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SAUNDERS: China Is the Antithesis to ESG Love Affair

The pushback against Environmental, Social and Governance has begun. It’s coming from market influencers like Vivek Ramaswamy, cultural influencers like Dilbert creator Scott Adams lambasting it in his (banned) comic strips, and 19 Republican governors going after the banks that push it. It’s a good thing.

Washington and Wall Street want to save the planet, much of it choking on Chinese coal dust. Its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies, particularly the Security and Exchange Commission’s ESG policy proposal for investors, pretend China exists on another planet. Big business and big investment houses wouldn’t have it any other way. They’ll punish the locals for not being environmentally sound. But China can throw chemicals down a river and burn a thousand suns, and it’s OK.

Adherence to ESG rules would make it more expensive to do business in the United States. It is another bad idea that will further drive manufacturing away from the United States and into Asia, led by China.

The SEC is not alone.

An ESG bill passed the House of Representatives in 2021. Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters said, “It’s past time Congress makes ESG requirements explicit.” There are two ways to interpret that. One: make sure investment products and companies declaring to be ESG have the same metrics. Two: ensure companies comply with climate policies to keep them ESG-friendly. Both are valid points if ESG policies are mandated by the SEC or Congress. That bill is now in a Senate committee. It will likely die there.

ESG is a U.N. endeavor that became an investment product. It’s big in Europe. The idea is that portfolio managers and lenders will direct capital to companies that are easy on the environment, hire women and minorities, and are good corporate stewards of the communities they serve. As a standalone, no one is against this idea or real, quality metrics that provide transparency to ESG investors.

But ESG has moved away from being just an investment product. It’s political now. Democrats fully embrace ESG. Republicans, not so much. Significant “woke capital,” as Ramaswamy calls them, loves ESG.

Shareholders can weaponize information from where a company’s electric power comes from to how much fertilizer the local rancher was selling beef to Cargill is using, all to pressure a business based on climate risk or other social causes packaged as environmental justice. Compliance requires costly lawyers who understand the rules. Business leaders then need to shift gears to ensure they are not running afoul of the climate police — which includes global bankers like Rabobank and asset managers like BlackRock that threaten to take their bank loans and investments elsewhere.

The proposed SEC rule will not only define ESG standards but it will also require publicly traded companies to comply with lowering greenhouse gas emissions or risk losing their lenders. This also affects private companies that sell to publicly traded ones. “Not green enough? Sorry, we need to find a greener partner.”

It’s everywhere. The Department of Labor is proposing new rules on pension plans that will require ESG investments as a matter of fiduciary duty.

ESG is voluntary for now. Democrats want to legislate its permanence. They are easily sold on ESG as good for the planet. Big lenders see it as corporate uniformity, doing “good,” and risk reduction. But if implemented, the SEC proposal will be a mega headwind for the United States as greenhouse gas emissions become a costly investment risk — despite the U.S. being a leader in reducing greenhouse gases and environmental standards.

None of these climate policies exist in application anywhere in China.

Picture this: a U.S. mutual fund with an ESG focus invests in Chinese solar companies and supply chains. Chinese polysilicon maker Daqo New Energy trades on the New York Stock Exchange. It’s in climate-change-themed funds, which are total ESG plays. Daqo was placed on the Commerce Department’s Entity List in 2021 for forced labor. So? BlackRock, Templeton, PIMCO, Fidelity, Vanguard, Morgan Stanley and State Street own 13 million shares. Americans who own the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF own Daqo, which probably uses Muslim prison labor.

ESG was designed to be voluntary. Now its strictest adherents, which include major Wall Street investors and lenders, want it to be mandated. Meanwhile, the usual hypocrites at global companies who are ESG fans will continue sourcing from China, where widgets are made thanks largely to coal-fired power plants. Those are bad here. Not ESG enough. But weak environmental rules and no women in power anywhere, that is perfectly fine in China.

No U.S. company should be forced to follow a climate policy its biggest rival can ignore. ESG must remain an optional investment product, not an investment policy.

Chester County Mother Shares Story of Her Daughter’s Fentanyl Death With Dr. Oz

As Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz was speaking during an event at the Desmond Hotel for Chester County Republicans recently, a Tredyffrin woman joined him on stage and spoke about her daughter’s death from fentanyl.

“We live two miles away,” said Leslie Holt. “A criminal came from Philadelphia. He brought meth-3 fentanyl, which is a drug they did not even test on animals. They know the outcome. This criminal drove into this beautiful neighborhood in his Jaguar (and) delivered this poison into our mailbox.”

