All posts by Jonathan Nelson

Renewable_Energy_on_the_Grid

Trump Should Deregulate Renewable Energy Instead of Subsidizing It

The Governor’s Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, a bipartisan group of governors dedicated to developing solar and wind energy, sent a letter to President Trump earlier this month urging him to increase federal funding to modernize local power grids and expand clean energy research. They argue that these industries, particularly solar and wind, are crucial economic engines for poor, rural regions of the United States, and they must be supported by the federal government.

In addition to federal funding, the governors requested “options to modernize and streamline state and federal regulatory processes.” If Trump wants to promote the energy industry, he should be encouraged by this bipartisan effort and begin removing the regulatory barriers to renewable energy. Right now, the technology exists for millions of Americans to access clean and affordable solar energy in their homes, but government regulations, many of which are interpreted by monopolistic utility companies, are holding back these cost-saving innovations.

Thanks to decreases in costs of solar technology, solar-based electricity is now cheaper than grid electricity in many parts of the country. Investment in solar technology makes sense for many businesses and wealthy homeowners, but for the average American, who moves more than 11 times in their lifetime, or the third who rent housing, an expensive long-term investment is not going to work.

A new technology known as plug-and-play solar systems may change the game. People can install them in a backyard with no training. These systems are affordable and portable, which is ideal for transient or renting individuals, and they tie into the electrical grid. They do not produce enough energy for an entire household, but the systems can greatly cut down on energy costs.

Unfortunately, government regulations at all levels of government are holding back the market for these innovative systems. These regulations take the form of price controls, licensing, zoning laws and other rules, all of which can be different at each level of government.

Read the rest at The Washington Examiner…

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Beyond Mylan: FDA Efficacy Requirements Hurt the Poor

Contrary to the popular belief that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protects American consumers from dangerous drugs produced by malicious drug companies, FDA drug regulations actually benefit big pharma. And this benefit occurs by increasing the cost of prescription drugs for the poorest Americans. We can see this injustice in the recent EpiPen controversy.

The drug company Mylan recently announced that they were increasing the price of their drug known as the EpiPen by nearly 500 percent since 2007. The EpiPen is a device that allows someone suffering from potentially fatal allergy symptoms to inject epinephrine into their system, reducing the symptoms and possibly saving their life. Since the drug is widely used and so important for many people, the price increase ignited a political and media firestorm. Pundits from both sides of the aisle are outraged, saying that the company should be forced to lower the price.

But the drug company is not the only organization at fault. Like any other corporation, Mylan is in business to make money. The FDA, on the other hand, whose official vision is that “public health is advanced and protected,” goes against this mission every day.

Continue reading at RealClearHealth.

E-Cigarette

New E-cigarette Regulations Benefit Big Tobacco

The e-cigarette industry has blossomed into a $2 billion business, providing thousands of manufacturing and retail jobs while offering smokers a safer alternative. Unfortunately, this thriving market is under threat due to new rules finalized in May by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The new rules expand the regulatory authority of the FDA to cover all tobacco or tobacco-related products — including e-cigarettes, many of which contain no tobacco whatsoever.

Like cigarettes, other forms of tobacco consumption can be addictive because of nicotine — which is why the FDA has asserted regulatory authority. While most e-cigarette products do not contain tobacco, they still use flavored juices that contain nicotine. Smokers can use e-cigarettes to supplement or, in some cases, replace their regular tobacco usage. The FDA worries that these products will increase nicotine addiction rates, especially among youth, and thereby lead to increased tobacco usage overall.

While it could be argued that e-cigarettes and other tobacco-related products should be regulated in a way that puts them on an even playing field with cigarettes, the rules do not limit the FDA to making regulations fair. The rules give the FDA broad authority to regulate tobacco products in whatever way the agency wants. For many of these rules, the FDA will issue “guidance” rather than spelling out the restrictions in the finalized regulations. Unlike formal rules, guidance does not need to go through a formal approval process. Thus, there is simply no oversight to ensure equitable regulation.

Continue reading at RealClearPolicy.

High Speed Rail

Private and Profitable High Speed Rail Coming to Florida

As Americans head off for summer vacation, few plan to go by train. Travelling by train simply does not make sense for most people. But a private transportation company in Florida, Florida East Coast Industries, is investing in a high-speed rail system called All Aboard Florida that would connect Miami and Orlando along the Atlantic coast. Unlike other rail systems, such as Amtrak, this one would cover its costs and make a profit.

Cars and planes are generally better transportation options for Americans than trains for travelling long distances. According to the Census Bureau, over 90 percent of American households have access to a car, van, or pickup truck. While the interstate highway system connects the entire country, the same cannot be said for rail. Most cities in the United States are spread too far apart for rail to be an efficient transportation option.

Read the rest on Economics 21 here.

Oil Refinery

Equal Export Rights for U.S. and Iranian Oil Companies

Many outdated federal laws and regulations contribute to increasing regulatory red tape. One example is the ban on exporting domestically produced crude oil. Refined oil such as gasoline is permitted to be exported, but domestic crude oil must be sent to American refineries before it can be sold to other countries.

The recent deal President Obama and other world powers signed with Iran lifts economic sanctions, so Iranian companies can now export their goods—including crude oil. In this respect Iranian oil companies have more economic power in an energy-dependent world than do U.S. companies.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has called for a repeal of the ban. Lifting the export ban would benefit the U.S. economy.

Read the rest on Economics 21 here.