Monday, January 30, 2012

Letters and Lies from Congressman Cynthia Lummis

January 20, 2012


William Harasym

200 Smith Street, Apt. 410

Sheridan, Wyoming 82801-3842


Dear William:


Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding proposals to extend federal Safe Drinking Water Act jurisdiction over the well-established drilling technology called hydraulic fracturing. I appreciate hearing from you.


Hydraulic fracturing is a commonly used practice in oil and natural gas production - I have seen estimates that over 90% of all non-conventional wells currently utilize it. After a well is drilled into reservoir rock that contains oil or natural gas, a fluid made up mostly of water and sand is injected under high pressure. The pressure exceeds the rock strength and the fluid opens or enlarges fractures in the rock. These fractures then allow the oil or natural gas to move more freely from the rock pores through an encased production well to the surface.


After questions were raised as to this practice's effect on water contamination and human health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studied the issue in depth. The result of those studies was a 2004 EPA report stating that no evidence has been found linking the practice of hydraulic fracturing to the contamination of underground drinking water. Another such study was just authorized in the fiscal year 2010 Interior Appropriations Act and I look forward to its completion.  Science should drive policy on this issue, not the other way around.

Regardless of the science, several Democrat Representatives in the U.S. House introduced in the 111th Congress the "Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act of 2009" (H.R. 2766), a bill to extend the regulatory jurisdiction of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act to cover hydraulic fracturing. The bill sponsors assert that such action is necessary to protect underground water aquifers. The fact is, however, past studies simply do not support that claim.


Multiple federal, state and local regulations currently ensure the monitoring, reporting, and remediation of any environmental impacts that occur during domestic oil and gas production. States have historically been the primary regulators of hydraulic fracturing and, as such, have developed comprehensive laws and regulations to provide for safe drilling operations. I am proud of the job the trained personnel at Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality have done to effectively regulate oil and natural gas production practices. Furthermore, in June of 2010 Wyoming's Oil and Gas Commission voted to require companies to disclose to state regulators the contents of its fracturing chemicals. These state-led rules are the strongest in the nation. To extend additional federal jurisdiction to this process is both duplicative and, from a scientific perspective, unnecessary. Further, I fear the delays and costs of additional permitting requirements could curtail the development of vast amounts of unconventional energy resources currently being explored by private industry, resulting in the need for additional foreign imports of fuels we could be developing here at home.

The State of Wyoming has also made itself very clear on this issue. During the 2009 General Session, our State Legislature passed a Joint Resolution asking Congress not to extend Safe Drinking Water Act jurisdiction over the hydraulic fracturing process. I commend them for this action, and will do my best to steer my colleagues in Washington toward Wyoming's common sense and science-based approach to this issue. Protecting our nation's drinking water supply is a goal we can all support. We should be basing the rules and regulations to accomplish this goal on science and expertise, however, not emotion and scare tactics.


Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.  I value your input.  If you haven't done so already, I would like to encourage you to visit my website at  There you can sign up to receive my newsletter, and have access to a wealth of other information.  I won't flood your email box, but I will provide you with updates once in a while about activities in Washington that affect our lives in Wyoming.  I hope you will sign up so that we can stay in close touch, and I look forward to seeing you in Wyoming.





January 20, 2012

William Harasym

200 Smith Street, Apt. 410

Sheridan, Wyoming 82801-3842

Dear William:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I appreciate hearing from you.

In the years since President Obama was sworn into office, the EPA has proposed and promulgated a staggering number of new and updated regulations. Prior to the Republicans retaking the majority in the House of Representatives, the agency also enjoyed an astronomical increase in their tax-payer funded budget. While the total number of regulations is somewhat difficult to quantify, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce estimates that the agency is currently reviewing or has recently completed as many as 69 separate regulatory measures in recent years. Some of these are relatively small, and some, like regulating green house gas emissions, would have dramatic altering affects on the U.S. economy.

