Category: Commentaries

Biofuels, Ethanol Give Food for Thought

By Harold Brown A lawsuit filed this week against the federal Environmental Protection Agency accuses the agency of penalizing refiners for failing to meet “unattainable and absurd” cellulosic biofuels quotas outlined in EPA’s renewable fuels standard. The EPA mandates the purchase of biofuels formulated in part from biological materials including switchgrass, wood chips and agricultural waste. But the oil and gas industry trade association, the American Petroleum Institute, argues that the quotas set an unrealistic goal because no such cellulosic biofuels are produced on a commercial scale in the nation. Refiners unable to meet the cellulosic biofuels mandate represent just the tip of the iceberg. Biofuels, mainly ethanol, are booming in the 21st century. They crept over from the 20th… View Article

License to Kill Business

By Benita M. Dodd From a historic building on the banks of the Etowah River in Rome, Ga., Ed Watters and his co-workers design elaborate gardens and manage a successful landscape company with a staff of more than 60. Behind the serene décor of the Outdoor Living Studio, however, lurk onerous regulatory hoops that the company must jump through to do business. One of those hurdles is licensing. The Institute for Justice reports that Georgia is one of just 10 states that require landscape workers – known as landscape architects – to have an occupational license to work in Georgia. According to the Secretary of State’s Web site, applicants must pass both a national and state examination. According to the… View Article

Don’t Hide Energy Innovation Under a Bushel

By Benita Dodd It’s easy being green these days for environmental activists – green with envy. The darnedest thing has happened in the energy arena, something that this Foundation frequently cites in opposing heavyhanded government mandates and regulation. It’s the innovativeness of Americans. Not that it’s slowing activists’ efforts to rein in innovation. A long time ago, Americans faced predictions that oil was running low. “Peak oil” hasn’t happened, thanks to innovation. Vehicles became more fuel-efficient, going farther on less, and businesses and appliances got more energy efficient even as their numbers increased. Improving technology enabled oil producers to locate and extract more resources. So “global warming” became the reason to push for “renewable” energy such as wind, solar, biomass… View Article
By Benita Dodd The “Untie Atlanta” commercials on radio and TV are nothing if not clever. Frustrated commuters can relate to the visual onslaught on TV of roads tangled in a giant knot and the radio announcement, accompanied by blaring horns, that says “Traffic in metro Atlanta is tied up in knots … Let’s untie the knot. Vote yes for the July 31 Regional Transportation Referendum.” Without a doubt, inadequate transportation spending has led to congestion and reduced mobility in this state. If voters in each of the 12 regions support the referendum, a penny transportation special local option sales tax (T-SPLOST) will fund its tailored list of projects. Some of them – most notably, Savannah’s port-area improvements – are… View Article

EPA’s Coal Wars Could Sink America’s Economy

By James H. Rust While campaigning in San Francisco during the Democratic Party primaries in January 2008, presidential candidate Obama told The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.” Once elected, President Obama tried to keep his promise through the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, also known as the Waxman-Markey Bill, which narrowly passed the House 219-212. Its cap-and-trade provision on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would put a price on CO2 emissions and gradually reduce emissions allowed until they reach 17 percent of the … View Article

Realigning Georgia’s Fiscal Priorities

By Kelly McCutchen Fifteen years ago it was almost impossible to drive by a public school in Georgia without seeing at least one classroom trailer in the parking lot. Parents viewed those trailers as a threat to their children’s education, so in 1996 voters approved E-SPLOST – the special purpose local option sales tax for education that has funded hundreds of new schools and improvements to existing schools. Today, Georgia is in a much different landscape than in 1996. The migration of new residents to the state has slowed and, with few exceptions, school facilities are now more on par with needs. Today, the challenge is to get to the new and improved schools on time: We’re stuck in traffic.… View Article

Georgia Needs a Lone Star State of Mind

By Kelly McCutchen   Jobs, jobs, jobs. That’s the mantra from nearly every elected official these days, from President Obama to Governor Deal. But do government policies really have on impact job creation? And if so, what should states like Georgia be doing?   Can government create jobs? Certainly, but every dollar spent by government is a dollar taken out of the private economy, where it most likely could be put to better use.   “More focus should be on incentives for people and businesses to invest, produce and work,” says Harvard economist Robert Barro. “On the tax side, we should avoid programs that throw money at people and emphasize instead reductions in marginal income-tax rates — especially where these… View Article

Eight Affordable Ideas for Georgia

By Kelly McCutchen The General Assembly gathers in Atlanta next week facing a deficit of well over $1 billion. Across-the-board budget cuts are no longer sufficient to bridge the budget gap. Georgia needs more innovative, transformative ideas. The budget would appear to limit the state’s options, but there are still several progressive reforms that won’t break the bank. Tax Reform: Pro-growth tax reforms that shift taxes to consumption and away from taxing work and investment would improve Georgia’s competitive position without costing money. Simplifying the tax code would also have positive effects. Finally, providing local governments with the flexibility, with voter approval, to temporarily shift sales tax proceeds to operations could avoid damaging property tax increases.   Regulatory Reform View Article

Transportation Solutions that Fit to a ‘T’

By Benita M. Dodd Cato Institute Senior Fellow Randal O’Toole’s recent visit to Atlanta was to talk about getting Georgians out of gridlock, and he proposed solutions. He talked a lot about “big-box” transit, about trains, about transit-oriented development and tax increment financing. None of those were O’Toole’s proposed congestion solutions, but he named several that fit to a “T” and are worth expanding upon. Timing traffic lights: Poorly timed traffic light signals cause congestion and needless delays. Synchronizing signals not only improves the flow and speed of traffic, it improves fuel efficiency and air quality. The Federal Highway Administration cites several examples of enormous benefit. The Texas Traffic Light Synchronization program reduced delays by 24.6 percent, fuel consumption by… View Article

Transportation Planning: A Long Road Ahead

By Benita M. Dodd The Georgia Department of Transportation’s Draft Statewide Strategic Plan released this month reflects the state’s transportation approach for the next 20 years and, it’s promising that this time it’s two steps forward and just one step back. Amid ongoing discord about transportation solutions and funding options, observers must demand Georgia not shoot itself in the foot while hobbling ahead. The plan outlines a transportation strategy for Georgia to create 425,000 jobs and $480 billion in economic benefits through additional investment, regional and local partnerships “and a new paradigm of results-based investments in public infrastructure.” The DOT deserves credit for making some tough admissions in the draft plan, which notes that after two decades of under-investment, the… View Article

Thank you for the great work that the Public Policy Foundation is doing across our state setting a wonderful example. I first ran for the Senate in 1994, and the Foundation was that resource I called upon to be a great help to me as we were articulating positions and formulating public policy initiatives. We appreciate very much your leadership and all that you stand for.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle more quotes