Your ‘Earth Day’ news: NC energy-based emissions have been FALLING all century

For whatever reason this never makes news reports, even though it is big news:

Energy-based emissions in North Carolina, like the U.S., have been falling all century.

Here are some graphs; read more about them in my Spotlight report on The Market Forces Behind North Carolina’s Falling Emissions.

emissions decoupling2

Bringing in the big dog to sell the HP baseball stadium

And that would be —who else could it be—–High Point University president Nido Qubein. Anyone who knows anything about HP knows Nido can sell just about anything. That’s how he got where is. I’ll say this much–when responding to questions about a business article, he once left me the most eloquent voicemail I have ever received.

The Forward High Point board of directors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution asking Qubein “to strategically lead and direct the acquisition of a baseball franchise, stadium naming rights, facility management and ancillary developments (in partnership with city) centered around a multi-use stadium,” according to a news release.

….Chairman Doyle Early said Qubein’s track record at HPU, which has raised more than $300 million in gifts and pledges and expanded its campus from 92 to 430 acres under his watch, makes him a logical choice to oversee the private investment needed for the stadium.

….“This is not an agreement with HPU; this is an agreement with Dr. Qubein himself. He personally wants to help us with this catalyst project,” said Early. “In other words, HPU is not going to own the team and is not going to play there.”

Rhino Times’ Scott Yost reports the tax increment financing plan that will (in theory) pay for the $30 million stadium. For Guilford County Commissioners on the fence, turns out JLF has has written quite a bit about TIFs, I can sum it up in three words:Randy Parton Theater.

Leef looks into microaggressions

George Leef’s latest Martin Center column examines the growth of “microaggression” as a tool of political complaint.

The microaggression concept has been used by progressive student groups to demand changes they want, such as including items on student end-of-term evaluations of professors relating to their use of microaggressions—and that faculty members who use them be punished.

But what is the basis for this beehive of activity? The proponents claim that there is evidence to show that microaggression is a real concept and that members of minority groups suffer mental health problems as a result of them. Now, some scholars are taking a critical look at all of this and concluding that there is little or no basis for the microaggression furor.

One scholar who thinks that the microaggression concept is much ado about nothing is Althea Nagai, a research fellow at the Center for Equal Opportunity. She specializes in statistical analysis and has written a sharply critical article for the journal Academic Questions entitled “The Pseudo-Science of Microaggressions.”

Nagai writes that a “tsunami” of microaggressions has swamped American higher education and now even targets liberal and progressive faculty and administrators. The problem is that the scholarly foundation of research into microaggression is feeble. Scholars working in this field openly declare that they reject what they call “Eurocentric epistemologies” and objectivity. What that means, Nagai observes, “is that they reject the methodology and standards of modern science.” (Italics in original.)

The scientific method calls for sufficient sample sizes, unbiased questions, replicability of results, and modern statistical analysis. The research done to prove the validity of the microaggression concept and its policy implications, on the other hand, is rooted in subjective storytelling that “enables the implementation of a highly politicized agenda and places a social change agenda above objective research.”

Deferral Program for Illegal Aliens Driving without Licenses in Orange and Chatham Counties

The News and Observer Reports that:

The Orange-Chatham district attorney’s office is giving some drivers a second chance if they are caught without a license in the two counties.

The new policy responds to a state law that bars illegal and undocumented immigrants from getting a driver’s license. Advocates say many unlicensed immigrants risk driving to take their children to school, go to work or be involved in the community. …

The policy helps a limited number of drivers keep an otherwise clean criminal and driving record, said Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall, who drafted the policy with help from law enforcement and immigrant advocates.

The change lets them get the charge dismissed if they provide an ID and pay to take a safe driving class, a civics and law enforcement education class, and an elective course, such as a primer on family or immigration law. …

“They’re good, responsible residents, they’re not in trouble, they’re working, but they’ve got this problem. They can’t get a driver’s license, there’s no way out of this for them,” Woodall said. “And we’re trying to get them some driver’s education, because virtually none of the people we’re talking about have ever been given any type of driver’s education.” …

Local law enforcement agencies support the new policy, officials said. A statement from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office noted that the policy does not prevent deputies from enforcing state law.

