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Biden’s Climate Policies Are Bad for Black America

If you think high energy costs are hard on the middle class, imagine how they affect those struggling to reach the middle class.

As the Biden administration marches on with its energy price-boosting climate agenda, it is disproportionately hurting the most economically vulnerable Americans and stifling their dreams of a better future.

In the current economy, people are doing worse than living paycheck to paycheck — they have to borrow to make it to that next payday! And the sad reality is that policies that raise energy prices have many of the same corrosive effects that the Jim Crow laws of America’s hurtful past had in keeping black families down.

Ironically, the administration fancies itself the champion of minorities. Instead of putting energy affordability first, as is recommended by Project 21’s “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America,” it has gone in the opposite direction by declaring war on domestic fossil fuels to fight climate change. Its answer for these communities is so-called “environmental justice” initiatives that assume struggling minorities want more environmental regulations rather than less.

Unaffordable energy costs can no longer be viewed as just an economic issue. It has become a human civil right issue. According to the latest Census Bureau data, the median income for Black families ranged from $48,297 nationally to $20,961 in Detroit. That means families are living off a monthly income of $1,700 to $3,000 at a time when gas prices in Michigan hit a high of $5.20 a gallon and winter heating bills are setting records. This is on top of the heavy effect on energy-dependent industries such as farming, transportation and manufacturing, which are evident in increased costs for food and other service industry offerings.

Despite the most recent inflation reduction numbers, most families across the country are experiencing year-over-year prices up at a minimum of 50 percent on all products at their grocery stores. This is self-inflicted pain unleashed on the American people by the administration, which even proudly announced America would feel some pain while transitioning to their green energy agenda. The only problem is that this pain includes human tragedies. Needless to say, the decline in the standard of living in so many low-income and minority communities can only be described as a Third World existence.

Environmentalists talk about a climate catastrophe, but what about the human one? Much is said about the environmental effects and the need to save the planet, but very little is said about the economic effects of government remedies on human beings.

According to a U.S. Energy Information Administration study, one-third of American households struggle to pay their energy bills. One in five households report having to reduce or forego necessities like food or medicine to pay for heat and light. Tragically, the statistics are nearly double for low-income and minority households.

To make matters worse, this study is several years old and needs to reflect the energy prices experienced by Americans today.

But what’s even more damaging than the immediate economic effect of high electric and natural gas bills and expensive fill-ups at the gas pump are the barriers created to upward mobility. In so many ways, plentiful and affordable domestic energy is part of the ticket out of poverty and dependence. For example, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Black community is evident in the proliferation of Black-owned small businesses during boom times. These businesses struggle and sometimes fail under the weight of expensive energy. 

Costly energy also means fewer industrial jobs that have historically led to the emergence of a vibrant Black middle class. Without these blue-collar gateway jobs, low-income and minority communities have fewer options to earn what is needed for homeownership and decrease the racial wealth gap.

The energy industry has long been a source of many well-paying jobs for Blacks looking to move up the socioeconomic ladder. In fact, the Department of Energy expanded job-training programs for more minorities to take advantage of the opportunities created by the fracking revolution. But these opportunities are now being reduced by a president promising to kill the American oil and natural gas sector and who spent the last two years doing all he can to make good on that promise. Yet he’s saying his concern for Black opportunity is the reason!

Worst of all, every extra penny poor families spend on expensive energy is a penny that cannot be saved for homeownership, educational advancement or other things that can help lift up the next generation.

It should be obvious that poverty — not pollution — is a greater threat. But the Biden agenda is willfully blind to this reality.

However, there may be some light on the horizon. Recently, I was invited to address members of the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce. There was remarkable engagement with this group of representatives. If this is a sign of where the new Congress is headed, we may have a bright future.

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O’NEILL: Will Biden Continue to Weaponize the Department of Justice?

Before the election, President Biden declared that the Department of Justice would assign federal observers in 64 jurisdictions to look out for violations of the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws. In theory, these individuals were tasked with protecting the integrity of the electoral system. But their deployment was another example of federal resources being weaponized by an administration bent on suppressing opponents.

Rather than investigating the hundreds of billions of dollars stolen by crypto-fraudsters or stemming the tide of fentanyl flowing through our borders, Justice officials stood ready on Election Day to pounce on incidents of “voter intimidation.”  

These occurrences — no matter how isolated or minor — would then be used to support the false narrative that conservatives represent a grave threat to democracy. It didn’t matter that Election Day came and went with nary a whiff of so-called right-wing extremists seeking to unduly influence voters; the left needed to continue to feed their narrative that conservatives represent an existential threat to our country.

