Editorial: Trump right to rein in EPA water grab

Ditch would be under federal control under WOTUS.

President Trump this past week signed an executive order telling the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to review the so-called waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule created under the Obama administration, which attempted to usurp dominion over every stream, ditch, wetland or muddy hoof print that might eventually spill a few drops of water into any rivulet that might occasionally be navigable with an inner tube.

“We’re going to free up our country and it’s going to be done in a very environmental and positive environmental way, I will tell you that,” Trump said. “[We will] create millions of jobs, so many jobs are delayed for so many years that it’s unfair to everybody.”

Trump ordered the federal agencies to review a 2006 opinion by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, that reduced the scope of the act by defining “waters of the United States” as only permanent bodies of water and not the occasional result of rainfall.

Nevada was one of 23 states to file suit over the WOTUS rule. The Supreme Court ruled this past summer that property owners had a right to sue in court over permitting decisions. The federal agencies had contended property owners could only go to court once decisions were final, but essentially argued that all permitting decisions are reviewable and potentially reversible and therefore never final.

But litigation is expensive and time consuming. Heading off the designation to begin with is a better solution.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, whose office pressed the federal lawsuit on behalf of the state, said of Trump’s executive order: “The waters of the United States rule proposed by the former administration would drastically expand federal authority over state and local waters, and I am encouraged that this administration is taking action to ensure that the executive branch’s decisions are in line with congressional intent. We are pleased to see that this administration recognizes what the majority of states have already recognized — that federal rules like the waters of the United States rule must be interpreted consistently with the intent of Congress, and that specific needs of individual states must be taken into account by federal agencies like the EPA.”

In December 2010, the Hawkes Co. applied for a permit to mine peat on property in Minnesota. More than a year later the Army Corps denied the application, saying the land contained “water of the United States” because its wetlands had a “significant nexus” to the Red River of the North, located some 120 miles away.

In the opinion of the court, Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out the definition of WOTUS used by the EPA and the Corps includes “land areas occasionally or regularly saturated with water — such as ‘mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, [and] playa lakes’ — the ‘use, degradation or destruction of which could affect interstate or foreign commerce.’ The Corps has applied that definition to assert jurisdiction over ‘270-to-300 million acres of swampy lands in the United States — including half of Alaska and an area the size of California in the lower 48 States.’”
Roberts also noted that a specialized individual permit on average costs $271,596 and 788 days to complete. He said the permitting process can be “arduous, expensive, and long.” He left out futile, since the process never ends.

The Western Congressional Caucus said the EPA spurned public comment and input from the states in the rule making process, “This is nothing short of a federal seizure of state waters, to the point where very few, if any, water bodies will be left for the states to manage. Water rights, economic growth, and local conservation efforts will suffer. Instead of working with the local officials and state agencies who know their needs the best, citizens will have to depend on a disconnected federal bureaucracy for management of our most precious natural resource: our water.”

Trump is to be applauded for reining in the overreach of the EPA and Corps in grabbing powers never envisioned by Congress.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Stop messing with the clocks already!

On Sunday morning we are required to spring our clocks forward an hour, if we wish to remain in synch with the rest of the nation, get to church and work on time and tune in at the proper time to our favorite radio and TV programs.

Mankind once worked from can till cain’t, as my ol’ grandpappy used to say — from the time you can see till the time you can’t — and farmers and ranchers like grandpappy still do. But to make the trains run on time, we strapped ourselves to the clock, even though the clock is uniform and doesn’t change when the amount of daylight does.

Ol’ Ben Franklin, while serving as ambassador in France, accidentally figured out that this out-of-synch arrangement was somewhat uneconomical when he mistakenly arose one day at 6 a.m. instead of noon and discovered the sun was shining through his window. “I love economy exceedingly,” he jested, and proceeded to explain in a letter to a local newspaper how many candles and how much lamp oil could be saved by adjusting the city’s lifestyle to the proclivities of the sun.

Franklin observed:

“This event has given rise in my mind to several serious and important reflections. I considered that, if I had not been awakened so early in the morning, I should have slept six hours longer by the light of the sun, and in exchange have lived six hours the following night by candle-light; and, the latter being a much more expensive light than the former, my love of economy induced me to muster up what little arithmetic I was master of, and to make some calculations, which I shall give you, after observing that utility is, in my opinion the test of value in matters of invention, and that a discovery which can be applied to no use, or is not good for something, is good for nothing.”

