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Maine lawmakers endorse offshore wind program that would help state meet clean energy goals

Maine is poised to launch an offshore wind program that would meet clean energy goals and produce enough power for about 900,000 homes from floating wind turbines in the Gulf of Maine. The legislation, which was endorsed by lawmakers Tuesday, calls for requests for proposals to be issued for 3,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind turbines by 2040. That’s enough electricity to power about half of Maine’s electricity load. “This bill means jobs. It means lower, more stable energy prices, while at the same time addressing climate change. We need to pass this bill now,” said Democratic Sen. Mark Lawrence, the bill’s sponsor. MAINE POISED TO LAUNCH OFFSHORE WIND PROGRAM TO MEET CLEAN ENERGY GOALS, PRODUCE POWER FOR AROUND 900K HOMES Legislation was revised, combined with another bill and reintroduced to address Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ concerns about labor agreements, causing her to veto an earlier bill. The offshore wind bill passed both chambers of the Legislature in initial votes Tuesday. Approval puts Maine on a path to catch up with other states that already have offshore wind projects. The catch, however, is that the wind turbines would be farther offshore than those projects, and would involve floating turbines. It also includes incentives aimed at ensuring wind power developers steer clear of lucrative lobster fishing grounds. Lawrence, of York, said previously that he believes the compromise proposal has necessary “guardrails in place to make sure this is done right and truly benefits Mainers.” The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management already approved projects that are now under construction off Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island, and it gave the green light earlier this month for New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm to begin construction. Next month, it will hold an auction for leases in the Gulf of Mexico. MAINE REGULATORS GREENLIGHT NEW WIND POWER PROJECT In Maine, the timeline calls for the federal lease sales to be completed next year and for the state to release request for proposals to operate the offshore wind turbines in early 2026. The Gulf of Maine is considered a prize when it comes to consistent, powerful winds, but the water is too deep for traditional wind turbines that are anchored to the ocean floor. Maine officials hope companies will license technology from the University of Maine, which has been pioneering precast floating turbines that can be built on land and towed to sea. “This is the bill that will jumpstart the offshore wind industry in Maine,” said Jack Shapiro, climate and clean energy director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. A decade ago, the state was poised to host a $120 million wind project led by Norwegian company Statoil, but Statoil backed out after the state reopened bidding to provide an opportunity to the University of Maine. The U.S. could need roughly 2,000 of the most powerful turbines to meet its goals to ramp up offshore wind. Doing so would dramatically cut its use of fossil fuels, protect the atmosphere and reduce climate change.
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New York law restricting sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics could face SCOTUS scrutiny

The Supreme Court this fall will decide whether to take up a case that challenges a New York law that says “sidewalk counselors” outside abortion clinics can be arrested if they approach women to discuss alternatives to abortion.  Should at least four justices agree to take up the case, the court could potentially undo decades of precedent that some justices have already said “distort[s] First Amendment Doctrines.”  The case, Vitagliano v. County of Westchester, stems from a challenge to a law put in place by Westchester County, New York, last year in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson – which overturned Roe v. Wade and sent the question of abortion accessibility back to the states to decide.  The county’s law made it illegal to approach within eight feet of another person in public near abortion clinics for the purpose of engaging in oral protest, education or counseling, unless the other person gives explicit consent.  LEFT, MEDIA’S RACIAL ATTACKS ON CLARENCE THOMAS SPARK BIPARTISAN REBUKE Debra Vitagliano, a Catholic sidewalk counselor who says she feels “called to be a compassionate voice to abortion-vulnerable women, letting them know that they are loved, supported, and can choose life for their babies,” sued the county last year.  Vitagliano is as an occupational therapist with special-needs children, a profession she says has led her “to recognize the inherent worth and dignity of all people, no matter their level of functioning.” Consistent with her Catholic faith, she opposes abortion, believing it is the deliberate taking of innocent human life, her petition to the Supreme Court says. She also volunteers as “life consultant” at a local pregnancy resource center, meeting with women experiencing unplanned pregnancies and discussing options and available resources.  