Her daughter, Lana, 32, was self-medicating for pain from Lyme disease, she said.

“My husband found her the next morning,” she said. “And the criminal that brought this to our home is appealing his sentence. And John Fetterman will be the person who says, ‘Hey, this is fine. Give him another chance.’ He’s only had about 50, mind you, and he’s got a rap sheet two pages long. But he’s appealing.”

Leslie Holt with a picture of her late daughter, Lana

“I can’t even get my daughter’s phone back because it’s evidence,” Holt said. “She worked at the University of Pennsylvania with animals. She had so much promise. And someone poisoned her. And this is happening all throughout Chester County.  And no one is addressing it or talking about it. It’s coming here from Mexico and China.”

Oz said that the influx of fentanyl was caused by “weak, weak leadership at the federal level.”  He promised that he and congressional candidate Guy Ciarrocchi would take steps to stop it if elected.

“We will close the border with smart policies,” said Oz. “Allow legal immigration but we have to close the border.”

“We cannot afford to allow a purposeful misdirection of our nation,” said Oz. “I was in Philadelphia at a prayer vigil in Olney for a murder that happened, last year, 561 murders, the worst of any major city. Shocking.”

At the prayer vigil, someone told him it was easier to find Fentanyl than baby formula.

“I was stunned,” he said. “She was right.”

“How could the land of opportunity, the land of plenty, leave people with Fentanyl and no baby formula?”

Oz visited the Kensington area of Philadelphia to get a better idea of the devastation that drugs have brought. And while there, Oz took four addicts who expressed an interest in treatment to a nearby rehabilitation center.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, drug overdose deaths rose to nearly 108,000 in 2021, up 15 percent from 2020. But 2020 saw a nearly 30 percent spike in overdose deaths.

But for Holt, Lana’s death is not just a number.

“Unfortunately, it’s happening more and more frequently,” said Holt. Between her two children, “they’ve easily lost 15 to 20 friends from high school,” she said. “Not to single out Conestoga. These were kids who had been to my home, to sleep overs.”

Holt and her husband, Tim, believe Lana’s death was accidental on her part because she’d been taking what she thought was methadone for her Lyme-related pain. She had been suffering from the effects of Lyme disease for years and also the trauma of being raped by a family friend at the age of 14. Lana kept the rape a secret but that took a psychological toll.

“Trauma is the gateway drug,” said Holt.

After Lana’s death, Holt “shut down.” But then she decided she had to do something. Previously, Holt and a friend started s nonprofit RADAR to map sexual predators with a map and pin showing where they were assaulted. And Holt started another nonprofit as an off-shoot, A Child’s Light, to pay for therapy for children in Chester County who have been sexually or physically abused. She and Tim also take coats to Kensington to give to homeless addicts on Lana’s behalf. The coats bear tags that say “Love, Lana.”

Tim Holt found his daughter early in the morning of Nov. 2, 2018.  She could not be revived. But the Tredyffrin police used her cell phone to lure her dealer–the guy that delivered the fatal meth-3-fentanyl to their mailbox—to a make another delivery. This time it resulted in the arrest of Ricky Lowe, who drove up in his Jaguar. Lowe was convicted by a Chester County jury and sentenced to 17 to 33 years.

The trial was an ordeal for the Holt family. Lowe’s “crew” came to court and tried to start fights with her son. At one point she called the sheriff for help.

“My husband and son were shattered by Lana’s death,” she said.

So, when she learned about John Fetterman, as lieutenant governor chairing the Board of Pardons and working to pardon convicts, Holt got angry. Like most inmates, Lowe is appealing and the thought of the drug dealer who provided the poison that killed her daughter getting out early motivated her to speak out and to oppose Fetterman’s Senate candidacy.

And Oz has promised to work to stop fentanyl from coming across the border from Mexico. After Oz invited Holt onto the stage, they met privately after the event.

“I really felt as if he heard me,” she said. “I just felt as though he was not a stranger to this issue.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KOCH: Contractor Is in Trouble With the Pentagon

With contracts in the billions to trillions of dollars range, bidding at the Pentagon can be a tricky, albeit big business. The proposal process is complicated, and competition is thick. A mistake to avoid is importing materials from an adversary when making American military equipment. One American company did just that — importing a critical engine part for fighter jets from China — and the Pentagon isn’t happy.

Reuters reported on September 7 that the “Pentagon has stopped accepting new F-35 jets after it discovered a magnet used in the stealthy fighter’s engine was made with unauthorized material from China, a U.S. official said.”

