Renewable Fuel Standard, or Not?


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The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) provisions of The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), mandates an increasing blend of renewable products into our domestic fuel supply. The law amends the Clean Air Act, and allows for an initial blending of food-based ethanol (corn), beginning in 2008. In subsequent years, the blend was to transition towards satisfying the annually increasing volumes with non-food “second stage” cellulosic ethanol, referred to as RFS2. The cellulosic, or advanced biofuels, are derived from biological materials such as wood shavings, leaves, corn cobs and grasses. In addition to the blend provisions, the law requires the program to achieve a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, the costly experiment has failed to meet several goals, including air quality and the defined blend requirements.

To explain, in 2008 Congress mandated the EPA to set the RFS at a 10% blend of corn ethanol. Drivers then began to see labels informing them of E10 in fuel pumps. By 2010, the law states we were to move towards the use of non-food products (the second-stage RFS2), to fill the increasing blend requirements. However, in 2010 and 2011, no cellulosic biofuel was available to fill the volume requirements. Similarly, in 2012 and 2013 the available production did not amount to 1% of the mandated levels. As a result, the EPA adjusted the blend formulas allowing for first stage corn-based ethanol to fill the void.

In 2011, the EPA approved the blend increase to E15 (15% ethanol). An increase mandated to include cellulosic renewables (non-food) as opposed to corn. Now, several years into the program, cellulosic biofuels are still not available. Nevertheless, the EPA should not continue to adjust the volumes between ethanol and biofuels. It was at the onset of the program in 2007 that the Department of Energy (DOE), assured the taxpayers cellulosic ethanol would be ready and cost competitive with gasoline by the year 2012. Again, yet another goal the program failed to meet. Incidentally, that promise accompanied an astounding $385 million federal investment in six privately owned plants.

Unfortunately, at this time technological realities and market fundamentals simply do not support large-scale production of cellulosic biofuels and the industry is not near capable of meeting the RFS2 mandates. The creation of a law does not guarantee that science and economics will cooperate. As we look at the legal requirements and limits of alternative fuels made from wood chips and corn cobs, one thing is wholly apparent. We can’t get there from here.

So then, where are we? In regards to the ethanol mandate, we are quite possibly near the end. It was a poorly drafted piece of legislation that is not sustainable without government backing. Aside from corn farmers and their lobbyist, there is little support for continuing the project. Unfortunately, and unavoidably, the same corn farmers who benefited from the program will suffer the greatest financial impact upon its demise.

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Just Barney: The Black Baron of Colorado


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In the state of Virginia, late January 1822, a young Negro girl named Phoebe gave birth to a baby boy.  As the son of a slave mother and her white slave owner the child was born with no last name.  Instead, he was given only the first name of Barney.  His mother had little to offer the child, but she taught him to carry a sense of self-pride and a love for education.  With those attributes Barney taught himself to read and write, and after the untimely death of his young mother, and with the aid of the Underground Railroad, he escaped slavery.


Barney L. Ford stained glass portrait in Colorado’s Capital

The once-nameless slave child grew to be a respected, stalwart, politically astute man of high social standing.  A successful restaurateur, Mr. Ford became known as, The Black Baron of Colorado.  He was one of Denver’s elite and proved to be a great orator with an unyielding quest for equality, fairness, and justice for all men.  Barney L. Ford would become the first black man to sit on a grand jury, and he was instrumental in bringing minority voting rights to the state of Colorado.While on the run, Barney admired the prestigious, gold lettering on a shiny, black locomotive.  The words, Lancelot and Ford, elegantly graced the side of the powerful steam engine.  Barney reasoned that as a free man, he should have a full name.  So, from that moment forward, he decided he would be known as Barney Lancelot Ford.  A name that would come to be remembered in history, and would eventually grace the halls of Colorado’s State Capital in Denver.  Today, a stained glass image of Barney L. Ford stands boldly above the chairperson’s seat in the Colorado State House Chamber.

He was a businessman who embraced a cause and then returned to his life.  Robert Goldberg, a history professor at Utah State, challenges, “Black activists were more observers than participants in these happenings. Civic leaders had made peace and prosperity their goals, not racial justice” (Goldberg, 2010, para. 27).  Although Barney Ford was not an activist, he was a participant in actively pursuing change.  However, he did not act alone.More than a hundred years before the Greensboro four sat at a Woolworth’s counter in defiance of inequity based on race, Mr. Ford protested the same issue in regards to voting rights (Gladwell, 2010).  When the four young men of Greensboro challenged the socially accepted standards in 1960, they were not the catalyst for the beginning of the civil rights movement.  Although daring and bold, the sit-in was a mere continuation of many struggles carried forward from those who came before.  Those who cleared the path.  Mr. Ford was such a predecessor, but an activist, he was not.