We’ve seen this play before. Last year, the National School Boards Association sent a letter to Biden alleging that parents appearing before school board meetings posed a threat. Soon after, Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered all 93 U.S. attorneys to hold meetings with local law enforcement to address the issue. The NSBA used the term “domestic terrorism” to describe the “threats” faced by school officials, and the administration jumped at the chance to attack those who opposed their agenda.

Within weeks, DOJ officials held meetings with law enforcement officials at all levels. Federal, state and local police all convened to determine what role the federal government would play in ensuring the “domestic terrorists” would face justice. A special interest close to the president had demanded action and mobilized hundreds of law-enforcement personnel, including the attorney general and deputy attorney general.

And what threats were uncovered at these meetings? In short, absolutely nothing.

Records released under a Freedom of Information Act request from Landmark Legal Foundation show local and state officials repeatedly telling DOJ that federal intervention was unnecessary and that local police presence ensured safety for all attendees at school board meetings.

In a few isolated incidents, federal resources had been used to investigate reported threats. In Georgia, for example, the Joint Terrorism Task Force deployed to examine what ultimately turned out to be a hoax rather than an actual threat directed at school officials. No matter. The NSBA and the administration had used the pretext of threats to intimidate their political enemies.

Involving the DOJ and deploying the Joint Terrorism Task Force to investigate strictly local matters like school board meetings only chills the free-speech rights of parents. Assigning DOJ observers to designated voter precincts to watch over citizen observers again treats law-abiding citizens as the problem. That parents never threatened school boards and that poll watchers never sought to intimidate voters didn’t matter. 

Look for this administration to continue to use federal law enforcement to shut down their political opponents and stifle dissent.

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DelVal Dems Silent on Biden Admin’s ‘Disinformation Board’

The Delaware Valley’s Republican Congressman says he is concerned about the potential abuse of the Biden administration’s new Disinformation Governance Board (DBG) while the Democrats in the delegation declined to comment.

The new entity, set up by Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) , says its mission is to confront “disinformation that threatens the security of the American people, including disinformation spread by foreign states such as Russia, China, and Iran, or other adversaries such as transnational criminal organizations and human smuggling organizations.”

However, the lack of specificity about its powers and reach, along with the appointment of a partisan Democrat — Nina Jankowicz— to oversee the board has raised red flags about the DGB’s potential dangers. (The initials “DGB,” so close to “KGB,” aren’t helping, critics have noted.)

During testimony before Congress, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas insisted the DGB “does not infringe on people’s free speech rights, rights to privacy, civil rights and civil liberties.”

However, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr called it “Orwellian,” “un-American” and “unconstitutional.”

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) also sees problems.

“I am strongly opposed to the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board. DHS’s primary mission should remain focused on securing the border, countering terrorism, and protecting our cyberspace and infrastructure,” said Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks). “I am concerned that this new board with vague authorities could be misused as a political tool and will ultimately undermine the American people’s confidence in our government.”

An aide to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) told DVJournal, “Sen. Toomey believes in protecting the freedom of speech of all Americans. Based on the information available, and like many Americans, the senator believes the disinformation board raises serious red flags, such as what the actual purpose of the board is and whether concerns that the board could be weaponized against American citizens for political purposes are in fact true.”

Campaigns for two of the Republican candidates running to replace Toomey, who is retiring, agreed.

Brittany Yanick, a spokesperson for Dr. Mehmet Oz, said, “This is absolutely un-American and an attack on Americans’ First Amendment rights. Pennsylvanians need a bold, conservative voice in the U.S. Senate that will defend our freedoms and stand up for future generations by opposing Joe Biden’s disastrous policies, and Dr. Oz will do just that.”

Dave McCormick campaign spokesperson Jess Szymanski said, “Dave supports the first amendment and the freedom of speech and has always valued and promoted a free market of ideas. Biden’s board limiting free speech is another very concerning move by the extreme left to censor conservatives.”

Pennsylvania Democrats, however, were largely silent.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) also failed to respond to a request for comment, as did the three Democratic congresswomen who represent parts of the Delaware Valley: Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (Chester/Berks), Madeleine Dean (Montgomery), and Mary Gay Scanlon (Delaware Co.).

And, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the frontrunner on the Democratic side for the Senate nomination, did not respond when the Delaware Valley Journal asked him to comment.

However, during a recent appearance in Philadelphia, Rep. Conor Lamb, another Democrat running for the Senate, said he agrees “with the intent” of the new board.

“I need to understand better how it’s going to work on a day-to-day level,” said Lamb. “I agree with the intent, which is to try to take aggressive measures against all the lies and disinformation that are in our society. Obviously, we value the First Amendment very much in our party.”

Jankowicz, the “Mary Poppins of disinformation” has a long record of spreading political falsehoods, according to media reports, including repeatedly endorsing the now-discredited “Russiagate” conspiracy. She also claimed, incorrectly, that the Hunter Biden laptop, whose contents were first reported by the New York Post in 2020  should be viewed as a ” Trump campaign product.”