Then he did the math, and exclaimed, “An immense sum! that the city of Paris might save every year, by the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.”

Thus, in 1918 in a effort to be more economical during the war, Congress borrowed from Europe the concept of daylight saving time — springing clocks forward during the summer and back in the winter. From shortly after Pearl Harbor until the end of the Second World War, the nation was on year-round daylight saving time, or war time, as it was called.

National Geographic photo

Moving the clock forward in summer might well save a few kilowatt-hours in lighting, but in states like Nevada that savings is more than made up for with increased air conditioning costs and the fuel used to drive about more after getting off work.

One recent study found that springing forward causes enough sleep deprivation to cost the U.S. economy $435 million a year. The New England Journal of Medicine found an association between that one hour loss of sleep from daylight saving time and an increase in car accidents, as well as a 5 percent increase in heart attacks in the first three weekdays after the transition to daylight saving time, while an Australian study found an increase in the suicide rate.

The changing of clocks twice a year is really a bit of a nuisance and, dare I say, a waste of time — or at least that is what I said in a newspaper column a nearly a year ago.

In a futile gesture to end the charade, the state Legislature in 2015 passed Assembly Joint Resolution No. 4 that proposes to make Pacific Daylight Saving Time year-round.

“WHEREAS, Congress also found and declared that ‘the use of year-round daylight saving time could have other beneficial effects on the public interest, including the reduction of crime, improved traffic safety, more daylight outdoor playtime for children and youth of our Nation, [and] greater utilization of parks and recreation areas …’” AJR4 reads in part, also noting possible “expanded economic opportunity through extension of daylight hours to peak shopping hour. ”

It passed both the Assembly and Senate and was enrolled by the Secretary of State.

Changing to year-round daylight saving time might not save electricity, but it could increase productivity and prevent car wrecks.

Alas, as with everything else, the power to fix this lies in Washington, though I can’t seem to find this enumerated power in my copy of the Constitution. Perhaps it is outdated.

In another glaring example of the efficiency and sincerity of our elected officials, this past fall, as we were being required to fall back and reset our clocks again, the morning newspaper was reporting that no one in Washington had ever heard of AJR4.

AJR4 concludes by beseeching Congress to amend The Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act of 1973 and allow each state to opt out, the same as Arizona and Hawaii have opted out, but rather than sticking with standard time, AJR4 would adopt Pacific Daylight Savings Time all year. Why should it get dark at 4:30 p.m. in the winter anyway?

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Washington to figure out what time it is. They don’t know what century it is.

A version of this posting has appeared here for the past two years.

Newspaper column: Bill proposes to turn Nevada into a ‘sanctuary state’

Return with us now to those thrilling days under the Articles of Confederation when every state made up its own rules regarding immigration and naturalization of foreigners, back before the Constitution gave Congress the sole authority to establish such rules.

In arguing for enactment of the Constitution in Federalist Paper No. 42, James Madison wrote, “The new Constitution has accordingly, with great propriety, made provision against them, and all others proceeding from the defect of the Confederation on this head, by authorizing the general government to establish a uniform rule of naturalization throughout the United States.”

Now along comes Democratic state Sen. Yvanna Cancela of Las Vegas, along with a host of fellow scofflaw Democrats, with a bill in Carson City that would turn Nevada into a “sanctuary state” by forbidding law enforcement cooperating with federal immigration authorities in identifying persons in their custody who are in this country illegally.

Senate Bill 223 states: “No state or local law enforcement agency, school police unit or campus police department shall: (a) Use money, facilities, property, equipment or personnel of the agency, unit or department to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect or arrest a person for the purposes of immigration enforcement …”

Cancela was quoted by the Reno newspaper as saying the bill “limits the ability to participate in immigration enforcement as far as what’s under federal purview.”

She went on to say, “The uncertainty that (President) Trump has created because of his executive orders, because of his political – frankly – hate speech around them has created a lot of problems not only for local law enforcement, but individuals. I think it’s our responsibility as legislators to provide as much clarity not only to law enforcement but families who are affected by those policies.”

