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    Regulations Tag

    While the Obama Administration is setting the country on fire with public school transgender bathroom dictates, a Wyoming man has scored a major legal victory against a regulatory Goliath. The Pacific Legal Foundation represented Wyoming rancher Andy Johnson in challenging an EPA compliance order threatening him with $37,500 per day in fines for constructing a stock pond on his property. The PLF lawsuit argued that Johnson’s pond is expressly exempt from the Clean Water Act and that the stream in which he constructed the pond is not a jurisdictional water because it does not affect a navigable water. And, as an extra bonus, a former Corps of Engineers enforcement officer asserted that Johnson's pond has many environmental benefits, including fish and wildlife habitat and enhanced water quality.

    No one really thought much of the impact of the growing hobby-drone fad until a consumer drone landed on the White House grounds earlier this year. Since then, we've been peppered with headlines describing the many ways drones have invaded our lives, and sometimes, secure airspace. Pilots all across the country have logged close encounters with the unmanned devices; California topped the list with almost 200 reports of near-misses since 2014. la-fi-g-drone-incidents-20151007 Pilots and other experts have expressed concern that an encounter with even a small drone could endanger both aircraft and passenger and now, officials have come up with a solution to the growing problem.

    I don't know about you, but when I think of Florida, I think of airboats. After next year, however, those of us familiar with the roar of the the gladesmen's watercraft will probably think of regulations. Earlier this month, the AP reported that over a dozen years' worth of negotiation, deliberation, and compromise has culminated in the implementation of a new series of rules governing the commercial airboat industry in the Florida Everglades. Regulators have officially won the battle to implement rules written into a 1989 congressional act that expanded the Everglades national park areas to include 1.5 million acres of wetlands commonly used by both commercial and private airboat operators. After the passage of that act, Congress wanted the area managed as a protected wetland preserve, but airboat operators went to war over the classification, saying that the changes would destroy the businesses that have been around longer than the federally-mandated park. For most airboat operators, these new rules mean that they only have a few months left before their businesses are forcibly shut down. Park services plans to partner (read: buy out and control) just four commercial operators; only private operators who can prove they were at least 16 years old and active airboat operators as of 1989 will be given a non-transferable, lifetime permit to continue operating. It's unclear as of now how many private operators that will cover.

    Naturally, the government has to ruin everything, including Little Free Libraries. You may have seen one of these little bird house turned mini-libraries in your neighborhood. They're a lovely idea. Simple, no fuss, and quite fun. Donate a book, borrow a book. Nothing to sign, no due date, no late fees, just common courtesy. Conor Freidersdorf of The Atlantic explored the ridiculous trend of "shutting down" unregulated community book sharing. In Kansas, residents were told to remove the library at peril of fine:
    The Leawood City Council said it had received a couple of complaints about Spencer Collins' Little Free Library. They dubbed it an "illegal detached structure" and told the Collins' they would face a fine if they did not remove the Little Free Library from their yard by June 19.
    Evidently, Los Angeles and Shreveport, Louisiana are hotbeds of illicit literary lending activity.

    News related to the Animas River spill continues to stream from Colorado, including the discovery that a warning that a spill of wastewater was likely if EPA's plans to drain the mines went forward as planned had been issued a week earlier. The Silverton Standard published an eerie prediction made by professional geologist Dave Taylor detailing a sequence of events that could lead to environmental catastrophe on July 30, 2015. The editorial included the assertion that the EPA was poised to launch a "Superfund Blitzkrieg". Gateway Pundit has a copy of the full letter; a summary of the key points I would like to cover is below:
    ...Based on my 47 years of experience as a professional geologist, it appears to be that the EPA is setting your town and the area up for a potential Superfund blitzkrieg. ...[M]ake no mistake, within seven to 150 days all of the 500 gpm flow will return to Cement Creek. Contamination may actually increase due to disturbance and flushing action within the workings. The "grand experiment" in my opinion will fail. And guess what [EPA representative] Mr. Hestmark will say then? Gee "Plan A" didn't work so I guess that we will have to build a treatment plant at a cost to taxpayers of $100 million to $500 million (who knows). Reading between the lines, I believe that the EPA's plan all along. The proposed Red & Bonita plugging plan has been their way of getting a foot in the door to justify their hidden agenda for construction of a treatment plant. After all, with a budget of $8.2 billion and 17,000 employees, the EPA needs new, big projects to keep them in existence."

