama administration, scientific analysis was routinely cast aside by an EPA that operated as a left-wing political entity rather than a responsible federal agency.
Previously released emails show how Obama's EPA effectively outsourced its rulemaking responsibilities to far-left, agenda-driven environmentalist groups when crafting regulations. Obama's EPA also channeled tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to benefit these fringe organizations through grants, and even more money through sue-and-settle schemes.
But out of the countless examples of Obama's EPA flouting actual science in favor of environmental activism, few were as egregious as the Pebble Mine decision.
In 2014, Obama's EPA announced that a developer would be unable to even apply for a permit to build a mine on the rural pebble deposit in Alaska – a location so remote that it cannot be reached by car.
Obama's EPA preemptively blocked the development group's permit application by using the highly obscure 404(c) section of the Clean Water Act which, as the House Oversight Committee noted in 2015, "was unprecedented and without a legal basis.” To make matters worse, the development group had already spent nearly $750 million to prepare to apply for the proper permits before the Obama administration announced its crackdown on their infrastructure plan.
Thankfully, the Trump administration's EPA, helmed by former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has proven itself dedicated to restoring rigorous, scientific cost/benefit analysis for new development projects. The Trump administration repealed the Obama-era blanket ban on building in this secluded region back in May, and Pebble's developers have now responded by preparing a new permit application to build a scaled-down version of the mine.
As Pebble Mine's developers point out, this project would "bring in additional jobs, investment and economic activity to Alaska." There is no question that the construction of this mine would be a strong testament to the success of Trump's regulatory rollback in creating new American jobs.
Yet even more importantly, the fact that the Trump administration is allowing Pebble's developers to apply for a permit shows that the era of science taking a backseat at the EPA is over. It shows that projects will now be evaluated based on their merits, while weighing all environmental concerns, on a case-by-case basis. That's the way it should be, and that is a Yuge deal. ...
By Phil Kerpen
The perpetual outrage mob on the left has adopted an unlikely target of late – the brainy, affable head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Chairman Ajit Pai. Pai is now flanked by a Homeland Security protective detail everywhere he goes because of a deluge of specific, credible threats of violence toward him and his young children. He's also facing on onslaught of racist smears and attacks too obscene to quote – including an image asserting that Pai is Osama bin Laden after shaving his beard.
Members of Congress are coming under similar attack for supporting Pai's signature proposal. The most outrageous example resulted in a criminal indictment after Congressman John Katko received a message threatening: "I will find you and your family and I will kill you all. Do you understand? I will literally find all of you and your progeny and just wipe you from the face of the earth."
So what is the apocalyptic, world-changing Pai proposal that is inspiring violent, unhinged attacks from the left? He wants to rescind Obama Internet regulations that have only been in place for two years and return to the approach that was in effect since the Internet was privatized in the mid-1990s until 2015, treating net neutrality as a consumer protection and antitrust issue.
Personally, I recall the Internet improving pretty dramatically over those two decades, but the consensus on the left is that it was a hellscape.
How did that happen? How did so many people become passionately convinced of the plainly illogical proposition that the Internet would be destroyed if we went back to the light-touch regulatory approach that was in place for nearly all the Internet's commercial history until just two years ago?
For over a decade, professional liberal organizers told the bizarre scare story that without heavy-handed government regulation, Internet service providers (ISPs) will start blocking what websites you can go to and impeding free speech on the Internet. No such thing happened. To the contrary, robust competition between phone and cable companies – and later wireless companies – drove speeds dramatically higher and consumers benefited from an Internet that innovated beyond our wildest dreams.
Nonetheless, in 2015, ultraliberal advocacy groups (fueled by $196 million from the Soros and Ford Foundations) and Silicon Valley giants like Google (which cycled a shocking 250 personnel through the Obama administration and saw regulating ISPs as a way to guarantee themselves access to below-market-rate downstream bandwidth) succeeded in getting the FCC to reclassify ISPs as regulated public utilities.
This was done under a Depression-era law designed for the old Ma Bell telephone monopoly. Thousands of requests to micromanage every aspect of the Internet piled up at the FCC Enforcement Bureau and the commission was set to adopt a sweeping new broadband tax to replace the private investment it scared off – with strings attached of course – during a Hillary Clinton administration.
The liberal organizers of the phony scare...