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19 attorneys general urge Biden not to bypass Congress to raise debt ceiling | National

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Joe Mueller | – 2023-05-25 12:50:00

(The Center Square) – A coalition of 19 attorneys general signed a letter urging not to expand his executive powers to raise or ignore the debt ceiling without congressional approval.

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti led the group and was prompted by Biden's statements on his assertion the executive branch has authority under the 14th Amendment to bypass .

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“Our constitutional system may be frustrating at times, but it is the fundamental guarantor of American liberty, and we must all abide by the oaths we swore to defend it,” the letter states. “The Constitution very deliberately invests the power of the purse in Congress. That power includes the authority to tax, the authority to spend, and, explicitly, the authority to borrow money on the credit of the United States.”

Biden and Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy and their staffs have been in negotiations to reach an agreement to raise the nation's debt ceiling and prevent the U.S. government from defaulting on its debt obligations. Earlier this , U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote to McCarthy and warned that the Treasury may be unable to pay its bills as early as June 1. Business and consumer confidence would also be influenced by not increasing the debt limit.

“The Constitution is clear that only Congress has the power to authorize an increase in the national debt,” Skrmetti said in a statement. “The separation of powers in our constitutional system may be frustrating sometimes, but the checks and balances it creates are the heart of American liberty. If we start taking illegal shortcuts, no matter how compelling the justification, we put our whole system at risk.”

Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey was one of the attorneys general who signed the letter and called Biden's possible actions political.

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“President Biden is yet again ignoring the blatant framework of our Constitution, which is the very bedrock of our nation, to satisfy his political agenda,” Bailey said in a statement. “If not for the states, the federal government would roughshod over our nation's system of checks and balances. I will not stand by and allow the integrity of our nation to be eroded by a President who has no respect for the Constitution.”

The letter expressed a belief that Biden and legislators will reach a solution but warned of legal ramifications if Congress is bypassed.

“We have faith that you and our federal legislators will find a solution and resolve the immediate problem,” the letter stated. “But should your administration attempt an authoritarian end-run around the separation of powers, we will not hesitate to use the legal tools at our disposal to defend the integrity of our constitutional system.”

In addition to Tennessee and Missouri, the letter was signed by the top enforcement from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, , Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia.

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The Center Square

Seafood industry groups unite to oppose bill that would limit bottom trawls | Alaska

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Steve Wilson | The Center Square – 2024-06-20 12:34:00

(The Center Square) – A bill introduced last month in the U.S. House of Representatives that could place limits on trawling by fishermen and shrimpers is drawing the fire of seafood industry groups from Alaska to Florida. 

House Resolution 8507, the Bottom Trawl Clarity Act, would require the nation's eight regional Fisheries Management councils, some of which allow fishing trawls to scrape the bottom, to define the terms “substantial” versus “limited” contact of the bottom.

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The measure would also require the designation of bottom trawl zones and limit the number of where bottom trawling is . This form of trawling utilizes weighted nets equipped with rollers to harvest shrimp, flounder, whiting, red hake, dogfish and some species of crab. 

The bill is authored by U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, who said in a summary of the legislation that “limiting the areas where bottom trawling is allowed will enhance marine health, diversity, and resilience, strengthening the ocean ecosystem that Alaska fishermen depend on.”

In a letter sent to Peltola by 53 seafood industry groups and companies, they ask her to withdraw her bill, citing harm to the industry. The signees include the National Fisheries Institute, the Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association, the Southern Shrimp Alliance, shrimper in , South Carolina and Texas, the New England Fishermen's Stewardship Association and the Northeast Seafood Coalition, among others. 

“The introduction of H.R. 8507 shakes the confidence of seafood buyers and consumers in U.S. seafood, thereby casting a long shadow of uncertainty over the future opportunities of fishery-dependent communities and businesses at the worst possible time,” the letter says. “Its top-down mandates would permanently wall off vast sections of ocean territory from important sustainable fisheries, boxing in not only fishermen but also scientists and managers who would be prevented from adapting their management approaches to changing ocean conditions over time.”

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Mike Merrifield is the vice president of the Southeastern Fisheries Association and one of the letter signers. 

“The inflexible approach in Rep. Peltola's anti-mobile gear legislation is especially troubling given it restricts the ability of commercial fisheries to respond to resource shifts due to changing ocean temperatures,” Merrifield said in a statement. “Shrimp are particularly sensitive to ocean temperatures which are driving the resource into different areas and deeper .

“The legislation will prevent industry in the South Atlantic and every other region from being able to adjust fishing efforts to food for our nation.”

Also releasing a statement was Alvin D. Osterback, the of the Aleutians East Borough. He said passage of the legislation would result in his community being substantially harmed by the legislation's requirements since most of their tax revenue from trawl fisheries and could even result in the five- borough not being able to meet bond obligations and fund its education system. 

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Texas leads 19-state coalition challenging green energy transition mandate | National

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor – 2024-06-18 09:24:00

(The Center Square) – is leading a 19-state coalition challenging a federal agency requiring states to implement a “green energy” transition.