So far, Vitagliano has lost in lower courts because judges have cited a 1973 Supreme Court case, Hill v. Colorado, that essentially upheld the same type of law with the reasoning that citizens should be protected from “unwanted speech.”  LEFT’S FAVORITE ‘WOKE’ INITIATIVE UNDER SERIOUS THREAT AFTER COURT’S CONTROVERSIAL RULING But Vitagliano’s lawyers are arguing that case should be overturned, and have presented the high court with an opportunity to do just that.  “On the day it was decided, members of this Court recognized that Hill stands ‘in stark contradiction of the constitutional principles [the Court] appl[ies] in all other contexts’ outside abortion,” the court document states, quoting a dissent from the late Justice Antonin Scaila.  The document also notes now-retired Justice Anthony Kennedy’s dissent that said Hill “contradicts more than a half century of well-established First Amendment principles.” “Three Justices have since recognized that intervening precedents have ‘all but interred’ Hill’s analysis, leaving it ‘an aberration in [the Court’s] case law,’” the document continues.  The document also cites most recently in the Dobbs majority opinion, which stated that “Hill was a ‘distort[ion]’ of ‘First Amendment doctrines.’”  Mark Rienzi, president and CEO at Becket, the firm representing Vitagliano, says the high court “should fix the mistake of Hill and make clear that the First Amendment protects these offers of help and information to women in need.” Rienzi says critics who support the law because it’s aimed at stopping obstruction or violence are in error, because laws that protect against such actions are already on the books. “These laws are only about stopping peaceful speech. In fact, if I approached someone with a baseball bat instead of a leaflet, I wouldn’t violate this law. I only violate this law by approaching to speak.  ‘DANGEROUS’ DEMOCRAT JUDICIAL ETHICS BILL WOULD ALLOW ANY ‘JACKALOON’ TO DEMAND A RECUSAL, SEN. KENNEDY SAYS The law targets the exchange of information on public sidewalks and government shouldn’t do that. The only reason it ever happened was we had a court that was twisting things to protect abortion. We should be out of that business, and we should let people speak freely. It’s bad for the law to have this situation where these women don’t get offered to help because the government is micromanaging who can engage peacefully on public sidewalks.” The petition cites a number of legal scholars who have also criticized the Hill decision, including liberal Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, who said, “I don’t think [Hill] was a difficult case. I think it was slam-dunk simple and slam-dunk wrong.”  The earliest the Supreme Court could decide to take up the Vitagliano case is Monday, Oct. 2, when the tribunal begins its 2023-24 term.
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Experts warn Biden admin’s water heater crackdown will hike prices, reduce consumer choice

Energy experts and industry groups are warning that the Biden administration’s latest home appliance crackdown on water heaters will, like other energy efficiency regulations, harm American consumers. The Department of Energy (DOE) proposed energy efficiency regulations on water heaters late Friday, saying the new standards would go into effect in 2029 and save Americans billions of dollars while reducing carbon emissions. However, experts interviewed by Fox News Digital said the standards would ban cheaper alternatives, create minimal utility bill savings and reduce consumer choice. “Their plan is to electrify everything they possibly can because they are under this distorted fantasy that renewables will be plentiful and cheap and reliable. They are none of the above,” said Mark Krebs, a mechanical engineer, energy policy consultant and former DOE adviser. “The physics defy what they want to do, the raw materials defy what they want to do, a free market economy defies what they want to do.” Krebs added that the new water heater standards would lead to higher prices, higher installation fees and could even create serious corrosion risks in homes. He also argued more efficient, but expensive, alternatives to cheaper gas-fired water heaters are readily available on the market without government intervention. BIDEN ADMIN MOVING FORWARD WITH LIGHT BULB BANS IN COMING WEEKS “This is the administrative state — this is how they work,” Krebs continued. “It’s in their best interest to keep increasing their regulatory reach. That’s how they work.” Overall, the DOE projected the regulations would save Americans about $198 billion while curbing emissions by 501 million metric tons over the next three decades. That is roughly the same carbon footprint as 63 million homes or half of all homes nationwide. Under the rule, the federal government would require higher efficiency for heaters using heat pump technology or, in the case of gas-fired water heaters, to achieve efficiency gains through condensing technology. Non-condensing gas-fired water heaters, though, are far cheaper and smaller, meaning they come with lower installation costs. BIDEN ADMIN’S WAR ON HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES WILL CAUSE HIGHER PRICES, DIRTIER CLOTHES AND DISHES, EXPERTS WARN “One of the things about these appliance standards — they’re all problematic — is they take away consumer choice,” Ben Lieberman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, previously told Fox News Digital in an interview. “But especially water heaters, stoves, furnaces. These are appliances that come in natural gas or electric version. There’s a real effort underway by regulators to take away the natural gas option by making it less desirable.”  “I think what we’re seeing with gas stoves and furnaces is what we’re also seeing here with water heaters,” Lieberman said. “The gas versions of water heaters will survive, but they’ll be more expensive and they’ll be a less desirable option than electric. So, this is using efficiency regulations to impose the electrification agenda.” He also noted that while condensing gas-fired water heaters and heat pumps are more efficient, they are more expensive and could be very costly to repair. Additionally, a top water heater manufacturer, Rinnai America Corporation, said the regulations Friday would “unreasonably restrict consumer access” to certain water heater products and disproportionately impact middle-income households and small businesses. “As currently drafted, DOE’s proposed rule will create an uneven market that effectively bans an already energy efficient product and puts American jobs at risk,” Frank Windsor, the president of Rinnai America Corporation, said in a statement.  “Consumers who rely on access to tankless water heaters will see their options limited, resulting in higher energy bills and shorter appliance lifespans, while the very environmental goals prompting this rule will go unfulfilled,” Windsor added. “We urge DOE to re-consider this untenable rule for standards that better protect American consumers and drive our energy efficiency goals forward.” DEMOCRATS, ECO GROUPS TAKE AIM AT OTHER HOME APPLIANCES AMID GAS STOVE DEBATE In addition, the American Gas Association (AGA) and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), which represents makers of appliances not including water heaters, both blasted the regulations. The two groups have both been outspoken in opposing energy efficiency regulations they say will increase costs. “The natural gas industry has consistently partnered with the government, customers and communities to help ensure the reliable delivery of energy Americans need, while also decreasing emissions and investing is cutting edge solutions to achieve our nation’s energy and environmental goals,” AGA President and CEO Karen Harbert said.  “Yet despite this tangible progress, DOE continues to put forward electrification proposals guised as energy efficiency initiatives that would in fact slow environmental progress and increase costs,” she continued. “DOE even emphasizes the cost impact this will have on customers in the NOPR, confirming there would be ‘additional installation costs’ where this action would drive customers to switch from natural gas to electric water heaters.” AHAM spokesperson Jill Notini added the benefits of such DOE rulemaking would be marginal. “This is yet another proposal that will hurt consumers,” she said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “When it comes to DOE’s claim that its proposed energy standards will save consumers money, the Emperor has no clothes.” “Consumers will save only cents per month— no single proposal for Refrigerator-Freezers, Clothes Washers, Clothes Dryers, Cooking, Dishwashers will save consumers more than 65 cents per month,” Notini said. “For several of the appliance proposals, about a quarter of consumers will actually not save anything—they will never recoup the additional cost to purchase a more efficient appliance.” The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, which represents water heater manufacturers, said it was still reviewing the DOE’s approximately 1,500 pages of information. In addition to water heaters, over the last several months, the DOE has unveiled new standards for a wide variety of other appliances including gas stoves, clothes washers, refrigerators and air conditioners. The agency’s comment period on a separate dishwasher regulatory proposal concluded last week. According to the current federal Unified Agenda, a government-wide, semiannual list that highlights regulations agencies plan to propose or finalize within the next 12 months, the Biden administration is additionally moving forward with rules impacting dozens more appliances, including consumer furnaces, pool pumps, battery chargers, ceiling fans and dehumidifiers. The Biden administration boasted in December that it had taken 110 actions on energy efficiency rules in 2022 alone as part of its climate agenda. The DOE said Friday that, altogether, its appliance regulations will save Americans $570 billion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.4 billion metric tons over the next 30 years.