Currently, under a program called 287(g), cooperating police departments that take a suspected illegal immigrant into custody notify U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents and they have 48 hours to pick up that person. In the past, ICE has been notoriously lax in showing up within those 48 hours, but, according to numerous press accounts, this is no longer the case under the new Trump presidential administration.

Under SB223 this would come to a screeching halt, despite the fact all lawmakers are required to take an oath of office swearing to “support, protect and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States … that I will bear true faith, allegiance and loyalty to the same, any ordinance, resolution or law of any state notwithstanding …”

In reaction to the bill, Senate Republican Minority Leader Michael Roberson released a statement to the press, saying, “This ‘Sanctuary State’ bill is, without question, the most recklessly irresponsible piece of legislation that I have witnessed during my six plus years in the Nevada Legislature. This Democrat bill will undoubtedly result in violent criminals, who have no business being in our state, to be released back into our communities to wreak more havoc on Nevadans.”

One of the arguments made by sanctuary proponents is that illegal immigrants are loath to report crimes for fear they will risk deportation and this increases criminal activity. But state and local law enforcement currently does not ask those who report crimes about their immigration status, only those who are in custody, those most likely to continue criminal activity if ICE is not given the opportunity to deport them because they pose a danger to the entire community — illegal immigrants included.

To add potential impact on state taxpayers to real danger of criminal activity, it should be noted that President Trump has threatened to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities, and presumably sanctuary states.

He signed an executive order directing government officials to identify federal money that can be withheld to punish sanctuary cities.

So what could this mean for the “sanctuary state” of Nevada should SB223 pass in a Democrat majority Legislature?

The state’s total budget for the past two years was $26 billion. Fully $9 billion of that came from federal funds, according to the state budget.

Passing SB223 could have serious consequences to the bottom line of the state of Nevada, but that has never stopped the self-righteous Democrats, has it?

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Newspaper column: Why separation of powers must be enforced in Nevada

Assembly Bill 121 is Exhibit A in the case for finally enforcing the state constitutional mandate for separation of powers, such that each branch of government may provide checks and balances to prevent the abuse that results when power is concentrated in too few hands.

The bill — introduced in Carson City by Democratic Las Vegas Assemblyman Steve Yeager — would wipe out much of the progress made in 2015 in public employee collective bargaining reforms.

Yeager, who also happens to be a Clark County public employee, would erase a provision in the law that prohibits paying union officials from public coffers for time spent doing union business. It also negates a provision blocking pay increases after a union contract has expired and before a new one is inked. It further requires any new contract to be retroactive to the expiration date of the previous contract — greatly reducing incentives for union members to accept a lower offer.

State Sen. Heidi Gansert sits in the Legislature. (R-J pix)

State Sen. Heidi Gansert sits in the Legislature. (R-J pix)

The bill is redistributionism. Taking from the taxpayers to line the pockets of public employee union members.

Yeager is employed by the Clark County Public Defenders Office, whose union contract expires in June.

The state of Nevada operates under the Dillon Rule, which limits the power of local governments to those expressly granted by the Legislature, meaning local governments are basically subsidiaries of the state and employees of those local governments, such as Yeager, essentially are serving in the executive branch of state government.

Which brings us to Article 3 of the Nevada Constitution, which states: “The powers of the Government of the State of Nevada shall be divided into three separate departments, — the Legislative, — the Executive and the Judicial; and no persons charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments shall exercise any functions, appertaining to either of the others, except in the cases expressly directed or permitted in this constitution.”

Therefore, Yeager, while currently serving in the Legislature, is also a member of the executive branch and, since he works in the court system, he is an employee of the judicial branch — a triple threat!

Such ignoring of explicit requirements of the state Constitution has been ongoing for decades and currently there are several lawmakers whose day jobs are with a local government.

In 2011, the libertarian-leaning Nevada Policy Research Institute’s legal arm, the Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation, filed suit against state Sen. Mo Denis because he also was an employee of the state Public Utilities Commission, and had been for 17 years.

Denis immediately resigned from his $56,000-a-year state job in order to maintain his part-time $10,000-every-other-year state senator post, and a judge declared the lawsuit moot.

