One State Climate Commission Informs Another

by Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent on January 16, 2008

Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

Today the N.C. Division of Air Quality outdoes itself before its state Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change when they bring in as an "expert" witness a fellow named Tad Aburn, who is the director of the Air and Radiation Management Division for the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Aburn, according to the agenda, is scheduled to present a "discussion of strategies to mitigate and adapt to global climate change," and will talk about "emissions reduction goals and standards in the state of Maryland." These brilliant (sarcasm there) folks, in interim recommendations released last month by their own governor-appointed (and Center for Climate Strategies-managed) climate commission, set CO2 emissions reduction targets of 90 percent below 2006 levels in the state by the year 2050. This surpasses the widely heralded (by greenies) targets set by California last year. If enacted into law, Maryland's would have the most stringent regulations in the nation.

Meanwhile, Aburn, who is the man in MD DOE most accountable for this commission process, is a piece of work. Typical of many if not most envirocrats (the kind who often shuffle back and forth between government jobs and advocacy nonprofits), he likes to set goals without considering whether they are feasible, efficient, or how much they cost. Economics are irrelevant to these people. Witness these comments from an Associated Press article last month:

“If you asked me right now, how are you going to do it? What exactly are you going to do? The answer is, I don’t know.”

“It sends a very significant message of how Maryland feels about climate change.”

That's what it is all about: implement some costly feel-good mandates, despite the fact that they won't do anything to affect climate, and that you have no idea if or how they can be achieved.

Besides his economic cluelessness and choked-up emotion about the Chesapeake Bay flooding the Eastern Shore, Aburn is also your standard obstructionist government bureaucrat, as proven in my nearly five-month effort to obtain public records from MD DOE. The Department first told me they would not provide documents because they were “privileged” (I was told that Aburn wanted them withheld). After I made a subsequent exhaustive and expansive request, I was denied again for the same reason. Then after I requested an administrative review of the denial I got a letter from Aburn saying there were 12 pages pursuant to my request and that my administrative review was moot. This was after the agency told a Maryland blogger that there were 3700 pages pursuant to the exact same request I made. So I demanded the records again — on disk — and now I have the same 3700 page answer, in which they told both me and the blogger that it would cost us $1,381 to get the records. Imagine that for a disk. So we’re still at a standstill.

These are the kinds of records I have obtained easily (and much more cheaply — sometimes for nothing) in more than a dozen other states. So it leads me to believe that Aburn has some kind of sweetheart deal with CCS that he is trying to hide. The fact that he is CCS's star presenter today at the NC LCGCC meeting only heightens that suspicion. Also sparking curiosity is the fact that North Carolina had to pay CCS $100,000 for them to manage the state's climate commission process, whereas Maryland has not had to pay a dime. In fact, Maryland does not even have a contract with CCS. What does Aburn have going on here?

I am sure there are many other cases where citizens or reporters have encountered much more obnoxious government obstruction than this. But this experience has inspired me to coin a new phrase for bureaucratic obfuscation and delay: "getting Aburned." This is the "expert" that the NC DAQ wants lawmakers to hear today.

Cross-posted at The Locker Room.

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