Progressive journalist Glenn Greenwald writes, “There is no conceivable circumstance in which a domestic law enforcement agency like DHS should be claiming the power to decree truth and falsity.”

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MIXON: New Biden Policy a Step Backward for Asylum Seekers

I don’t have time to write this. Immigration lawyers like me around the country don’t have time. For those of us representing immigrant families who have arrived in the US in the last eight to 10 years seeking asylum from violence and persecution, those families still fighting their cases in immigration court. What we have is an obligation to keep families here at all costs and prevent deportation.

On April 3, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published guidance to the attorneys representing DHS. The guidance instructs DHS attorneys to use prosecutorial discretion to dismiss thousands of cases, mostly asylum cases, in immigration court, prioritizing for dismissal immigrants who crossed the border before November 1, 2020, and who are not a threat to national security or public safety.

The Biden Administration wants to decrease the “backlog” of cases to make room in the system for people who may enter in the next few months. American Immigration Lawyers Association recently estimated that there are about 700,000 low or nonpriority cases in the current immigration court “backlog.”

Sounds good on the face of it, but the devil is in the details. Here’s the problem – the Biden administration has decided that it is better to dismiss or terminate the low priority cases and leave immigrants in the US WITHOUT work permits or Social Security numbers. In other words, they will stay here but become part of the underground economy.

People who have had work permits for 6-8 years while they wait for a decision in their asylum or other immigration court case will lose work permits. When an immigrant loses their work permit, they also lose access to a driver’s license, their ability to pay taxes, register their children for college and complete the FAFSA for student loan eligibility. They will be vulnerable to unscrupulous employers, consumer fraud and criminals who see them as defenseless without “papers.”

What makes this decision to take away work permits more unconscionable is that there is a ready-made solution that worked just fine during the Obama Administration. It is called Administrative Closure.

An immigrant whose case is administratively closed continues to have their case in the immigration court, but with no future hearing date. The case is removed from the court’s active workload. The TRAC research center of Syracuse University calculated 69,355 immigration court cases closed using Administrative Closure as a form of prosecutorial discretion between 2012 and 2017. To no one’s surprise, the program ended with the Trump Administration.

In December 2021, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated that he did not favor Administrative Closure. He wanted cases dismissed outright so that they would be permanently off the court’s docket. Mayorkas has no authority over the immigration courts; they are part of the Department of Justice. DHS does have to maintain and store the files for Administratively Closed cases, but it is hard to imagine this creates any significant hardship.

So, when DHS’s Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) Chief Kerry Doyle published guidance strongly favoring dismissal instead of Administrative Closure, she is following her boss’s lead. In an engagement webinar with immigration attorneys on April 5, 2022, she commented that the problem of work permits is “not in our lane.”

Apparently, the top priority for President Biden’s DHS team is to close cases at all costs. The Biden administration seems more concerned about counting beans, decreasing the official “backlog” of 700,000 cases, than the real cost in human terms.

It would have been so easy for the Biden administration to explain to press outlets and the public that administratively closed cases do not count as part of the immigration court “backlog” since they are not active cases.

It would have been so easy to avoid telling immigrants they must hide in the shadows again and can’t renew a work permit or social security number.

Now, the Biden administration wants me to be a part of their “solution.” They want me to encourage my clients not to object when the government asks to dismiss the case [DHS retains the right to dismiss cases even against the request of the immigrant and it may come to that].

Now, I must explain the pros and cons of dismissal to my clients, or at least try to explain. Dismissal will save them from the immediate threat of deportation, but it does not grant them any status. They will lose their work permits and go into the shadows with the other approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US. It will be hard for them to see this as anything other than a significant step backwards.

Welcome to America.

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Most in Delaware Valley Give Mask Mandates a Thumbs Down

Plane loads of people rejoiced when they learned a Trump-appointed federal judge struck down the mask mandate on planes, trains, and buses Monday.

But the Biden administration’s Department of Justice plans to appeal that ruling.

“Once again, the Biden Administration defaults to government overreach and fighting for forced mandates, rather than trusting Americans to make smart decisions on their own, or actually trying to lead people in a certain direction,” said Christian Nascimento, a Republican running for Congress in Montgomery County. “I was actually on a flight when the announcement came over that the airline would no longer enforce the mask mandate. Passengers broke into applause.”

At Philadelphia’s airport, people must wear masks inside, as required by the city’s latest mask mandate, but they can remove them once they are on their plane.