The Pentagon investigation started in August and concluded that an alloy in the F-35 jet engine lubricant pump used unauthorized Chinese content. This part violates federal law, which prevents using metals or alloys from American adversaries China, Iran, North Korea or Russia for Pentagon acquisition programs.

The F-35 fighter jet has had many problems over the years. Dan Grazier wrote in The Hill in April 2021 that the F-35 program has “a projected cost over $1.7 trillion” and “exhibits everything from structural cracks to cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Twenty years in development — and it still can’t shoot straight and is rarely ready to fly when it is needed.”

It was supposed to be a “low-cost plane intended to serve the needs of all military branches.” Only in Washington could a program costing more than $1 trillion be classified as “low cost.”

The design flaws are numerous in the program, and some of them were never intended to be corrected. Business Insider reported on March 13, 2020, “The beleaguered F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is still suffering from hundreds of unresolved design flaws, according to a new report from a nongovernmental watchdog, dozens of which the Defense Department has ‘no plan’ to ever correct.”

The Project on Government Oversight requested information about the program. It was provided a list of 833 design flaws, with more than half in dispute between the contractor and the government. More than 100 were designated to never be fixed by the contractor.

With the numerous problems slowing this expensive program, now the threat emerges of a Chinese part being used to manufacture the F-35s. There may be issues in replacing that part thanks to the need to find a new domestic supplier of a specialty product. This will cause even more slowdowns in a program that has promised so much and delivered so little.

It seems as obvious as saying water is wet, but U.S. military hardware should be made with American parts. There is a slew of reasons for this, not the least of which is ensuring foreign powers cannot tamper with our military equipment by putting in a defective part or one that could track a stealth aircraft.

This is a big problem because, as Bloomberg News reported on September 9, “every one of the more than 825 F-35 fighter jets delivered so far contain a component made with a Chinese alloy that’s prohibited by both U.S. law and Pentagon regulations, according to the program office that oversees the aircraft.

One would think somebody would have picked up on this before more than 800 aircraft were built and delivered to the military. But this is the federal government, so think again. The more we learn about the program, the more problems we discover.

The concerns are many. What if this part has been put into the program intentionally by the Chinese who want to sabotage the engines with a product designed to fail or for espionage? There’s certainly a motive. The Chinese military doesn’t want to face the F-35s in a potential conflict. That’s for certain.

If taxpayers pay top dollar for a military aircraft, they expect the best America offers. Not a clunker of an aircraft that has violated the law with a banned Chinese engine part.

MASS: American Health Care’s ‘China Syndrome’ 

Among the most striking effects of the overhead built into the annual national cost of our dysfunctional healthcare system has been the outsourcing to China of the manufacture of many pharmaceuticals and medical supplies used here at home.

Part of that historic shift has been a change in the sourcing of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) that go into our medicines and vitamins. In the 1990s, 90 percent of the world’s APIs came from the U.S., Europe, and Japan. China is now the largest global supplier of APIs.

The effect on the quality of the supplies in America’s medicine chest has been alarming. Shortages and contaminated products are chronic and constitute a slowly unfolding healthcare crisis for the United States. But a national security threat of incalculable measure has developed out of our country’s reliance on China for drugs, protective equipment, and medical supplies.

By driving up all of the costs of needless overhead in our healthcare system, we compelled our manufacturing sector to seek lower labor costs in China. We now see that this manufacturing must be brought home or placed within the borders of staunch allies. Despite the many obstacles that stand in the way of doing that, it would be a supreme, historic folly to delay. We cannot wait until the next pandemic to address this threat.

In 2022, China has become the source of approximately 40 percent of the world’s Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), the chemical building blocks that are critical to making drugs. Few in the United States, even among physicians, are fully aware of just how drastic our dependence has become.

Here are just a few examples. Approximately 97 percent of antibiotics used in the United States, including drugs as basic as penicillin and amoxicillin, now come from China. And almost all of the contrast dye needed for many diagnostic procedures originates in a single facility in Shanghai, which recently closed because of a COVID-related lockdown. Putting all our eggs in one or a few baskets concerning medically related supplies demonstrated severe consequences, as across the United States, physicians now warn that rationed and deferred diagnostic procedures as a result of this closure, will inevitably have medically unfortunate consequences.

Much of the personal protective equipment (PPE), so much in the forefront of the news during the worst of the pandemic in 2020, also originates in China. The country where the pandemic erupted suddenly needed the PPE in short supply in the United States.

