U.S. Needs Fair Regulation of Water, Not Folly of Obama's Imperial Powergrab

Last week the Obama administration released a proposal that could lengthen the already long arm of federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), into the affairs of practically every U.S. business, farmer, landowner, and local and state government.

According to the administration, the intent of this proposed rule is to “clarify” which waterbodies are subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act.

In reality, this action is another attempt by this imperial presidency to circumvent Congressional intent in order to dramatically expand federal jurisdiction over waters and wet areas in the United States and break down the well established limits to the federal government’s power over the American people.

Signed into law in 1972, the Clean Water Act has had a tremendous positive impact on water quality in our country. The law established a balanced, reasonable partnership between the states and the federal government, which has led to significantly less pollution and cleaner water for the country.

Under the Act, the federal government’s and the EPA’s regulatory reach was intentionally limited to “navigable waters”; the law was designed to exempt some bodies of water, such as backyard ponds, where there is not a federal interest, and leave any regulation of those areas to the states, if they so choose.


Committee Leaders Announce Plans to Mark Up Legislation to Push Back on EPA Regulatory Overreach

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would not review a 2013 Appeals Court decision that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not exceed its power when it stripped the Spruce No. 1 Mine of a permit for a large mountaintop mine in West Virginia.

In response to the decision, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) announced that they would take action.

“The EPA took the extraordinary action of revoking a federal permit which had been issued years prior, setting a disturbing precedent that could impact the entire American economy,” said Shuster. “If the EPA can be allowed to retroactively take away a permit for a coal mine, there could be nothing to stop them from doing so at any other mine, construction site or manufacturing plant. What good is a permit if it can be revoked at any time?  Changing the rules once a project has started creates absolute uncertainty that will be devastating to our economic growth and competiveness, and puts billions of dollars in investments and thousands of jobs in jeopardy.”

“How can an agency be allowed to revoke a permit when no violation of the terms of the permit has occurred?” said Gibbs.  “EPA set a dangerous precedent and has created uncertainty for investors.  Who would be willing to invest in a project when they know that the EPA could revoke their permit at any time without just cause?”

Shuster added, “In the coming weeks, the Committee will take action and consider targeted legislation to address this critical issue.  The EPA has been given unprecedented powers by the Obama Administration.  This regulatory overreach spearheaded by an imperial presidency must be stopped.”


Shuster Bill to Provide Emergency Relief from Propane Crisis Gets Unanimous Senate Approval

(click for more information)

The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved legislation by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) that helps provide emergency relief to the ongoing propane and home heating fuels crisis in the United States. 

On February 25th, Shuster introduced H.R. 4076, the Home Heating Emergency Assistance Through Transportation (HHEATT) Act of 2014, to address transportation and distribution issues that have contributed to this crisis.

“This continues to be a costly and crippling winter for millions of Americans who rely on propane and other fuels to heat their homes,” Shuster said.  “The HHEATT Act, by addressing transportation and distribution issues that have made delivery of these fuels more difficult, will bring some relief to those still feeling the impact of this crisis.”


COGC and ATR Support Transparent Airfares Act

"Today, COGC and ATR sent the following letter to the House of Representatives, supporting Chairman Bill Shuster(R-Pa.) and Congressman Tom Grave's (R-Ga.) bill, the Transparent Airfares Act. In part, the letter reads:

We write to encourage your colleagues to co-sponsor and otherwise support your bill, H.R. 4156, the Transparent Airfares Act. Your bill is a vital step toward airfare transparency and the end of the Department of Transportation's descriminatory regulations that target airlines and travelers.

The Transparent Airfares Act will allow airlines to inform flyers of the true cost of air travel by breaking out taxes and fees from the base fare. This repeals the current requirement that airlines advertise artificially high prices providing a more transparent and competitive market place travelers.

Thus, we encourage lawmakers to support H.R. 4156 and look forward to working with you to protect American travelers and taxpayers."

Read the Letter Here


Transparent Airfares Act Introduced in the House

Washington, DC – Bipartisan legislation introduced in the House today will restore transparency to the advertising of U.S. airline ticket prices, and ensure that airfare advertisements are not forced to hide the costs of government from consumers.

The Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 (H.R 4156) returns transparency to U.S. airline fare advertising by allowing advertisements for passenger air travel to state the base airfare and separately disclose any government imposed taxes and fees and the total cost of travel.

The bill was introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), senior Committee Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), Transportation Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV), Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), and Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-WA).

“Virtually all consumer products are advertised at a base price, with taxes added on at the point of purchase,” Shuster said.  “But Department of Transportation regulations have fundamentally and unfairly changed the advertising rules for airfares by requiring all government imposed taxes and fees to be embedded in the advertised price of a ticket.  As a result, the fact that Americans are paying higher and higher government imposed taxes and fees to travel by air is being hidden from them. This common sense bill will allow consumers to see the full breakdown of their ticket costs, so they know how much they’re paying for the service, and how much they’re paying in government imposed taxes and fees.”


Cell hell: Mobile phones on planes

American legislators are again discussing the ban on mobile-phone calls on the country's planes. This time the issue is not one of risk, but of consideration.  

Gulliver does not intend to go over the safety aspects of using cell phones in a cabin again here; we have covered that topic many times. Suffice to say there has clearly been a certain amount of obfuscation about the supposed dangers, and this has rankled many passengers. But the upshot of being misled is that people tend to frame the discussion around whether they have a right to use their phones. It is pitched as an argument of common sense and even morality; of the little guy taking on the illogical bureaucrats. But Bill Shuster, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives' transport and infrastructure committee, who is sponsoring the bill to ban phones, is taking a more sensible angle. “Airplane cabins are by nature noisy, crowded and confined,” he is quoted as saying in Avionics Today. “In our day-to-day lives, when we find someone’s cell-phone call to be too loud, too close, or too personal, we can just walk away. But at 30,000 feet, there’s nowhere else for an airline passenger to go."

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Shuster Legislation Offers Emergency Relief to Propane Shortage Crisis

(click for more information)

Washington, DC - Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) today introduced legislation to help provide emergency relief to the ongoing propane and home heating fuels shortage in the United States.  

Shuster introduced H.R. 4076, the Home Heating Emergency Assistance Through Transportation (HHEATT) Act of 2014, to address transportation and distribution issues that have contributed to the shortage.


Cellphones on planes? Tap, don’t talk

Modern technology has helped to make Americans more accessible and productive than ever. In particular, the advent of the smartphone has virtually ensured that no matter where we go, no matter the time, we can make a business call or talk to our friends and family. For those of us who still remember rotary phones this innovation is truly extraordinary. By and large, such technological developments have been a benefit to our society and our economy.

Read more here.