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6 Takeaways From New EPA Chief’s Confirmation Hearing

America is “the gold standard for environmental progress,” Andrew Wheeler, the president’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, told a Senate committee Wednesday during his confirmation hearing.

Committee Democrats, while accusing him of favoring the fossil fuel industry, avoided personal attacks on Wheeler, who took over as acting EPA administrator after Scott Pruitt’s resignation in July under partisan fire.

Wheeler highlighted the Trump administration’s regulatory reform agenda and its goals in an opening statement to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

“In 2018, EPA finalized 13 major deregulatory actions, saving Americans roughly $1.8 billion in regulatory costs,” Wheeler said. “To date, under President [Donald] Trump, EPA has finalized 33 major deregulatory actions saving Americans almost $2 billion. The U.S. is the gold standard for environmental progress.”

Wheeler said policymakers don’t need to make a trade-off between economically damaging government regulations and environmental protection.

“Through our deregulatory actions, the Trump administration has proven that burdensome federal regulations are not necessary to drive environmental progress,” he said. “Certainty, and the innovation that thrives in a climate of certainty, are key to progress.”

Democrats on the committee, however, said Wheeler is biased toward producers of coal and other fossil fuels and ignored the need …read more

 

Re-Enactors Show How a Militia Ensured Washington’s Revolutionary Charge at Princeton

PRINCETON, N.J.–Before Gen. George Washington entered the battlefield with reinforcements on the morning of Jan. 3, 1777, members of the Pennsylvania militia fired off two cannons to halt the advancing British troops.

What Washington needed most 242 years ago was for the militia to delay the bayonet-wielding British soldiers operating under the command of Lt. Col. Charles Mawhood.

So historical interpreters and colonial-era reenactors told The Daily Signal and crowds of onlookers during a real-time tour Dec. 30 at Princeton Battlefield State Park.

“Those cannons were critically important,” re-enactor Brandon Aglio explained as he posed beside one of the 3-pounder guns used in the reenactment. “This is because the British were on offense and the cannon fire halted their advance, giving Washington the time he needed to organize the additional American troops that were coming onto the field.”

About 200 local residents and out-of-town visitors attended the tour, which included a re-enactment of the battle.

The actual fighting began at about 8:15 a.m. that Jan. 3, when British and American forces exchanged musket fire across a range of about 40 yards in an orchard on the William Clarke farm. The British initially outnumbered the Americans and had the upper hand, but this would change …read more

 

Weather Forecasters Warn of Impending Danger as US Climate Skeptics Upend UN Climate Summit

KATOWICE, Poland—TV weather forecasters who understand the potential dangers of climate change are well-positioned to educate the public and spur them to take action, participants said in a panel discussion at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held here earlier this month.

A major theme at the conference—widely known as COP24—was that severe remedial measures are needed to mitigate rising levels of carbon dioxide emissions before severe weather conditions can take hold.

The meeting, which ran from Dec. 2 to Dec. 14, took its inspiration from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, which released a new report in October that concluded limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius—rather than 2 degrees Celsius—between now and 2030—would be beneficial to human populations and ecosystems.

But the report’s Summary for Policymakers also said that “rapid,” “far-reaching,” and “unprecedented” changes would be needed across society to achieve this reduction in the rate of increase in temperature.

Enter Climate Without Borders, an organization founded in 2017, which brings together about 140 weather presenters (as the forecasters are commonly referred to outside the U.S.) from 110 countries.

Jill Peeters, a Belgian weather …read more

 

Money, Support for Migrant ‘Caravans’ Flow Through Chicago

Advocates of open borders quoted in media coverage of the migrant “caravan” moving north through Mexico are part of a network of U.S.-based groups funded in the past by left-leaning foundations, according to tax and financial records.

Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a Chicago-based nonprofit whose name means People Without Borders, is widely credited with organizing the caravans of migrants that traveled from Central America on trains and buses and on foot this year and last.

Two United Methodist churches in Chicago appear to be bases for People Without Borders, which is led by one of the pastors, documents show.

Several organizations are “consistently connected on various websites” and “have overlapping people, most notably Emma Lozano,” said Hayden Ludwig, a research analyst at Capital Research Center, naming the Chicago pastor.

Capital Research Center, a Washington-based nonprofit that examines how foundations and charities spend money, analyzed tax and financial records related to People Without Borders. The Daily Signal reviewed this analysis and related documents and websites.

Information on the website and Facebook page of People Without Borders indicates that the advocacy group played a key role for at least the past decade in forming caravans that typically got started in Honduras or El Salvador before …read more

 

Unions Defy Supreme Court on Mandatory Dues, Suit Says

Labor unions are collecting dues from public employees without their “affirmative consent” in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling that state laws requiring nonunion government workers to make such payments are unconstitutional, a new lawsuit alleges.

The Freedom Foundation, a free market think tank based in Washington state, joined with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to sue on behalf of 10 government employees in Oregon who argue that union dues or fees should not be deducted from their paychecks after they officially resigned from their union.

“This is one of the biggest scandals I’ve ever witnessed from the unions and the government,” Aaron Withe, director of Freedom Foundation’s Oregon chapter, said in a press release. “The union dues they’ve forcibly deducted from people who want out are meant to be designated to the working families of this state, not some special interest group.”