That the agency is undergoing regulatory reviews is not in itself surprising. Rather, it is the insistence of the Obama Administration that these rules should go into effect absent any thought or care to the consequences on our nation's businesses and economy. In efforts ranging from farm dust, to brick kilns, to cement manufacturing, to boilers used at the nation's universities, to recyclable coal ash, the EPA is insisting upon standards so burdensome that in many cases the technology either doesn't even exist to satisfy the standard, the timeline to implement the changes is impossible to meet, or the costs to make the improvements would mean an astronomical rise in prices for consumers. In the case of coal ash, the EPA is considering classifying this recyclable material as a hazardous waste, thereby ending its recyclable uses. For example, coal ash from Wyoming was used to help build the runways at Denver International Airport. I was pleased to vote for H.R. 2273, which would allow for the continued beneficial use of coal ash. Perhaps most troubling is the EPA's use of agency "guidance" documents, which are intended to offer technical guidance on implementation of laws, but in recent years has been used to broaden the scope of the EPA's mandate outside the legal process.

When operating as a cooperative agency that offers technical assistance to states, and policing bad actors under existing law, the EPA can be an effective and helpful agency. Rather than attempting to usher in rule after rule that pays no attention to the real life consequences, the agency should work to help reduce emissions in a manner that is achievable, and does not sacrifice our economy for the sake of limited environmental benefit. Keep in mind that current rules have resulted in a 60% reduction in emissions since 1970. In other words, EPA and state enforcement of current rules is already successful, and calls into question the need for additional layers of bureaucracy at great cost. With my seat on the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the EPA's budget, I intend to use the budget to help steer the EPA toward a more realistic vision. In addition, I have joined as cosponsor on a number of EPA related legislative efforts, including bills to require the EPA to take a realistic look at how its rules would impact jobs. I am very pleased that the House has taken up a number of these bills, including H.R. 2401, the TRAIN Act, and H.R. 2018, a bill to restore the appropriate balance between state regulatory agencies and the EPA when it comes to Clean Water and Clean Air Act guidelines.

Thank you again for taking the time to write to me. I value your input. If you haven't done so already, I would like to encourage you to visit my website at There you can sign up to receive my newsletter, and have access to a wealth of other information. I won't flood your email box, but I will provide you with updates once in a while about activities in Washington that affect our lives in Wyoming. I hope you will sign up so that we can stay in close touch, and I look forward to seeing you in Wyoming.



Cynthia M. Lummis

Member of Congress

Sunday, January 29, 2012

“Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice”

"Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice"


There's no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.

"Prejudice is extremely complex and multifaceted, making it critical that any factors contributing to bias are uncovered and understood," he said.

Controversy ahead

The findings combine three hot-button topics.

"They've pulled off the trifecta of controversial topics," said Brian Nosek, a social and cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia who was not involved in the study. "When one selects intelligence, political ideology and racism and looks at any of the relationships between those three variables, it's bound to upset somebody."

Polling data and social and political science research do show that prejudice is more common in those who hold right-wing ideals that those of other political persuasions, Nosek told LiveScience. [7 Thoughts That Are Bad For You]

"The unique contribution here is trying to make some progress on the most challenging aspect of this," Nosek said, referring to the new study. "It's not that a relationship like that exists, but why it exists."

Brains and bias

Earlier studies have found links between low levels of education and higher levels of prejudice, Hodson said, so studying intelligence seemed a logical next step. The researchers turned to two studies of citizens in the United Kingdom, one that has followed babies since their births in March 1958, and another that did the same for babies born in April 1970. The children in the studies had their intelligence assessed at age 10 or 11; as adults ages 30 or 33, their levels of social conservatismand racism were measured. [Life's Extremes: Democrat vs. Republican]

In the first study, verbal and nonverbal intelligence was measured using tests that asked people to find similarities and differences between words, shapes and symbols. The second study measured cognitive abilities in four ways, including number recall, shape-drawing tasks, defining words and identifying patterns and similarities among words. Average IQ is set at 100.

Social conservatives were defined as people who agreed with a laundry list of statements such as "Family life suffers if mum is working full-time," and "Schools should teach children to obey authority." Attitudes toward other races were captured by measuring agreement with statements such as "I wouldn't mind working with people from other races." (These questions measured overt prejudiced attitudes, but most people, no matter how egalitarian, do hold unconscious racial biases; Hodson's work can't speak to this "underground" racism.)

As suspected, low intelligence in childhood corresponded with racism in adulthood. But the factor that explained the relationship between these two variables was political: When researchers included social conservatism in the analysis, those ideologies accounted for much of the link between brains and bias.

People with lower cognitive abilities also had less contact with people of other races.