Heather Redfern, airport public affairs manager, said, “While our airline partners are no longer requiring masks on planes, a current City of Philadelphia Department of Health mandate requires everyone to wear a face mask in public indoor settings in the city…Enforcement includes signage and employees reminding passengers and staff of the city’s mandate. The airport has free masks available for all that need them.”

If the Biden administration is counting on support from Pennsylvania’s elected officials, it will be disappointed.

Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Pa.) spokeswoman said he was “part of a bipartisan majority who voted to strike this mask mandate down.”

“We are at a place where those who want to be vaccinated can be readily vaccinated,” said Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks). “We are at a place where people have educated themselves on the benefits of masking. And we are at a place where our schools, businesses, offices, and services are open. Because we have done the work over the past two years to successfully allocate federal resources to provide things like therapeutics, tests, vaccines, boosters, and masks to our community, I’m not supportive of a mask mandate at this time.”

She also said she is “continuing to push for bipartisan COVID funding” and plans to keep wearing her mask and getting tested.

Guy Ciarrocchi, one of the Republicans running in the May 17 primary to oppose Houlahan in November, said, “Biden’s decision to appeal this ruling is outrageous. Mandating masks in April 2022 defies science and common sense. Moreover, it shows how out-of-touch he is. I call on Congresswoman Houlahan to join with me in demanding that Biden drop this appeal.  If they won’t stop this madness, I will be part of the next Republican Congress that will.”

“I think it is complete nonsense,” said Ron Vogel, another Republican in the 6th District primary. “The only good thing that has happened in this country since Joe Biden has been in charge is that the mask mandate was lifted.  It was lifted because President Donald Trump appointed a judge with the courage to do it.  My opponent, Chrissy Houlahan, is anti-science. She supports all of the draconian mandates and lockdowns. Earlier this week, she held a town hall that ignored the science. She specifically picked a venue that required everyone to show a vaccine card in order to enter.”

Former Ambassador Carla Sands, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, cited a 2020 Danish study that showed no statistical difference between wearing and not wearing masks.

“I am opposed to any mandates. I think they’re unconstitutional. I think people need to read and educate themselves and make the best decision for themselves,” Sands said during a Delaware Valley Journal podcast.

“Dave is vehemently opposed to government vaccine and mask mandates and supports the rights of individuals to make decisions that best suit their unique situation. What we’re seeing in Philadelphia and elsewhere to reinstate mask mandates shows that science has been replaced by woke virtue signaling,” said David McCormick campaign spokesperson Jess Szymanski. The Republican is also running for the U.S. Senate.

“Biden promised to ‘follow the science’ back in September. But his policies smell of virtue-signaling rather than pragmatic policy-making,” said GOP Senate candidate Kathy Barnette. “We have children wearing masks on busses but not in school, families wearing them to board the plane but not during the flight, people putting on and taking off masks as they cross jurisdictions, and the government coercing private companies into maintaining mandates which have no documented relationship to health concerns.

“The bottom line is that these mandates are a means of control, not responsible health policy.  The judge is right to reject them, and the administration just can’t bear the idea that they don’t get to tell us what to do,” she said.

And Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is running for the Senate, told Greg Kelly on Newsmax TV Wednesday surgical masks should be changed every few hours and worn correctly to be effective.

“I don’t think (masks) make a difference on planes…50 percent of the air on a plane comes from outside the plane. There is no COVID at 35,000 feet, and the rest of the air is purified so cleanly it’s better than being at home,” said Oz.

David Galluch, a Republican running to oust Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia), said, “Vaccines and natural immunity provide highly significant protection against COVID for the vast majority of Americans. The recent ruling doesn’t preclude people from wearing a mask. It simply gives Americans a choice. Those who have underlying conditions, are at risk, or are concerned about contracting COVID should continue to do what they feel is best for their health and safety after consulting a medical professional. But I believe it’s time Americans have a choice when it comes to masking.”

Several DelVal residents posted their thoughts on Facebook.

Walter Plotnick of Elkins Park said, “Personally, being sandwiched shoulder to shoulder with often sneezing, coughing members of the general public unmasked in recycled air is a deal-breaker for me.”

But, others disagreed.

Cheltenham resident Dawn Pitts Tollett Johnston said, “I fly a lot and am thrilled that the mask mandate will be lifted. The air is not stale. It’s filtered and recirculated continuously. So yes, I am perfectly comfortable with flying. I refuse to live my life in fear.”

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Greyhound said masks are now optional on buses except when crossing into Canada or Mexico or disembarking in a local municipality that requires them.

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PA Pols Respond to Pain at the Pump

Average gasoline prices in Pennsylvania hit $4.42/gallon last week, an all-time high. That is $1.40 a gallon higher than a year ago, according to GasBuddy. It is not, however, the most costly gas per gallon when adjusted for inflation. That happened when gas hit $4.11 on July 17, 2008 — or about $5.25 in today’s dollars.