But of equal seriousness to the risks associated with reductions in or cutoffs of these desperately needed supplies exported from China is the chronically vexing question of the quality and safety of those exports.

A few examples:

Chinese-made KN95 masks were found to be substandard during the pandemic. Just before COVID-19 struck, eight million Chinese-made surgical gowns were recalled for not having been produced under sterile conditions.

In 2019, three commonly used blood pressure medications manufactured in China were found to be tainted with carcinogens.

In 2008, news reports compelled the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to acknowledge that 81 deaths from contaminated heparin—made in China and sold worldwide—had been produced in a facility the FDA had not inspected. 81 Given the dramatic shift by the United States to foreign-made medications and supplies, it is not surprising that the FDA has struggled to keep up with its legally required inspections of manufacturing facilities overseas. And when the pandemic hit, inspections stopped.

The implications for public health and national security are staggering. By inspecting only a small fraction of Chinese manufacturing plants and their output, the FDA fails to perform its primary duty of ensuring drug and product safety. This puts Americans in harm’s way.

Medications with ingredients from China are used in the United States for routine surgeries, common and less-common infections, psychiatric disorders, cancer, and seizures. Those with chronic diseases who must take medication and the young who have years ahead of taking these medications are most at risk of developing cancers and other long-term complications from possibly tainted products that have not yet been detected.

In May 2020, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced the bipartisan “Strengthening Supply Chains for Service Members and Security Act” (H.R.6374). The bill would implement the recommendations from a previous Department of Defense Office of Inspector General (DOD OIG) report to address the nation’s overreliance on foreign-made pharmaceuticals.

Tariffs imposed during the Trump years and sustained, at least so far, by the Biden administration were a step in the direction of stimulating domestic production of the class of products discussed above.

America must reclaim the manufacture of its medical supplies and critical drugs made from safe APIs. Those who shape our trade policy and create the ground rules that have driven the decisions of American corporations to send manufacturing abroad must act now to reverse course. The FDA must strengthen its staffing for auditing foreign manufacturers that are significant vendors in our supply chain.  Any foreign country’s refusal to allow free and timely access to production facilities must be fined and either suspended or terminated as a vendor.

The proverbial Sword of Damocles dangles above us. To the greatest degree and by any policy and regulatory means, including taxation rates, the United States must bring home the production of the ingredients that go into a revitalized domestic manufacture of the tools we use to care for our sick. Posthaste.

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Does the FDA Do More Harm Than Good?

Is it time to shut down the FDA?

Just days after the Food and Drug Administration released a report acknowledging its failings in the baby formula shortage, a group of former FDA employees and policy experts gathered at an InsideSources roundtable to debate the question. Dr. Richard Williams, who spent 27 years working on food safety at the FDA, said he was surprised by his own answer.

“Maybe we can make more progress if we break it up.”

It is not just formula-seeking families frustrated by the FDA’s performance.  The agency, which regulates 20 percent of the U.S. consumer economy, has been at the center of some of the biggest public policy fiascos of the past five years. Critics say it needlessly delayed the rollout of COVID testing in the early days of the pandemic. Its bureaucracy has slowed the progress of potentially life-saving drugs to market. It has misinformed smokers about the benefits of switching from combustible cigarettes to alternatives like vaping. And a new investigation by Politico found that, despite having the word “food” in its name, the FDA is routinely failing at keeping unsafe foods off the market.

Williams, an economist with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, is the author of  “Fixing Food: An FDA Insider Unravels the Myths and the Solutions.” He said that even as the FDA’s performance has lagged, its budget has soared — more than doubling between 2010 to 2021 to $6.4 billion. And in the face of its recent fumbles, the agency is asking for another 30 percent budget hike. Worse, said Williams, the FDA is using its recent failings to support its requests for more money, claiming they need more resources to enforce more regulations.

“I was working on infant formula in the early 1980s when the Infant Formula Act was passed,” Williams said. “And I asked, ‘Why are there only six firms making infant formula?’ The answer was, ‘We discourage anybody else from coming into the market. We don’t want more plants to inspect, so we don’t have as much control.'”

“And how many firms are in the infant formula market today? Six.”

Chalfont pediatrician Dr. Marion Mass sees the same issue.

“This shutdown unmasked an even bigger problem — there are so few baby formula plants in the United States that a single shutdown can have major consequences, as we’ve been seeing,” she wrote for the New York Post. “That doesn’t mean we need new legislation mandating more baby-formula manufacturers and plants. In fact, the right answer is that we need less government, not more.”

