Chris Horner

CEI’s discovery in late 2012 of then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s false-identity “Richard Windsor” email account drew a fair amount of attention at the time.  Some media outlets, realizing they may have been getting the runaround from the “most transparent administration, ever” along with the rest of us, set off on broader campaigns to root out other tricks.  A Windsor-inspired AP inquiry prompted headlines like these.

CEI was forced to sue to get the Windsor emails it at first sought.  The first revelations, from just emails with certain “climate”-related keywords, painted a picture of an agency out of control, sweating the policy sheets with media allies and green group lobbyists…the few they hadn’t brought in-house to ply their trade. We then sought all emails on that false-flag account.   EPA said it would slow-walk this second request to the pitiful tune of 100 emails per month, for the next century.  So we sued.

In the meantime, the Windsor affair became notorious while leaving some in the media confused, possibly unsure that this was such a bad thing so long as it was the right kind of administration doing these things.  As recently as last month it was still being twisted by apologists at the Washington Post, whose reportage of yet another investigation sparked by Windsor included pure invention: “The 2012 request by CREW was sparked by the discovery that Lisa Jackson, then-administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, had been using an alias email at work with the name “Richard Windsor,” largely for personal communication.”

There having been a handful of personal-ish emails among the many tens of thousands of responsive pages— which are largely available, specifically set-aside, online — this is simply made up.  In fact this email account was Jackson’s principal account for corresponding with senior EPA officials, other cabinet officers, White House staff, and the odd lobbyist (CEI’s litigation also revealed that Jackson used her actual personal account, with Verizon, used for corresponding with lobbyists from industry and green pressure groups).

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HORNER PARISEditor’s Note: My CEI colleagues Chris Horner and Myron Ebell are at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris. It is a testament to their effectiveness that they were, on their first day, targeted by a coordinated campaign to silence their participation in the proceedings (see photo to the right). Of course, the campaign failed. Find Chris Horner’s first dispatch here; below I’ve posted his second.

Monday was an eventful day in Paris, site of the ongoing talks to secure a replacement treaty for the Kyoto Protocol that would regulate energy use among richer countries and thereby script a massive, self-renewing wealth transfer.

The first half of my day was occupied by the Heartland Institute, CFACT, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute “Day of Examining the Data” event.  There, one of the less bizarre questioners made an inquiry that distilled to: How can you disagree with the reinsurance industry’s insistence that catastrophic man-made global warming is evidenced by increasingly costly weather events?

You may have noticed that these claims rarely come with the caveats that a more populous world with more dwellings and other property to insure— i.e., if you build more (taxpayer-subsidized) beach houses—you should expect more houses on the beach to be destroyed during storms (See links below for such cautions).

Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace who has since turned against institutional environmentalism on account of its misplaced priorities, responded from the audience that the purpose of the insurance industry’s argument is to obtain approvals for the industry’s rate increases. That is, the insurance industry alarmist position is self-serving. [click to continue…]

Agency promises to satisfy “Richard Windsor” FOIA request…in the 22nd century!

richard-windsor3The tortuous Richard Windsor saga took yet another twist yesterday, when we filed suit to compel EPA to stop flouting the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

To recap: In 2012, I discovered that ex-EPA administrator Lisa Jackson used an alias email persona, known as “Richard Windsor,” in an obvious attempt to evade scrutiny under transparency laws. After a more limited request for certain “war on coal” emails, CEI then submitted a FOIA request for all emails to and from Mr. Windsor/Administrator Jackson. However, EPA has gone to extraordinary lengths to dodge its responsibilities to fulfill the request–despite the Obama administration’s promise to be “the most transparent ever.”​

Indeed, CEI has endured multiple rounds of EPA obfuscation.  After reversing two absurd delaying maneuvers on administrative appeal, EPA agreed to process an unprecedentedly low 100 records a month—over the course of the next 100 years! [click to continue…]

The McCarthy impersonations by several progressive elected officials this past week targeting climate skeptics, apparently coordinated in both chambers of Congress with the Greenpeace/New York Times smear job of Dr. Willie Soon, got me wondering about the extent to which these same Members of Congress are in cahoots with green billionaire Tom Steyer. Of course, FOIA is limited to the Executive Branch of government. However, EPA keeps an in house congressional lobby shop of Boxer/Markey staff Doppelgängers.

So I FOIA’d the EPA​ lobbyists, to see what correspondence with these Senate offices they may have had about Tom Steyer, the campaign he is helping underwrite against “deniers”, the Greenpeace smear, and trying to chase opponents out of their chosen field, etc. In short, what they may have put in writing about what we are watching unfold. I’ve reposted the request below.


CEI FOIA EPA Congl Affairs and OA Request Boxer Markey Whitehouse Corresp


typical FOIA production by 'most transparent admin. ever'

typical FOIA production from ‘most transparent admin. ever’

[Editor’s Note: Yesterday, the Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch reported that Republican lawmakers are demanding the Environmental Protection Agency fork over documents relating to text messages to and from the agency’s chief administrator that were allegedly deleted rather than preserved for federal records, or simply because as “correspondence” they are regularly the subject of Freedom of Information and oversight requests and therefore must be preserved. Their request stems from the work of my colleague Chris Horner, who literally wrote the book on the opacity of the Obama administration (The Liberal War on Transparency). Below, Horner discusses the latest developments in this burgeoning transparency scandal.]