The highest nominal price today is under Democratic President Joe Biden. The highest in real dollars was under Republican Presidents George W. Bush. And there were wild swings in gas prices during the terms of Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Fairly or unfairly, presidents tend to get blamed when gas prices rise. According to energy reporter Robert Rapier at, “The macro factors involving oil prices are far greater than the impacts from the decisions a president makes. A president can try to move the markets but those impacts are fleeting.”

But that gives little solace to Delaware Valley residents, who have taken to Facebook to express their feelings about pain at the pump.

“My corner Wawa just went up .26 cents overnight. It is now $4.459 per gallon. Home heating oil is up over $2 per gallon since August 2021. And the president wants everyone to go back (to) working at their office building instead of working at home? He is a joke!” said Philadelphia resident Andy Grant.

Elyse Fels, a Cheltenham resident, said, “It is what it is – I’ll handle it – hopefully it’s not forever!”

“If everyone drove a hybrid we wouldn’t need foreign oil,” said Radnor resident John Fisher.

And Sara Pilling of Bryn Mawr said, “I’m gloating, as I bought a Toyota Prius plug-in, get 125 mpg, yet continue to conserve in my driving!”

Not surprisingly, Pennsylvania’s political candidates are promising to act.

In a recent interview with ABC27, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democratic candidate for governor said, “Energy prices are up this year and will likely keep rising. “I want Pennsylvanians to know that there is help available for everyone and that we are going to do all we can to make sure that these resources remain available to Pennsylvanians over the spring and summer.”

Shapiro proposed elimination of the cell phone tax, expanding real estate and rent tax rebates, and sending gasoline tax rebates to Pennsylvania drivers.

Former U.S. Attorney and Republican candidate for governor, Bill McSwain, agreed the solution is to increase domestic manufacturing, though he blamed the Biden administration for much of our current predicament.

“Sky-rocketing gas prices are a direct result of President Biden’s weak leadership and disastrous energy policies. We should not be dependent on countries that hate us, and it is wrong and immoral for Biden to beg foreign nations to produce more oil rather than increasing production domestically,” McSwain said.

“As governor, I will harness the full potential of Pennsylvania’s energy resgources to eliminate our reliance on foreign oil and create thousands of jobs for hard-working Pennsylvanians. I will also call for a permanent and drastic reduction of the crippling state gas tax put in place by Harrisburg career politicians and supported by many of my opponents in this race.”

Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf has agreed with McSwain that the gas tax should be removed. The question is what should replace it.

Democratic senatorial candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, speaking live from the pump while he was filling his truck said, “People are getting squeezed whether folks want to call it inflation or not…but there is a solution, and it would solve more than gas prices…. We need to use American energy to make American energy cheaper for American workers…We should do more manufacturing right here in America and create more jobs here to drive down prices… It should be common sense that we can lower prices if we make more sh*t in America and here in Pennsylvania. We don’t need to be outsourcing any more jobs to China.”

Republican Senate candidate Dave McCormick blamed the Biden administration.

“The record-high gas prices we’re seeing today have been a year in the making thanks to Joe Biden’s terrible energy policies,” said McCormick. “From killing the Keystone XL pipeline to banning new federal natural gas and oil leases to the regulatory blanket he placed across our energy sector that’s chilled capital investment, Joe Biden has hamstrung American energy production which has invited Putin’s aggression and skyrocketed prices at the pump for all Pennsylvanians.”

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PA’s Garrity Calls Out Biden Banking Pick: She’s a Danger to Energy Jobs

Pennsylvania State Treasurer Stacy Garrity joined the growing list of Republicans calling on President Joe Biden to withdraw his nominee for a top Federal Reserve post. 

Many Republicans believe Sarah Bloom Raskin, Biden’s pick to become the Fed’s top banking regulator, is too extreme for the job. On Wednesday, a group of 48 congressional Republicans sent a letter to the White House asking Biden to pull Raskin’s nomination as vice-chair of supervision, warning her past statements indicated she would “irreparably politicize the Federal Reserve and destroy what remains of its credibility and independence.”

Two weeks ago, Garrity joined a group of state financial officers who released their own letter expressing reservations.

“We oppose Ms. Raskin’s radical banking and economic views and are deeply concerned that she would use the supervisory authority as Vice-Chair for Supervision at the Federal Reserve Bank to disrupt the private banking sector, reliable energy supplies, and the U.S. economy,” the state financial officers wrote.

Republicans charge that acting on her progressive climate change views would result in severe job losses in the petroleum, natural gas, and coal industries. Democrats say the job losses are countered by those that would be created in the green energy sector or jobs would be lost anyway due to the continuing climate crisis that they believe confronts the world.

