NRDC’s *Laughable* Defense against Sen. Vitter’s Collusion Charges

by William Yeatman on February 19, 2015

in Blog

puppet masterLast week, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee held a hearing featuring EPA Office of Air & Radiation chief Janet McCabe, on the subject of EPA’s climate regulations. During his five minutes of questions, Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana) pursued a line of inquiry regarding the outsized role played by NRDC in the drafting of the Clean Power Plan for existing power plants. As reported by the New York Times, 3 lobbyist/lawyers at the NRDC wrote the “blueprint” for the regulation, which would fundamentally overhaul the electricity sector. This is unseemly because, in 2008 and 2012, NRDC spent a great deal of resources getting President Obama elected. An impartial observer easily could conclude that NRDC was being rewarded with policymaking prerogatives, in exchange for having helped elect Obama.

In pressing his point, Sen. Vitter held up a placard featuring an email exchange between an NRDC lobbyist and a top EPA political appointee, in which the former pitches to the latter the idea of the drafting a template Clean Power Plan ‘federal implementation plan’ (a.k.a. a “FIP”). In seeming conformity with the NRDC’s direction, EPA last month proposed a Clean Power Plan model FIP (discussed here, here, and here at length).

Sen. Vitter expressed his belief that this behavior was inappropriately collusive. And it was, judging by the evidence at hand (i.e., the email depicted on the placard). Yesterday, however, NRDC alleged that Vitter doctored the email to make his case. According to E&E GreenWire’s Jean Chemnick ($):

But NRDC says Vitter deliberately edited the email to better make its case. Clearly legible on the billboard is Hawkins’ advice that EPA has the authority to promulgate a FIP even before states submit their plans — something the agency announced last month it will do. But the green group notes that Vitter either puts in small print or deletes the rest of Hawkins’ email — which makes it clear that the longtime environmental lawyer is basing his advice to Goffman on the D.C. Circuit court’s decision related to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. The court “discussed in an approving manner” the decision by President George W. Bush’s EPA to write a FIP for its rule limiting emissions that cross state lines. But Vitter omitted Hawkins’ reference to that case, apparently because it would undercut Vitter’s charge that the Obama administration is colluding with environmental groups… “We thought it was very selective editing, to put it politely,” [NRDC’s federal communications director said.

Thus, NRDC claims that the email exchange wasn’t collusive, because the NRDC lawyer based his request on a recent court interpretation of the Clean Air Act, rather than the statute itself. This is patently ridiculous. Per NRDC (as reported), it’s not collusive if an NRDC lawyer bases a request to EPA on a court’s interpretation of the law, but it is collusive were NRDC to base its request on the law, per se. Again, this is a nonsensical distinction. That this thin soup is NRDC’s best defense to Sen. Vitter’s charge suggests that the allegation is well founded.

russ February 19, 2015 at 4:12 pm

The endless drama and distraction about global warming is terrible theater… On stage two actors argue endlessly over the price for taking care of our CO2 garbage… One actor demands $1 trillion dollars per year from the reluctant customer (us) and the haggling argument ensues.

Meanwhile out of the blue a practical affordable alternative becomes available. Instead of the $100 dollar per ton cost to manage societies 10 billion tons of CO2 per year the cost can be just one penny per tonne. And the new attraction/technology offers all the free fish you can eat… Restoring ocean pastures will save the world and bring back the fish. As a bonus you get to watch a video made on Neil Young’s ship Ragland as a few American’s work to do something to save the earth.

Steve February 23, 2015 at 11:15 am

When exactly was it decided that CO2 was “garbage”. I’m not a scientist, but I do know that CO2 is the lifeblood of our existence.

russ March 1, 2015 at 12:51 pm

CO2 like oxygen is good stuff but the issue is too much (or too little). Presently modern society has added 40+% more CO2 to the air than was in the air 100 years ago. That’s very good news for the 17% of this planect where grass and trees grow as extra CO2 is making global greening.

Tragically 72% of this planet is blue, and the oceans are dying from that same rise in CO2. More grass growing means less dust blowing. Dust in the wind that travels from land to sea sustains, or used to sustain, vital ocean pastures. Those ocean pastures have been turning from lush blue-green oceans of life into blue deserts. All because our CO2 has grown grass on land, you know good ground cover.

Of course the dark greens whose agenda is political power and not doing something for the planet hate this as do the dark conservatives who don’t want to conserve anything save their political power. What I have proven is that this whole issue of CO2 and global warming can be made moot and the planet saved not at the cost of trillions, or even billions, but for just pennies. Both political monsters are foaming at the mouth over a cheap immediate solution that ends their political football game. My message to them is ‘get a life’ and perhaps the life you should get is restored ocean life.

Bob March 1, 2015 at 8:33 am

Why is it that the cost of carbon never includes much in the way of benefits in the calculation?

Jason March 11, 2015 at 12:18 pm


Apologies if this is repetitive. There are people out there who are discussing the benefits of CO2.

See Roger Bezdek’s work on the Social Cost vs. Benefits of CO2 –

Also see Craig Idso’s work on CO2 fertilization –

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