This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight…
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Happy 40th to the Staggers Rail Act, Which Deregulated and Saved the U.S. Rail Industry

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight rail and saved it from looming oblivion.

At the time of passage, the U.S. economy muddled along amid ongoing malaise, and our rail industry teetered due to decades of overly bureaucratic sclerosis.  Many other domestic U.S. industries had disappeared, and our railroads faced the same fate.  But by passing the Staggers Rail Act, Congress restored a deregulatory approach that in the 1980s allowed other U.S. industries to thrive.  No longer would government determine what services railroads could offer, their rates or their routes, instead restoring greater authority to the railroads themselves based upon cost-efficiency.

Today, U.S. rail flourishes even amid the coronavirus pandemic…[more]

October 13, 2020 • 11:09 PM

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Obama’s BP Spill Commission Places Partisanship Above Progress Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, July 15 2010
The American people deserve genuine answers on the Gulf disaster. Regrettably, Obama’s politicized commission is already taking us in the wrong direction.

This week, President Barack Obama’s BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission began hearings in New Orleans to discuss the Gulf accident and the necessary response. 

Rather than focusing on unbiased inquiry and saving American jobs, unfortunately, the commission and Obama Administration hastily and irrationally insist upon their offshore drilling moratorium.  As a recent Washington Post article noted, during the hearing, “the commission members asked mostly broad questions that elicited little new information.”  The fact that the commission is ill-equipped to be leading this effort quickly became the prevailing theme.
 
Despite hearing from a list of witnesses that even a temporary hold on drilling will cripple the Gulf economy, the commission still opted to send jobs abroad.  As documented by Bryan Walsh in a recent TIME article, nearly 125,000 jobs in Louisiana could be lost and “energy—in all its facets—contributes about $65 billion to Louisiana's $210 billion economy, compared to about $10 billion for fishing and tourism.”

A better course would have been securing a commission with bipartisan expertise and interests.  Unfortunately, Obama’s commission consists entirely of strong anti-drilling ideologues. 

Sadly, that isn’t even the worst of the problem. The commission also lacks the technical expertise needed for adequate evaluations of industry practices, and many of the members are transparent environmental activists.  The commission claims to be investigating the disaster’s root causes, but how can this happen in the absence of any actual engineering experts?  Their purported efforts toward better safety standards and regulations will prove meaningless without in-depth knowledge of the petroleum industry.

The Heritage Foundation addresses the lack of scientific expertise in a blog post, highlighting the “obvious biases of a majority of its members who have either stated publicly their opposition to drilling, or are members of organizations that oppose offshore drilling.  There is only one member with any engineering background at all, although her specialties are physics and optics.”

Tragically, most commission members’ backgrounds are rather irrelevant when it comes to addressing questions involving offshore drilling.  It is of grave importance that the commission fully understand what went wrong on BP’s Horizon facility.  With Obama’s hyper-politicized commission, however, it is easy to predict that the outcome of their findings will be skewed.  Witnesses and experts can testify until they’re blue in the face, but ultimate authority ultimately lies in the hands of the committee. 

If we’re going to address the BP disaster, restore trust in the government and move forward to prevent future disasters, true operational expertise is critically necessary.  Not only must we avoid political biases, but we must focus on quickly ascertaining ways to safely enhance offshore drilling instead of driving even more jobs overseas. 

The American people deserve genuine answers on the Gulf disaster.  Regrettably, Obama’s politicized commission is already taking us in the wrong direction.

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following was the first 20th century presidential candidate to call for a Presidential Debate?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"In nominating Barrett to the Supreme Court, [President Trump] kept his promise by choosing an undaunted originalist -- someone who interprets the Constitution based on the understanding held by its ratifiers.Trump's most profound effect on the Constitution will come when she and the other Trump Justices apply that originalism to the questions of liberty and equality."Read entire article here.…[more]
 
 
—John C. Yoo, Heller Professor Law at U.C. Berkeley School of Law
— John C. Yoo, Heller Professor Law at U.C. Berkeley School of Law
 
Liberty Poll   

Do you believe Republicans will continue to hold a majority in the U.S. Senate following the 2020 election?