"This finding is consistent with recent research demonstrating that intergroup contact is mentally challenging and cognitively draining, and consistent with findings that contact reduces prejudice," said Hodson, who along with his colleagues published these results online Jan. 5 in the journal Psychological Science.

A study of averages

Hodson was quick to note that the despite the link found between low intelligence and social conservatism, the researchers aren't implying that all liberals are brilliant and all conservatives stupid. The research is a study of averages over large groups, he said.

"There are multiple examples of very bright conservatives and not-so-bright liberals, and many examples of very principled conservatives and very intolerant liberals," Hodson said.

Nosek gave another example to illustrate the dangers of taking the findings too literally.

"We can say definitively men are taller than women on average," he said. "But you can't say if you take a random man and you take a random woman that the man is going to be taller. There's plenty of overlap."

Nonetheless, there is reason to believe that strict right-wing ideology might appeal to those who have trouble grasping the complexity of the world.

"Socially conservative ideologies tend to offer structure and order," Hodson said, explaining why these beliefs might draw those with low intelligence. "Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice."

In another study, this one in the United States, Hodson and Busseri compared 254 people with the same amount of education but different levels of ability in abstract reasoning. They found that what applies to racism may also apply to homophobia. People who were poorer at abstract reasoning were more likely to exhibit prejudice against gays. As in the U.K. citizens, a lack of contact with gays and more acceptance of right-wing authoritarianism explained the link. [5 Myths About Gay People Debunked]

Simple viewpoints

Hodson and Busseri's explanation of their findings is reasonable, Nosek said, but it is correlational. That means the researchers didn't conclusively prove that the low intelligence caused the later prejudice. To do that, you'd have to somehow randomly assign otherwise identical people to be smart or dumb, liberal or conservative. Those sorts of studies obviously aren't possible.

The researchers controlled for factors such as education and socioeconomic status, making their case stronger, Nosek said. But there are other possible explanations that fit the data. For example, Nosek said, a study of left-wing liberals with stereotypically naïve views like "every kid is a genius in his or her own way," might find that people who hold these attitudes are also less bright. In other words, it might not be a particular ideology that is linked to stupidity, but extremist views in general.

"My speculation is that it's not as simple as their model presents it," Nosek said. "I think that lower cognitive capacity can lead to multiple simple ways to represent the world, and one of those can be embodied in a right-wing ideology where 'People I don't know are threats' and 'The world is adangerous place'. ... Another simple way would be to just assume everybody is wonderful."

Prejudice is of particular interest because understanding the roots of racism and bias could help eliminate them, Hodson said. For example, he said, many anti-prejudice programs encourage participants to see things from another group's point of view. That mental exercise may be too taxing for people of low IQ.

"There may be cognitive limits in the ability to take the perspective of others, particularly foreigners," Hodson said. "Much of the present research literature suggests that our prejudices are primarily emotional in origin rather than cognitive. These two pieces of information suggest that it might be particularly fruitful for researchers to consider strategies to change feelings toward outgroups," rather than thoughts.

You can follow LiveScience senior writer Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience and on Facebook.


"Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral." -Paolo Friere-



By Milt Shook
If you're one of those folks who thinks President Obama is a "disappointment," you must not have been paying attention the last thre years, because the concept is ridiculous. And those of you who try to draw comparisons withthe Bush Administration should consider putting away the hallucinogens and have your memory checked.  If you were in a coma for the eight Bush Years, I apologize and forgive you. But please join the real world. So far, this Barack-obamapresident has done most of what he said he would do if elected; imagine what he could have done by now if progressives had supported him and not given him a Congress that doesn't look at him as if he's the demon seed.
Not only is he NOT a "disappointment," he's pretty much the opposite. And no, I don't just say that because he took out Osama bin Laden, helped Libya determine their own destiny for the first time in a while, and because he seems able to handle international incidents without starting a new war. The guy does nearly everything we elect a president to do, and he doesn't brag about it constantly.
Is he perfect? No, he's human. Does he deserve some criticism? I suppose, but I have to admit I haven't seen any complaints that were of the real world. One I can't forgive him for is pulling Janet Napolitano out of Arizona. But the thing is, on balance, he's mostly stellar. Besides, criticism about certain specific problems is one thing; taking on an overall "Obama sucks" meme not only has the potential to put a Romney or Gingrich into power, it's also a lie. Just because you wanted a president who would give you a unicorn that farts the Star Spangled Banner and didn't quite get that doesn't mean he's not doing well at the job we hired him for.
What follows is a PARTIAL list of Obama's accomplishments so far. Unlike many such lists, there is a link to a citation supporting every single one.
Anytime someone, right OR left, tells you Obama sucks, or is a "disappointment," show them this list and tell them to kiss a part of your body not usually considered pleasant to kiss.
Legislative Prowess
Despite the characterizations of some, Obama's success rate in winning congressional votes on issues was an unprecedented 96.7% for his first year in office.  Though he is often cited as superior to Obama, President Lyndon Johnson's success rate in 1965 was only 93%. 

