Townhall Magazine - Time for a Nuclear Energy Policy Makeover
Posted: 4/11/2014 1:00:00 PM EST

In the Wonk'd section of April's Townhall Magazine, Nicolas Loris and Jack Spencer of the Heritage Foundation explain why nuclear energy has much potential to cleanly and affordably power the world.

The first new nuclear reactors in years are being built, but environmentalists and opponents of nuclear power are already writing its obituary. It’s too expensive. Natural gas is much cheaper. They take too long to build. We don’t have a solution for the waste they produce.

Though there’s no need for a funeral march, they have a point.

To get the elephant out of the room right away, opponents say cheap natural gas prices nuclear power out of the market. But while the ease with which producers can extract natural gas is really unlike any other time before, we’ve seen low natural gas prices before. But these are questions best left to investors, not politicians or activists.

Building a new reactor does in fact take entirely too long. By the time a new application moves through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing and operating permits, we could watch at least two winter Olympics go by.

Further, and perhaps more importantly, the current system stifles innovation. Right now, America has 100 operating large lightwater 1,000 megawatt reactors that provide about 20 percent of America’s electricity. And although they provide consistently efficient, clean and inexpensive electricity for 60 to 80 years, the upfront costs are significant.

Yet, innovators are developing promising new reactor technologies that have several potential advantages. They’re smaller, so while they’ll power fewer homes, they’ll have less upfront capital costs. They can be built in remote locations, and some of them can be buried underground. Others have little to no waste.

The problem is we have a regulatory scheme in place that only permits one kind of technology—the large lightwater reactors we’ve used for the past 50 years. Bringing new nuclear reactors online are instead handled with subsidies, loan guarantees, and other taxpayer-funded inducements granted to a select number of competitors. Though we may see a handful of new reactors reach the market this way, it’s hardly a strategy for vibrant competition (unless we’re talking about a three-legged race).

Policymakers should stop resorting to subsidies. We need instead the right regulatory system—one that doesn’t shirk on safety or diligence but creates a framework to drive competition. Policymakers should work with the NRC to create a fast-tracking program that would not compromise the safety of the permitting process.

For instance, applications that meet certain requirements, such as using a nuclear technology already approved and licensed by the NRC or building on or adjacent to an existing reactor site, could move through the regulatory structure in half the time.

The NRC should also develop regulations to allow other types of reactor technologies to be efficiently licensed. Not only could this spark a technological revolution and create more availability for an affordable, reliable energy source, it could spark competition within the nuclear industry, and lead to the creation of large lightwater reactors that could lower costs.

But we still need to figure out what to do with nuclear waste. Nuclear waste policy has been broken for decades. The problem is that Washington took full responsibility for commercial waste disposal. This removed any incentive for the private sector to develop a more efficient solution and instead left it to politicians to decide how best to deal with the waste. It also meant subjecting the entire process to politics.

The result: the federal government hasn’t held up its end of the bargain, failing miserably to collect any used fuel, which now sits safely on-site in interim storage casks.

Though it may be foreign in Washington, the solution to managing and disposing nuclear waste might just be found in the free market. Making waste producers responsible for waste management would remove politics from a decision-making process that should reside solely with the private sector. Such a system would allow utilities to internalize the actual costs of waste management and build business models that include those costs, creating strong incentives to pursue economical waste management solutions that meet customers’ needs and government safety standards.

Nuclear energy has much potential to cleanly and affordably power the world. Its future is simply too important to leave to politicians. •

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Greg Hengler - Then vs. Now: Obama Lies About Sebelius Leaving HHS
Posted: 4/11/2014 12:30:00 PM EST

Obviously there's more to this story than what they're telling us lying to us.

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Daniel Doherty - Obama: Kathleen Sebelius has “Earned” the Right to Retire
Posted: 4/11/2014 12:15:00 PM EST

At a press conference today at the White House, President Obama officially announced that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is stepping down. He thanked her for her service and wished her a happy retirement.

“After five years of extraordinary service to our country -- and 7.5 million signups through the health care exchanges -- she’s earned that right [to retire],” he said.

“I will miss her advice, I will miss her friendship, I will miss her wit,” he continued. “But I’m proud to announce her successor.”

He went on to list her accomplishments, some of which included fighting to improve children and women’s health, noting that she would also be remembered for helping to pass the Affordable Care Act.

“[W]hat Kathleen will go down in history for is serving as secretary of Health and Human Services when the United States of America finally declared that quality, affordable health care is not a privilege but a right for every single citizen,” he said

“She’s got bumps, I got bumps,” he continued. “But we did it [passed Obamacare] because we knew all the people we met all across the country who had lost a home, [or] had decided to stay with a job [rather] than start a business, [did so] because they were uncertain about their health care situation,” he said.