Stacy Garrity

“The nominee is a risk to reliable energy companies and the millions of people who are employed by them here in Pennsylvania and across the country,” Garrity said. [Raskin] has claimed that the fossil fuel industry is a dying industryand actively worked against it. Meanwhile, the Energy Information Administrations preliminary data for 2020 show that energy produced from petroleum, natural gas, and coal accounted for about 79 percent of total U.S. primary energy production.

“These energy industries are critical to our nations economy, and its clear that Ms. Raskin is not the right person to serve in this position. If President Biden doesnt withdraw the nomination, the Senate should swiftly reject it,” Garrity added.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) had similar objections to Raskin.

Todays hearing is not just about vetting [Biden’s nominees], its really about the Feds independence and whether or not were going to abandon a core part of our democracy,” Toomey said.

Democrats argued many of these attacks have been overblown and are politically motivated.

We have seen a coordinated effort by some to paint her as a radical… that characterization requires a suspension of common sense,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Many of the objections to Raskin stem from a New York Times piece she wrote in 2020 entitled, “Why Is the Fed Spending So Much Money on a Dying Industry?”

“The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare just how vulnerable the United States is to sudden, catastrophic shocks. Climate change poses the next big threat. Ignoring it, particularly to the benefit of fossil fuel interests, is a risk we cant afford,” she wrote. 

In the article, she lays out how she thinks the fossil fuel industries had fallen short of addressing the climate crisis and accrued impossible amounts of debt as they continued to expand, often without turning a profit. She argued continuing to fund those industries “undermines urgent efforts to counter surging carbon dioxide and methane emissions, which are bringing us closer to the catastrophe of an unliveably hot planet.”

Not all Republicans consider that line of thinking controversial.

“Among the future trends that will impact our national security is climate change,” said Republican former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. When retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis took office as secretary of defense, he urged the armed forces to battle the effects of global climate change.

Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” Mattis said in written testimony addressed to the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2017. He claimed that, “While Trump downplayed the problem, his Pentagon quietly continued to follow a ‘climate change adaptation roadmap’ to protect against catastrophic storms that put coastal bases at tremendous risk.”

The Republican criticism that addressing these concerns would have serious economic ramifications is serious. In their letter to Biden, Garrity and the other fiscal officers explained that they feared Raskin “would use the supervisory authority as vice-chair for supervision at the Federal Reserve Bank to disrupt the private banking sector, reliable energy supplies, and the U.S. economy.”

To switch to a fully green economy would be an enormous undertaking and might ultimately cost millions of jobs in the fossil fuel sectors. Still, many progressive Democrats fear that the time for politics as usual in confronting the climate issue has ended and demand action.

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In Senate Debate, Dems Take Aim at Republicans, Not Each Other

U.S. Senate candidates at a forum at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia last week criticized Republicans and not each other.

Although Rev.  Alyn Waller said he invited all the candidates of both parties who are running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Toomey (R), only three Democrats came: Montgomery County Commissioners Chair Dr. Val Arkoosh, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) and Congressman Conor Lamb (D-Beaver).

The three answered questions submitted by area Black clergy and one by moderator Sharrie Williams, a co-anchor for Channel 6ABC. Williams asked them what they would do if elected about record levels of homicide and violent crime in Philadelphia. None of the three mentioned any culpability for DA Larry Krasner, a progressive Democrat.

Instead, Lamb, a former federal prosecutor under the Obama administration, spoke about passing laws to restrict gun ownership.

“Guns are multiplying fast in our society. We have 400 million…The least we can do is make sure the people that possess them actually qualify to have them under the law,” he said. Lamb also supports spending more money on community programs to try to curb violence and “direct interventions” with young people who are “most at risk” for violence. He would also like to target more federal dollars on preventing gun crime and less on prosecuting drug crimes.

“The DEA gets three times what the ATF does,” said Lamb.

Congressman Conor Lamb

Kenyatta mentioned violence in his neighborhood.

“I’m going to go home tonight to my home in north Philadelphia. It’s probably likely I could hear gunshots ring out.” There have been “folks tragically cut down blocks from my home,” he said.

“We cannot have another year in Philadelphia where we’ve had 550 people murdered on our streets and more who were shot but survived. The first thing we have to treat this like the emergency that it is,” he said.

He has asked Gov. Tom Wolf to declare gun crime an emergency “as we did with the opioid crisis.” He would also like to see more laws regulating gun ownership.

“So many of the weapons that ended up being used in a gun homicide were weapons that did not belong to the person who did the shooting,” he said. “Dealing with lost and stolen weapons, trying to get to the root cause of the consistent straw purchasing that we’re seeing, is critical.”