“I want to send a message to that community that you are a part of our community,” Woodall said. “You may be undocumented, but sometimes we need your help, sometimes you’re going to need our help, and I’m willing to try to do my part … to promote some goodwill and trust here.” …

The move comes as the federal government considers withholding law enforcement grants from departments that don’t cooperate with immigration enforcement. While conservative groups have called Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham “sanctuary cities” – locales that protect people who are in the country illegally – none have policies that violate state or federal law. …

Attorneys and others told him the people his office wants to help aren’t the focus of federal conversations, Woodall said.

“These are not criminals. These are average everyday citizens. They are not going to be deported through any policy that anybody’s talked about,” he said. “They’re going to be here for years and years. We have to work with them.”

Gboro’s $30m parking deck (and hotel)

If you missed the Greensboro Council’s debate and discussion over plans to spend $30 million to build a new parking deck that would service a new downtown hotel, then you’re not alone. Fortunately John Hammer of the Rhino Times* was paying attention:

The City Council unanimously passed a motion to enter into a contract with the developer to design the parking structure for not more than $2 million.The city also approved the purchase of 116 East Market St. for $1.025 million. Thee purchase of land along Davie Street for $2.1 million and the cost of building the parking deck at $26 million.

What made this truly bizarre is that no one on the city council said anything about the Westin Hotel that will be built on top of the parking deck.

City Councilmember Tony Wilkins asked a couple of questions about where the money for this project was coming from, but no one said anything about the need for an 850-space parking deck, which will stretch from East market Street over February One Place to the current site of the parking deck for Elm Street Center.

…The City Council likes to talk about transparency, but this deal has only been discussed in closed session, and, Tuesday night, when it was for the first time brought before the public, nobody said anything.

Read the council’s resolution here. It says “annual operating expenses and debt service costs totaling approximately $2,285,000 will be funded from operating revenues from the new deck, existing parking fund revenues, and general fund revenues.” Gboro’s been wanting a hotel in the heart of downtown for some time now. Turns out they’ve finally figured out a way to get it.

*No link since Rhino Times e-edition requires flash player update, which I haven’t figured out yet.

A breath of fresh air in the targeted incentives debate

incentivesThe News & Observer’s coverage of robotics part maker ATI Industrial Automation’s expansion plan includes this great tidbit:

Don’t look for any press releases from the state announcing that ATI’s expansion plan has made it eligible for financial incentives.

“We have never received anything from the government, and we have no plans on asking for any special treatment,” Little said. “We’re here because the area offers us a talent pool of educated personnel that we need, and we’re appreciative of that.”

It would be nice to see similar sentiments expressed in more stories about local business expansions.

How the D.C. process helped block Obamacare’s repeal

Republicans spent more than six years proclaiming their desire to repeal Obamacare before legislation targeting that goal fell apart on Capitol Hill.

Did GOP lawmakers lack the competence to move Obamacare repeal legislation? Did they simply lose their nerve once they gained control of both chambers of Congress and the White House? Tevi Troy‘s latest Commentary feature suggests that a complicated legislative process played a larger role.

For a bill to reach the president’s desk, it must (of course) pass both the House and the Senate. The only way a bill can even come up for passage is for senators to vote explicitly beforehand to end their formal debate on the measure. This is called “cloture.” Senate rules require a supermajority of 60 votes to achieve cloture. Republicans hold the Senate majority with 52 votes. What this means in practice is that while they can likely secure passage for any bill that reaches the floor, Republican efforts will be stymied because Democrats can refuse to end debate and leave the bill hanging forever in endless-debate limbo.

