The Federal Land Freedom Act: Putting States in the Driver’s Seat

This Wednesday, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and Representative Diane Black (R-TN) introduced the Federal Land Freedom Act of 2013. This important piece of legislation would allow state control of energy resources on federal lands.  America has harnessed technological advances in recent years in drilling and extracting energy resources that have caused a surge in domestic oil and gas in several areas of the country.  It is noteworthy that most of that production has occurred on private and state-owned lands, not federal lands where output has been on decline. 

Heritage’s Nick Loris describes the benefits of transferring power to the states over their own energy decisions.  States have an interest in both boosting their economies by tapping into the energy resources available to them and protecting the environment.  More importantly, they are best suited to fulfill these two goals, not the federal government.

Furthermore, Loris explains, the legislation would allocate more authority to the states to control their own energy future.  Why is this so essential?   Much of the growth in domestic and oil and gas production has occurred on private and state-owned lands while oil and gas output on federal lands has been in decline. This legislation reflects that reality, rather than the political motivations in D.C.

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An Internet Tax Would Anger Americans and Alienate Young People

Last week, a gathering of conservative lawmakers and conservative groups including Heritage Action’s CEO Michael Needham discussed why the misnamed Marketplace Fairness Act, better known as the Internet sales tax (IST), is a terrible idea and should not even be considered by the House.  This conservative position was amplified by a fresh Gallup poll showing an overwhelming majority of Americans (57% to 39%) would vote against an Internet sales tax.

As you dig into that data even further, you quickly notice 18-29 years old are against the IST by a margin of 73-27. Gallup notes in their analysis that “If Republicans in the House oppose the Internet sales tax bill, that may help the GOP’s appeal to younger Americans, a key demographic in the party’s plan to build support before the 2014 and 2016 elections.”

At the press conference on Tuesday, our CEO Mike Needham and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) spent time highlighting a generational gap that Heritage Action noted from the Senate approval of the Internet sales tax in May.  All seven Republican Senators age 50 and under voted against the Marketplace Fairness Act: Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), 44; Ted Cruz (R-TX), 42; Jeff Flake (R-AZ), 50; Mike Lee (R-UT), 41; Rand Paul (R-KY), 50; Marco Rubio (R-FL), 41; Tim Scott (R-SC), 47. 

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Want Jobs? Approve Keystone

Today, the House of Representatives will consider the Northern Route Approval Act (H.R.3), sponsored by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE). The Obama administration has been holding up a decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline for an extended period of time, and it is about time the fundamentally sound pipeline should be part of American’s energy equation.  It should be approved.

Yet, according to the White House budget office, the president has already threatened to veto the bill simply “because H.R. 3 seeks to circumvent and proven processes for determining whether cross-border pipelines are in the national interest by removing the Presidential Permitting requirement for they Keystone XL pipeline project.”  In other words, the president is more concerned with maintaining control than in truly doing what is in the national best interest.

As Heritage’s Nick Loris has noted, Rep. Terry’s bill “does what The Heritage Foundation has been saying since the project turned from a decision about a pipeline to a political football. Since the State Department’s first environmental review concluded the Keystone XL pipeline would have no significant environmental impact, it would be a good idea for Congress to authorize the pipeline application submitted by TransCanada pursuant to its authority to regulate commerce with other nations.”

Furthermore, it isn’t as if this issue is only being trumpeted by House and Senate Republicans.  Previous House bills have passed with the support of 69 Democrats.  In March, during the Senate Budget Resolution vote-a-rama, a non-binding budget amendment vote approved the project’s construction by a 62-37 margin that included 15 Democrats.

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Internet Tax: It’s A Generational Thing

Last week, the Senate approved the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act, more commonly known as the Internet sales tax. Proponents tried to paint the vote as evidence of overwhelming support for the bill. That is simply not the case, though.  As you dig deeper in to the numbers, it becomes apparent the push from big government and big government special interests was losing momentum.

On the final vote, a majority of Republicans voted against the Internet sales tax, splitting 22-21. Furthermore, the appearance of an age demographic split amongst supporters and opponents signals an uphill battle in the younger, more conservative House.

All seven Republican Senators age 50 and under voted against the Marketplace Fairness Act:  Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), 44;  Ted Cruz (R-TX), 42;  Jeff Flake (R-AZ), 50; Mike Lee (R-UT), 41 Rand Paul (R-KY), 50; Marco Rubio (R-FL), 41; Tim Scott (R-SC), 47.  In the House, 79 of the 233 Republicans are age 50 or under.

Twelve of thirteen Senate Republicans age 55 and under voted against the Marketplace Fairness Act.  In the House, there are 118 Republicans – more than half the conference – are age 55 or under.

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Vitter and Pompeo: Carbon Tax…Just Say No

In the bubble of the Washington Beltway, key players are eager to stem the so-called “fiscal cliff.”  Meanwhile, various special interests continue the murmur of using a “carbon tax” as part of the negotiations, or to use as a revenue raiser (i.e., tax increase) within the context of future tax reform.

Yesterday, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS), incoming ranking member of the important Senate Environment & Public Works Committee and member Energy & Commerce Committee respectfully, plan to introduce a concurrent resolution in both chambers expressing the sense of Congress “that a carbon tax is not in the economic interests of the United States.”

As Senator Vitter notes, “There’s a lot of talk in Washington about raising taxes, and finding ‘revenues’ in creative ways, to avoid going over the fiscal cliff. But a carbon tax — which would force more financial hardship upon family budgets, energy consumers and jobs seekers — needs to be completely taken off the table.” And Congressman Pompeo stated “A carbon tax would be disastrous to our nation’s economy by driving up energy prices and increasing the cost of everything built in America, as well consumer goods purchased by every American.”

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