The state has also “released millions into the hands of organizations to disrupt gun violence,” he added. The other factor to reduce crime and violence is to end poverty, he said, explaining that if people have good jobs, kids are in good schools, and families have houses, that would reduce violence.

“We need to treat gun violence as the public health crisis it is,” said Arkoosh. She would like to see what she called background check “loopholes closed, and she would like to keep those charged with domestic violence or at risk for suicide from legally owning guns. She also opposes ownership of “military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”

“I don’t see any use for weapons like that on our streets,” said Arkoosh. She also favors more after-school programs and mentorship to keep kids on the right track.

Their comments echo those of President Joe Biden and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who blame America’s gun laws for the recent surge in crime. Academics note that while gun sales did rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is not a significant change in the number of guns today versus three years ago when gun crime rates were lower.

Asked about the role of senators in approving federal judges and Supreme Court justices, Kenyatta said, “Right now we have a radical, conservative Supreme Court that is out of control, out of control.” He supports increasing the number of judges on the court to give it a liberal majority — a practice known as “court-packing.” However, he praised the judges who have been appointed Biden.

“We need to suss out and extinguish this conservative judicial philosophy that believes money is equal to speech and any corporation or wealthy person in society can spend as much as they want on politics in the name of speech. That is ruining our politics,” said Lamb.

Montgomery County Commissioners Chair Valerie Arkoosh

Arkoosh said the Supreme Court now is in a “very fragile place” and that matters coming before it that should be handled legislatively.

“Washington is so broken that somebody like Mitch McConnell can not only steal a Supreme Court seat but he can block all this other legislation from ever even getting to a vote. And my pledge to you, if I am your next United States Senator there will be hell to pay if Mitch McConnell or anyone else tries to steal a Supreme Court justice seat.

“And of course, I will be a vote against the filibuster so we can move on this critical legislation,” she added.

Kenyatta and Lamb also pledged to do away with the filibuster.

During her opening remarks, Arkoosh brought up the recent hostage crisis at the synagogue in Texas.

“We must speak out with one voice against antisemitism, which has no place in our commonwealth and our country, just as racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Asian hatred have no place in our society,” said Arkoosh.

Kenyatta said, “In this moment in this campaign we should answer a simple question. Who should government work for? I know my answer: It should work for working families like mine and so many others.”

He promised to focus on inequity.

“I’ve been all across this commonwealth, folks get it. But I will tell you who doesn’t get it so often: the 100 folks in the Senate who don’t know anything about what we’re going to talk about today,” said Kenyatta.

Lamb touted his electability, saying that he won twice in a red district that had elected Trump and that as a congressman he has sought out the advice of his African American constituents.

“I will never make false promises to the Black community. I will do my best to speak to you about the achievable, the doable,” said Lamb, who touted Biden’s Build Back Better bill, which passed the House but has not made it through the Senate.

All three supported the “Freedom to Vote Act,” the proposal to override state election laws and impose federal rules on voting. The proposal was defeated in the Senate last week when an effort to end the filibuster was defeated in a bipartisan vote, 48-52.

“Republicans are working every day to disenfranchise Black and Brown voters and doing everything they can to reduce the voter confidence in the election process,” Arkoosh claimed. “We need to make it easier to vote.” She suggested making Election Day a national holiday and allowing people to register on Election Day. She also said voting by mail “worked incredibly well in Pennsylvania.”

Kenyatta said that in the state legislature he fought Republican efforts to audit the 2020 election and used community organizing techniques to turn out protestors at Senate Pro Tempore Jake Corman’s house.

And Lamb accused Republicans of trying to “limit the right of people to vote” in Houston, Texas, and that they “looked at ways people of color vote and targeted them.”

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Garrity Joins Other State Financial Officers in Opposition to Biden Nominee

Calling her views “out of line with American principles,” Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity joined with 21 other state fiscal officers from 18 states asking President Joe Biden to abandon his progressive nominee for the Office of Comptroller of the Currency.

“The nominee has repeatedly expressed views that are completely out of line with American economic principles,” Garrity said. “She has said that she wants to ‘end banking as we know it’ – and earlier this year claimed that we should want the natural gas, oil, and coal industries to ‘go bankrupt’ in order to address climate change. It’s clear that she is not the right person to serve as Comptroller of the Currency. If President Biden doesn’t withdraw the nomination, the Senate should reject it.”

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is responsible for chartering, regulating, and supervising all national banks.

In a letter to the president, Garrity and the other fiscal officers wrote they “are opposed to Ms. Omarova because of her radical views and have a deep concern that she would abuse her supervisory power as Comptroller to expand political control over the private banking sector, disrupting the economy. … Omarova’s professed worldview is incompatible with the free market and is therefore disqualifying.”

