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As the death toll for Government Shutdown Apocalypse 2013 continues to grow, it appears that the EPA’s plans to make it even more expensive for Americans to drive a car were “shut down” by the government shutdown. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will take one of the biggest hits of any federal agency if the government shuts down this week, operating with under 7 percent of its employees, according to guidance issued by the agency.Just think of how much less the EPA will be able to do with only 7 percent of its employees. That EPA SWAT Team may have to sit out the week. Someone else will have to send $700,000 to Thailand’s pig farmers. And someone else will have to hike fuel prices. Among those furloughed would be most workers at the Office of Air and Radiation, which is in charge of writing and implementing most of the EPA’s major air pollution rules. The clock would also stop, for now, on the EPA’s eagerly-awaited proposal on renewable fuel volume standards for 2014.Who exactly is eagerly awaiting this proposal? Drivers who can’t wait to pay a buck more for gas. Gas prices will increase about $1 per gallon by 2015 and take a $550 billion bite out of Americans’ take-home pay when the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) increases the ethanol mandate past the 10 percent “blend wall.”Sadly the evil government shutdown may delay the environmentalist push for Electric Poverty in America “People are not going to be able to be working on these rules at home,” said Dina Kruger, an environmental regulation consultant and former climate change director at the EPA, who worked at the agency when the government shut down in 1996.Sure.EPA employees won’t write arbitrary rules that steal money out of the pockets of hardworking Americans unless the Americans pay them first. “Permitting does not qualify (as essential), so people should expect delays in permit processing and other licensing and approval processes,” said Scott Fulton, former EPA general counsel until January this year and an attorney at Beveridge and Diamond. “This is a decidedly bad thing for the country. Everybody pays, including the regulated community.”Gulag employees furloughed. Gulag prisoners waiting for meals hit hardest. There is a solution though. Free the prisoners.
Here is another bright side to the shutdown. Had to go in to renew my drivers license today, and the normally full and chaotic office was near empty. My number was called right away. They said people thought State offices were also closed, so did not come in. All those high school social studies classes paid off. For me.
In related news, gas prices in town here dropped 5 cents today.
House Transportation Committee Chair Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island) said Monday Democrats will seek a 10-cent-per-gallon increase to the state’s gas tax — already the ninth-highest in the nation at 37 and a half cents a gallon.The tax increase is just one component of a comprehensive transportation revenue package the Democrats will formally announce on Wednesday.The measure would likely be popular in the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives, but not enough to earn approval by the needed two-thirds majority.Its prospects in the Senate are even more unfavorable in the Senate, where Republicans are outnumbered 26-23 by Democrats but cobbled together a working majority in December by enlisting two moderate Democrats to form a “Majority Coalition” that outnumbers Democrats 25-24.However, one of those Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom (D-Medina), last month signaled he might be open to a gas tax hike.Gov. Jay Inslee, in his first major policy announcement, last week said he, too, would support a gas tax increase after promising voters on the campaign trail for two years he didn’t plan to raise taxes of any kind.The joker in the deck could be the Washington State Supreme Court, which is expected to issue a ruling any day on the constitutionality of Initiative 1053, which required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature or a majority vote of the people to raise taxes in Washington state.If the court throws out 1053, lawmakers could decide a simple majority is sufficient to pass a tax increase, even though the voters reaffirmed their support for the two-thirds standard by passing I-1185 with 65 percent of the vote statewide.