Mr. Barney Lancelot Ford, motivated others to build a social movement dedicated to blocking Colorado from statehood until all men, regardless of race, had equal and unrestricted voting rights.  Though Mr. Ford had intelligence, money, and prestige, he was not particularly interested in politics.  He also knew one man alone could not block Colorado statehood.  It was the passion for the issue that motivated him to get involved, and it was the shared enthusiasm of a collection of people that propelled the movement forward.  Once successful in his efforts, Mr. Ford went back to concentrating on his own business endeavors, never to pursue a political position.

America is not a monarchy.  We have no kings, no emperors.BLford  This nation was founded, and continues to evolve, as a result of an incalculable number of great acts by ordinary individuals.  Barney is an example of how one man rising to the challenge of one issue is the thread that binds the fabric of our political structure.  As well, others such as Miss Rosa Parks and Harriot Tubman are additional examples of how when change is due; it is the greatness of the deed, and not the size of the actor, that ignites social engagement.  This has always been the American way.

Black History month affords us the opportunity to honor and reflect on the extraordinary contributions of so many ordinary individuals.  Mr. Barney Lancelot Ford is one of my heroes and though I enthusiastically share his story, each time I can barely do so without emotion.  His strength of character and dogged determination against a system of injustice always moves me and humbles me.  I am in awe.  I will forever share the tail of Barney, and I hope in doing so, others will come to love this man, born a slave, given only a first name, just as I love him.  Just Barney.

California Overcharged Medicaid by $20.3 Million in 2010


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A Federal investigation discovered California withdrew more funds from its Medicaid account than justified. The state also obtained funds for expenditures it failed to report. Even after a direct demand from the Feds, California has yet to take appropriate corrective actions for the $20.3 million overcharge. Instead, state agency staff moved federal funds from other accounts, erroneously claiming those actions satisfied the shortfall.

On December 17th, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) released results from an audit performed on California’s Federal Medicaid account. The investigation was sparked by an earlier audit of state Medicaid programs for 2011 after a Federal audit showing $1.3 billion in federal over-funding nationally.

In order to fund Medicaid programs, states anticipate the federal portion and submit quarterly grant requests. These funds are administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and held in a Payment Management System (PMS). The states then withdraw these federal funds throughout the quarter. At the end of each quarter, states reconcile the account by either refunding back to or withdrawing from the federal account to cover verifiable expenses. They then submit a Quarterly Medicaid Statement of Expenditures for the Medical Assistance Program, federal form CMS-64. In the case of California’s PMS account, fiscal year 2010 shows a discrepancy of $20.3 million.

Specifically, the OIG found the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) withdrew more funds from its Federal PMS account than expenditure reports support and it obtained funds for expenditures not reported. It also found the state did not take appropriate corrective actions for the $20.3 million.

Additionally, $88.5 million of expenditures are reported on the state’s 2010 CMS-64, although $80 million of adjustments reducing expenditures are not. Lastly, DHCS failed to withdraw Federal funds from the appropriate accounts. The OIG found the state regularly used the current fiscal year PMS account, rather than the account for the year correlating with their reports. This practice caused annual account balances to be incorrect.

Following the investigation the OIG issued the following recommendations to California:

  1. Refund to the Federal Government $20,340,232 that was not supported by net expenditures.
  2. Work with CMS to resolve the $88,465,923 of expenditures and $80,004,306 of reported adjustments for FY 2010.
  3. Ensure that it obtains funds only for reported net expenditures.
  4. Implement policies and procedures to resolve differences between the amounts awarded and obtained and the reported expenditures.
  5. Ensure that it can support the amounts it withdraws from its PMS accounts and reports as adjustments.
  6. Ensure that it reports the appropriate amounts.
  7. Strengthen procedures to obtain funds from the appropriate PMS accounts.
  8. Review the amounts it obtained from PMS accounts for FY 2011 and later years to determine whether they were supported by net expenditures and refund any amounts that were not adequately supported.