The states filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in response to a rule it passed to advance unprecedented federal control over the U.S. electric grid. Currently, state regulatory bodies determine the most efficient mix of energy sources for their states. FERC's new rule appears to be an unfunded mandate, requiring states to implement “green energy” electricity generation and the costs to transition to it.

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Texas, which maintains its own electric grid, filed the complaint, leading a 19-state coalition. It argues FERC's rule exceeds its authority, is arbitrary and capricious and creates an “unjust, unreasonable, and/or unduly discriminatory rates” that violate the Federal Power Act.

The rule is “not supported by reasoned -making or explanation and runs counter to the evidence,” the 48-page brief states. FERC issued the rule “attempting to do indirectly what it cannot do directly: usurp the States' exclusive authority over generation choices by adopting planning rules designed to benefit remote renewable generation and renewable developers, and shift billions or trillions of dollars in transmission costs from those developers onto electric consumers,” the coalition argues.

The coalition includes Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, , Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah.

At issue is the FERC's May 13, 2024, Order No. 1920, which states, “there is substantial evidence to the conclusion that the existing regional transmission planning and cost allocation processes are unjust, unreasonable, and unduly discriminatory or preferential because the Commission's existing transmission planning and cost allocation requirements do not require transmission providers to: (1) perform a sufficiently long-term assessment of transmission needs that identifies Long-Term Transmission Needs; (2) adequately account on a forward looking basis for known determinants of Long-Term Transmission Needs; and (3) consider the broader set of benefits of regional transmission facilities planned to meet those Long-Term Transmission Needs.”

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The order requires states to cover the costs of transitioning regional transmission lines to support “green energy” generation even when doing so doesn't support the state's energy needs and would decrease grid efficiency and reliability, the coalition argues.

In Texas, for example, the regulatory body overseeing the state's grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), has repeatedly pointed out that wind and solar power cannot meet energy demands but natural gas does. As temperatures hovered for months at 120 degrees last year, ERCOT issued voluntary conservation appeals while also publishing data showing that low wind generation could not provide a sufficient energy supply. Texas is the world's fifth largest generator of wind power and leads the U.S. in generating wind energy.

Recognizing the need for reliable non-intermittent energy sources, the Texas , and the majority of voters, approved a plan to invest $5 in constructing mostly natural gas infrastructure to expand Texas' energy grid reliability. The new program has received an “overwhelming response,” state officials said. By contrast, zero bids were received in Texas in response to federal offshore auctions for roughly 200,000 acres of wind energy leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Despite this, the Biden administration is again attempting to auction a second round of offshore wind leases in the Gulf.

The Texas General Office has opposed such efforts, refusing to grant any easement to access state-owned submerged land for transmission lines to shore, arguing it's not in Texas' best interest. GLO Commissioner Dawn Buckingham said, “The Biden Administration appears hellbent on force-feeding Americans failed ‘green' policies” and she will “never allow the federal government to endanger the people of Texas and our state's beautiful wildlife with untested, unproven, and ineffective technology when reliable, clean, and safe energy is already available,” referring to Texas-produced natural gas.

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Texas leads the U.S. in natural gas production and Texas and Louisiana lead the U.S. in liquified natural gas exports, The Center Square has reported.

The 19-state coalition argues, “FERC has never been granted the authority to revamp the structure of state energy grids or force states and their to subsidize large-scale transmission lines that don't transport enough energy to justify the cost. This encroachment upon state authority far exceeds FERC's limited purview and damages the ability of states to regulate their electric grids efficiently, all in the name of advancing costly climate goals.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the president's “attempt to seize unprecedented control over energy production and distribution is a recipe for disaster.” The AGs joined together “to stop his unlawful ‘energy transition' scheme that would up energy costs and reduce reliability of the resources our nation needs most to flourish.”

They did so after the former Louisiana attorney general and now governor, Jeff Landry, led a gubernatorial coalition to “unleash domestic energy production.”

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“American energy has done more than any other industry to lift more people out of poverty globally than any other industry that I've known of,” Landry said.

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The Center Square

Mississippi bases to receive millions under new defense spending bill | Mississippi

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Steve Wilson | – 2024-06-17 16:08:00

(The Center Square) – Mississippi bases and defense contractors could millions if the defense spending bill is signed into law by .

The National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, would nearly $88 million for construction projects at Mississippi bases. Last year, bases in the Magnolia received $211.8 million.

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The measure would also provide money for several ship classes built at 's Ingalls Shipyard, including $1.56 for the Flight II San Antonio class landing ship dock program, $61 million for the replacement for the America class amphibious assault ships and nearly $1.52 billion for Arleigh Burke class destroyers, both construction of new Flight III ships and updates for older ships of the class.

The construction projects include $34.5 million for a 10 megawatt generation plant and $11.16 million for underground electrical grid hardening at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg, the largest state-owned field site for the Army National Guard. The post consists of 134,820 acres aid is used by Mississippi and other state National Guards, along with units from other services. 

Southaven's National Guard Readiness Center will receive $33 million. The Allen C. Thompson National Guard Base Field's fire crash and rescue center will receive $9.3 million. The base co-located at -Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport operates a squadron of C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlift aircraft. 

The bill passed the full House by a 217-199 vote and will now head to the Senate. 

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