The lawsuit, filed Nov. 20, names as defendants Local 503 of the Service Employees International Union and Council 75 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, as well as several government agencies.

In Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that “agency shop” …read more

 

Film Explores ‘Divine Plan’ for Reagan, John Paul to Bring Down Soviet Union

Both men were actors who climbed to prominent positions on the world stage late in life.

Both men were fierce anti-communists who fought to restore religious liberty where it had been suppressed.

Both came close to death during assassination attempts that occurred just six weeks apart.

And both believed they had been spared to play key roles in a “divine plan” at a critical moment in human history.

The partnership between the Catholic pope and the Protestant president in the closing, dramatic years of the 20th century is the subject of an upcoming film that includes interviews with prominent religious figures, Cold War historians, and presidential biographers.

The Divine Plan: Reagan, John Paul II and the End of the Cold War” is told as part “graphic thriller,” part stage play, and part documentary exploring the steady chain of communication and interaction among the Reagan White House, the U.S. intelligence community, and the Vatican.

“I wanted to include graphic images because they can convey certain aspects of history that are less well known and more obscure,” Robert Orlando, president and director of Nexus Media, a Princeton, New Jersey-based filmmaking studio, said in an interview with The Daily Signal.

“I didn’t want to use tired footage because …read more

 

3 Residents Challenge Climate Change Rules at Delaware’s High Court

Delaware regulators have imposed costly and unlawful climate change regulations on industry in violation of legislative directives, according to three citizen activists who took their case to the state’s highest court.

But before the Delaware Supreme Court can address the substantive questions raised in the residents’ lawsuit, it first must resolve a lower court ruling that “failed to apply the correct legal test for standing,” Richard Abbott, their lawyer, said in an interview with The Daily Signal.

The Superior Court of Delaware ruled in June that residents David T. Stevenson, R. Christian Hudson, and John A. Moore did not have legal standing to challenge the state’s participation in a regional climate change agreement.

The trial court judge “applied the wrong legal standard,” their lawyer told The Daily Signal.

The three men had argued that the agreement’s regulatory restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions would raise their electricity bills. But Judge Richard Stokes decided that they failed to demonstrate this would be the case, and therefore did not have standing.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, is a multistate agreement that currently includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

State government officials who have joined the initiative …read more

 

Judge Accuses State Department of Making ‘False Statements’ on Clinton Emails

State Department officials opposed to disclosing more of Hillary Clinton’s emails as secretary of state made “false statements” and filed “false affidavits” in a related lawsuit, a federal judge said during a court hearing in Washington earlier this month.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ordered the hearing after a legal watchdog asked the court to obtain testimony under oath from current and former State Department officials, including Clinton and former aide Cheryl Mills.

If Lamberth agrees with Judicial Watch, Clinton and others would have to testify under oath and answer questions about how the department processed the organization’s Freedom of Information Act requests, and how it conducted its search for emails Clinton sent and received over a private email server.

Mills was Clinton’s chief of staff and counselor when she was secretary of state from Jan. 21, 2009, to Jan. 31, 2013, and worked on her presidential campaigns.

The State Department had asked Lamberth to issue a summary judgment that would have closed the case and ended any more inquiries into Clinton emails that have not been disclosed.

The judge refused and explained during the Oct. 12 hearing why he had granted limited discovery of relevant facts in March 2016:

The case started with …read more

 

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Dip Slightly in Trump’s First Year, EPA Says

Greenhouse gas emissions have declined across multiple sectors since President Donald Trump has been in office, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday.

The EPA collects emissions data from industrial sources on an annual basis. Those sources include power plants, oil and gas production plants, refining facilities, iron mills, steel mills, and landfills.

The latest figures show total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions dipped by 2.7 percent during 2017 compared with 2016, President Barack Obama’s last full year in office, the agency said as part of its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

“Thanks to President Trump’s regulatory reform agenda, the economy is booming, energy production is surging, and we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sources,” Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, said in a press release, adding:

These achievements flow largely from technological breakthroughs in the private sector, not the heavy hand of government. The Trump administration has proven that federal regulations are not necessary to drive CO2 reductions. While many around the world are talking about reducing greenhouse gases, the U.S. continues to deliver, and today’s report is further evidence of our action-oriented approach.

Environmental activists link greenhouses gases to what they consider man-made climate change, or global warming.

Other “key findings” identified …read more

 

Legal Watchdog, Citing Secret Material in Clinton Emails, Presses State Department in Court

In federal court hearings this week, a watchdog legal group keeps the heat on the State Department for answers about the exposure of classified information during Hillary Clinton’s use of unsecure email to conduct official business when she was secretary of state.

A hearing is set Friday in U.S. District Court in the nation’s capital to address a request from Judicial Watch for Clinton, longtime top aide Cheryl Mills, and other current or former State Department officials to testify under oath.

Judicial Watch wants them to address how the department responded to its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking information about the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

“It is frankly unbelievable that the State Department is still protecting Hillary Clinton and her aides from being asked basic questions about her illicit email system,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a prepared statement.

“The courts were misled and obstructed by Hillary Clinton’s email scheme, and we hope to get some more answers about this scandal,” Fitton said.

The court hearing Friday follows on the heels of a separate one Thursday where the watchdog group reported on the estimated number of Clinton documents the State Department continues to withhold.

The …read more