Fiscal Responsibility
Within days after taking office, he signed an Executive Order ordering an audit of government contracts, and combating waste and abuse.
Created the post of Chief Performance Officer, whose job it is to make operations more efficient to save the federal government money.
On his first full day, he froze White House salaries.
He appointed the first Federal Chief Information Officer to oversee federal IT spending.
He committed to phasing out unnecessary and outdated weapons systems, and also signed the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act to stop waste, fraud and abuse in the defense procurement and contracting system.
Through an executive order, he created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

Improving the Economy, Preventing Depression
He pushed through and signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as "the stimulus package," despite the fact that not one Republican voted for that bill. In addition, he launched, so that taxpayers could track spending from the Act.
In his first year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created and sustained 2.1 million jobs and stimulated the economy 3.5%.
He completed the massive TARP financial and banking rescue plan, and recovered virtually all of its costs.
He created the Making Home Affordable home refinancing plan.
He oversaw the creation of more jobs in 2010 alone than Bush did in eight years.
He oversaw a bailout of General Motors that saved at least 1.4 million jobs, and put pressure on the company to change its practices, resulting in GM returning to its place as the top car company in the world.
He also doubled funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership which is designed to improve manufacturing efficiency. 
He signed the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act giving  the federal government more tools to investigate and prosecute fraud in every corner of the financial system. It also created a bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to investigate the financial fraud that led to the economic meltdown.
He signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, which was designed to to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive credit card practices.
He increased infrastructure spending after years of neglect.
He  signed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, expanding on the Making Home Affordable Program to help millions of Americans avoid preventable foreclosures. The bill also provided $2.2 billion to help combat homelessness, and to stabilize the housing market.
Through the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, he and Congressional Democrats provided tax credits to first-time home buyers, which helped the U.S. housing market recovery.
He initiated a $15 billion plan designed to encourage increased lending to small businesses.
He created, which allows for online collaboration between small businesses and experts re managing a business. (The program has since merged with
He played a lead role in getting the G-20 Summit to commit to a $1.1 trillion deal to combat the global financial crisis. 
He took steps to improve minority access to capital.
He created a $60 billion bank to fund infrastructure improvements such as roads and bridges. 
He implemented an auto industry rescue plan, and saved as many as 1 million jobs.   Many are of the opinion that he saved the entire auto industry, and even the economy of the entire Midwest.
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he saved at least 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors that would have otherwise been lost.
He dismantled the Minerals Management Service, thereby moveing forward to cut ties between energy companies and the government.
Provided funding to states and the Department of Homeland Security to save thousands of police and firefighter jobs from being cut during the recession.
He used recovered TARP money to fund programs at local housing finance agencies in California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan.
Crafted an Executive order establishing the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability to assist in financial education for all Americans.

Wall Street Reforms and Consumer Protection
Ordered 65 executives who took bailout money to cut their own pay until they paid back all bailout money.
He pushed through and got passed Dodd-Frank, one of the largest and most comprehensive Wall Street reforms since the Great Depression.
Dodd-Frank also included the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
He made it so that banks could no longer use YOUR money to invest in high-risk financial instruments that work against their own customers' interests.
He supported the concept of allowing stockholders to vote on executive compensation.
He wholly endorsed and supported the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2009 that would close offshore tax avoidance loopholes.
He made a deal with Swiss banks that permits the US government to gain access to the records of criminals and  tax evaders.
He established a Consumer Protection Financial Bureau designed to protect consumers from financial sector excesses. 
He oversaw and then signed the most sweeping food safety legislation since the Great Depression.