A week ago CJCL filed a similar suit against state Sen. Heidi Gansert, who holds a $210,000-a-year in pay and benefits public relations job with the University of Nevada, Reno.

 “Gansert’s continued employment in the state’s executive branch, as Executive Director of External Relations for the University of Nevada, Reno, puts her in direct violation of Nevada’s Separation of Powers clause, now that she is also serving in the state senate,” CJCL Director Joseph Becker said in a press release reporting on the litigation. “As a senator, she can simply not continue her employment in the executive branch without violating this clearly worded constitutional provision.”

In a statement Gansert called the suit meritless and said, “Nevada has an unambiguous precedent of legislators taking time off from their jobs in higher education to serve the people of the state.”

Of the unambiguous Separation of Powers clause, Becker said it was designed to preserve the independence and integrity of each branch, and having a legislator make decisions that might directly benefit employees of another branch creates a clear conflict of interest.

As witness AB121.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in “Notes on the State of Virginia” in 1784: “All the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judiciary, result to the legislative body. The concentrating these in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. … An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.”

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Turning Nevada into a ‘sanctuary state’ could have severe consequences

ICE agents at work in Las Vegas. (R-J pix)

ICE agents at work in Las Vegas. (R-J pix)

Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it — good and hard.

Democratic state Sen. Yvanna Cancela of Las Vegas, along with a number of fellow Democrats, has introduced a bill that would turn Nevada into a “sanctuary state” by forbidding law enforcement cooperating with federal immigration authorities in identifying persons who are in this country illegally.

Senate Bill 223 states:

No state or local law enforcement agency, school police unit or campus police department shall:
(a) Use money, facilities, property, equipment or personnel of the agency, unit or department to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect or arrest a person for the purposes of immigration enforcement, including, without limitation:
(1) Inquiring into or collecting information about the immigration status of a person.
(2) Detaining a person on the basis of a hold request, except where there is an independent finding of probable cause.
(3) Responding to a notification request or transfer request.
(4) Providing or responding to a request for nonpublic personal information about a person, including, without limitation, information about the person’s home address, work address or date of release from custody.
(5) Making an arrest on the basis of a civil immigration warrant, except where there is an independent finding of probable cause.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Under a program called 287(g) local cooperating police departments, which includes Clark County, that take a suspected illegal immigrant into custody notify U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents and they have 48 hours to pick up that person.

According to an account in the Las Vegas newspaper, in the past that rarely happened, but in recent weeks ICE officers are at the jail almost every day, apparently stepping up enforcement of immigration laws under the Trump administration.

Under SB223 this would come to a screeching halt.

But Tump has threatened to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities. He signed an executive order directing government officials to identify federal money that can be withheld to punish “sanctuary cities.”

So what could this mean for the “sanctuary state” of Nevada?

The state’s total budget for the past two years was $26 billion. Fully $9 billion of that came from federal funds, according to the state budget.

Passing SB223 could have serious consequences to the taxpayers of Nevada, but that has never stopped the self-righteous Democrats, has it?

 

Bill would add public libraries to gun-free zones

Lawmakers in Carson City continue to exhibit rabid hoplophobia.

A bill has been introduced to further extend gun-free zones to public libraries and their parking lots. Senate Bill 115, introduced by state Sen. Mo Denis, would add public libraries to the current law, which prohibits guns and other weapons in the buildings and parking lots of universities, public and private schools and childcare facilities.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has a hearing scheduled on the bill for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Nevada Firearms Coalition is urging people to contact the committee members to oppose the bill and register their opposition at a legislative web page.

Now, we have no problem with the owners of land and buildings demanding that visitors come unarmed and the state is surely the owner or custodian of universities and public schools, but why should the state dictate to private schools and private childcare facilities? But most of all, why make it a crime to have a gun in your car in the parking lot?

In fact, in 2015 session Assemblyman John Hambrick introduced a bill that would have allowed guns in occupied or locked vehicles at the aforementioned locales. A hearing on the bill was packed with proponents and opponents.