    Anti-consumer choice advocates were defeated once again in the ongoing war to regulate Uber into oblivion. Uber declared yet another over NYC Mayor DeBlasio and the city's cab cartel Wednesday. Under the guise of wanting to monitor Uber's effect on NYC traffic flow, DeBlasio failed to whip the requisite number of votes to pass legislation that would've limited new for-hire vehicle licenses.

    Beloved fast food chain of the South, Whataburger, recently found itself in national headlines after announcing their decision not to participate in Texas' newly minted open carry law. Full disclosure before we move forward, I love Whataburger. Love. Love. Love. In fact, I had a #1 with cheese, no veggies, and mayo for lunch/dinner today. giphy But love of hot, crispy fries, and breakfast taquitos at midnight aside, Whataburger is being portrayed inaccurately. Drawing fire from many, even factions on the right, Whataburger was accused of "taking a stand" against a law near and dear to the hearts of many Texans.

    Texas Entrepreneurs are celebrating a recent state Supreme Court decision. The decision involved Texas Occupational licenses. "Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) violated the state constitution when it ordered eyebrow threaders—who practice a traditional South Asian method of using only cotton thread to remove eyebrow hair— to stop working unless they obtained 750 hours of conventional cosmetology training and passed two licensing exams," said a release. The release from the Institute for Justice continued:
    Today, Texas entrepreneurs celebrated as a landmark Texas Supreme Court decision became final following the passing of the deadline for the government to seek further review. This means countless entrepreneurs, like Ash Patel, can go back to work after having to shut down their businesses for nearly six years. The sweeping decision will have huge implications not just for all Texans, but for entrepreneurs across the U.S., and means Texas occupational licensing laws now face real scrutiny. In late June, the Texas Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) violated the state constitution when it ordered eyebrow threaders—who practice a traditional South Asian method of using only cotton thread to remove eyebrow hair— to stop working unless they obtained 750 hours of conventional cosmetology training and passed two licensing exams. Not a minute of the training or a single question on the exams was devoted to eyebrow threading.

    The federal government is regulating the American meal, again. This time, the target is trans-fat!
    The Obama administration is ordering food companies to phase out the artery-clogging trans fats that can lead to heart disease, the country's leading cause of death. The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that it would require food makers to stop using trans fats — found in processed foods like pie crusts, frostings and microwave popcorn — over the next three years.
    It turns out California has banned trans fats since 2008, when our "conservative" Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill outlawing them. When I was at the local doughnut shop yesterday, with my husband (who requested the fat-laden extravaganza for his Father's Day Breakfast), I asked the proprietor about living with the trans fat ban. She explained that while she readily complied with the rules, at added expense passed onto the customer, some other shops continued using the banned ingredients. She noted that several were closed temporarily, until legal items arrived. These facilities were then regularly reinspected for compliance. Imagine this on a large scale. It is anticipated that the conversion will cost food manufacturers billions .

    When it comes to federal regulations, I find the "it shouldn't be this complicated!" argument to be flawed. Of course it's going to be complicated---the federal government regulates activity concerning 50 states, a military, a rambunctious federal District, and foreign relations. They've got a lot going on; hence, the rule making can't really be confined to a few bullet points. That being said, at some point, you have to turn off the spigot and get serious about just how many rules and regulations the federal government should be allowed to throw at the American people. Earlier this year the Mercatus Center, a free-market economic think tank at George Mason University, created an infographic to illustrate just how ridiculous the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) has become---and why they had to create a computer program just to read all of it. Take a look: CFR-read-time-RegData

