Archive for June, 2012

Red to Blue or Blue to Red?

Posted on June 7, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Caren Turner

The stunning upset victory of Scott Walker has led every commentator and pundit to reevaluate the metrics by which we predict electoral outcomes.  Though exit polls predicted a cliff hanger, within one hour of closing the voting booths Walker took the crown.

As pointed out by Ari Fleischer, this is only the latest step in the march from Blue to Red.  To wit – Blue state NJ went red with Christie, blue state Massachusetts went red with Scott Brown, Anthony Weiner’s Democratic seat in Brooklyn NY went to Republican Bob Turner. Now, to the shock of Gloria Borger and others even WISCONSIN went for a Republican!!!

Democratic self recrimination abounds. Barney Frank blamed the Unions for picking the wrong fight. Unions blamed Obama for not participating enough. Citizens United was blamed for changing the battlefield completely. The blame game continues on related issues. The Obama camp is criticizing Clinton for advocating passage of Bush tax cuts. They are also going after Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

So, while the Republicans are having a tough time reigning in the Freshmen Tea Party people, it is matched by the Democrats internal struggles.

Transportation legislation is still in negotiations, equal pay for women failed in the Senate, Georgetown Law professors are predicting the Supreme Court will strike down the Affordable Care Act, all are winding up for potential sequestration cuts and debt ceiling discussions! When you come to the Capitol, please bring your helmet! It’s getting nasty.

Please call me at (202) 466-2511 for any help you may need regarding understanding the governments’ ball of tangled wool!

Also, please let us know your thoughts. We would be happy to consider including your thoughts in our newsletter!

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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EPA New Water Intake Rules a Win – Win

Posted on June 6, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Turner GPA Staff Reporter

Despite the bombast and over-the-top rhetoric coming from both sides concerning new water intake regulations at existing power plants, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has hit exactly the right note by sticking to its commitment to “build a common sense path forward.”

The “commonsense” approach taken by the EPA in this case pertains specifically to the Clean Water Act Section 316(b) that requires the “location, design, construction and capacity of cooling water intake structures reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact.”

A contentious and often litigious fight has been raging for years over rules governing how power plants, both coal-fired and nuclear that provide most of the country’s electricity needs, and large factories withdraw billions of gallons of water from the nation’s waterways into their cooling-water systems to absorb heat from industrial equipment.

There is no question that the standard method used for years by industry has been particularly damaging to the environment, killing untold millions of fish and other aquatic life while degrading countless rivers and lakes.

There is also little argument that the remedy to the problem preferred by environmentalists, short of shutting down thousands of power plants and factories, is the construction of costly cooling towers at plants that lack them. According to a Bloomberg article, a number of energy companies, industry groups and lawmakers opposed to that approach point out that mandating the construction of cooling towers could cost upwards of $300 million per site for coal-fired plants and as much as $1 billion for nuclear generators. Both environmental groups and the EPA say the cost per site would be significantly lower.

Whatever the true price tag, what is certain is that the cost will be passed onto consumers. If the price for electricity does become significantly more expensive it would put a strain on household and business budgets alike and could in turn hobble the economy.

However, economic concerns shouldn’t necessarily trump environmental concerns. The cost of following that path is clearly evident in the terrible pollution problems now facing China and also in our own not so distant past: Remember Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River, which caught fire several times in the late 1960s?

Clearly, a balanced approach was needed. And while the EPA policy on cooling water intake was too long in the making, we believe the Agency crafted what should always be the goal in resolving conflict: a “win – win solution”—a resolution that aims to accommodate all disputants.

EPA rules will require facilities to significantly limit the number of fish killed. For larger operations, drawing in at least 125 million gallons of water a day, the rules would require “site-specific” controls. And again, according to Bloomberg, “plants that add electrical generation at an existing site would be required to install technology equivalent to a ‘closed-cycle’ system,” which typically means cooling towers.

Bloomberg, quoting an energy analyst: The EPA’s approach is “likely to minimize the industry’s cost of compliance.” What appeals to the industry is that the EPA won’t mandate a “one-size-fits-all” remedy.

Likewise, the EPA regulations, which will be published by the end of July, do go a long way in addressing environmental concerns, although many environmental groups still have legitimate concerns.

However, we agree with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who noted in a letter that industry has been “waiting nearly twenty years for the regulatory certainty that facilitates sound investment.” The public has been waiting just as long “for reassurance that the aquatic environment is being protected.” The new regulations do exactly that.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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Capitol Hill Shocker: Bipartisanship in the House

Posted on June 6, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

In a rare moment of bipartisan unity, the House last week approved a $10.6 billion fiscal 2013 spending bill for military construction and veterans affairs that would boost veteran-owned businesses and encourage greener military facilities.

