Biden OKs Spending $13.8B on Home Heating This Winter
November 21, 2022
Anticipating frigid temperatures and dramatically higher energy prices, President Joe Biden’s Department of Energy is spending $4.5 billion from its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to help households heat their homes this winter, The Associated Press reported.
The home energy program, established in 1981, usually spends about $3.5 billion every year to help more than 5 million low-income families year pay utility bills and make repairs to improve energy efficiency. Last winter, $8 billion was spent as part of the coronavirus relief package.
The DOE is rolling out another $9 billion initiative to pay for energy upgrades to 1.6 million homes over the next 10 years, to weatherize homes and install 500,000 new heat pumps, AP reported.
The White House is using yet another $250 million, from the Defense Production Act, to increase the production of heat pumps in the U.S.
While the $13.8 billion is a welcome solution for some, the boom in spending only exacerbates the affordability problem, according to Patrick Hedger, executive director of the Taxpayer Protection Alliance.
“This is an unsustainable path that the administration is on,” he told Fox News. “When you introduce this kind of spending in an inflationary period, all you’re going to do is drive prices higher. They’re not doing anything to address the underlying problem, which is the lack of supply.”
Some have blamed Biden’s restrictive energy policies — canceling the Keystone pipeline, suspending new federal oil and gas leases, higher drilling fees on federal land, and pushing the Federal Reserve toward climate change policies — as creating an adversarial relationship with those who could help ease the shortages, The New York Post reported.
Tom Kloza, the global head of energy analysis for Oil Price Information Service, which provides price transparency across the global supply chain, said, “You’ve got diplomacy on Ukraine. You’ve got diplomacy with Iran. Now you’ve got diplomacy with Venezuela,” Kloza said. “You know, it might be advisable to have some diplomacy with oil and gas companies.”
CDC to Spend $55M on More Tobacco Research
November 22, 2022
For more than half a century, the American public has known that smoking tobacco can cause cancer and lead to an early death. It seems that isn’t enough for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is awarding at least $55 million next year for more research in that area.
The Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and the Office of Smoking and Health will give $40 million to “a consortium of population-specific, public health-oriented, national networks to impact tobacco-related and cancer health disparities among specific populations.”
We already know that different populations of Americans smoke more than others— native Americans and some Hispanic communities have high rates of cigarette smoking, and Black smokers are much more likely to use menthol tobacco products, according to the American Lung Association.
But the grant is paying researchers in “national networks” $40 million to bring various groups together “with the goals of leveraging and pooling resources, supporting those groups in advancing health equity, and increasing implementation of culturally appropriate interventions deployed through a health equity lens.”
What’s needed, the grant summary argues, is “population-specific” ways to support prevention and control of tobacco use.
These “populations experiencing disparities” have been harmed by “generations of unfair and unjust policies and practices, including the tobacco industry’s aggressive target marketing to certain people and communities.”
Another $10 million grant will go to creating and spreading policies to stop youth and adult from smoking menthol and other flavored tobacco.
A third CDC $3.8 million grant will go to national quit-line to provide cessation counseling for people who speak Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.
Another $2.5 million will be given for non-specified tobacco regulatory research next year, giving potential applicants “sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations and appropriate projects.”
Does the American public need tens of millions of spending every year to continue to tell them that cigarettes can kill them?
BART Seeks Another $2.3B in Federal Funds for CA Train
November 23, 2022
They’re baaack! The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is now asking for another $2.3 billion from the federal government to see high-speed trains running from San Francisco to San Jose as part of the already years-delayed, over budget Bay Area Rapid Transit project, according to The Mercury News.
The total cost of this section of California’s high-speed rail project has exploded to $9.3 billion, 35 percent higher than the last estimate of $6.9 billion and almost twice what it was estimated to cost in 2014, the Mercury News reported. And it’s unclear whether that $9.3 billion figure will go up again.
Santa Clara County residents have paid for some of the project by voting for tax hikes in 2000 and 2008, paying almost $3.2 billion from sales taxes and bridge tolls.
The Federal Transit Administration already committed $2.3 billion to the project but Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority officials want to shift the overrun burden to federal taxpayers, asking the federal agency to double its commitment to $4.6 billion by moving the project to a federal program called New Starts.
This would bring the project in by 2034, four years later than current projection of 2030.
Santa Clara officials say that they don’t know the actual cost or timeline of the project. A better estimate will come during a top-to-bottom “rebaselining” effort that could end in a lower or higher estimate, VTA General Manager Carolyn Gonot said in The Mercury News.
The Federal Transit Administration completed a risk review more than a year ago, when the estimate was $9.1 billion. But the Mercury News reported in July that the FTA “continues to be concerned that the project estimate is under-representing the total cost due in part to contingency, inflation, and an optimistic base schedule and risk profile.”
EPA to Spend $13B on Environmental Justice and Climate
November 25, 2022
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has $13 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act to fight “climate crisis” and advance “environmental justice” and is asking the public for ideas on how to spend it, according to Fox News.
The funds give people “the unprecedented opportunity to make lasting progress to equitably protect people and the planet from air pollution and climate change,” said Joseph Goffman, principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.
In seeking the public’s input, he added, “We are eager to engage with all who have a stake in the success of these efforts, and our next steps will be guided by the wisdom and experience from the conversations we have and the feedback we receive over the next several months."
The EPA’s website calls the money “an historic amount of funding” and seeks input through Jan 18, 2023, about six different grant programs, including how to spend money on climate pollution reduction, transportation programs, reducing methane emissions, addressing air pollution, low emissions electricity, and more.
There’s $50 million dedicated for air monitoring in “communities that are underserved, historically marginalized, and overburdened by pollution” funding 132 air monitoring projects in 37 states.
About $30 million will come from the Inflation Reduction Act, and $20 million will come from the American Rescue Plan.
How this program, hailed by the EPA as "largest investment to combat the climate crisis in U.S. history,” will reduce inflation, is not clear.
The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.