We have gotten to this point in a far too long and winding way, requiring numerous FOIA requests, first for text messages, then phone bills, then metadata, more text messages once we learned the ones we had requested were destroyed, and now for emails discussing all of this.  Developments along this way include:

The most recent step pertains to emails sent between EPA’s Office of General Counsel and Ms. McCarthy which mention texting.  This request was followed by, what is even in my experience, an unprecedented series of delays; a cynic might suspect that this was intended to avoid these emails, described below, from emerging until a federal court in DC rules on our efforts to depose Ms. McCarthy, among others, about EPA destroying its senior advisors’ text correspondence.

Here is why.   [click to continue…]

Post image for SOTU: The Inanity of “All of the Above”

President Obama did what some of us have counseled one should expect when the Republicans wedded themselves to the inane “all of the above” slogan to characterize or, alternately, substitute for an argument for fixing the woes caused by misguided government energy policies, programs and schemes: Namely, he used it to argue for more handouts to the welfare-case black holes like wind and solar which have been around since the ’60s—the 1860’s—and have received government supports for the past five decades.

That’s the problem with such slogans in lieu of educating and principle: “All of the above” is intended to be a blank slate on which voters can cast their own notions, yet it draws no line to exclude the inane, wasteful or outright economically destructive.

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Post image for Media Gift: Republicans, Pickens’s New Subsidy and the ‘Circular Firing Squad’

The Wall Street Journal has a long piece today about the prospect of using the state to move part of the U.S. transportation fleet from oil to natural gas. It gives prominent voice to the massive public affairs campaign of T. Boone Pickens to add billions to his natural gas fortune as a swansong to a prosperous career.

This campaign takes the form of a bill embraced by ostensible fiscal hawks, causing an uproar from those conservatives who took umbrage at Members abandoning their pledges of fiscal sobriety at the drop of a billionaire’s phone call. This enabled the media to describe the Republicans’ ‘circular firing squad.’ Well played, gentlemen.

The vehicle was not Pickens’ first choice. His first choice was a windmill mandate, transparently pushed by a handful of gas interests, including Chesapeake Energy’s Aubrey McClendon, to put a green hat on their efforts to use the state to displace coal’s market. In this effort, they found natural allies in environmentalist special interests.

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My former CEI colleague and now academic Jonathan Adler has an unfortunate post over on The Volokh Conspiracy manifesting a fundamental misunderstanding of how cap-and-trade is expected to work, how it has worked in Europe, and what the documents, received under FOIA from the Department of Treasury and causing his fellow academics so much angst, represent.

You can read Jonathan’s frustration for yourself (and the slightly better informed commenters’ thoughts, as well) here.

I have already addressed the 100% auctioning is irrelevant can’t we move on that’s old news line of, for lack of a better word, argumentation. The same revenue projections from 100% auctioning made by the administration in February were in the administration’s mid-session review published about three weeks ago: that is, it remains 100% the administration’s policy to 100% auction. Ok, the House passed a bill. That wasn’t the subject of the Treasury memos setting forth the administration’s expectations. Nice try.

Well, not that great, actually. That bill, Waxman-Markey may not arrange to sell 100% of the ration coupons — when it kicks in, it is three-fourths, not the 15% you are being distracted with — but it does require 100% of them be bought. That’s a distinction without a difference to the people who have to buy them, and to the consumer/ratepayer/taxpayer. The distinction is that the state gives away a quarter of the ration coupons to folks who are not covered by the law and have no use for them but to sell them to poor saps who are covered by the law. To the people that matter, trust me, that makes no difference. It is a phony argument at worst and a distraction at best.

Nor does it make any difference even if 100% were given away. At least, if you take Obama’s budget director at his word. You can read current OMB director and former CBO director Peter Orszag saying just that — on numerous occasions in several slightly different ways here among numerous other places:

Under a cap-and-trade program, firms would not ultimately bear most of the costs of the allowances but instead would pass them along to their customers in the form of higher prices. Such price increases would stem from the restriction on emissions and would occur regardless of whether the government sold emission allowances or gave them away

Also, in Europe, we see that the ration coupons were given away for free, just as Waxman-Markey — again, not the focus of the Treasury documents– largely does as well for the scheme’s first few years. In Europe, prices of electricity and that which has electricity or energy embedded in it (everything) went up. Period. To claim, as Waxman-Markey proponents do, that they’ll just avoid Europe’s experience by telling local distribution companies to make sure the cost is not passed on to the ratepayer though emissions (energy use) must go down, flies in the face of practice and economic theory. This later case is made in a forthcoming paper, which to be thorough and fair I will note here, referencing this post.