Its digest stated:

Existing law generally makes it a gross misdemeanor to carry or possess certain weapons while on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a private or public school or a child care facility, or while in a vehicle of a private or public school or a child care facility except in certain circumstances. (NRS 202.265) This bill adds an exception so that a person is not prohibited from possessing such weapons on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a private or public school or a child care facility if the weapon remains out of public view and if the weapon is: (1) inside a motor vehicle that is occupied or, if the motor vehicle is unoccupied, the motor vehicle is locked; or (2) stored in a locked container that is affixed securely to the motor vehicle. 

Seems like a common sense approach, but it never got out of committee.

Having a gun in the parking lot is not as good as having one on your person if the need arises, but tell that to the vice principal of the Pearl, Miss., school who had to run a quarter mile to car to retrieve a gun to stop a shooter.

Vin Suprynowicz recounted in a newspaper column in 2012:

Law-abiding Americans with guns have an impressive record of cutting short the mayhem of would-be mass killers. In a shooting in Pearl, Miss., in October 1997, young Luke Woodham had slit his mother’s throat before carrying a .30-30 deer rifle to school.

Woodham fatally shot two students as Vice Principal Joel Myrick, responding quickly to the sound of shots, dashed to his truck — parked more than a quarter-mile away as required by the ‘gun-free school zone’ law — to recover and load his own Colt .45. He then raced back, captured and disarmed Woodham, holding a gun to his head for more than four minutes while waiting for police to arrive. This almost certainly saved lives, as Woodham had declared his intent to also shoot up another nearby school.

Pearl, Miss., school shooter.

Pearl, Miss., school shooter.

 

Newspaper account is what it is, no mater how it is labeled

rj-analysis

You can take the columnist label off of the writer but you can’t take the columnist proclivities out of her.

One person’s “analysis” is another’s “opinion.”

Providing context in “objective” reporting is hardly distinguishable from “spin.”

I predicted when Debra Saunders joined the Las Vegas newspaper as its White House correspondent after three decades as an editorialist and columnist — having recently departed, willingly or unwillingly, from the San Francisco Chronicle as its putative token conservative columnist — that it would be fun to watch how the designation as a “cub reporter,” as she called it, would jibe with her engrained columnist instincts.

On the front page of today’s newspaper, under Saunders’ byline and an “analysis” tag, is a piece speculating on just how political tonight’s Oscar awards television show will be.

The print headline — “Dear winners: Thank your agent but skip the sermon” — suggests that at least some copyeditor thought the piece was more an editorial advocacy than a thoughtful cogitation on the potential political pandering in acceptance speeches.

The online headline is a bit more ambiguous: “Oscars prediction: Litany of anti-Trump lectures will rule the night,” but there is no “analysis” label extant, though the content is the same.

The same piece also appears today at Townhall.com under the heading of “columnists” with a headline: “Oscar Rants.”

It also is posted on Creators Syndicate website under the same headline.

It also appears at The American Spectator website under the headline: “More of the same coming up?

Whatever it is, its got traction.

Saunders uses the piece to retrace some of the Oscar show’s history of political posturing, beginning with Marlon Brando sending an American Indian to accept his best actor statuette and rant about the treatment of native Americans in the flix.

“When George W. Bush was president, the occasional Oscar recipient railed against the war in Iraq. When Barack Obama assumed office, U.S. troops still served in Iraq, but the anti-war chants met a mute button,” Saunders observes, which certainly does amount to objective observation of the events.

But when she quotes Meryl Streep’s earlier lament at another Hollywood navel-gazing event in which she said those in the room “belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now,” Saunders’ rejoinder is tinged with opinion and dripping with sarcasm: “I can only say that, if having extravagant award ceremonies, staff to shield you from an adoring public and all the other perks of celebrity signify being ‘vilified,’ bring it on.”

While Donald Trump slams journalists and journalists slam him for slamming them and journalist slam actors and actresses for slamming Trump, you can slap any label you want on it, but it is still up to the reader to bring a heaping helping of skepticism and sound judgment to the table when poring over the morning paper and the derivatives and duplicates out on the Web.

Pay no attention to those niggling labels. Read on, dear reader, and enjoy the sarcasm wherever you can find it.

Debra Saunders (San Francisco Chronicle pix)

Debra Saunders (San Francisco Chronicle pix)