    As if there weren't more important things to be concerned about... Lawmakers are considering legislation that would further regulate cosmetics including handmade soap. The Personal Care Products Safety Act was introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Cal) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) last month. The bill is currently rattling around in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The stated purpose of the bill is to, "protect consumers and streamline industry compliance by strengthening the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate the ingredients in personal care products. While the personal care products industry is projected to exceed $60 billion in U.S. revenue this year, federal regulations on these products have not been updated in 75 years." Essentially, the Personal Care Products Safety Act is another venture in big government glut that would expand the FDA's jurisdiction thereby creating more bureaucracy, wasting taxpayer money, and hindering small business growth. More specifically though, the bill would impose fees, and add ridiculous reporting and labeling requirements. Sen. Feinstein boasts support from just about every big cosmetic industry player including:
    • Personal Care Products Council (a trade association representing more than 600 companies in the industry)
    • Johnson & Johnson (brands include Neutrogena, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Lubriderm, Johnson’s baby products)
    • Procter & Gamble (brands include Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Clairol, Herbal Essences, Secret, Dolce & Gabbana,
    • Gucci, Ivory, Cover Girl, Olay, Sebastian Professional, Vidal Sassoon)
    • Revlon (brands include Revlon, Almay, Mitchum)
    • Estee Lauder (brands include Estée Lauder, Clinique, Origins, Tommy Hilfiger, MAC, La Mer, Bobbi Brown, Donna Karan, Aveda, Michael Kors)
    • Unilever (brands include Dove, Tresemme, Lever, St. Ives, Noxzema, Nexxus, Pond’s, Suave, Sunsilk, Vaseline, Degree)
    • L’Oreal (brands include L’Oréal Paris, Lancome, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Kiehl’s, Essie, Garnier, Maybelline-New York, Vichy, La Roche-Posay, The Body Shop, Redken)
    But what about the independent cosmetic purveyor?

    The same monstrous federal agency that brought us food pyramids, plate graphics, and encourages America to eat vegan is after health food bar maker, KIND. Recently, KIND received a love letter from the FDA citing multiple labeling violations. "However, none of your products listed above meet the requirements for use of the nutrient content claim “healthy,”" wrote the self-appointed arbiter of healthy declarations. The FDA letter to KIND is a fantastic example of how the federal bureaucracy is a vacuous waste of money. Tax money is spent paying people to sit in offices (where they're forbidden from watching porn) while they stress over 1.5 g of saturated fat in a nut bar. Four of KIND's health food bars received FDA scrutiny. In order for KIND to properly utilize the healthy designation, their health food bars cannot contain more than 1 g of saturated fat per Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC). The Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot and Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein bars contain 3.5 g, Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut clocks in at 5 g, and the Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants contains a whopping 2.5 g of saturated fat, said the FDA. KIND's health food bars are made largely without preservatives or other fillers and fake food stuffs found in similar products. They're also exceptionally tasty. But a regulation is a regulation.

    Since 2008, the federal government has finalized over 2500 regulations. Those regulations required over 500 million hours of paperwork hours, and ring in to the tune of almost 734 billion dollars in total cost. That's a lot of agency-based lawmaking. How is the average American supposed to navigate all that? A new tool just released by the American Action Forum is here to help! AAF's "Regulation Rodeo" is a searchable, customizable, and interactive tool that lets you locate, evaluate, and learn more about all rulemakings (that means regulations that impose a private-sector burden, intergovernmental cost, or paperwork burden) published in the Federal Register since 2008. Results are displayed in colorful "infographic" form, and contain links to the Federal Register if you want more information about a specific rule. How does it work? Glad you asked. I decided to find out how much of our money the Department of Defense has spent via rulemaking since 2008. I plug and chug, and the first thing that pops up is a basic overview telling me that, while the DoD hasn't passed that many regulations, they've spent quite a bit of my money: DOD main data

    The California "mega-drought" has officially gained the attention of the regulatory community. Recently, a NASA administrator pushed the panic button hard... by saying the Golden State had less than a year of water in its reserves and that it needs to start water rationing now!
    California will run out of water in 12 months, according to a NASA scientist. The state only has one year of supply left in its reservoirs due to persistent drought and is also running out of backup groundwater, Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, wrote. The drought means that total water storage in California, which has been in decline since 2002, has been sapped by the need to use the resource for farming, he said in the Los Angeles Times. ...Famiglietti suggested immediate water-rationing measures, which are being considered in southern California, across the state.
    Color me skeptical, in a nice golden brown shade. The last time a NASA scientist chimed in on the climate, it turns out the temperatures used to tout the "hottest year ever" were chalk full of errors. Why should I trust any government scientist's interpretation about climate policy matters when there are money and regulations to be made? In fact, following the money in this instance is the most logical step to take! It turns out that our state's legislators are mulling over water rate hikes.