Mass, who is with the group Free2Care, told DVJournal the FDA is supposed to make sure food and drugs are safe. However, with many drugs or their precursor chemicals being manufactured in China, the FDA is less able to be vigilant.

“Among the most striking effects of the overhead built into the annual national cost of our dysfunctional healthcare system, has been the outsourcing to China of the manufacture of many pharmaceuticals and medical supplies used here at home,” she said. “The effect on the quality of the supplies in America’s medicine chest has been alarming. Shortages and contaminated products are chronic and constitute a slowly unfolding healthcare crisis for the United States.”

Panelist Jack Kalavritinos, a health communications expert who has worked at both Health and Human Services and the FDA said the core issue is leadership. “Leadership matters and specific changes need to be made.”

“Right after the public health emergency was called for in January [2020] the FDA put out an odd blog,” said Kalavritinos. “It talked about how COVID tests should be limited and how there should be less authority for the private sector through expedited approval processes.”

When that was brought to HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s attention, “the secretary stepped in, he overruled that [FDA guidance], and thus began the process of unleashing the private sector,” Kalavritinos said. “It makes the point that a federal agency, at a key moment in time, should not be making policy and law through a blog post.”

And lack of leadership was part of the baby formula shortage failure, he added.

“When you shut down a plant like this, the new FDA commissioner should literally drive over to the West Wing — and bring the HHS deputy secretary with you — and say, ‘If we work fast, it will still take months to get this factory back online. But if we don’t take extraordinary actions, there will be shortages.'”

“That takes leadership, and that didn’t happen,” Kalavritinos said.

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Are Green Foreign Agents Bankrolling Shapiro Campaign?

Climate change activists opposed to energy production in Pennsylvania like what they see in Josh Shapiro, the attorney general now running for governor. 

Campaign finance records show the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund (NRDC) is contributing to the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania Action Fund, which in turn is contributing to Shapiro’s gubernatorial bid. 

That is significant because both political action committees are tied in with well-endowed environmental groups that have been the subject of congressional probes into Russian-funded efforts aimed at disrupting America’s energy sector.

The NRDC, which has more than $460 million in assets, according its most recent tax filing, incessantly lobbies in favor of regulations restricting energy use in Pennsylvania. The New York-based nonprofit has also published reports designed to undermine public support for innovative drilling techniques like hydraulic fracturing that make it possible to access oil and gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale, a geological formation of sedimentary rock that cuts across parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania Action Fund is affiliated with the League of Conservation Voters, which tax records show has more than $20 million in assets.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, a group that supports energy companies and their employees, has a blog post detailing the harm that could be done to America’s economic, environmental, and national security interests in the event of a ban on hydraulic fracturing. That seems to be the overriding goal of the NRDC, and other environmental activist groups, that figure into a money trail allegedly leading back to Russia. 

In 2017, U.S. House members sent a letter to then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, calling attention to the role played by the Sea Change Foundation, a private entity based in San Francisco, that received funding from an overseas source. 

The foundation received $23 million from a Bermuda-based shell company between 2010 and 2011, which was then funneled into groups like the NRDC, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund in the form of grants, according to the letter. 

For the record, the NRDC has also been called out for maintaining close relations with China that suggest it may be operating in violation of foreign agent registration requirements.  In 2018, members of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee sent a letter to NRDC inquiring about its collaborative efforts with Chinese government officials. 

The group has denied operating as a foreign agent. But thanks to its well-heeled benefactors, it has ample funds to put Pennsylvania residents who rely on affordable, reliable energy at a great disadvantage. 

Big Green Inc., a project of the Institute for Energy Research, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit, has tracked hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing from left-leaning foundations into the coffers of green activist groups that target Pennsylvania. That database shows the Sea Change Foundation has pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the state since 2010. 

What are the implications for the governor’s race in Pennsylvania and the future of energy policy for the state?

Although Shapiro postures as an ally of trade unions on the campaign trail, he is also accepting funds from environmental activist groups that target the industries supporting union workers. Even so, those same trade unions have contributed almost $3 million to Shapiro’s run for governor since 2021, according to campaign finance records. But is the attorney general really devoted to protecting union jobs associated with coal, oil, and gas companies? 

A spokesman for Shapiro said the Democrat wants to keep Pennsylvania’s energy sector strong.

