Between the Lines: December 20

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Cell Phones on Planes Have Lawmakers Hopping: Response by Brigham McCown

E-mail and texting? Fine. Yapping on the phone? Not fine, says, well … just about everybody. Forget limited government regulation. This is a cramped cabin we’re talking about. There oughta be a law! Shuster’s bill already has 21 co-sponsors, with Democrats and Republicans. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has similar legislation with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

Rep. Pete DeFazio, D-Ore., the ranking Democrat on the Aviation Subcommittee, cheered Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s statement last week that his agency would consider regulations to ban cell phone chats on planes. “As I’ve been saying for years, allowing passengers to make in-flight phone calls would not only show a complete disregard for an American public that overwhelmingly opposes them, but would also pose serious safety issues for everyone in the cabin,” DeFazio said.

Transportation Sec. LaHood Tours Site Of PG&E Gas Explosion

Airlines and airports look to take the pain out of boarding planes

Research by Boeing showed that the pace at which passengers board a plane has slowed by 50% since 1970. Reasons might include a longer list of priority boarders and more carry-on baggage blocking the aisles.

Quicker boarding time means airlines save money; $30 for every minute saved, according to studies.

“Planes make money in the air, not on the ground,” Jan van Helden, project leader for KLM’s “Smarter Boarding” program told CNN.

Get ready for another Keystone XL showdown on Capitol Hill

As Jonathan Chait points out in New York magazine, it’s false to claim that the House has never just raised the debt ceiling in exchange for nothing. They almost always do so, including just the last time they raised the debt ceiling in October. It makes sense that they get nothing in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, because paying bills we have already run up is not a favor to the president. Since Ryan just struck a budget deal, the debt ceiling increase is necessary simply to carry out the very budget he crafted. So Ryan’s threat is hypocritical at best.

And the Keystone XL pipeline doesn’t even have anything to do with the budget, let alone the debt limit.

Majority of Americans Think Keystone Would Benefit U.S.

The poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, and surveyed 1,004 adults ages 18 or older, also indicated that only 35 percent believe construction of the pipeline would be harmful to the environment.

The oil-sands pipeline, which would transport crude from Alberta, Canada, to Gulf Coast refineries, is being reviewed at the State Department, which is expected to release its final environmental-impact assessment of the project shortly.

Pro-energy groups laud U.S. ‘energy revolution’

“America is in the midst of a game-changing energy revolution,” API Chief Economist John Felmy said in a statement Monday.

He was commenting on a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which predicted record-setting levels of oil and natural gas production in the United States.

The EIA in its Monday report said crude oil production in the United States should reach 9.6 million barrels per day by 2016, equaling a record set more than 40 years ago. Crude oil production is expected to decline after 2020, though EIA said natural gas production should increase steadily through 2040.

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