Jonathan has waded in on matters on the side of the greens before and I have always enjoyed how the repartee ends up, so I welcome this foray, too. The more opportunity we have to correct silly distractions, misstatements and misunderstandings, the better.

The greens have responded with, so far as my experience has it, unprecedented fury and bile to my FOIA request exposing the Department of the Treasury’s internal discussion of how the administration, like the rest of us, expect cap-and-trade to chase away manufacturing jobs particularly in key industries like steel, chemical and cement, and lard the full equivalent of the entirety of environmental regulation on what’s left of the economy (while shaving a full 1% off of GDP).

What has most riled them, indicating that it is what most frightens them, is the internal assessment that the administration expects to raise between $100-200 billion per year from the taxpayer in revenues from selling CO2 ration coupons. Oddly, that’s up to three times how much the administration asserted to the public in February it expected to raise from 100% auctioning, which they said they still expect it to raise,  as of three weeks ago (p. 33), well after the March memo citing the $100-200 billion was written. So much for having abandoned their position of auctioning, which it turns out is still the administration position.

In response the greens have tossed out any number of distractions, like claiming that we are ignoring “CBO data” (sic); by which they mean a remarkably cherry-picked CBO estimate of the cost in the cheapest year of the Waxman-Markey bill, a bill not referenced in Treasury’s outed expectation. That’s a distraction but it’s not data, although with so little on their side I understand their need to fudge.

Let me say this as plainly as I can, at risk of House censure: With the help of a remarkably incurious media, Big Green’s claims about what we revealed include not just stretchers but brazen, outright fabrications.

Consider Politico, and how the greens talked the same reporter who they talked into saying that Al Gore signed Kyoto into repeating, with the accuracy we are coming to expect, their new mantra that auctioning the ration coupons is “a long-ago-scrapped proposal made by the Obama administration.”
Ahem. Not “long-ago-scrapped”. The accurate phrase is “House-passed.”

No one who has read Waxman-Markey – a universe I know better than to expect includes reporters “reporting” on it – can honestly claim to believe that the bill scrapped auctioning, if not 100%, then the vast majority of these “allowances”. It mandates it.

It’s right there plain as can be in the 1,400 page bill, Title VII, Subtitle B, Sections 701 through 729 and Subtitle B, Part H! It ends up selling three-fourths of the things (with the rest politically allocated to groups not required to have them and with no use for them other than to sell ‘em to less politically favored saps who do). How can they miss that?

What this tells us is the folly of claiming that the House bill makes Treasury’s assumption of auctioning many or most allowances irrelevant. The allowances that bill does still give away in a few years are given away to entities for resale, not to the productive sector covered by the requirement that they have the things. That means that for all intents and purposes by giving none away to the people and businesses required to have them, Waxman-Markey is de facto auctioning 100%. For anyone familiar with the scheme to say that auctioning is “long-ago-scrapped” is a fabrication intended to deceive.

In the same newspaper we see a lie wrapped in an even bigger whopper intended to distract, in the form of a claim that Treasury’s internal assessment is irrelevant. For example, Politico’s Ben Smith quoted the League of Conservation Voters stammering incoherently:

“Specifically, the original White House plan had 100% of emissions permits being distributed by auction; the plan that passed has just 15%.  ‘Can you say “irrelevant analysis”? It would be like pricing the health care bills currently in front of Congress based on a single-payer system,’ [LCV spokesman] writes.”

But as we see, his implication that the House bill only requires auctioning of 15% is flagrantly untrue.

What an actual journalist might do is note how the teaser “only of 15% auctioned!”, which explodes to 100%, gives meaning to Friends of the Earth’s description of the scheme as “subprime carbon”.
But that wouldn’t help the agenda’s chances now, would it?

Now, what about the claim that giving away the ration coupons changes the cost, the cost being what the greens are up in arms over?

Not a bit. At least, if you believe Obama’s economic team. As you see below, even OMB director Peter Orszag-led CBO recently noted the taxpayer pays either way, it’s just that they give corporate buddies much of the loot for a while as part of the deal. It isn’t even disputed in relevant quarters that it doesn’t matter who gets the money — 85% to special interests and 15% to the government or 100% to the government — it still comes out the taxpayer’s pocket.

“Under a cap-and-trade program, firms would not ultimately bear most of the costs of the allowances but instead would pass them along to their customers in the form of higher prices. Such price increases would stem from the restriction on emissions and would occur regardless of whether the government sold emission allowances or gave them away.”

The supposedly controlling Waxman-Markey effort merely gave most of these allowances away for a few years to the GEs and Duke Energys and Chicago’s Exelon, for example, for a few years to buy political support.

One might think that the fact that Waxman-Markey still will ding the taxpayer but for billions to be handed over, at least for the introductory decade, to rent-seeking industry that spent so much on making the scheme happen. That’s not an issue they should want to emphasize, on its face, but that’s the trouble with lying in the first place. It’s out there.

Glenn Beck is addressing this issue this afternoon, as he has already indicated on his radio program earlier, including by kindly including me. I get a sense that his picking up on the scent is the thing that’s most unnerving the greens at the moment. Can anyone say “Van Jones”?