    One of the earliest projects I took on as a citizen activist was promoting the work of former UCLA professor, Dr. James Enstrom, an epidemiologist who challenged the voodoo science used by the California Air Resources Board to pass stiff, new air emission regulations. David French of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) explained what subsequently happened to this heroic whistle-blower:
    The facts of the case were astounding. As the environmentalist Left pushed new, job-killing regulations in the interests of “public health,” Dr. Enstrom took his own look at the data and determined that the health threat from diesel emissions was being wildly overstated. As he looked further, he discovered that the lead researcher pushing the new regulations actually possessed a fraudulent degree, purchased from “Thornhill University,” a shady, long-distance diploma mill. Moreover, members of the state’s “scientific review panel” tasked with evaluating the science had in some cases overstayed term limits by decades. At least one was a known ideological radical. (He was a member of the infamous “Chicago Seven.”) Dr. Enstrom did what a scientist should do. He exposed public corruption, called out fake scientific credentials, and worked to save California from onerous and unnecessary regulations. So UCLA fired him. After more than 30 years on the job.

    As Snowmageddon descended upon the Imperial City, freedom-loving sledders wielding "Sled Free or Die" placards marched, sleds-in-hand to Capitol Hill. The prohibition on sledding on Capitol Hill is a long-standing regulation, and is not a recent occurrence. According to CNN:
    ... a regulation written -- clearly by 19th-century scrooges -- banning play on the Capitol grounds. "It shall be the duty of the Capitol police on and after April 29, 1876, to prevent any portion of the Capitol Grounds and terraces from being used as playgrounds or otherwise, so far as may be necessary to protect the public property, turf and grass from destruction or injury," the regulation reads.
    Those sledding in civil disobedience were informed by Capitol Police that their down-hill antics were prohibited. Undeterred, they continued to slide down Capitol Hill anyway. Despite the warnings, police watched sledders without bothering to enforce the city's archaic regulation.

    The tech policy community has momentarily banded together to nail the Federal Communications Commission to the wall over what seems to be a big data meltdown regarding hundreds of thousands of public comments the agency received regarding its Net Neutrality deliberations. Gizmodo has a nice rundown of what we know so far:
    New analysis of the data the FCC recently released about the process shows that the agency lost and/or ignored a whole bunch public comments. How many is a whole bunch? Oh, about 340,000. Fight for the Future, a pro-net neutrality group, just announced a pretty major discrepancy in the number of comments it helped submit. In total, the organization helped drive 777,364 commenters to post on the FCC's antiquated comment site. Fight for the Future CTO Jeff Lyon says that "at least 244,811 [comments] were missing from the data" recently released by the FCC. On top of that, a new Sunlight Foundation study found that 95,000 of the comments the FCC did release were duplicates. ... The Sunlight Foundation admitted that there were some discrepancies in the data. The FCC also admitted to Jeff Lyons that nearly a quarter of a million comments were indeed missing from the data it released. Lyons wondered, "As of right now, the failure point is still unclear: Did the FCC simply fail to export these comments, or did they actually fail to process them in the first place?"
    While we don't yet know the answer to Lyons' question, we do know that pro-Net Neutrality groups were nervous about the pro/con comment breakdown. The Sunlight Foundation released a report accusing "[a] shadowy organization with ties to the Koch Brothers" of skewing the results with a form letter writing campaign, causing pro-NN groups and tech bloggers to cry foul. Why? Probably because conservatives absolutely crushed them when the final comment tally rolled around.
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