Flying Under the Radar or In Case You Missed It on the News
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Flying Under the Radar or In Case You Missed It on the News

By Feux Follets following x   2018 Mar 8, 5:30am 267 views   9 comments   watch   sfw   quote     share    

Looking past the rhetoric and campaign promises here are a few things flying under the radar on the way to make America great again.

AP Exclusive: Transport safety rules sidelined under Trump

A dozen transportation safety rules under development or already adopted have been repealed, withdrawn, delayed, or put on the back burner since Trump took office last year. There have been no significant new safety rules approved during that time.

The sidelined rules would have, among other things, required states to conduct annual inspections of commercial bus operators, railroads to operate trains with at least two crew members and automakers to equip future cars and light trucks with vehicle-to-vehicle communications to prevent collisions.

In most cases, the rules are opposed by powerful industries. The political appointees running the agencies that write the rules often come from the industries they regulate.

Many of the rules were prompted by tragic events.

For the EPA, “reform” means giving industry what it wants.

The 2013 disaster in West, a town of just 2,800, began with a fire at the local fertilizer plant, highlighting safety gaps at thousands of facilities nationwide that use or store high-risk chemicals.

It took the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency nearly four years after that to issue a rule intended to prevent such accidents — a move strenuously opposed by industry groups such as the American Petroleum Institute.

Just a week after the rule was issued, Donald Trump was sworn in as president. Businesses tried again, asking for a delay of the requirements. This time, they got what they asked for.

The EPA has granted more than a few private-sector wishes lately under the guise of regulatory reform. Roughly 62 percent of the agency’s “deregulatory” actions completed in Administrator Scott Pruitt’s first year and 85 percent of its planned initiatives match up with specific industry requests, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis.

These changes targeted requirements ranging from air-pollution limits for oil and gas operations to water-pollution restrictions on coal-fired power plants.


Interior Department wants to lower royalties that offshore oil and companies pay.

Last week the Interior Department's Royalty Policy Committee issued a recommendation suggesting that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lower royalty rates for offshore oil and gas drilling on seabed owned by the US government. I

f Zinke approves the recommendation, royalties from offshore drilling would drop from 18.75 percent to 12.5 percent, the lowest royalty rate permitted by the federal government.

The Institute for Policy Integrity, a non-profit group at the New York University School of Law, noted in a statement (PDF) that President George W. Bush raised the royalty rate from 12.5 percent to 18.75 percent in the hopes of raising $8.8 billion over 30 years.

The Institute wrote in a statement this week that lowering the royalty rate back down to 12.5 percent "would be an irresponsible change that would deliver an unjustified windfall to private industry at the expense of the public."

How $250,000 Can Help Secure a Pollution Loophole at the E.P.A.

The gravel parking lot at the Fitzgerald family’s truck dealership here in central Tennessee was packed last week with shiny new Peterbilt and Freightliner trucks, as well as a steady stream of buyers from across the country.

But there is something unusual about the big rigs sold by the Fitzgeralds:

They are equipped with rebuilt diesel engines that do not need to comply with rules on modern emissions controls. That makes them cheaper to operate, but means that they spew 40 to 55 times the air pollution of other new trucks, according to federal estimates, including toxins blamed for asthma, lung cancer and a range of other ailments.

The special treatment for the Fitzgerald trucks is made possible by a loophole in federal law that the Obama administration tried to close, and the Trump administration is now championing.

The trucks, originally intended as a way to reuse a relatively new engine and other parts after an accident, became attractive for their ability to evade modern emissions standards and other regulations.

The survival of this loophole is a story of money, politics and suspected academic misconduct, according to interviews and government and private documents, and has been facilitated by Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, who has staked out positions in environmental fights that benefit the Trump administration’s corporate backers.


1   Feux Follets   ignore (0)   2018 Mar 8, 5:44am   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote      

Something in the assorted news articles not to the liking of the base ? How about this one ?

Trump admin to allow elephant head trophies on 'individual basis'

The Trump administration has opened the door for American trophy hunters to bring back the heads of African animals and said it will consider requests to do so on a case-by-case basis.