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Hunter Biden to appear in federal court, enter guilty plea out of years-long federal probe

Hunter Biden is set to make his first court appearance in Delaware where he is expected to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges Wednesday morning stemming from the years-long federal investigation into his tax affairs.  President Biden’s son is expected to appear in front of Judge Maryellen Noreika at 10:00 a.m.  Hunter Biden, 53, has agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of willful failure to pay federal income tax.  HUNTER BIDEN AGREES TO PLEAD GUILTY TO FEDERAL TAX CHARGES “Despite owing in excess of $100,000 in federal income taxes each year, he did not pay the income tax due for either year,” the U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware David C. Weiss’ office said upon announcing the charges last month. “According to the firearm Information, from on or about October 12, 2018 through October 23, 2018, Hunter Biden possessed a firearm despite knowing he was an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance.”  Weiss’ office said if convicted, Hunter Biden faces a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison on each of the tax charges – a total of two years. There is a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on the firearm charge for which he agreed to a pretrial diversion program.  Such programs according to the DOJ website, “divert certain offenders from traditional criminal justice processing into alternative systems of supervision and service” such as mental health or substance abuse treatment. Those who successfully complete diversion programs, the DOJ says, can see “declination of charges, dismissal or reduction of charges, or a more favorable recommendation at sentencing.” EXCLUSIVE: JOE BIDEN ALLEGEDLY PAID $5M BY BURISMA EXECUTIVE AS PART OF A BRIBERY SCHEME, ACCORDING TO FBI DOCUMENT “A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors,” Weiss’ office said.  “The investigation is ongoing,” the office said in a statement last month.  Hunter Biden will also enter into a pretrial diversion agreement regarding a separate felony charge of possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance. The plea deal, which has faced ire from Republicans and opponents of the president, is likely to keep Hunter Biden out of jail.  Hunter Biden’s first court appearance comes after highly-anticipated public testimony from two IRS whistleblowers – Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler – who were part of the IRS’ investigative team on the Hunter investigation. They alleged the investigation and prosecutorial decisions were influenced by politics. The Justice Department has denied the allegations.  The appearance also comes a day after Judge Noreika has threatened Hunter Biden’s legal team with sanctions over allegations about lying to the clerk’s office. His counsel is accused of avoiding proper court procedure to allegedly get information about IRS whistleblowers removed from the docket.  Specifically, a lawyer from Hunter’s legal team is accused of misrepresenting who she was when asking to remove amicus materials from the docket. She allegedly called to ask the clerk to seal the information instead of making a formal request to the court. Noreika gave Biden’s legal team until 9 p.m. on Tuesday to explain their side. Hunter Biden has been under federal investigation since 2018. That investigation into his “tax affairs” began amid the discovery of suspicious activity reports (SARs) regarding funds from “China and other foreign nations.” IRS whistleblowers said the investigation began as an “offshoot” from an existing probe into a foreign pornography platform.  DOJ OFFERS HUNTER BIDEN INVESTIGATOR FOR TESTIMONY BEFORE THE HOUSE Fox News first reported in 2020 that the FBI had subpoenaed a laptop and hard drive purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden in connection with a money-laundering investigation in late 2019.  In December 2020, weeks after the 2020 presidential election, Biden publicly acknowledged he was under investigation related to his taxes. At the time, Biden said he took the matter “very seriously” and was “confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.”  BIDENS ALLEGEDLY ‘COERCED’ BURISMA CEO TO PAY THEM MILLIONS TO HELP GET UKRAINE PROSECUTOR FIRED: FBI FORM The firearms charge stemmed from allegations that Hunter Biden lied during a gun purchase in 2018.  Fox News first reported in 2021 that police had responded to an incident in 2018, when a gun owned by Hunter Biden was thrown into a trash can outside a market in Delaware. A firearm transaction report reviewed by Fox News indicated that Hunter Biden purchased a gun earlier that month. On the firearm transaction report, Hunter Biden answered in the negative when asked if he was “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP Hunter Biden was discharged from the Navy in 2014 after testing positive for cocaine.  When asked for comment after the charges were announced, the White House released a statement saying: “The President and First Lady love their son and support him as he continues to rebuild his life. We will have no further comment.”
