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The Future of Carbon Capture

Carbon capture is a term used to describe a group of technologies that either remove carbon directly from the air or scrub it from waste gas as fossil fuels are burned.  In either case, the carbon “captured” is buried or used in the manufacture of other products.  Congress is considering legislation to fund carbon capture pilot projects and the capture method it chooses to support will have major consequences for the environment and for West Virginia.

It Is Time to End the Filibuster

To be elected Governor of West Virginia, a candidate needs one more vote than his opponent.  This is majority rule at its most basic.  Majority rule is also a bedrock principle in our federal system.   Accordingly, a bill in the U.S. Senate brought to a vote needs only 51 votes out of 100 Senators to pass.  But today the legislative process in the Senate – indeed in all of Congress — has ground to a halt.  We cannot address the compelling issues of the day in a way that a majority of voters demand.  What has happened to us? 

The Big Lie Conspiracy

The Declaration of Independence was based on a conspiracy theory. That theory was that the King of England and his high ministers had secretly agreed to deprive the American colonists of their rights as English citizens and to impose tyrannical rule. This type of conspiracism, which tries to make sense of a disorderly world by asserting that powerful people are controlling events behind the scenes, can be quite useful in a democracy. But this useful type of conspiracism has been replaced today by an insidious type not concerned at all with facts. The leading example is the Big Lie — that Joe Biden was not legitimately elected President in 2020 because the election was stolen from Trump.

Higher Registration Fees For Hybrid Vehicles – What’s Up With That?

Awhile back, a good friend of mine spent half an hour complaining to me about having to pay an additional $100 when he registered his Prius hybrid vehicle. That caused me to wonder why West Virginia would want to discourage the ownership of these vehicles with a whopping big tax.  Hybrids consume lots less gasoline and emit proportionately less greenhouse gasses from the tailpipe. That’s a good thing, right?  The answer, of course, is not so simple.

Can Trump Pardon Himself?

The stink from the pile of Trump’s pardons is palpable – it is the stink of corruption and abuse of power.  A high percentage of these pardons have gone to those with a personal or political connection to him. Those receiving his favor include murderers, dishonest politicians, fraudsters, thieves, and liars. The question of the moment is whether a president can pardon himself. The power to pardon has been exercised by presidents over 20,000 times and never once has anyone attempted to pardon himself. We may be about to witness a president try to absolve himself of his own criminal conduct for the first time. Can Trump get away with this?

Finding Where Your Rights End and Mine Begin

I get annoyed by inane government rules and being told what to do by officious clerks.  I have always had a small authority problem.  I’ll wager I am not alone in this, but a developmental task toward adulthood is recognizing this as a personal failing.  It is not evidence of some natural or constitutional right to be ornery.

The Electoral College: How it Works – and Doesn’t Work.

Let’s start with a simple proposition with which most everyone these days would agree – the President of the United States should be elected by a majority of voters. Over this nation’s more than 240-year history, our understanding of democracy has come to mean one person one vote, with each of those votes being equally valuable. Nowhere should that be more important than in the election of the President. But our Founders had a different notion of how the election of the President should work.

Regulating Hate Speech in Social Media

Recently, Facebook released an audit of its policies relating to hate speech and other troubling forms of speech. The audit blistered Facebook for being too slow and too tepid in its response. Facebook has traditionally been a proponent of “free expression” and its reluctance to regulate any kind of speech is laudable in many ways. But this is not a First Amendment issue. Facebook is a non-governmental actor not subject to the First Amendment. It can create whatever rules it wants for its platform. Facebook’s decisions on what speech to forbid or regulate are heavily influenced by the desires of its advertisers and other stakeholders – you and I. So what speech is permitted on Facebook is really the product of community self-regulation.

What President Biden Could Do for the Environment in His First Ninety Days

There can be little debate that the Trump administration has been more hostile to sound environmental policy than any administration in modern history. From the start President Trump identified environmental protection as the territory of Obama liberals and played strongly to his populist base and big fossil fuel industry donors by dismantling every protection in sight. So, a Biden administration has a lot of work to do restoring the positive direction set in previous administrations. Here is where I think he should start.

Trump Flails Again at Environmental Law and Policy

While we were distracted by a pandemic, a recession, and an uprising in the streets, Donald Trump attempted to upend decades of environmental law and policy with the stroke of his pen. In an executive order dated June 4, 2020, President Trump directed all federal agencies to use “emergency powers” to speed infrastructure work, specifically waiving or bypassing where possible the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act. Trump justified this order on the basis of the “economic emergency” existing in the country created by the national COVID-19 response. This shouldn’t surprise us – Trump has used every excuse to undermine environmental regulations from the start of his Administration, often favoring oil, gas and coal interests. But the scope of this executive order is audacious.