Civil Rights and Anti-Discrimination
He advocated for and signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which made it a federal crime to assault anyone based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.
He pushed through, signed and demanded the Pentagon enact a repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy that forced soldiers to lie to fight for their country, and put our troops at risk by disqualifying many qualified soldiers from helping.
He appointed Kareem Dale as the first ever Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy.
Helped Congress pass and signed the Civil Rights History Act.
He extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.
He's appointed more openly gay officials than anyone in history. 
He issued a Presidential Memorandum reaffirming the rights of gay couples to make medical decisions for each other.
He established a White House Council on Women and Girls
He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers. This was after the GOP blocked the bill in 2007. Only 5 Republican Senators voted for the bill.
Wrote and signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies evaluate the effect of their policies and programs on women and families.
He expanded funding for the Violence Against Women Act.
Under his watch, National Labor Relations Board has issued final rules that require all employers to prominently post employees' rights where all employees or prospective employees can see it, including websites and intranets, beginning November 2011. 

Fighting Poverty
He provided  a $20 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps).
He signed an Executive Order that established the White House Office of Urban Affairs. 

Improved Foreign Relations and American Status Abroad
He visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any previous president during his first six months in office.
As he promised, he gave a speech at a major Islamic forum in Cairo early in his administration.  
He did much to restore America's reputation around the world as a global leader that does the "right thing" in world affairs, at least according to the rest of the world.
He re-established and reinforced our partnership with NATO and other allies on strategic international issues.
Closed a number of secret detention facilities.
He improved relations with Middle East countries by appointing special envoys.
He pushed for military to emphasize devlopment of foreign language skills.
Offered $400 million to the people living in Gaza, called on both Israel and the Palestinians to stop inciting violence.
He refused to give Israel the green light to attack Iran over their possible nuclear program.
He worked to make donations to Haiti tax deductible in 2009.
He established a new U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
Issued Executive Order blocking interference and helping to stabilize Somalia.
He established new, more reasonable policies in our relations with Cuba, such as allowing Cuban-Americans to visit their families and send money to support them.
He ordered the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. It was Republicans (and a smattering of Democrats) who prevented him from following through.
Ordered a review of our detention and interrogation policy, and prohibited the use of torture, or what Bush called "enhanced interrogation." He ordered interrogators to limit their actions to the Army Field manual.
He ordered all secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere to be closed.
He released the Bush torture memos.
On his second day in office, he signed a detailed Executive Order that banned torture, reversed all  Bush torture policies, and put the United States in compliance with the Geneva Convention.
In response to the emerging "Arab Spring," he created a Rapid Response fund, to assist emerging democracies with foreign aid, debt relief, technical assistance and investment packages in order to show that the United States stands with them.
Passed the Iran Sanctions Act, to prevent war, and to encourage Iran to give up their nuclear program. 
Ended the Iraq War.
He authorized and oversaw a secret mission by SEAL Team Six to rescue two hostages held by Somali pirates. 

Better Approach to "Defense"
Created a comprehensive new strategy for dealing with the international nuclear threat.
He authorized a $1.4 billion reduction in Star Wars program in 2010.
He restarted nuclear nonproliferation talks and built up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols to where they had been before Bush.
He signed and pushed to ratification a new SALT Treaty.
Negotiated and signed a new START Treaty that will lst until at least 2021.
Through the Defense Authorization Act, he reversed the Bush Administration and committed to no permanent military bases in Iraq.
He developed the first comprehensive strategy with regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan designed to facilitate the defeat of al Qaeda and the withdrawal of most troops, as well as the rebuilding of Afghanistan. 
He returned our focus to Afghanistan, stabilized the country, and began the process of withdrawing our troops from the country.
Fulfilled campaign promise and ended our involvement in Iraq, and will complete full troop withdrawal before Christmas 2011.
He took steps to severely weaken al Qaeda and limited their ability to terrorize the world.
He negotiated and signed a nuclear nonproliferation treaty with India.
He took decisive action to use NATO to limit the slaughter of innocents in Libya, so that the Libyan people could topple a despotic government and determine their own fate. 