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Amid California exodus, state population projected to be same in 2060 as today, data shows

California, already struggling with an exodus of residents fleeing the state, will have about the same population in 2060 as it does now and fewer people than it had just three years ago, according to new government projections. The forecasts released by the California Department of Finance show the Golden State’s population in 2060 is estimated to be 39.51 million people, which is lower than the 39.52 residents who lived there in 2020. Just under 39 million people live today in California, the country’s most populated state. Just three years ago, forecasters estimated California’s population in 2060 would be 45 million. A few years earlier, the projection was over 50 million, indicating an expected population boom.  Meanwhile, the latest projections show the Golden State having 40 million residents in 2050, a shocking drop from the 59.5 million residents predicted in the Department of Finance’s forecasts in 2007. The difference between the two figures — 19.5 million people — is equivalent to the total population of New York state. CALIFORNIA EXODUS: REMOTE WORKERS MOVE TO MEXICO DUE TO SKY-HIGH GAS AND HOUSING COSTS California saw its first-ever population decline in 2020, when the state imposed rigid lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Californians continue to leave in droves, moving their homes and businesses to other parts of the country and creating problems for their former state. From January 2020 to July 2022, the state lost well over half a million people, with the number of residents leaving surpassing those moving in by almost 700,000. The U-Haul Growth Index, which measured more than 2 million one-way trips last year, found that California ranked last on the index as demand for trucks out of the Golden State spiked. HIGH-TAX STATE EXODUS ACCELERATES AS MORE AMERICANS FLEE TO FLORIDA, TEXAS Demographers note such an exodus can have compounding effects into the future as people who move take not only themselves but their children. California’s population decline is having real consequences. In 2021, the state lost a House seat for the first time since achieving statehood in 1850. If the population continues to decline, another House seat could be at risk. Another effect of fewer people could be an erosion of California’s tax base, already one of the country’s most taxed populations with the nation’s highest top income tax rate at 13.3% among other onerous taxes. In May, Newsom announced the state’s budget deficit had grown to nearly $32 billion, which is about $10 billion more than he anticipated in January when he offered his first budget proposal. One reason for the higher figure was lower than expected tax revenue. The 10 states with the highest taxes lost nearly 1 in 100 residents in net domestic migration between July 2021 and July 2022, while the 10 states with the lowest taxes gained almost 1 in 100, according to a recent analysis by James Doti, president emeritus and economics professor at Chapman University.  “The latest census has shown that the highest tax states — California, New York and Illinois — have all seen massive population exodus,” Nicholas Robinson, director of accountancy at Illinois University, recently told WalletHub. “The states that have grown the most, Florida and Texas, do not have an income tax. The benefits or detriments of being in a high-tax state versus a low-tax state could be assessed by the population voting with its feet.” Still, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, defended his state and expressed optimism about the future despite a declining population. GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM ADDRESSES CALIFORNIA EXODUS, TELLS AMERICANS ‘DON’T COUNT US OUT’ “I love this state,” Newsom said recently during an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity. “Don’t count us out.” Newsom added that, per capita, “more Floridians move to California than California is moving to Florida.” Last year, however, Florida saw the biggest rush of new residents migrating from predominantly blue states with steep taxes, with about 319,000 Americans making the move there, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. That amounts to a population increase of nearly 2%, well above the 0.4% national growth rate in the U.S. from July 2021 to July 2022. Texas, the second most populated state and another popular destination beyond Florida for moving Californians, is projected to expand from 30 million people to 36.7 million by 2060, according to its latest forecast from last year. According to Census data, Florida and Texas easily had the highest net migration of people moving there in 2021, while California by far had the lowest as twice as many people left as moved in. LA HOMELESS CRISIS DEEPENS, ENGULFS CITY IN CHAOS AS MAYOR EMPOWERS HERSELF WITH EMERGENCY DECLARATION As for California, the state is expected to return to its 2020 population level in the 2030s, regaining its population decline from the pandemic, and hit its peak in 2044 before declining. The forecasts are based on both net migration and a natural increase in population, which means births minus deaths. The number of deaths in California will exceed births by 2035, according to the data. California’s total fertility rate, which has been below replacement level of 2.1 births per woman since 2009, is projected to decline to 1.5. This will be supplemented by an expected surge in the number of deaths over the next three decades as so-called baby boomers grow older. Experts warn to be wary of long-term projections, noting many factors can change, and the calculations can’t be full-proof. However, in the near term, at least, many signs indicate California’s exodus will continue. More than 40% of Californians are considering leaving the Golden State, according to a new poll from a consortium of California nonprofits. Almost a third of residents said their urge to leave was fueled by California’s liberal politics. A high cost of living is another major factor for many. Some have also cited other social and cultural factors, such as the homeless crisis that is devastating major cities such as Los Angeles.  LA has seen a growing number of homeless encampments popping up along the streets of the city, coinciding with rising crime rates and creating scenes of trash, needles and even human feces and urine in public areas. Many business owners have complained, expressing outrage about such encampments being close to their establishments and potentially driving away customers. According to Department of Finance data, the County of Los Angeles is expected to shrink by 1.7 million people from 2020 to 2060. 
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