“Josh Shapiro rejects the false choice between protecting jobs and protecting our plants – he believes we must do both, and he will support Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry, invest in clean energy, and protect Pennsylvanians’ constitutional right to clean air and pure water. He will protect the jobs we have while creating thousands more, and that’s why workers in the energy industry and environmental advocates have endorsed his campaign,” said Shapiro campaign spokesman Will Simons.

NRDC Action Votes and the Conservation Voters of PA Victory Fund recently announced they would spend $500,000 in independent expenditure campaign funds on behalf of Shapiro. Apparently, environmental activists expect Shapiro to cut a path toward their preferred regulatory policies if elected. 

That’s a problem not just for Pennsylvania, but for the American people as a whole. The U.S. Energy Information Administration identifies Pennsylvania as the nation’s number two natural gas producer after only Texas and the number three coal-producing state after Wyoming and West Virginia. It’s not hard to understand why a Russian propaganda campaign would attempt to take down Pennsylvania’s energy industry. 

Even if the green groups don’t view themselves as foreign agents, they clearly view Shapiro as a conduit for anti-energy initiatives that benefit America’s foreign adversaries. 

 

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Houlahan Introduces Bill to Stop Export of U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves to China

With America hit with record-high gasoline prices and rising inflation numbers, President Joe Biden said in March that he would do something. What did he do? Biden opened the floodgates of the Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR).

However, a big portion of that oil is not staying on U.S. shores. Instead, it’s flowing to China and Europe. To remedy that, Senators James Langford (R-OK) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and other Republicans introduced the No Emergency Crude Oil for Foreign Adversaries Act.

Now Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks)  has announced she will sponsor the House version of that bill to keep SPR oil in the U.S. instead of allowing it to be exported to countries such as North Korea.

“Like many, I was shocked to learn that a Chinese company was able to purchase oil from our Strategic Reserves,” said Houlahan. “When I called on President Biden earlier this year to release oil to help lower the cost of gas for Americans, I thought this oil would stay within our borders, where it belongs. Today we’re taking the first step toward closing that loophole.”

Republicans Representatives Don Bacon (R-NE) and Peter Meijer (R-MI), fellow members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, joined Houlahan in introducing the bill.

“What message are we sending to the world when we sell our oil to tyrants waging war on peaceful democracies?” said Bacon. “With inflation, fuel, and cost of living at an all-time high, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve should not be serving our adversaries. We should be expanding American innovation and production here at home.”

Meijer said, “Drawing down our own strategic reserves and providing those resources to our foreign adversaries is both reckless and harmful to U.S. national security interests. Energy security is national security. Our strategic stockpiles should only be used to protect and secure U.S. interests, not to support foreign regimes that seek to undermine our country. I am proud to join this commonsense, bipartisan effort to prevent our adversaries from accessing these strategically important resources.”

Congress lifted a ban on exporting U.S. oil in 2015 but did not exempt the SPR, so that oil is also sold to the highest bidder.

Houlahan said a constituent she talked to at a town hall meeting urged her to do something about U.S. oil going to China.

“Rep. Houlahan is doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” a spokesperson said when asked if Houlahan is breaking with Biden on the issue. The bill Houlahan is sponsoring, “goes a little further. Both bills ban oil from going to Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. Our bill includes any other country that is being sanctioned by the U.S,” according to her spokesperson.

Guy Ciarrocchi, the Republican running against Houlahan, said, “Of course, we shouldn’t sell our Strategic Oil Reserves to China: why was she asleep at the switch and allowing it in the first place?

“Worse yet, let’s not forget the only reason that our nation’s Strategic Reserve of oil is being used: Biden is using it for politics, not for its real use—war or natural disaster. Biden, Pelosi and Houlahan won’t allow American companies with American workers to produce as much American oil and gas as we can. If Houlahan wants to earn our praise—stop posturing with the press releases and photo ops: reverse your stand and work to get American energy out of the ground: to fight inflation, and improve our quality of life and national security.”

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RAPOZA: Biden’s Policy: Ukraine First. China Second. America Last.

The Biden administration is doing what every administration pre-Trump has done: Get enamored and entangled in matters of foreign intrigue preferred by the intelligence community and defense contractors. While leaving the country to the whims of the market, a market that increasingly follows the whims of Washington. We’ve gone from America First to America Last.

Ukraine first!

The U.S. government has easily found over $42 billion and counting to send to war torn, bankrupt Ukraine. Both parties agreed to this in what basically amounted to an overnight session of Congress. The decision was made in a matter of days.

