Oct 062001
 
http://www.wnd.com/media
  • Feds Admit Failure on Renewable Fuel Standards

    The Environmental Protection Agency is unilaterally reducing Renewable Fuel Standard mandates and effectively admitting congressional projections were far off base, but the government is pouring even more money into efforts to keep biofuels afloat. On June 10, the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, announced it was increasing the amount of renewable fuels that must be blended into our fuel in the coming years, but the levels are a reduction compared to the mandates approved by Congress last decade. "The EPA, in typical regulatory fashion, is kind of redrawing the law on itself to reduce the amount," said Tom Borelli, a senior fellow at Freedom Works, who recently wrote about the EPA actions. The decision is drawing howls of protest from the biofuels industry, traditional energy companies and free market advocates, with the latter saying reality proves government mandates are almost always a terrible idea. "Government command and control policies fail. They fail every time. The free market should decide the type of fuel that we use. Industry is smart enough to figure a way," said Borelli. Meanwhile, Borelli says the biofuels industry is furious that the government is shaving back on it's original promises. "The biofuels industry is really upset, and to a certain extent they should be, because they were making investments based on what Congress said they would be forcing into the fuel supplies. So if you're a biofuels company, you thought you had a certain amount of demand every year and now the EPA said, 'Nah, we don't need all that much,'" said Borelli. But while the EPA is slowing the increase of biofuel increases to the fuel supply, the percentage is still outpacing gasoline consumption. That means car makers and the traditional energy industry are looking at big problems. "When you do the percentages, now we're hitting what they call the 'blend wall'. You'd be over 10 percent ethanol, for example, in the gasoline supply. That would be destructive for a number of car engines as well as the energy infrastructure that the oil industry has," said Borelli. The mandate dilemma extends back a decade to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. President George W. Bush signed both, the first in collaboration with the Republican-led Congress. Democrats were in the majority when the second bill was passed. "President Bush and Congress were concerned about the amount of oil we were importing from foreign nations. They thought it would be a grand idea if the federal government could step in and force the introduction of renewable fuels into our gasoline and diesel supplier transportation fuels," said Borelli. But the congressional micromanaging was just getting started. "In its infinite wisdom, Congress set out very specific targets of the billions of gallons of these sorts of renewable fuels that would have to be blended into our transportation fuels going all the way out until 2022," said Borelli. With the numbers not quite working out as planned, the Department of Agriculture is trying to keep the biofuels flowing. It vows to spend $100 million om new pumps that can handle a higher percentage of ethanol in our fuels. "A hundred million dollars is not a lot of money in terms of the energy infrastructure. Essentially, I think we just threw a hundred million dollars away," said Borelli, who says there is a lot of money involved in keeping ethanol and other biofuels afloat. "The farming lobby is huge. The biofuels industry can only survive by lobbing, right? It's only through government mandates that these companies can survive. So there's a lot of money going in to support this failed program," he said. Borelli says the Renewable Fuel Standard is a perfect example of what happens when politicians and bureaucrats try to dictate the future. He says the Bush administration did not foresee the fracking boom or the pace at which consumption and other technological advancements would proceed. "They couldn't predict technology in terms of ethanol production, especially from cellulosic ethanol. And they certainly couldn't project the fact that technology would allow the United States to be the leader in fossil fuel development. So the government should just clearly stay out of the free market," said Borelli.

  • Allowing Hostage Families to Pay Ransom = More Kidnappings

    The Obama administration is changing federal policy to allow the families of American hostages to negotiate ransom payments with the abductors, but a former high-ranking Air Force officer says that's a recipe for many more Americans to get kidnapped. On Wednesday, President Obama will announce the anticipated policy change. The change comes after the families of several Americans murdered by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, lashed out at the administration for refusing to let them negotiate and even allegedly threatening some with prosecution if they tried to pay a ransom. Officials say U.S. government policy will remain unchanged in not paying ransom for American hostages, because they believe it will only encourage our enemies to take more citizens into custody. Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney fears the very same thing will happen by letting families negotiate price of their loved one's release. "This is a very difficult one because there's a great deal of emotion. But the fact is I think we're going to see more cases of kidnapping by radical Islam and trying to use those Americans that are over there helping in the Arab countries as treasury bait," said McInerney, who is also a military analyst for the Fox News Channel. McInerney concedes that reasonable people can disagree about whether to give families the option of negotiating a ransom, but he says it's the wrong choice and the administration is making a mistake by talking about it. "I would much rather have not announced it because I think it will increase the number of kidnappings. I think if we had a covert program that could have been done, that would have been better," said McInerney, who calls the policy change "a political decision." In addition to the protests of hostages' families, McInerney believes the administration also changed course and adopted the policies of some European nations that allow families to negotiate with hostage takers. The Obama administration is also promising to do a better job of communicating with the families of future hostages. Several families publicly scolded the government for infrequent updates and being treated as a nuisance when they asked federal officials for more information. McInerney says that's the least any government should be able to do. "There is nothing that encourages the radical Islamists to kidnap people if we keep our people informed. So there's absolutely no reason that the administration is not giving them up to date briefings, at least on a weekly or a bi-weekly basis," he said. In the big picture, McInerney says the best way to discourage more ISIS kidnappings is to wipe the radicals off the face of the earth. He is deeply frustrated by the administration's refusal to use it's air power dominance. "We've got to take the handcuffs off our air power. Seventy-five percent of the missions that come back are not dropping bombs. I know the air commander over there says, 'Well, the generals that are complaining have never fought this kind of war.' He's correct. We've never fought a war where we lost cities like this and air power has been so ineffective," said McInerney. McInerney says the Obama team is paralyzed by fears of killing innocents in the air campaign. He says that mindset cannot lead to success. "We know where they are. We're worried about the collateral damage. I think we have to accept it is war, accept that collateral damage and have it over quickly," said McInerney.