There is, however, one type of legislation that can be passed with a simple majority: a budget reconciliation bill. The budget-reconciliation process was designed (in 1974) to allow simple majorities to pass budget resolutions. Clever and able parliamentarians have seized on the reconciliation process to usher through bills unable to reach the 60-vote cloture threshold. Most notoriously, Obamacare itself passed using reconciliation. …

So Republicans wanted to use the budget reconciliation process to deal with health care reform.

Republicans decided to write two budget resolutions in 2017—one involving health care and the other involving tax reform. They decided to go with health care first—and under the arcane rules of the resolution process, they had to file “budget instructions” formally declaring that their first budget move would center on health care. Once they did this, they could not alter the sequence.

GOP leaders have been criticized for this, including by President Trump, who said as the health-care bill plunged into chaos that he was sorry they hadn’t gone with tax reform first. The thing is, the approach made sense. First, Ryan knew that Republicans were united in their desire to repeal Obamacare, whereas there are heated disagreements within the Republican caucus on the kinds of tax cuts and reforms the GOP should pursue. More important, the repeal of Obamacare would have generated significant budgetary savings (initially calculated around $350 billion) that would have been immensely helpful in offsetting the cost of a later tax-reform bill.

Think this is hard to explain in a 10-second sound byte? Wait, there’s more.

Now, to confuse matters, some more arcana—this time to explain the haste with which the bill was introduced and was to be voted on. Under the budget-resolution process, Republicans were aiming to finish their first package before mid-May. Why? Because the instructions governing a health-care reconciliation package would “expire” once the House initiated the second budget process on tax reform. (Don’t ask.) In other words, the bill had to get through the House and then the Senate and be harmonized between them before going to the president’s desk—all in a matter of two months.

It was this need for speed that led Ryan to introduce the bill hurriedly and insist on a House vote within 17 days. Almost no one aside from procedural experts understood the necessity of this haste, and Ryan’s action led to breathless accusations by Republicans who didn’t like its provisions that he was “rushing things through” and moving forward “in the dead of night.”

Why didn’t they like it? Again, the rules governing reconciliation tell the tale: The bill simply couldn’t do what Republicans seeking Obamacare’s full repeal and replacement needed it to do. Every provision in a reconciliation bill must be “germane” to the federal government’s budget. Thus, the Ryan bill could only change taxes and spending. It could not address central concerns of health-care policy. All the larger goals that go along with an anti-Obamacare approach—regulatory relief, purchasing insurance across state lines, association health plans, tort reform and the like—could not be included in the bill the leadership was pressuring GOP members to support.

If the situation sounds hopeless, please read the rest of Troy’s article. He offers practical recommendations for lawmakers interested in resurrecting the Obamacare repeal campaign.

Regulatory reform savings keep rolling in

Elizabeth Harrington of the Washington Free Beacon tallies the latest numbers linked to the Trump administration’s regulatory reforms.

President Donald Trump and Congress have saved an additional $60 billion in regulatory costs by rolling back Obama administration rules, according to a new report.

The American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute, released a report Tuesday documenting the most recent ways the administration and Congress have used the Congressional Review Act to repeal regulations.

The report found the recent repeal and delay of regulations could lead to $86 billion in net fiscal effects for taxpayers from deregulation.

“Congress has already passed 13 CRA resolutions, repealing more than $1.1 billion (annually) in past regulations from the Obama Administration,” the report, written by Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy for AAF, said. “In addition, President Trump has formally delayed and signaled an intention to amend several other major rules. Combined, these actions could generate more than $18 billion in annual regulatory savings for businesses, investors, and consumers.”

Reversing the Obama administration’s “Waters of the United States” rule, the sweeping Environmental Protection Agency move that would have subjected lakes and ponds to federal government regulation, could produce $16 million in taxpayer savings alone.

Rolling back just five regulations could save taxpayers billions. The report examined spending implications of regulations repealed through the Congressional Review Act and those delayed formally by the administration.