Furthermore, he noted that after a rocky roll-out, Sebelius was instrumental in getting off-the-ground and running:

“Her team at HHS turned the corner, got it fixed, got the job done, and the final score speaks for itself,” he said. “There are seven and half million people across the country who have the security of health insurance [and] we’re proud of her for that. That’s a historic accomplishment.”

He also urged the upper chamber to confirm Sebelius’ successor, Sylvia Matthews Burwell, as soon as possible

“I hope that the Senate confirms Sylvia without delay,” he said.

Burwell currently serves as the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate last year.

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Heather Ginsberg - Hillary Clinton Dodges A Shoe
Posted: 4/11/2014 11:40:00 AM EST

Last night a woman threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton. The incident happened just moments after Hillary took the stage at an Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries meeting in Las Vegas. The throw was pretty far off, but Clinton was most definitely taken by surprise.

After the scare Clinton joked, “Is that somebody throwing something at me? Is that part of Cirque du Soleil?”

Security escorted the blonde woman out of the auditorium, but has not yet identified her to the public.

Apparently she was not a credentialed convention attendee and was not supposed to be in the ballroom. It is not clear exactly what motivated the woman to throw her shoe at the former first lady. Check out the video below for the action:

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Guy Benson - Video: Will Obama Finally Approve the Keystone Pipeline?
Posted: 4/11/2014 10:56:00 AM EST

The news hook for the segment below was a letter signed by 11 purple and red state Democrats essentially begging President Obama to finally approve the Keystone Pipeline -- which should be a political slam dunk for the many reasons we've explicated in the past. Our Ideologue-in-Chief has declined to make the easy call because of the repeatedly-refuted and -addressed concerns of leftist environmental ideologues. Enough of the game of footsie, these Senators are basically saying, we need this win:

Eleven Senate Democrats, including six who face contested races this year, urged President Barack Obama on Thursday to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline by the end of May. The five-year review of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline has been "exhaustive in its time, breadth and scope" and has taken longer than reasonably justified, the senators wrote to the president. Approval of the pipeline is needed to ensure pipeline operator TransCanada does not miss another construction season, the senators' letter said. But politics likely is a larger factor. Six of the Democrats who signed the letter face challenges this year: Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, John Walsh of Montana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Warner of Virginia.

I discussed the issue with a pro-Keystone Democrat on Fox News, laying out the basics of the White House's political quandary:

As I said on the air, Obama surely wants to hand vulnerable Democrats a victory they can trumpet back home -- plus the creation of thousands of jobs would be nice. But on the other side of the equation are left-wing "green" billionaires who are bankrolling the Democratic Party. It could be very bad for business to cross them on their pet issue. Also, Dems are already worried sick about turnout problems among their core base in 2014. Can they afford to demoralize a key group of largely single-issue voters? So far, it looks like the money men and hardcore activists are still winning:

The White House on Thursday rejected a push by 11 Senate Democrats — including several facing tough reelection fights in November — for President Obama to make a final decision on whether to approve the the Keystone XL pipeline by May 31. The lawmakers made their case for a "definitive timeline" in a letter to Obama on Thursday. They called on the president to use his executive authority to approve TransCanada's permit application for the pipeline that would deliver oil from the tar sands of northwest Canada to the Gulf Coast. "Our position on that process hasn't changed, which is that it needs to run its appropriate course without interference from the White House or Congress," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

But if the polls continue to look bleak in the early summer, I wouldn't be surprised to see Obama finally give this project the green light as a Hail Mary-style lifeline.

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Katie Pavlich - Sebelius One Week Ago: I'm Absolutely Sticking Around
Posted: 4/11/2014 7:15:00 AM EST

In case you missed it last night, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has resigned from her position. President Obama will officially nomination White House Budget Director Sylvia Burwell Friday at the White House as a replacement.

In an interview/Google hangout last week with the Huffington Post, Sebelius said she would "absolutely" be sticking around for the foreseeable future.

On March 31, Sebelius joined HuffPost Live's Alyona Minkovski to discuss the Affordable Care Act sign-up deadline. When asked if she would still be part of the Obamacare effort in November, Sebelius said she "absolutely" would.

When prompted a second time to confirm her intention to remain with the administration, Sebelius declared, "I'm in."

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Katie Pavlich - Sharyl Attkisson Dubbed a 'Troublemaker' at CBS For Looking Into Scandals
Posted: 4/11/2014 7:00:00 AM EST

Four weeks ago, former CBS News Investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson resigned from her position after 20 years at the network. It was reported at the time by POLITICO that liberal bias was a major factor in the submission of her resignation.

Last night on the one month anniversary of her resignation, Attkisson appeared on the O'Reilly Factor to explain why she made that decision. She described being classified as a 'troublemaker' for looking into serious stories like Benghazi and explained how the network slowly killed off investigative pieces about Operation Fast and Furious and Obamacare.