In response, the state agency agreed with OIG’s recommendations #1 through #2, and #6 through #8.

Yet, as of the release of the OIG’s investigation report, California had not addressed recommendation #5, and it had not refunded the Federal government the $20.3 over-draw. Instead, and without evidence of approval by CMS, the state transferred funds from other PMS accounts associated with years 2009, 2011, and 2012. Effectively, the state paid back the Federal government with its own money.

In addition, the state’s response to recommendation #4 failed to satisfy the OIG. During the investigation, OIG reviewed reconciliation procedures, including those implemented in March 2012. The OIG responded to DHCS claim of procedural improvements stating, “We reviewed all of those during our audit and determined that they were not adequate to prevent the issues identified in our report.”

As of yet, California has not improved processes in areas of concern, accounted for millions of dollars in Federal Medicaid funds, or offered any assurance the U.S. taxpayers will not continue to be burdened by the incompetence of government agencies with union protection against any measure of performance accountability. The final sentence of the OIG report does give some measure of comfort this will not conveniently go away:

“After reviewing the State agency’s comments, we maintain that our findings and recommendations are valid.”

This post was authored by NCPA research associate Belinda Silva.

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Tobacco: Top User of Agriculture Guest Worker (H-2A) Visa Program


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With the run up to the 2016 presidential election, we have seen a growing debate on the need for border security versus the shortage of agriculture workers. Tales of apples rotting on trees and produce left in the field are offered as evidence of jobs Americans won’t do. Yet, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Foreign Labor Certification program, we have a record number of guest worker visa holders. In agriculture alone, the number of H-2A visa holders has risen nearly 35% in the past decade.

Visa Certifications

Considering the increase of H-2A visa holders, how is it those who grow our food are struggling to bring in their crops? Where are all the workers? Well, according to DOL reports, a majority are harvesting tobacco, working in landscape nurseries, and operating equipment. Annual reports show the tobacco industry is consistently the largest single sector employer of agriculture guest worker visa holders. In fact, a tobacco trade organization, the North Carolina Growers Association (NCGA), touts itself as the nation’s largest user of the H-2A agricultural “guest worker” program. And, though the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports a steady decline in U.S. smokers, the industry is experiencing a growth in acres planted and yields.Visa Top 10

The resurgence comes after an initial dramatic decline in tobacco farming following the implementation of the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 (FETRA). That legislation ended nearly 70 years of farm subsidies and marketing quotas. Then, beginning with the following year (2005), the feds stepped in with the Tobacco Transition Payment Program (TTPP). A program that paid nearly $9.6 billion to farmers for the lost value of their marketing quotas over a ten-year period. Also, with the low costs guest workers and the benefit of federal export assistance, the industry has gained a world of new consumers through exporting. For those health conscious consumers, tobacco now qualifies for certification under the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP).

As well, according to a recent report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in 2012, tobacco companies spent $9.6 billion marketing cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in the United States alone. An amount of about $26 million each day, or more than $1 million an hour. Not to mention federal funds at work to assist in identifying medicinal uses for tobacco.

It may appear the relationship between tobacco farming and the government makes no sense, but it actually makes an awful lot of cents. In 2014 alone, federal revenue from tobacco tax amounted to $15.56 billion dollars. Projections through 2020 show an anticipated $157.12 billion into government coffers (no pun intended). American tobacco farming is a windfall tax source for the federal government.

In summary, tens of thousands of agriculture guest workers are designated to work in tobacco while food products go unharvested. The government spends billions to burn food for fuel in its failed ethanol experiment. We have an unprecedented amount of illegal immigration due to a broken system. It goes to show, even a practical program, as is the H-2A visa, government involvement inevitably distorts the original intent.

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Illegal Minors: It’s Big Business!


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1,000’s Unaccompanied Illegal Minors and Millions of Dollars Delivered to Texas

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has facilitated the transfer of hundreds of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) to Ellis and Rockwell Counties in Texas.  According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service, a flood of nearly 10,600 minors has inundated the border in the past two months, shattering the already elevated numbers of the recent years, and overwhelming the U.S. Border Patrol.

Agency reports identify the UAC’s are majority male teenagers from countries other than Mexico.  County officials reported they received notice of the transfer late Tuesday, just one day prior to the arrival of the first bus.  Though public leaders voiced compassion for the children, many criticized the federal government for failing to provide adequate notice.