Fish and Wildlife Service officials have prohibited imports of elephants and lions from Zimbabwe and Zambia since Barack Obama put up restrictions in his second term.

The moves came as part of global fight to help protect the animals targeted by poachers for their ivory, though the FWS, under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, reversed the policy in November.

Hunting organizations say that allowing the trophies from countries where elephant hunting can be legal, such as Zimbabwe, helps create an incentive to preserve the species, a reasoning cited by FWS last year.
2   RafiMaas   ignore (0)   2018 Mar 8, 7:11am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote      

Trying to sell America out again.
3   Satoshi_Nakamoto   ignore (0)   2018 Mar 8, 9:20am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote      

Feux Follets says
automakers to equip future cars and light trucks with vehicle-to-vehicle communications to prevent collisions

Fuck that shit. It's a good thing that the pace of cramming all kinds of "mandatory" crap into new cars has been slowed down somewhat.
4   Strategist   ignore (1)   2018 Mar 8, 9:30am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote      

Feux Follets says
They are equipped with rebuilt diesel engines that do not need to comply with rules on modern emissions controls. That makes them cheaper to operate, but means that they spew 40 to 55 times the air pollution of other new trucks, according to federal estimates, including toxins blamed for asthma, lung cancer and a range of other ailments.

I always look forward to breathing fresh smog.

Feux Follets says
Trump admin to allow elephant head trophies on 'individual basis'

Sick sick sick

Dear Trump,
I Love your success, but hate your crap.
5   HEYYOU   ignore (7)   2018 Mar 8, 9:37am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote      

Anything that Trump/Reps do to hurt their supporters is not a problem.
I call it a success.
7   Feux Follets   ignore (0)   2018 Mar 8, 1:17pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote      

America - we are all Kansas now.
8   Feux Follets   ignore (0)   2018 Mar 13, 4:47pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote      

Equifax and other credit reporting companies could get surprising benefits in Senate banking deregulation bill.

The bipartisan Senate bill includes requirements that Equifax and the other credit reporting companies allow people to freeze and unfreeze their files for free and provide free credit monitoring for active-duty members of the military.

But as the bill nears final approval in the Senate this week, its main sponsor, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), has proposed an amendment with provisions that would offset some of the new requirements for Equifax and the other two major credit reporting companies, Experian and TransUnion.

The amendment would prohibit active duty military from suing credit-reporting companies regarding any problems with the free credit monitoring.

Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, said that, if approved, the provision would be the first time federal law would prohibit a consumer's right to sue regarding their credit reports.

"We think that would be a bad precedent," she said. "It's especially a bad precedent given that this is a right being given to service-members."

Equifax also could get another benefit in an arcane change to the bill designed to open competition for credit scores used for mortgages purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are under federal government conservatorship.

Crapo's amendment would insert a provision proposed last summer by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) that would require the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie and Freddie, to create a process to validate and approve new credit scoring models.

Equifax, Experian and TransUnion jointly own VantageScore, a competitor to San Jose's Fair Isaac Corp., the company behind the FICO score now used by Fannie and Freddie.

Consumer advocates have called for updated credit scoring models that are fairer to minorities. But they noted that FHFA in December issued a formal request for input on the agency's credit score requirements and the Senate bill's proposed provision could upend that process.

It appears to be an attempt to set up a better runway to help them take over the credit-scoring market," Mike Litt, consumer campaign director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said of the credit reporting companies.

An FHFA spokeswoman declined to comment.
9   Feux Follets   ignore (0)   2018 Mar 14, 2:09am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)     quote      

Democrats Offer Last-Minute, Pretend Defense of Fair Lending Laws, as They Prepare to Weaken Them.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., has offered an amendment essentially striking a controversial provision from bipartisan bank deregulation bill S.2155 that would limit tools prosecutors use to detect mortgage lending discrimination, while acknowledging that the amendment probably wouldn’t get a vote — and wouldn’t be necessary for his ultimate support.

At issue is Section 104, which exempts all banks and credit unions issuing 500 mortgages or less a year from enhanced Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, or HMDA, data requirements used to identify lending discrimination. This would cover 85 percent of all regulated mortgage lenders from the new requirements, which were part of the Dodd-Frank Act.

