Friday, January 6, 2017

Obama Leaving Traps for Trump

In the roundabout way of getting there, Irish linked to Instapundit who linked to the Washington Examiner.  The unnamed author writes:
Before moving into the White House, President-elect Trump needs to double check the Oval Office for trip wires. His predecessor has spent the last month setting traps to ensnare the new administration.
Obama has prepared what looks like a classic episode from Mad Magazine: Executive vs. Executive. Instead of delivering on his own agenda, Trump will be forced to deal with the aftermath of his predecessor's final binge. They could consume a notable portion of Trump's first 100 days, but if left unaddressed it would stain his administration long term.
Surprised?  Why?  For his inspiration, Obama has to look no further than the final days of the Clinton administration laying traps for the unwary Bush 43 administration.
Just days before President George W. Bush's inauguration, Clinton weaponized EPA regulations to set a trap for the new administration. Despite complaints from rural communities about crippling compliance costs and a lack of a scientific consensus, Clinton adopted aggressive arsenic standards for drinking water. When Bush eased the mandate, it unleashed a torrent of criticism that had been long planned, most notably from Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York. 

Despite calling for studies based on "sound science," Bush couldn't shake accusations that he wanted to poison children. The attacks found their mark, and Bush later remembered the experience as one of the worst mistakes of his young administration.
Remember this?  It's the simplest thing in the world to do: tell the EPA to lower the standard for arsenic in drinking water, no matter what it costs.  It inevitably will be seen as good by environmental groups and any action to consider the cost/benefit curve for not using the most aggressive levels will be seen as "killing the children!" and that will be screamed by the press.  This year's equivalent?  How about keeping people from accessing protecting some Utah wilderness?
With a stroke of his pen Wednesday, Obama declared 1.65 million acres of Utah's vast wilderness a national monument. The area, called Bears Ear, is certainly beautiful, but that is no reason for the feds to remove it from local control. Indian tribes, Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah's entire congressional delegation want the state to handle preservation.

Most of Utah opposes the land grab and have already called on Trump to reverse the move. He should do so, but should also tread carefully. The pitfall is deep and the barbs at the bottom are sharp. Trump will certainly be branded an enemy of the environment if he overturns Obama's high-handed expropriation.
Add to this the example of closing areas off shore the US to oil exploration forever.  Go watch the news video referenced in the previous paragraph: at the Salt Lake Tribune.  As is the case with essentially everything, the country divides itself along essentially partisan lines, with one group in favor of anything Obama does and another group opposed to it.  Trump would be wise to condemn Obama's weaponization of the government agencies and the weaponization of executive action (by any name) itself.  There's a line between saying he should do this and him ending up sounding too much like Obama blaming everything on Bush until, oh, a few minutes ago.  Unfortunately, I don't know how where to place that balance.    


  1. Trump has already been declared "An Enemy of the Environmentalists" because of his choice for EPA administrator.

    1. "Trump has already been declared "An Enemy of the Environmentalists" because of his choice for EPA administrator." I think it's just because he's not accepting all the EPA "Science!!" crap as gospel.

  2. One more argument for abolition of a large number of federal agencies; what's not there cannot be weaponized.

  3. At risk of sounding like I agree with Obama: The two new national monuments are not a bad thing. The land already belonged to the federal government and was managed by BLM. Please understand that the reason that Utah and some special interests object to this change is they had hoped to score a windfall and acquire the land (or the assets on the land) at no cost to them and contrary to the public's best interest. Today and forever YOU and I can go to these lands and use them and the only reason that will remain true is because by designating them a national monument it has stopped efforts to privatize them. Were some people harmed by this action? Yes, certainly ranchers who used some of these lands for their cattle and other reasons lost that advantage. But it was an advantage that was never theirs to begin with. Most ranchers get to use the BLM lands for a very cheap price and it is the rest of the taxpayers who pay for that privilage. There are still millions and millions of land in the Western states that are owned by the federal government and managed by BLM and exploited by ranchers. I, for one, believe that this is probably the best and highest use for public lands; i.e. that they remain public lands and are well taken care of and not exploited for fast profit.