The Lakeview Camp and Retreat Center near Waxahachie, the Ellis County facility, is expected to house 500 minors and 200 support staff.  The Rockwell County site, Sabine Creek Ranch near Royce City, will accommodate 200 minors and 100 staff.  In a public letter, Jaroy Carpenter, Lakeview’s Executive Director, referenced the event as a “youth camp of orphaned children (ages 13-18) from South Central America.”

Sabine Creek Ranch (SCR) original written statement said they had not received a formal request to house the UACs.  However, the following day, December 11th, they revised their statement to say they will receive the minors. SCR also praised the leadership of BCFS Health and Human Services’ Emergency Management Division (BCFS-EMD), describing the organization as, “people you would really enjoy knowing and working with individually.” With that statement, it begs the question, “What is BCFS?”

BCFS Health and Human Services, (formerly Baptist Child & Family Services), is a Houston-based 501(c)(3), specializing in residential child care service to secure emergency shelter for abused and neglected children.  Recent financials show a 2015 operating budget of nearly $56.9 million for residential child care, $16.2 million for community-based service, and $119,890.00 for international services.  These are astounding numbers, but even more so when compared to the organization’s previous years.


In a 2014 letter to the Secretary of HHS, Senator Chuck Grassley pressed the department for answers regarding the funds provided to BCFS.  Grassley requested the department justify the outrages spending per child, and explain the nearly $450,000 salary for the non-profit’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  In addition, Grassley wanted answers to the lack of transparency for an organization that receives 95.9% of their revenue from public support.  But, BCFS is only one of many recipients of a massive financial windfall from the government’s new children’s program.

With its $3.7 billion budget and recent classification changes by the Obama Administration, the UAC program has created the incentive for illegal immigrants to make the harrowing trip from their homeland to the promise land.  Through HHS, the Administration has infused massive amounts of federal funds into organizations like BCFS.  As demonstrated by the above example of BCFS, funding for housing and care has burgeoned since 2011.  Also, the amended classification rules for a UAC creates a misleading image of kids making a solitary, dangerous journey.

According to program changes, a person younger than 18 years, not traveling with a verified parent or legal guardian, is to be documented as a UAC.  For example, a 17-year-old, traveling with a sibling, aunt, grandparent, or unverified parent, is classified as unaccompanied, although program rules require the minor to be housed with the accompanying family member, at a rate of 2 minors per adult.  To maintain the 2:1 ratio, the program provides paid attendants.  Additionally, if their home country is not Mexico or Canada, the minor may be eligible for refugee status.  They are then reclassified from an Unaccompanied Alien Child (UAC) to an Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM), at which point they may qualify for lifetime federal benefits.

There is no arguing the U.S. is compassionate and charitable.  As so, federal programs should provide aid when events warrant as opposed to creating humanitarian crises.  A more thorough consideration of the impact of such programs is crucial.  A true humanitarian, and cost effective approach to the migration would be to work with international agencies within the countries of exodus, as opposed to enticing their youth to leave.  Enhanced opportunities, education, and safety at home would alleviate the desire to embark on a perilous journey to an unknown future.

Organics: Another Fine Government Mess


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usda-organicThe Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), as part of the 1990 Farm Bill, established the National Organic Program (NOP). The program, as administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), oversees uniform standards governing the marketing of organically produced products. The NOP’s mission is to assure consumers of consistent organic standards of production and to facilitate the interstate commerce of organically produced food.

At the time of the NOP’s inception, the organic market for farm products had an estimated annual value of $1 billion.  By 2012, U.S. certified organic sales were at $28.4 billion and according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), the sales for 2014 are estimated at $35 billion. It is clear that organic sales are showing significant growth, but at what costs?

The current Chipotle E. coli outbreak offers an opportunity for shoppers to understand the true nature of the USDA’s organic certification program. Numerous studies and public opinion polls find consumers overwhelmingly believe the higher priced, organically certified food is a healthier, safer choice.  However, experts, consumer groups, and scientific research do not support that view.

In one example, a 14-page letter dated October 8, 2015, by the Consumer Reports National Research Center details many of the failings of the NOP. The letter criticizes the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) for approval of synthetic and non-organic nutrient additives and synthetic pesticide material, even in baby formulas. The letter states, “We support the proposal to remove nonylphenol ethoxylates (alkylphenol ethoxylates) or NPEs/APEs from the list of “inerts” allowed in organic production because of their toxic and endocrine-disrupting effects.”

