CD002: Iran Sanctions, the Buffett Rule, & a “War on Coal”

Iran sanctions are signed into law, a gas pipeline gets fast tracked through a NYC park, the Buffett Rule is (sort of) passed, a “War on Coal” is not really waged, and more from this week in Congress…

HR 1905: Iran Sanctions
*Signed into law*

Sanctions = Shut down trade in and out of Iran. People can’t get what they need, they get mad at their government, the government needs to do what we want them to do in order to make the sanctions go away and get their people to back off.

What do we want them to do?

Stop developing nuclear weapons (if they actually are – hasn’t been proven).

Stop human rights abuses.

Open their oil industry to the “free market”

History of Iran

Pre 1951- Iran’s oil was owned by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now known as BP.

1951- Iran nationalized their oil industry.

1953- CIA, with lots of help from the British, overthrew the democratically elected government, installing the Shah. Oil companies were allowed back in and helped themselves to 50% of the oil profits.

1979- Iranians overthrew the Shah (the dictator installed by the US) and installed the Islamic Republic, who were not US-approved and are still in power today. The Islamic Republic nationalized the banking system and imposed controls on imports and exports, reversing the Shah’s free trade policies. They also re-nationalized the oil industry.

Current sanctions take aim at that nationalized oil company…

Prohibits any country or company from:
1) Helping Iran develop their oil.
2) Helping Iran construct, maintain, or repair their refineries.
3) Helping Iran construct port facilities, railways, or roads that will be used to deliver their oil.

Prevents shipping companies from transporting any oil products to or from Iran.

Prevents insurance companies from insuring the National Iranian Oil Company or the National Iranian Tanker Company.

Section 312: Orders a report in 45 days listing the reasons that the National Iranian Oil Company and the National Iranian Tanker Company are “agents” of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (their military).

      • Turns the Iranian oil companies into military targets.

Orders a report on whether sanctions on Iran’s natural gas could be applied as they are to oil.

HR 3783: “Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act”

Gives the Secretary of State 180 days to create a report to address Iran’s “growing hostile presence and activity” in the Western Hemisphere.

Report needs to include a plan “ensuring energy supplies from the Western Hemisphere that are free from the influence of any foreign government that would attempt to manipulate or disrupt global energy markets.”

Report needs to describe the terrain, population, ports, airports, borders, media outlets, financial centers, foreign embassies, charities, religious and cultural centers, and income-generating activities in the Western Hemisphere utilized by Iran.

Listed countries of concern are Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Argentina, and Brazil.

Four of the countries on the list have already nationalized their oil:

The other 2 may be on the list because:

      • Nicaragua – President Ortega was the President the Contras were trying to overthrow. Iran-Contra scandal is when Reagan’s CIA sold weapons to Iran and gave the money to the Contras… to beat President Ortega… who is President again. President Ortega has an alliance with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
      • Brazil – just elected a friendly government but also has found huge amounts of offshore oil since 2007. They might have more than us.

Passed by the House, now moves into the Senate.

HR 4155: Military Training Sufficient for Federal Training and Certification
*Signed into law*

H.R. 4124: Veteran Work Experience in Medical Field

      • Gives money to states to change their processes for licensing veterans with medical experience in combat.
      • Money only given to states with a shortage in medical technicians
      • $1 million over four years = $250,000 per year = $5,000 per year per state.

Passed the House, moves into the Senate.

H.R. 5948: Veterans Fiduciary Reform & Honoring Noble Service Act

  • Establishes rules for dividing the assets of dead soldiers both with and without a known next of kin.
  • Let’s the government provide caskets and urns for dead soldiers who don’t have family to pay for them.
  • Gives Bush Wars veterans a spot for remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery.

Passed the House, moves into the Senate.

H.R. 2606: Gas Pipeline Through NYC Recreation Area

The proposed Rockaway natural gas pipeline (Source: Williams)

  • Written for the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company (Transco).
  • Tells the Secretary of Interior that he can feel free to give them a permit good for 10 years.

Passed the Senate; it’s on it’s way to President’s desk.*

*Whoopsie: the bill actually went back to the House. (11/13/2012)

H.R. 6410: “Buffett Rule Act of 2012″

Buffett Rule = rich people should pay a tax rate at least as high as their secretaries.

The name of the bill is a trick; the bill adds a donation box to tax return forms.

It doesn’t change tax rates at all.

Passed the House, moves into the Senate.

HR 2903: FEMA Reauthorization

No increase in funding through 2014.

Can sell “extra” FEMA trailers to states.

Provides money to modernize the “public alert and warning system”

      • We must conduct tests every 3 years.
      • Communications industry will not be forced to participate.

Passed House, moves into the Senate.

H.R. 5912: No Public Money for Party Conventions

Eliminates all public funding of political conventions, effective next year (2013).

D’s and R’s each got $18 million this year.

Currently, only D’s and R’s get public money. No other political parties are eligible.

Will result in more private control over political parties.

Passed the House, moves into the Senate.

H.R. 3409: “Coal Miner Employment & Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act”

Package of 5 bills; 4 out of the 5 bills in this package have already passed the House in 2011-2012 but failed in the Senate.

TITLE I: Secretary of the Interior can’t issue any new regulations between now and 2014 that would:

  • “Adversely impact employment in coal mines in the United States”.
  • Reduce the amount of money the government (Federal or State) receives from coal mining.
  • Reduce the amount of coal available for US use or for exporting for profit.
  • Protect any land from coal mining.
  • Regulate privately-owned coal.

TITLE II: No Greenhouse Gas Regulation Under the Clean Air Act

“The [EPA] Administrator may not, under this Act, promulgate any regulation concerning, take action relating to, or take into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change”

  • Repeals the mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Prevents states (like California) from adopting mileage standards that are stricter than the Federal standards

TITLE III: Eliminates regulations for the benefit of businesses.

      • Creates a committee, headed by the Secretary of Commerce, that will analyze how environmental regulations affect business.
      • Eliminates some air quality rules for industrial equipment, makes the EPA start over on them, and prevents them from taking effect in under 6 years
      • When making the regulations, the EPA must consider costs to companies and must choose the option that is “least burdensome” to those companies

TITLE IV: Gives states control of regulating coal ash.

      • Companies found in violation of regulations will have 8-10 years to make those changes. The deadline can be extended.

TITLE V: EPA must analyze the impact of their regulations on “employment levels and economic activity, including estimated job losses and decreased economic activity”

    • Numbers will be rigged

“Any offsetting job gains that result from the hypothetical creation of new jobs through new technologies or government employment may not be used in the job loss calculation.”

“Any offsetting economic activity that results from the hypothetical creation of new economic activity through new technologies or government employment may not be used in the economic activity calculation.”
Prevents EPA from over-riding water quality standards of the states.

  • Also, prevents EPA from over-riding water quality standards of the states.

McKinley Amendment prohibits the EPA from retroactively invalidating permits after they have been issued.

Passed the House, moves into the Senate (where its failure is guaranteed).

Vacation Time

Congress returned from their 5 week summer vacation last Monday, September 10th. On Friday, September 21st, they left for their 7 week election vacation. They will return to work on Tuesday, November 13th.