"We had to quit pursuing the the story [Fast and Furious] more or less due to lack of interest well before we found answers to a lot of questions," Attkisson said. "It just came to be that I don't think on the viewers part but on the people that decide what stories go into the broadcast and what there's room for they felt very early on that this story was over when I felt as though we had barely begun to scratch the surface. They didn't ask me what was left to report they just decided on their own that the story was done."

Attkisson is currently working on her forthcoming book, "Stonewalled: One Reporter's Fight for Truth in Obama's Washington."

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Katie Pavlich - BREAKING: Kathleen Sebelius Resigns
Posted: 4/10/2014 6:46:00 PM EST

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has resigned. The exact reason for her resignation was not given but the rollout and failure of Obamacare since October 1, 2013 no doubt played a major role. It is unknown whether President Obama asked for her resignation or if she left on her own. According to the New York Times, Sebelius was not asked by President Obama to resign and left on her own. It was reported multiple times Sebelius only met with President Obama one time before the federal exchanges launched on late last year.

Officials said Ms. Sebelius, 65, made the decision to resign and was not forced out. But the frustration at the White House over her performance had become increasingly clear, as administration aides worried that the crippling problems at, the website set up to enroll Americans in insurance exchanges, would result in lasting damage to the president’s legacy.

This announcement comes one week after President Obama announced 7.1 million Obamacare "enrollees" from the White House Rose Garden. During his address, Obama thanked Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin and others but failed to mention Sebelius even though she was sitting in the audience.

President Obama will nominate Office of Budget and Management Director Sylvia Burwell as a replacement, who will face a tough confirmation process in the Senate due to the 2014 elections being just months away.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has released a statement in response to the news:

"Secretary Sebelius oversaw a disastrous rollout of ObamaCare, but anyone can see that there are more problems on the way. The next HHS Secretary will inherit a mess—Americans facing rising costs, families losing their doctors, and an economy weighed down by intrusive regulations. No matter who is in charge of HHS, ObamaCare will continue to be a disaster and will continue to hurt hardworking Americans. It's time for President Obama to admit that Democrats' signature law is a failure and heed Republican calls for patient-centered healthcare reform." – RNC Chairman Reince Priebus

Reaction from Leader Cantor:

Updates to follow.

This post has been updated.

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Daniel Doherty - Dem Senator: You Know, the Koch Brothers Aren't So Bad After All
Posted: 4/10/2014 6:40:00 PM EST

That’s essentially what Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said today on Fox & Friends. Of course, he doesn’t agree with their brand of politics or support their conservative causes, but he does recognize that the Koch brothers are law-abiding citizens who (a) pay their taxes and (b) create tens of thousands of jobs. Democrats may lament their political clout and hate their growing influence come election season, but does that make them “un-American,” as the Senate Majority Leader enjoys pointing out? For what it’s worth, Sen. Manchin is one of the few Senate Democrats unalterably opposed to this kind of low-blow demagoguery; he made that patently clear this morning:

Unfortunately for Manchin, calls for comity in an election year aren't likely to be heeded by his fellow Democrats, especially when their get-out-the-vote efforts aren’t going so well.

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Sarah Jean Seman - Long Beach Approves Tax on Medical Marijuana Before It's Even Legalized
Posted: 4/10/2014 4:42:00 PM EST

Long Beach residents on the Golden Coast voted to allow the city to collect taxes on medical marijuana—that is, if the City Council ever allows dispensaries to sell the drug.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram reported:

Measure A passed with 74 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results released Wednesday, which includes all of the city’s 268 precincts and mail-in ballots.

Taxes can only be collected if the council creates regulations to govern medical marijuana sales in Long Beach. If that takes place, the city would be able to impose a business license tax at an initial rate of 6 percent of for-profit dispensaries’ gross sales receipts for marijuana. The tax rate could be increased to a levy of up to 10 percent of gross marijuana sales.

The measure also provides for a tax, to be initially assessed at a rate of $15 per square foot, on business property improvements made to grow medical marijuana. The tax could be increased to a $50 per square foot assessment on business improvements.

For dispensaries that qualify as nonprofits, the taxes would instead be assessed at a rate of $10 per square foot of business improvements rather than as a percentage of sales.

The city has tried for years to regulate the sale of medical marijuana. After court decisions and legal wrangling, the city began a new process to come up with a broad framework for the ordinance. The issue is before the Planning Commission, which would send its recommendations to the council.

Long Beach created a lottery in 2009 and gave permits to 32 medical marijuana facilities. A group of dispensary owners ended up challenging the lottery and, as a result, the city banned all medical marijuana facilities.

The new tax would bring much needed revenue to the city, supporters claim, and would help dispel underground drug circles.

It is almost rather comforting that Long Beach residents are willing to pass a tax on medical marijuana, considering that only about 28 miles up the beach acquiring marijuana entails no more than a simple stroll up Venice boardwalk.

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