The Consumer Reports letter demonstrates the discrepancy between what the NOP entails and what the public believes the program offers. The NOP outlines the rules and processes to create uniformity for organic labeling. Although there are restrictions and prohibitions of a variety of chemical applications, the program allows for many waivers and exemptions. Nowhere in the program does it suggest certification assures a safer or more nutritious food choice. In fact, Dr. Stuart Smyth, a food safety expert and agriculture biotechnology researcher, calls the National Organic Standards, “an illusion of food safety.” As Smyth explains, “These organic standards pertain to seed, fertilizer, and chemicals that are allowed to be used to produce a crop that will be certifiably organic when it is ready to be harvested. These production standards have absolutely nothing to do with increasing food safety.”

Still, the organic industry, as a marketing ploy, perpetuates the myth to consumers that organic certification implies safer foods. Moreover, with the ever-growing market share, one would assume conscientious shoppers increasingly prefer organic foods. Do they or is that another false assumption? What has changed in the past 15 years to drive the annual market value of organic food products from $1 billion to $35 billion if not consumer preference? How about the huge increase in consumer prices for the organic products, the increased volume of the labeled products, and the massive increase in program funding? To explain, let’s consider just some of the taxpayer dollars pumped into the NOP by means of the most recent farm bill, the 2014 Farm Act.

  • $20,000,000 for each fiscal year 2014 through 2018 for program operation
  • $5,000,000 to the Secretary of Agriculture for data collection and distribution to National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
  • $15,000,000 for each fiscal year 2014 through 2018 for modernization and technology upgrade
  • $5,000,000 upgrade collaboration with Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC).
  • $11,500,000 for each fiscal year 2014 through 2018 for cost-share programs with CCC.
  • $7,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2014 through 2018 for natural products research.

In the above-designated funding commitments alone, the federal government will spend $277.5 million through the term of the current agriculture authorization bill. An astonishing amount, considering the original 1990 Organic Foods Production Act stipulated the program costs will be covered entirely by fees gleaned from the program’s participants.

The growth of the organic market follows the growth in federal dollars pumped into the program. Food safety is not improved. Consumers have no assurance they are purchasing a more nutritious product. Third party certifiers charge upwards of $3,000 to farmers for label use creating an incentive for fraud. Foreign products are certified outside of the U.S. by foreign agents with no USDA oversite. Contemporary farmers are at a competitive disadvantage as a result of the marketing, promotion, and price difference of organically labeled product. Organic foods can potentially be less safe than their uncertified counterpart. And, in the end, the taxpayers are again burdened with an unproductive, fraud-laden, market manipulating program that offers no demonstrative benefit.

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WTO Ruling Forces the Repeal of Popular U.S. Law


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‘Twas the night before Christmas in 2002 when I received notice the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had confirmed America’scool-WTO first case of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). At the time, I was an elected representative of the dairy industry in the Northwest, and random sampling found an infected slaughtered milk cow in Washington State.

More commonly known as mad-cow, BSE is a degenerative brain disease with 100% mortality rate. Although, not contagious it is transmittable through consumption of food containing ingredients from BSE-infected animals. An alarming linkage of BSE is the human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (vCID), a horribly devastating and fatal illness that can have an incubation period of up to 8-years after consumption of meat from an infected animal.

Although confirmed BSE cases are world-wide, the greatest epidemic was in Great Britain. Incidentally, Britain also holds the distinction of having the highest number of human victims of vCID. During the British outbreak, BSE traveled to all regions of the world. Trade agreements facilitated the global spread of the disease as animals moved across borders with little to no inspection, quarantine, or tracking regulations. In fact, the 2002 Washington State BSE cow was shipped from Canada. Regardless, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Thailand and Hong Kong immediately banned imports of all U.S. beef and many countries followed. The trade embargos ultimately caused a near 80% drop in export sales.

Domestically, citizens had little confidence in the safety of their meat purchases. The USDA assured the public the risk was minimal, and the beef industry urged American’s to clear the inventory by eating more beef. But, unlike fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, and seafood meat products did not carry labels identifying the country of origin. Shoppers understood the infected animal came from Canada, yet, they had no information on the origin of shelved meat. Had meat products been readily identified by its source country consumers could have made an informed choice. Likewise, merchants could have quickly pulled the Canadian-originated products from store shelves. Actions that would have assisted in assuring the public and reducing the market impact for beef producers.