Treating  Soldiers and Veterans with Respect
He made sure that families of fallen soldiers could be on hand when the body arrives at Dover AFB, by providing funding for it.  He also ended the media blackout on coverage of the return of fallen soldiers.
He funded Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with an extra $1.4 billion to improve veterans' services.
He provided the troops with better body armor.
Created the Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record program for military personnel, in order  to improve the quality of their medical care.
He put an end to the Bush-era stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan beyond their enlistment date. (personal note: my son will be in harm's way for six fewer months with Obama as president, so you know I love this one.)
He supported and signed the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, which made more money available to enable better medical care for veterans.
He ushered through the largest spending increase in 30 years for the Department of Veterans Affairs for improved medical facilities, and to assist states in acquiring or constructing state nursing homes and extended care facilities. 
He created the Green Vet Initiative, which provided special funding to the Labor Department to provide veterans with training in green jobs.
He oversaw a $4.6 billion expansion of the Veterans Administration budget to pay for more mental health professionals. 

He has repeatedly increased funding for student financial aid, and at the same time cut the banks completely out of the process. 
Completely reformed the student loan program, to make it possible for students to refinance at a lower rate.
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , he invested heavily in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education.   This includes a major expansion of broadband availability in K-12 schools nationwide , as well as an expansion in school construction. 
Also through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he put $5 billion into early education, including Head Start.
He oversaw expansion of the Pell Grants program, to expand opportunity for low income students to go to college.
He passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provided an extra $12.2 billion in funds.  

Greater Transparency and Better Government
He signed an order banning gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the Executive Branch.
He signed an order banning anyone from working in an agency they had lobbied in previous years. He also put strict limits on lobbyists' access to the White House.
He held the first-ever first online town hall from the White House, and took questions from the public.
The Obama White House became the first to stream every White House event, live.
He established a central portal for Americans to find service opportunities.
He provided the first voluntary disclosure of the White House Visitors Log in history.
He crafted an Executive Order on Presidential Records, which restored the 30-day time frame for former presidents to review records, and eliminated the right for the vice president or family members of former presidents to do the reviews. This will provide the public with greater access to historic  White House documents, and severely curtails the ability to use executive privilege to shield them.
He improved aspects of the Freedom of Information Act, and issued new guidelines to make FOIA more open and transparent in the processing of FOIA requests. 

National Safety and Security
He's restored federal agencies such as FEMA to the point that they have been able to manage a huge number of natural  disasters successfully.
Authorized Navy SEALS to successfully secure the release of a US captain held by Somali pirates and increased patrols off the Somali coast.
Has repeatedly beefed up border security
Ordered and oversaw the Navy SEALS operation that killed Osama bin Laden. 

Science, Technology and Health Care
He created a Presidential Memorandum to restore scientific integrity in government decision-making.  
Opened up the process for fast-tracking patent approval for green energy projects. 
He eliminated the Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. He also provided increased federal support for biomedical and stem cell research. 
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he committed more federal funding, about $18 billion, to support non-defense science and research labs.
He signed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first comprehensive attempt to improve the lives of Americans living with paralysis.
He expanded the Nurse-Family Partnership program, which provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families, to cover more first-time mothers.
His EPA reveresed research ethics standards which allowed humands to be used as "guinea pigs" in tests of the effects of chemicals, to comply with numerous codes of medical ethics.
Conducted a cyberspace policy review.
Provided financial support for private sector space programs. 
He oversaw enhanced earth mapping, to provide valuable data for agricultural, educational, scientific, and government use.
He ushered throough a bill that authorized the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products. As a result,  the FDA has Ordered Tobacco Companies to Disclose Cigarette Ingredients and banned sale of cigarettes falsely labeled as "light."
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he provided $500 million for Health Professions Training Programs. 
He also increased funding for community-based prevention programs.
He oversaw a 50% decrease in cost of prescription drugs for seniors.
He eliminated the Bush-era practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug companies on price.
Two weeks after taking office, he signed the Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, which increased the number of children covered by health insurance by 4 million.
He held a quick press conference, and urged Congress to investigate Anthem Blue Cross for raising premiums 39% without explanation. Rep. Waxman responded by launching a probe, and Anthem Blue Cross put the increase on hold for two months.
Ushered through and signed the Affordable Health Care Act, which expanded health insurance coverage to 30 million more people,  and ended many common insurance company practices that are often detrimental  to those with coverage.  He also established
Through the Affordable Health Care Act, he allowed children to be covered under their parents' policy until they turned 26. 
Through the Affordable Health Care Act, he provided tax breaks to allow 3.5 million small business to provide health insurance to their employees, and 29 million people will receive tax breaks to help them afford health insurance 
Through the Affordable Health Care Act, he expanded Medicaid to those making up to 133% of the federal poverty level.
Through the Affordable Health Care Act, health insurance companies now have to disclose how much of your premium actually goes to pay for patient care.
Provisions in the Affordable Health Care Act have already resulted in Medicare costs actually declining slightly this fiscal year, for the first time in many years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Last year's increase was 4%. Compare that to the average 12% annual inflation rate during the previous 40 years. 