By comparison, the $50 billion we are supposed to give to the U.S. semiconductor industry in tax breaks and other incentives to manufacture chips here instead of Asia languishes in Congress. It is part of the Bipartisan Innovation Act (BIA), which will take a back seat to more funding and more votes on throwing money into Ukraine. This thing is lost.

Global Foundries, Intel, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing have all put plans to boost their semiconductor manufacturing here on hold because the CHIPS for America Act, part of the House and Senate’s so-called “China competition bill” (officially the BIA) is going nowhere fast, Nikkei Asia reported on July 5.

The war in Ukraine has caused commodity prices to rise. The market is speculating on shortages caused by shipping delays. Commodity traders from New York to Hong Kong are all pushing those prices higher based on assessed geopolitical risks.

China second!

Biden thinks rolling back tariffs on China will help. His team is actively in talks with the Chinese about which Trump-era tariffs to lower. They believe if they reduce tariffs on China imports, stubborn inflation will come down.

Apparently, the experts that are in charge now believe we import oil and gas from China, along with steaks and milk. Please don’t bother telling them, they’ll ignore you. They’re smarter than you.

They’ll also ignored the Peterson Institute for International Economics, no fan of the China tariffs. One would think the Biden administration would listen to them at least. Peterson economists wrote in a report dated June 3 that “the direct effect of removing tariffs on imports from China could lower consumer price index inflation by 0.26 percentage points —only marginally reducing inflation.”

That “marginally reducing inflation” assumes housing, food, and gasoline prices fall. If they rise, there goes your 0.26 percent win.

America last!

Because of these policies, a whopping 88 percent of Americans polled by Monmouth University say the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction.

Some 42 percent say they are struggling to remain where they are financially.

It’s fine, we can afford to send our oil and gas to the rich Europeans and a few billion to the Ukrainians, one of the most corrupt countries in the world, based on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. (It’s ranked lower than Russia.) I am certain the Ukrainians will be good stewards of our gifts.  They want even more, by the way, so how about making that $65 billion?

Polls also show American voters are fine with China tariffs. The White House, and its cheerleaders at Bloomberg which has been advocating for a return to the status quo with China since Biden beat Trump, aren’t interested.

In April, a poll by the Coalition for a Prosperous America, conducted by Morning Consult, showed that 73 percent of American voters supported tough trade policies with China to protect U.S. industries and American workers. Biden then ignored them and removed tariffs on Southeast Asian solar producers, mostly all of them Chinese multinationals who have relocated there to avoid tariffs.

A high 71 percent of voters support tariffs on China. And 61 percent of them said increased imports have caused the U.S. to become dependent on China for goods that are critical to the U.S. economy and U.S. national security.

In May, a separate poll by Morning Consult said that Democrats supported tariffs on China in line with Republican voters. Democrat support was increasing. Biden’s support is waning. Who are this man’s voters again?

Morning Consult said, “Democrats now find themselves aligned with the plurality of Republicans who prefer to keep the tariffs in place, even if doing so means prices will stay high.”

There is a chance “only some” tariffs will be removed. But it is the trend that is the problem. It is chipping away at what U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai has repeatedly called our biggest leverage on China.

If China was smart, it would keep its retaliatory tariffs on the U.S. At this point, what is Washington going to do about it? In a policy of Ukraine first, China second, and the U.S. last, the answer should be obvious to Beijing–it will do absolutely nothing.

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NAUGHTON: Let’s Be Rational About Electric Vehicles

Similar to most Americans, the high cost of gasoline is something I must consider as I move across the country. Either by car or airplane, it just costs more to get around.

Like clockwork, gas prices are also becoming politicized. Republicans want to blame President Biden, and the White House is trying to offer solutions that will do little to bring down gas prices. After all, the cost of a gallon of gas is mostly reflective of the price of a barrel oil, which is set on world markets and affected by everyone from the Saudis to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

With such unsavory forces in control of energy prices, it is only natural for the American people to demand answers from lawmakers about lowering gas prices.

But the harsh reality that many people don’t realize — or even acknowledge — is that our oil addiction is hard to break because we lack alternatives to replace petroleum that are cost-effective and secure.

One possibility offered, traditionally by progressive Democrats, is a full transition from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, or EVs. Indeed, the Green New Deal touted by lawmakers like Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez of New York calls for “reaching 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030.”

It would be a wonderful thing for our planet, to walk away from petroleum and all drive EVs. But, we need to be honest about the challenges posed by EVs.

First, there are national security concerns. Specifically, China dominates the markets for rare earth metals, which are critical components for the batteries that power EVs. We don’t produce these mineral commodities — like lithium — in America. Even if we managed to tap into lithium resources domestically, China still controls cathode and battery manufacturing.