It was the 2002 Canadian mad-cow case that triggered the push for meat products to carry a country-of-origin-label (COOL) as is required for other foods. The development of the meat version of COOL was not a hurried, or imprudent process. What began in 2002 became effective in 2009 after years of analysis, public comments, reviews, challenges, and extensions. The rule went through a rigorous legislative process, as well as legal challenges, and survived the daunting review of the Administrative Procedures Act.

With 90% public support according to USDA surveys, the reported “little economic benefit to consumers,” does nothing to hamper its popularity. After all, the demand for the labeling had little to do with food costs and everything to do with the right of a consumer to know where their food originates. When fully informed, the choice is then left to the buyer, a free-market principle.

Few laws or regulations are as publicly beneficial or as broadly popular as the COOL programs. Yet, on December 18th, nearly thirteen years after the Canadian mad-cow incident, Congress passed an omnibus bill that contained the repeal of COOL for beef and pork products.

The ultimatum to end the mandatory labeling came from the World Trade Organization (WTO) after Mexico and Canada argued the program discriminated against their imported meats. The WTO found the mandatory use of COOL violated three technical barriers to trade (TBT). Also, they ruled the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, violated General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), Art. X:3(a), by sending an explanatory letter to only domestic meat producers, thereby giving special/unequal treatment. In its ruling against the U.S., the WTO approved retaliatory export tariffs $1 billion (Canadian) equivalent to 100% of U.S. export sales to Canada and Mexico if mandatory labeling continued.

Key considerations regarding this issue:

  • An unelected, international tribunal effectively dictated the U.S. must reverse part of a well processed, legitimate, and popular piece of domestic legislation.
  • COOL provided for quick identification and tracking of meats, facilitating efficient recall in the event of safety concerns.
  • Consumers’ right-to-know was not a consideration in the WTO decision.
  • Congress over-acted by repealing the entire labeling program as opposed to merely the mandatory aspect of labeling muscle meat.
  • Processors can continue to label their products as U.S., but only voluntarily. A practice the consumers should demand.
  • The ruling has the precedents setting potential to impact other origin labels for fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish and seafood.

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Another photograph to look at carefully.


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The woman is carrying a child on her back, a baby in front, a small child holding on to her coat, while also carrying a bag of supplies from what looks like the Red Cross. Oh yes…all while barefoot! Nice strapping, young, fighting-age men there walking with her. I say we accept ONLY women and children, and ONLY after we’ve fully vetted the women. Those young men need to stay in their country and fight the aggressors.

The Rugged Individualist

In the photograph below there are 11 people – all Syrian refugees. There are 7 young men. They look reasonably fit to me. There are, as well, one woman, two babies and one young girl. Note the following. First, look at the feet of these travelers. Who is the only person who has NO SHOES. Then determine who among the 8 fully grown persons is carrying the two babies (one in a papoose style carry). Again, note who is carrying the “supply” bag. Finally observe to whose coat the little girl clings. These observations bother me significantly. Do they bother you?


Roy Filly

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“Green” Energy: The Color of Money


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In light of the recent legal filing for creditor protection by Spain-based, Abengoa, Inc., the viability of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is getting appropriate scrutiny and reconsideration. Through that program, the giant green-energy company received billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in grants, loans, and subsidies. Still, last week they were forced to close their cellulosic ethanol facility in Hugoton, Kansas. The court filing for creditor protection came the day before Thanksgiving and within a week, the Kansas employees received layoff notices while many creditors received nothing.

Economic predictions suggest taxpayer losses could amount to five-times that of the 2011 Solyndra collapse. For local farmers, $5 million in unpaid, delivered product prompted their cooperative (CHS, Inc.), to file a lawsuit just two days prior to Abengoa filing for protection in a Spanish court. While some articles and blogs appear to revel in an Obama administration failure, others denounce the fact-based reporting of Abengoa’s troubles as a hit-piece against green-energy. Neither position is accurate, valid or productive.

From a free-market, smaller government perspective, the issue is not green-energy versus traditional energy sources. There is no denying the world would be a better place if everyone had access to affordable, renewable clean energy. But, consider the financial sink-hole that is the Hugoton plant and contrast that with the stunning announcement that it has sold zero gallons of cellulosic ethanol, and it is apparent that to some the label of “green” energy denotes big money as opposed to an emphasis on low environmental impact.