The 17 members of the Democratic caucus who support S.2155 have taken significant heat from their colleagues over this measure, which critics believe would deeply damage fair lending enforcement by making the new HMDA data incomplete and unreliable. The subprime crisis, which disproportionately fell on black and brown borrowers, proved that new data for housing discrimination was necessary, but this provision would wipe that away.

Kaine, the former vice presidential nominee who began his career as a fair lending attorney, issued a statement today praising S.2155, arguing that it improves current law through a targeted approach to assist community banks. But he added this:

The bill is a compromise, and I think it can be improved in certain respects. The legislation currently requires that banks writing 96 percent of American mortgages must comply with elevated Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) reporting requirements. I have filed an amendment to the bill to require even more banks to provide enhanced data on mortgages, and I hope we will get the opportunity to vote on this change.

Kaine’s amendment would indeed require more banks to provide data. In fact, it would lower the exemption threshold from banks issuing 500 mortgages a year to 100. That’s where the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau put the threshold in its initial HMDA final rule for open-ended loans like home equity lines of credit; for traditional mortgages the threshold was to be 25 loans. But the Kaine amendment did roll back the threshold significantly, going almost as close as a senator can to saying to his opponents, “You were right and I was wrong.”

The four lead Democratic senators who coauthored S.2155 — Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont.; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; and Mark Warner, D-Va. — cosponsored the amendment, agreeing that effectively nullifying Section 104 would be the right move.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., needs those Democrats on the bill to get to 60 votes. If the Democrats on the Banking Committee backed away, other Democrats would follow and Republicans would need to deal. Why aren’t they doing it?

Tester, Donnelly, and Heitkamp are all facing re-election in states Trump won handily, and where he is still popular. The last line of Kaine’s press release tells you everything about this effort: “I hope we will get the opportunity to vote on this change.” That is not a promise to get a vote on the amendment, nor is it a definitive statement that the amendment would be a condition of Kaine’s support. It just means Kaine and his fellow Democrats introduced an amendment he suspects won’t ever see the Senate floor.

If these Democrats were truly interested in reversing Section 104, they could have simply endorsed the amendment from Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., which reads, simply, “Strike Section 104.” Whether those or any amendment will get votes this week is still being negotiated.

Furthermore, Democratic supporters could have demanded that either Sen. Cortez Masto’s amendment or their own get into the substitute amendment, a set of corrections and additions to the bill released last week. Instead, Section 104 of the substitute includes a fig-leaf alteration mandating bank compliance with enhanced data if they receive a low rating in two successive Community Reinvestment Act examinations. CRA exams come, at most, once every three years, and over 97 percent of banks pass the test — so this would affect almost no lenders, and not for years after any lending discrimination ensued.

The Senate moved to end debate on the substitute amendment Monday evening by a 66-30 count. There were no defections from Democratic supporters from the first test vote last week. That means Kaine, Tester, Donnelly, Heitkamp, and Warner all closed debate on the substitute, without demanding the change to the HMDA provision they all claim to want. As the lead supporters of the bill on the Democratic side whose votes are needed to overcome a filibuster, achieving the change is easily within their capabilities.

Kaine gave the entire game away on Monday when asked directly about the amendment by Brian Cheung of S&P Global Market Intelligence. He admitted, “I don’t need my amendment to pass” to support the underlying bill. “I think the bill is solid as it is,” Kaine added.

In other words, Kaine wants to tell allies that he “fought” to reverse the fair lending provision. His running mate’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, has a term for the political maneuver. It’s called being “caught trying.”

The Intercept asked Sen. Kaine’s office to clarify his position. They have not yet responded.

In a related development, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has introduced a one-line amendment to eliminate the “Citigroup carve-out,” which allows custodial banks to reduce their leverage requirement. There’s been a question over whether Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, which have custodial business lines but aren’t primarily custodial banks, could take advantage of the reduction. But Corker’s amendment eliminates the provision entirely.

Your representatives of both parties working for the best interests of their constituents - the financial industry.

The Winning and MAGA is getting overwhelming now.

Is Reagan coming back from the dead next ?