    1. All well and good. For all I know, these deserve some sort of special status. Let's ignore them.

      I have to dispute the idea that "...Utah and some special interests object to this change is they had hoped to score a windfall and acquire the land (or the assets on the land) at no cost to them and contrary to the public's best interest." Utah receives payments out of the treasury (PILT - or Payments In Lieu of Taxes) for that land. If the land had gone to Utah or private ownership, that money would be paid back to DC, instead. Is that in their best interest? It sure isn't something for nothing.

      The question is at what point do we stop; at what point does the own enough? Why is it the default that the own that land? Already, the Feds own something like half of the land in the West (the Rocky Mountain states and westward, including Alaska). They own 85% of Nevada and 57% of Utah. At what point do we decide it's too much or that we allow private property? Are we saying every piece of land that's "pretty" should be publicly owned? Ignoring the question of who decides what's pretty enough to be public property, if it is to be publicly owned, who says the states can't manage it as well, or better? Surely you're not suggesting the states are corrupt and there's no corruption in the Federal bureaucracies? Surely you're not suggesting all private ownership is bad?

      The reason for Federal ownership can't be because the Feds can afford to own them. Not with $20 Trillion in national debt and another $100 Trillion promised. It costs something to own and administer those lands and it costs in the PILT payouts. The Federal Budget needs to be cut.

      Why don't they own as much land in the Eastern 2/3 of the country? Is it because it isn't pretty enough, or because it was privately owned first and there wasn't enough will to buy it?

      I'm not saying I have answers to all these questions, but I think they're questions that need to be asked.

    2. The state of Utah and a number of local landowners and businesses were indeed in negotiation to make sure that these BLM lands could not be placed into a NM. They were doing this each for their own personal reasons but not for citizens of Florida and the other 48 states not counting Utah. If that isn’t a special interest group than I don’t know what would be.

      Most of the land in the West was deeded to the federal government at the time of acquiring legal U.S. ownership of the land. A lot of that land was given away to the railroad companies and a lot of it was given away under the table by congressmen and other politicians. What is left IS owned by the federal government (i.e. all citizens) and there isn’t and legal or moral doubt of that fact. Should it be given away or sold for pennies to a few billionaires or ranchers? I think not. As BLM land you and I may go onto it, we can camp on it, we can hunt on it and we could, if we wanted to, live on it 365 days a year (moving every 30 days or so). It is our land held in trust by the federal government and managed by the BLM. The difference now for these two parcels is that mining companies and others cannot exploit the lands.

      Our national debt is a travesty but there is zero connection with federally owned lands. It would be a bigger travesty to see this great national treasure that is our Western public lands sold for short term gain. Fix the budget and the waste don’t scapegoat the federal held land.

      They don’t onw as much in the East for the simple reason most of that land came under ownership either by individuals or the states before our government was formed.

      Once these lands are privatized the citizens won’t get them back. Ted Turner owns about two million acres of land. That is his right and I don’t fault him but if all the federal lands were sold off they would be owned by a handful of billionaires and you would be excluded from them. Just try pulling your trailer off the road onto Turners ranch and see what happens. I can pull my trailer off the road on BLM land almost anywhere in the West and camp for free. I would hate to see the 230 million Americans lose that when and if the 100 or so billionaires buy up all the land.
      I visit the areas of these two new NMs twice a year I will be eager to explore them and see them evolve over time into new recreation areas for Americans and visitors to America.

    3. Hmm, can you please explain to me exactly how "federal" ownership of those lands is authorized under Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 17 of the United States Constitution? Not by any means saying that public lands shouldn't be properly supervised/maintained but there are very specific criteria for 'federal' ownership.

    4. Aha! You have spotted a speck of sand in the eye of the constitution and ignored the boulders. Please explain to me why considering the 2nd amendment I must seek permission from every state to carry a gun. Explain to me where in the constitution the esteemed supremes found a woman's right to abortion. Where in the constitution does it say that Indians get reservations and pay no taxes. I could go on like this all day. Do you actually believe we will ever get to the point where the federal government owns no land what so ever outside of DC???