Saule Omarova

The letter further noted, “We share the general belief that the U.S. Senate should defer to the president on most nominees, but not one who has made such reckless and irresponsible comments regarding the institutions and system she would regulate. We hereby call upon you to withdraw this nomination on the grounds that Omarova’s professed worldview is incompatible with the free market and is therefore disqualifying.

Garrity joined treasurers and other fiscal officers from Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming in calling for Biden to withdraw the nomination.

They are not alone. As Delaware Valley Journal has previously reported, the graduate of Russia’s Moscow State Univerity is opposed by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more radical choice for any regulatory spot in our federal government,” Toomey said. “I know that is a very sweeping statement to make. I think I can stand by it.”


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‘Build Back Better’ Plan Includes Higher Costs for Heating Oil, Natural Gas

Environmental activists call it a “methane fee.” The energy industry calls it a “natural gas tax.” Either way, Pennsylvania consumers are likely to feel the effects in their pocketbooks.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on its version of the budget reconciliation bill — also known as the “Build Back Better” bill — which includes increased fees on methane emissions. Methane is a byproduct of oil and natural gas production, and as a result, the fee would be an increase in the cost of production.

Environmentalists say reducing methane is essential to the fight against climate change. At the COP26 meeting in Scotland last week, the United States announced it will participate in the Global Methane Pledge to cut methane emissions 30 percent by 2030.

“Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere,” says Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on its website. “Even though CO2 has a longer-lasting effect, methane sets the pace for warming in the near term.”

As National Geographic reports, “Whereas carbon dioxide persists for centuries, most methane converts to carbon dioxide or gets cycled out of the atmosphere within about a decade.”

Meanwhile, two of the world’s biggest methane emitters — China nor Russia — refused to sign the Global Methane Pledge.

And energy producers point to America’s surging costs to heat their homes this winter and the wider inflation problem as evidence this is the wrong time to add costs to consumers’ utility bills.

“This is nothing more than a tax on natural gas at a time when policymakers should be focused on solutions that support affordable, reliable energy while reducing emissions,” says API Senior Vice President of Policy, Economics and Regulatory Affairs Frank Macchiarola.

“We must continue to drive down methane emissions without adding new burdens on American families and businesses,” added said Karen Harbert, President and CEO of the American Gas Association. “Our analysis indicates that the proposed tax could increase natural gas bills from 12 percent to 34 percent, depending on the variation of the proposal assessed.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat representing natural-gas producing West Virginia, has been reluctant to support legislation with a tax or fee on methane. As a result, House Democrats have been trying to find ways to change the terminology and get Manchin’s blessing once the bill is approved in the House and sent to the Senate. Democrats’ have a razor-thin majority in both chambers and need the support of every Democrat in the Senate.

Winning over Manchin has not been, and will not be, easy.

“Major oil and gas companies are actively investing in, developing, and using new technologies to detect and repair leaks, which are known to be a public health risk and contribute to climate change,” Manchin said in August 2020.

Delaware Valley U.S. Reps. Madeleine Dean (D), Mary Gay Scanlon (D), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R) declined to respond to requests for comment about the upcoming Build Back Better bill vote.

Meanwhile, API’s Frank Macchiarola says methane is already being regulated.

“The direct regulation of methane by the EPA is the most impactful way to build on the downward trend of methane emission rates in key producing regions rather than a duplicative and punitive natural gas tax that would only hurt American consumers and undermine the economic recovery,” says Macchiarola.

Gordon Tomb, senior adviser to CO2 Coalition, does not see a need for the regulations.

“Methane makes up a minuscule portion of the atmosphere — less than two parts per million — and together with carbon dioxide contributes an estimated 0.012 degrees C a year — an amount too small to even measure,” says Tomb. “Regulating emissions of either gas has no basis in science and imposes an unnecessary burden on businesses and the people who buy their products.”

And, Tomb added, “When politicians are talking about regulating methane, they are usually talking about taxing methane that gets leaked to the environment during production operations, treating that methane as a pollutant,” says Tomb. “Of course, methane is put into the atmosphere from all kinds of sources, and in the scheme of things the amount in the atmosphere is quite small irrespective of where it is coming from.”

The Marcellus Shale Coalition has also warned that taxes or fees would be bad for everyone.

“Layering more taxes on strongly regulated domestic energy production increases costs for those who produce and rely on these essential resources, with low-and fixed-income families shouldering the disproportionate share of the tax hike,” the group wrote in a September letter that included the Gas & Oil Association of West Virginia and the Ohio Oil & Gas Association.

And while organizations including the Sierra Club say fossil fuel organizations do not care about the environment, Marcellus Shale Coalition begs to differ.

“Our members are fully committed to improving air quality and further reducing all emission sources, particularly methane since it is the very product we sell, through leveraging best available technologies and practices.”

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