It should be noted that Abengoa’s demise was not a shock to everyone. Various sources have been sounding the warning sirens for years.

  • A 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report warned of multiple challenges to RFS’s increasing volumes of biofuels, particularly cellulosic.
  • November 2011: Senator Jeff Sessions of the Senate Budget Committee specifically requested all documents relating to Abengoa and other solar companies from the Department of Interior (DOI).
  • 2012 GAO letter to The Honorable Dianne Feinstein, and House & Senate members of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Committee on Appropriations stating it was the sixth time GAO had reported its concerns about (DOE) loan guarantees for biofuels.
  • March 2012 GAO report to Congress restating concerns about the lack of adequate review and oversight by DOE and its $30 billion loan program, detailing Abengoa as the recipient of $1.2 billion.
  • March 2012: U.S. House Oversight Committee report specifically finds loans and resources granted to Abengoa, created excessive risk. The report reveals that “Abengoa managed to obtain a DOE loan commitment for the lowest rated project across the entire DOE Junk portfolio — which received an extraordinarily low CCC rating and was still approved by DOE for a direct loan to the project. This overinvestment in this single firm will likely cause substantial harm to the taxpayer.”
  • May 29, 2012: Letter from the U.S. House Oversight Committee threatened the Department of Interior (DOI) with “compulsory action” if they failed to release requested documents related to Abengoa and other solar companies. The Committee stated appearance of preferential treatment in taxpayer-funded loan guarantees.
  • April 30, 2013: Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported Abengoa of received $2 million dollars through The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) for a project completed before the passing of the law.
  • May 1, 2014: GAO warned a significant threat to taxpayers in the DOE biofuels loan programs due to poor oversight and deviation from monitoring and qualifying procedures that, “pose an unacceptable risk of default.”

Highlighted above are but a few examples of serious problems with the government’s renewable fuels program. So, as presented, critics are not opposed to the concept of green energy but see the RFS as a seriously flawed mechanism to that end. The wasting of billions of dollars on infrastructure for a product that is not market ready could be better served funding advancing research projects in laboratories. The simple concept of putting the cart before the horse comes to mind. It is not Capitalism when the Federal government, through sheer financial force develops unsustainable, artificial industries.

Even Abengoa knew the Kansas plant would not be self-sustainable. In a 2014 report to DOE, the company presented their risk mitigation plan. The list included a push for the development of “energy crops”, continued dependence on the RFS to maintain a premium for ethanol, and to encourage the USDA to allow farmers to produce cellulosic biofuel crops on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands.

The Abengoa plan does not reflect the goal of eventual self-sufficiency, but instead, details what others may contribute to help restructure market fundamentals to suit Abengoa’s projected goals. That is not capitalism. We have limited lands for food production, and the thought of more farmland to biofuel production is alarming. Also, the move would defeat one of the RFS stated goals of developing renewable energy by utilizing material currently identified as low valued waste or by-products.

To be clear, green-energy, as in renewable, eco-friendly, sustainable, and affordable, is a national security and humanitarian issue. There is little debate about the need to pursue that end. But, the government mandates and financial handouts created extremely provocative incentives to abuse the U.S. taxpayers. Through big dollar, experimental programs that ignore market impact and economic viability, coupled with extremely lax oversight, the term “green-energy” takes on a different meaning.

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Broad Perspective: I Ain’t Buying It


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Let’s see here.  The recently arrived “bride” is the one that is being held up as the real radical, anti-American terrorist. The “groom” was just a quiet introvert with no friends, until recently no woman, and often picked on by his co-workers.
Do you see what’s happening here? Clearly the narrative is being well spun.
We are being told that the person who has no family in this country was the real instigator, and she influenced this poor, simple man.
Think about this. If we believe it was HER, then it will be easier for us to believe the threat was neutralized with her death.
Why does it matter? Because, the man has family here. He attended the local mosque every day. He was well engrained in the large, wealthy, educated, and politically active muslim community.
If we believe him to be radicalized, then we have to assume his family and friends are a continuing threat. They are!
There is no way these two pulled together that weapons cache without local assistance.
What is happening is a social influence tactical maneuver called, “framing.” And I’m going to go ahead and call BULL CRAP.


Lying to an infidel to advance Islam is an integral part of the ideology and promoted in the Quran.