Strengthening the Middle Class and Families
He worked to provide affordable, high-quality child care to working families.
He cracked down on companies that were previously denying sick pay, vacation and health insurance, and Social Security and Medicare tax payments through abuse of the employee classification of independent contractor.
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , he cut taxes for 95% of America's working families. 
Under Obama, tax rates for average working families are the lowest they've been since 1950. 
He extended and fully funded the patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax for 10 years.
He extended discounted COBRA health coverage for the unemployed from 9 months to 15 months, and he's extended unemployment benefits several times. 

Environment and Energy
He fast-tracked regulations to allow states to enact federal fuel efficiency standards that were above federal standards.
He fast-tracked increased fuel economy standards for vehicles beginning with the 2011 model year. It was the first time such standards had been increased in a decade.
He oversaw the establishment of an Energy Partnership for the Americas, which creates more markets for American-made biofuels and green energy technologies.
His EPA reversed a Bush-era decision to allow the largest mountaintop removal project in US history.
He ordered the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances.
He ordered energy plants to prepare to produce at least 15% of all energy through renewable resources like wind and solar, by 2021.  (As you can see, Republicans are trying hard to kill it.)
He oversaw the creation of an initiative that converts old factories and manufacturing centers into new clean technology centers.
Bypassed Republican opposition in Congress and ordered EPA to begin regulating and measuring carbon emissions. 
His EPA ruled that CO2 is a pollutant.
He doubled federal spending on clean energy research.
He pushed through a tax credit to help people buy plug-in hybrid cars.
He created a program to develop renewable energy projects on the waters of our Outer Continental Shelf that will produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents.
He reengaged in the climate change and greenhouse gas emissions agreements talks, and even proposed one himself. He also addressed the U.N. Climate Change Conference, officially reversing the Bush era stance that climate change was a "hoax."
He fully supported the initial phase of the creation of a legally-binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions worldwide.
He required states to provide incentives to utilities to reduce their energy consumption.
Following Bush's eight year reign, he reengaged in a number of treaties and agreements designed to protect the Antarctic.
Created tax write-offs for purchases of hybrid automobiles, and later he and Democrats morphed that program into one that includes electric cars.
Mandated that federal government fleet purchases be for fuel-efficient American vehicles, and encouraged that federal agencies support experimental, fuel-efficient vehicles. 
He oversaw and pushed through an amendment to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 authorizing advances from Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 
He also actively tried to amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to eliminate the liability limits for those companies responsible for large oil spills.
He initiated Criinal and Civil inquiries into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Through his EPA, he asserted federal legal supremacy, and barred Texas from authorizing new refinery permits on its own.
He strengthened the Endangered Species Act.
His EPA improved boiler safety standards to improve air quality, and save 6500 lives per year.
Through the EPA, he took steps to severely limit the use of antibiotics in livestock feed, to increase their efficacy in humans.
He increased funding for National Parks and Forests by 10%
He announced greatly improved commercial fuel efficiency standards. 
He announced the deveopment of a huge increase in average fuel economy standards from 27.5mpg to 35.5mpg starting in 2016 and 54.5 starting in 2025 

Other Stuff
He has expanded trade agreements to include stricter labor and environmental agreements such as NAFTA. 
He oversaw funding of  the design of a new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History, which is scheduled to open on the National Mall in 2015.  He protected the funding during the recent budget negotiations.
Oversaw and passed increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
He nominated Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Sotomayor is the first Hispanic Justice in the court's history, and the women represent only the third and fourth women to serve on the court, out of a total of 112 justices.
He appointed the most diverse Cabinet in history, including more women than any other incoming president.
He eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only education, and  he rescinded the global gag rule.
He loosened the rules and allowed the 14 states that legalized medical marijuana to regulate themselves without federal interference.
His FDA banned the use of antibiotics in livestock production. 
Ushered through and signed national service legislation, increasing funding for national service groups, including triple the size of the Americorps program. 

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"Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral." -Paolo Friere-


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