Still, it is hardly immune to the vagaries of election-year politics.

If approved by the Senate, the measure could set up a test of political will with the administration which has said the president will veto all spending measures that deviate from a deficit reduction plan agreed to by Democrats and Republicans last year. The threat applies to 12 spending bills for the federal fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

The measure passed on a 407-12 bipartisan vote with 179 democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), backing the package.

The administration said cuts in excess of the $2 trillion total agreed to as part of last year’s Budget Control Act “would cost jobs and hurt average Americans.” Obama said the measure “would require harmful cuts to other critical priorities such as education, research and development, job training, and health care.”

The measure includes $71.7 billion in discretionary funding, the same as this year, but less than the administration request.

Some Democrats argued, with little zeal, that deviating from the agreement and the administration’s request would only slow down the appropriations process. They also criticized the measure for continuing a pay freeze for federal employees and contractors for the third straight year.

“Federal employees have already accepted two consecutive pay freezes with the knowledge that the savings would be applied toward meeting our nation’s fiscal challenges,” said Hoyer.

As part of the surprise showing of bipartisanship, the House agreed without debate on an amendment offered by Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) that would give preferences in awarding contracts to veteran-owned small businesses.

While veteran-owned construction businesses got a boost, unionized contractors and workers were denied protections. Despite opposition from Democrats, the measure included language that would prevent funding for contracts that require project labor agreements. These agreements require construction projects be completed with union workers.

The House also happily agreed to an amendment from Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) that would require the Pentagon to inventory its green buildings and one from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) to add $10 million to the Pentagon’s Energy Conservation Program.

Blumenauer noted that the Defense Department uses more energy than his entire home state of Oregon. “I believe that the Pentagon and Congress have an obligation to taxpayers, who foot the Pentagon’s bill, to not only decrease the military’s overall level of energy consumption through efficiency efforts, but to move towards greater energy independence from Petro-Dictators,” he said.

It will be interesting to see if Obama will veto a measure that enjoys such bipartisan support.

Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said the bill meets the needs of the Pentagon and the Veterans Administration and should be signed.

“The bipartisan legislation that passed the House today provides our nation’s troops, veterans and military families with the programs and services they have earned as a result of their service and sacrifice,” Rogers said.

We agree.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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It’s the Economy, and Jobs, Stupid

Posted on June 6, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

As usual, it’s the economy stupid. But in this election year, that tested political axiom could be tweaked a bit to read it’s the economy, and jobs, stupid.

So it was a significant blow to President Obama’s reelection hopes when the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job report for the month of May showed the creation of a measly 69,000 new jobs, well below the 150,000 that were expected. Unemployment jumped to 8.2 percent, a reversal of the upward trend that had buoyed Obama’s political prospects for almost a year.

This is the worst news the Obama re-election could get at this point in the campaign. You have to go back to the Great Depression and FDR to find a president winning a re-election with an unemployment rate that high.

The economy “is not growing as fast as we want it to,” Obama said in an understatement of historic proportions. He called on Congress to put aside election-year concerns and pass some of his jobs proposals, a demand that of course will be ignored.

Mitt Romney, Obama’s Republican rival for the White House, said the increase in joblessness shows that the administration’s programs are failing and the economy is not just stalled, but is actually receding. He seized on this and other indicators of slow economic growth to pummel Obama in recent statements.

“Slowing GDP growth, plunging consumer confidence, an increase in unemployment claims, and now another dismal jobs report all stand as a harsh indictment of the President’s handling of the economy,” Romney said.

Obama said the troubles are not of his making, but are the result of global economic uncertainty: “Europe is having a significant crisis in part because they haven’t taken as many of the decisive steps as were needed to deal with the challenge, and that’s weakened Asia and that means it’s harder for our exports. All this stuff makes a difference in the global economy.”

That is hardly an argument that is going to wash with jobless Americans and the electorate in general.

This is the point in most presidential election cycles when races are at their tightest and, true to form, most polls show a contest that is within the statistical margin of error. Real Clear Politics’ polling average shows Obama with a 2 percentage point lead, but two polls, Rasmussen and Gallup, give Romney a slight edge.

Obama tried to sound optimistic in the face of the dismal news: “We will come back stronger; we do have better days ahead.”

He’d better hope those days come sooner rather than later, or he will be joining the ranks of the unemployed come January.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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