Obama’s Quiet Executive Order: Reaffirming and Expanding Federal Powers
“The authority of the President … to require acceptance and priority performance of contracts or orders (other than contracts of employment) to promote the national defense over performance of any other contracts or orders, and to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense, is delegated to the following agency heads … [including] the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy.”
In preparing a list for MasterResource of federal energy policy reforms to free Alaska, and thus bolster America’s economy, I came across an Executive Order (E.O.) signed by the President last month with little or no fanfare. His new authority empowers him, in certain circumstances, to assume control over the energy industry—along with the rest of the economy.
Such executive branch power puts Congress and the courts in an inferior position. It also creates a new anti-production risk in addition to current federal policy regarding lease sales; ocean policy; ANWR; OCS; and arbitrary and capricious application of the Endangered Species, Clean Water and Clean Air acts.
‘National Defense Resources Preparedness’
How many of our readers knew that on March 16, 2012, one month ago, the President signed an Executive Order (E.O.)– giving himself access to dictatorial powers — under the guise of ‘national defense’ under authority of Defense Production Act of 1950. These powers will potentially control the means of production–including energy production.
We are suspicious of White House motives because if this E.O. were necessary and its objectives noble, we would have been treated to a transparent, presidential announcement and/or press conference. Pardon us for being suspicious as well of main stream media complicity, due to a deafening silence coming from the Fourth Estate.
This recent action could really be referred to as an update of E.O. 11858 executed on May 7, 1975. The president authorizes himself to take almost complete control of the country using national defense or even the peacetime preparation for national defense as an excuse for assuming dictatorial powers (See Sec. 102. Policy. The United States must have an industrial and technological base capable of meeting national defense requirements and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency.)
The E.O. goes on under Sec. 103. General Functions to direct,
Executive departments and agencies (agencies) responsible for plans and programs relating to national defense (as defined in section 801(j) of this order), or for resources and services needed to support such plans and programs…to (a) identify requirements for the full spectrum of emergencies, including essential military and civilian demand; (b) assess on an ongoing basis the capability of the domestic industrial and technological base to satisfy requirements in peacetime and times of national emergency, specifically evaluating the availability of the most critical resource and production sources, including subcontractors and suppliers, materials, skilled labor, and professional and technical personnel; (c) be prepared, in the event of a potential threat to the security of the United States, to take actions necessary to ensure the availability of adequate resources and production capability, including services and critical technology, for national defense requirements….
The President doesn’t have to wait for the Congress to declare a national emergency. He can deem an emergency to exist or state in the preamble to a forthcoming E.O. that, while the country does not face an actual, imminent national security threat, (in our words) “we must prepare for one and I, accordingly, herewith assume control of all transportation facilities, food stores and supplies, energy production and the nation’s health care systems.”
The heads of agencies will become heads of massive central planning and enforcement efforts, such as those that existed in previous authoritarian societies.
Meet Your Masters
The principle players in controlling the new American economy and its parts and enforcing this new ‘rule by agency’, shall be the Departments of Homeland Security (National Defense); Commerce (Means of production and manufacturing base, and all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials); the Secretary of Agriculture (food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer); the Secretary of Energy (controlling public and private energy activity?); the Secretary of Health and Human Services (health resources, making ObamaCare a moot point?); the Secretary of Transportation (all forms of civil transportation, whether publicly or privately owned?); the Secretary of Defense (water resources–meaning that some of its military functions will fall under Homeland Security? )
The above agencies “shall plan for and issue regulations to prioritize and allocate resources and establish standards and procedures by which the authority shall be used to promote the national defense, under both emergency and non-emergency conditions.”
If agencies disagree over which should exercise what control (the U.S. Military and CIA come to mind here), “then the issue shall be referred to the President through the Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.”
The free market enters indentured servitude to federal agencies, as
“…the Secretary of the resource department that made the finding may use the authority of section 101(a) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071(a), to control the general distribution of any material (including applicable services) in the civilian market.
If agencies run short of cash, no problem, no need to bother Congress. Just guarantee a loan and charge it to the next generation with approval of the Secretary of Treasury:
Sec. 302. Loans. To reduce current or projected shortfalls of resources, critical technology items, or materials essential for the national defense, the head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 302 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2092, to make loans there under. Terms and conditions of loans under this authority shall be determined in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of OMB.
And if readers weren’t completely sure that the intent of the President’s E.O. is to be able to confiscate their property, note Sec. 308.
Government-Owned Equipment. The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 303(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(e), to: (a) procure and install additional equipment, facilities, processes, or improvements to plants, factories, and other industrial facilities owned by the Federal Government and to procure and install Government owned equipment in plants, factories, or other industrial facilities owned by private persons; (b) provide for the modification or expansion of privately owned facilities, including the modification or improvement of production processes, when taking actions under sections 301, 302, or 303 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2091, 2092, 2093….
We believe that were this E.O. something defensible, the White House would have announced its presence. We believe that the White House would not have gone to the trouble to construct a way in wartime or peace to have total control of America without Congressional assent, unless it intended to execute. We believe the White House is now positioned to announce that because of some upcoming news item, ‘significant justification exists for activating the E.O. effectively, then, the country will be secured under a dictatorship.
The energy industry and Alaska’s resources will play an important role in the rise of the ‘New America”. It is not hard to imagine government-controlled oil and gas, hard mineral mining, and timber and fishing activity–and with a vengeance.
National coverage could make this E.O. power grab a wedge issue in the Obama-Romney race. In any case, concerned citizens should not underestimate this Commander-in-Chief’s creative use of the E.O., particularly one that might declare that, “due to national security concerns, the national elections in November have been postponed until November of 2013.”
In this Brave New World, no federal initiative from this point forward should be dismissed as “too extreme, anti-American, or impossible.”
This piece was taken from a commentary produced this week by Northern Gas Pipelines publisher Dave Harbour. Harbour is former Chairman of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and a Commissioner Emeritus of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. A former Chairman of the Alaska Council on Economic Education, he is also former Chairman of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and former President of the American Bald Eagle Foundation.