  • Allowing Hostage Families to Pay Ransom = More Kidnappings

    The Obama administration is changing federal policy to allow the families of American hostages to negotiate ransom payments with the abductors, but a former high-ranking Air Force officer says that's a recipe for many more Americans to get kidnapped. On Wednesday, President Obama will announce the anticipated policy change. The change comes after the families of several Americans murdered by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, lashed out at the administration for refusing to let them negotiate and even allegedly threatening some with prosecution if they tried to pay a ransom. Officials say U.S. government policy will remain unchanged in not paying ransom for American hostages, because they believe it will only encourage our enemies to take more citizens into custody. Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney fears the very same thing will happen by letting families negotiate price of their loved one's release. "This is a very difficult one because there's a great deal of emotion. But the fact is I think we're going to see more cases of kidnapping by radical Islam and trying to use those Americans that are over there helping in the Arab countries as treasury bait," said McInerney, who is also a military analyst for the Fox News Channel. McInerney concedes that reasonable people can disagree about whether to give families the option of negotiating a ransom, but he says it's the wrong choice and the administration is making a mistake by talking about it. "I would much rather have not announced it because I think it will increase the number of kidnappings. I think if we had a covert program that could have been done, that would have been better," said McInerney, who calls the policy change "a political decision." In addition to the protests of hostages' families, McInerney believes the administration also changed course and adopted the policies of some European nations that allow families to negotiate with hostage takers. The Obama administration is also promising to do a better job of communicating with the families of future hostages. Several families publicly scolded the government for infrequent updates and being treated as a nuisance when they asked federal officials for more information. McInerney says that's the least any government should be able to do. "There is nothing that encourages the radical Islamists to kidnap people if we keep our people informed. So there's absolutely no reason that the administration is not giving them up to date briefings, at least on a weekly or a bi-weekly basis," he said. In the big picture, McInerney says the best way to discourage more ISIS kidnappings is to wipe the radicals off the face of the earth. He is deeply frustrated by the administration's refusal to use it's air power dominance. "We've got to take the handcuffs off our air power. Seventy-five percent of the missions that come back are not dropping bombs. I know the air commander over there says, 'Well, the generals that are complaining have never fought this kind of war.' He's correct. We've never fought a war where we lost cities like this and air power has been so ineffective," said McInerney. McInerney says the Obama team is paralyzed by fears of killing innocents in the air campaign. He says that mindset cannot lead to success. "We know where they are. We're worried about the collateral damage. I think we have to accept it is war, accept that collateral damage and have it over quickly," said McInerney.

  • Feds Lag Behind Private Sector in Cyber Security

    Recent foreign hacking into federal government systems is not the equivalent of a cyber Pearl Harbor, but experts say the feds are badly behind the private sector when it comes to addressing the threat. A series of reported hacks from China and Russia into federal personnel databases is triggering the concern, as anywhere from four to fourteen million current and former government employees had their personal data compromised. Applicants for federal positions are also at risk. "I don't know whether I'd call it the Pearl Harbor. The cyber analysts have been trying to use that term for quite awhile now. I guess this is one of those times you could theoretically use the term," said Heritage Foundation cyber security expert Riley Walters. He says the data breach of millions of people is very serious and could lead to plenty of problems, but he says the most vital national security assets are much better protected and are not compromised. "I think it comes down to risk. When you've got [the Defense Department], you've got technical equipment, actual undercover agents, state secrets and methods for security in the future. It's very direct, kinetic security information," said Walters. But as impressed as Walters is with the defense and intelligence cyber security apparatus, he says the government overall is playing catch-up. "The government, compared to the private sector, is not necessarily as good in some areas for their cyber security," said Walters. "When you get into OPM or the VA it's a little more system and a little more shaky. This is certainly an area where cyber hackers can find a way into federal systems." Walters says one major reason the feds are lagging behind the private sector and other governments in security is a simple lack of due diligence. "The government is a bit slow in updating its systems. Since systems do upgrade so fast so regularly, it's hard for them to keep pace like a private company does," he said. That inability to keep up with the competition has Walters very skeptical about a larger government role in running the internet. "Here at the Heritage Foundation, we like to think that the federal government wouldn't be so good at regulating cyber security. If they can't even update their systems as regularly as they need to, then how can you update regulations as quick as you need to," said Walters. Walters says the greatest hacking threats come from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. He says they have different specialties. China is focused on securing information on as many people as possible. Iran and North Korea prioritize the shutting down of websites. He says Russia is the best at not leaving any digital footprints. The threat is only going to get worse. Walters says it's a product of the insatiable demand for more data. "Over the past several years, we've just seen more reliance on big data and the internet. So obviously there's a correlation with the increasing number of cyber attacks," he said.

 Posted by at 2:47 am

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