Blockbuster FOIA Production Exposes EPA’s PR Strategy for Climate Regs

by Chris Horner on January 26, 2015

in Blog

Recently, I unearthed the extraordinary EPA memo immediately below from a Freedom of Information Act request. The document is from the early days of the Obama administration, and it is, as someone who has seen it described to me, “their whole strategy laid bare…” That is, it helps place the administration’s campaign and spin in a more proper perspective.

EPA Strategy Memo FOIA Production

Precisely as Congress intended when it enacted the Freedom of Information Act, the American public can now see what bureaucrats and, in this case, ideological activists in government say among themselves and their pressure group allies, in order to help keep a proper perspective about what these same activists tell the public.

What the memo demonstrates is the recognition by EPA—at the outset of the Obama administration—that the agency needed to move its global warming campaign away from the failed shrill tactics of discredited Big Green pressure groups and their icons (such tactics are “an unpersuasive argument to make,” per the memo). In it we see the birth of the breathtakingly disingenuous “shift from making this about the polar caps [to] about our neighbor with respiratory illness…”.

The memo also shows the conviction that if they yell “clean air” and “children” enough they, the media and the green groups will get their way.

Notable Points in the memo:

  • Curious is the analogy to religion and faith-based pursuit of the “mission” — “a monumental effort driven by a positive motivation” — to reach the “unchurched.” Interestingly, the authors recognized that this framing “will undoubtedly raise some eyebrows internally”.
  • Also remarkable is the candor with which the memo acknowledges that Obama’s EPA would wrap climate agenda items in poll-tested rhetoric,, i.e., to “use various hooks” — “children” naturally among their headline list, as in “highlighting the children’s health dimension to all of our major initiatives” — to try and “create a causal link” between the incoming appointees’ “mission” and the actual concerns of those impacted by the missionaries.
  • Regarding the statement that EPA needs to “shift from making this about the polar caps [to] about our neighbor with respiratory illness…”: Sure enough, with the rollout of Obama’s GHG rules in June we saw the remarkable pivot after which the “global warming” agenda was suddenly, somehow in fact about “clean air” and children struggling to breathe; the American Lung Association stood in for the old faithful alarmist groups which have squandered most of their credibility in recent years, to host the president’s announcement.  Observers may have scratched their heads about that; this provides the genesis.
  • Possibly most refreshing is the acknowledgement of EPA’s symbiotic relationship with a “cadre of reporters” who EPA expects to demand an agenda — according to EPA, just like pressure groups — to which demands EPA will respond.


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