China would use this power over America as leverage to get us to bend to its will. Let’s not beat around the bush, China has become a totalitarian regime engaged in genocide. Beijing shows little respect for people’s basic human rights. With this in mind, do we want to both enrich China and depend on them to power our economy? Of course not.

Second, EVs are more expensive than gas-powered vehicles. How can we demand low-income Americans to spend more on their car or truck? If we want to subsidize the purchase to make an EV affordable for every single person, through tax credits or cash rewards, a good part of our nation’s budget will be dedicated to this endeavor.

Third, the American people are not in favor of going all EV. My organization recently commissioned a poll on this matter, and consider these findings:

—41 percent of respondents believe the shift toward EVs is happening and that additional federal investments are “not an effective use of taxpayer money.”

—When asked to rank federal spending priorities, funding for “increasing the number of electric vehicles” came in last, behind these more popular priorities (in order of favorability): “funding for ending childhood hunger,” “funding to fix our roads and bridges,” “funding for police training and hiring,” “funding to build K-12 schools,” “funding for wind and solar energy,” and “funding for public transportation.”

Our poll is clear: there is not the political will to spend billions of dollars to help people afford EVs. Think about this, every American without a driveway will need to have access to a publicly subsidized charger. How can the government possibly provide this charging capability to everyone? With skyrocketing inflation, Americans are simply trying to afford basic necessities. It’s no wonder EVs are lower on their immediate priority list.

Ultimately, I can foresee a future that is fully EV. Many of the challenges facing EVs could be resolved through innovation and smart government investments in clean technologies. But until we get there, let’s be realistic about EVs, and continue to support policies that help make gas-powered vehicles cleaner, and more fuel efficient.

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RUBIO: Re-Shore Rare Earths to Keep America Strong

A country incapable of providing for itself isn’t much of a great power. To ensure America stays strong for generations to come, we need to bring production of goods essential to our national security back home. That starts with re-shoring rare earth manufacturing.

For some, “industrial policy” is a dirty term associated with planned economies. But Americans have long accepted government action to help maintain domestic manufacturing in critical industries. It makes sense that we buy ships from General Dynamics, airplanes from Boeing, and missiles from Raytheon –– even if it would be cheaper to import them from abroad –– because it is clear they are goods vital to our national security. Well, the last two years have taught us that the list of such goods needs to be expanded.

One urgent addition to that list is rare earth minerals. In the 21st-century economy, rare earth minerals are crucial for powering advanced electronics. They form essential components of everything from batteries and household computers to wind turbines and military weapon systems. Without them, our modern way of life and capacity for self-defense would be crippled.

North America contains a considerable quantity of unprocessed rare earth minerals. However, the vast majority of rare earth manufacturing occurs in China. Even rare earth minerals mined in America are shipped to China for processing. In the wake of COVID-19, the invasion of Ukraine, and the supply chain disruptions that followed, it should be clear to everyone that relying on hostile regimes for basic goods is dangerous.

Just look at Western Europe’s predicament. Nations like Germany remain addicted to Russian natural gas, giving Vladimir Putin leverage over them. Cutting off Russian energy will require tremendous sacrifice on their part.

With expansive energy reserves, America is better positioned to counter Putin. But if China cut us off from rare earth products –– which Beijing has restricted in the past and could easily do again –– the effects would be catastrophic. That’s why I have introduced legislation to bring rare earth manufacturing back to America.

If passed into law, the Obtaining National and Secure Homeland Operations for Rare Earth (ONSHORE) Manufacturing Act will provide financial assistance to entities building rare earth manufacturing plants on U.S. soil and create initiatives to secure our international rare earth supply chain from foreign disruption. The ONSHORE Manufacturing Act will also prohibit taxpayer dollars from funding rare earth manufacturing in designated “entities of concern.” Americans’ hard-earned money should not be used to prop up the industrial capacity of China, Russia, or Iran.

I hope my colleagues in the Senate will join me in passing this piece of legislation, which is vital to keeping our country safe. However, we can’t stop with rare earth metals. There are other industries equally essential to our national and economic security that need re-shoring. In the coming months, it is critical that we begin rebuilding our capacity to produce pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, and more.

This is the kind of targeted industrial policy America needs to maintain its status as a great power. The threats we face from our adversaries, especially China, are wide-ranging and immense. We will need a whole-of-society effort to ensure the 21st century is another American century, and securing supply chains will have to be a part of it.

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