William Yeatman

The big story of the day is the news, broken last night by the New York Times, that Hilary Clinton exclusively used private email accounts to conduct official business while she was Secretary of State. This apparent gross violation of federal recordkeeping laws provides the perfect segue to….The Top Five Transparency Abuses at Obama’s EPA. I’d be remiss if I failed to note that all of these outrages were unearthed by my colleague Chris Horner, who literally wrote the book on how to use the Freedom of Information Act.

#5: EPA’s Routine Egregious Censorship

The Freedom of Information Act allows citizens to petition federal agencies for information. However, not all information is subject to these requests; the statute stipulates a number of exemptions. And of these exemptions, the broadest (and, therefore, most vulnerable to abuse) is known as the “b(5)” exemption, after its statutory provision (5 U.S.C. §552(b)(5)). Indeed, Obama’s EPA has broken new ground in the application of “b(5),” such that the censor’s pen renders entire FOIA productions black. I wish I were kidding—we post the evidence here. It’s a Kafkaesque. [click to continue…]

The Emptiness of EPA’s “Scientific Integrity” Program Is Laid Bare; Silly Story on Alleged AGW Roots of Syrian Civil War; Yet Again Climate Change Gets No Questions on Sunday Political Talkies, and Much More

  • EPA’s Scientific Integrity Officer Francesca Grifo yesterday took to EPA Connect (“The Official Blog of EPA Leadership”) in order to announce the rollout of EPA’s Fiscal Year 2014 Scientific Integrity Annual Report. By my cursory count, there are 22 sentences in the blog, and 21 total mentions of the phrase “scientific integrity.” And yet, despite this prevalence of the term in the blog, I was as ignorant of what “scientific integrity” means after reading Grifo’s piece as I was before having read her post. To my eyes, this suggests that “scientific integrity” is an empty shibboleth (akin to “environmental justice”), for which an office is maintained for no purpose other than the cause of appealing optics.  My intuition was confirmed when I read the first sentence of the Fiscal Year 2014 Scientific Integrity Annual Report, which states that “this report is part of the Agency’s ongoing commitment to transparency.” In reality, of course, EPA has demonstrated antipathy for the principles of transparency. It follows that “scientific integrity”—a function of the agency’s supposed commitment to transparency—is a sham.
  • Yesterday the media went nuts [see screenshot immediately below] with a study linking climate change to civil war in Syria, by way of AGW-induced drought. Of the scores of articles on the subject, I read only one, by Slate’s Eric Holthaus, and it was as ridiculous as one might think. It featured a George Washington professor Marcus King, who reportedly said that climate change was the “dominant factor” leading to the 4 million emigrants fleeing the conflict—a.k.a., “climate refugees” in the mumbo jumbo jargon of the academic. Imagine that! Climate change, rather than humankind’s unfortunate nature, is the “dominant” cause of the Syrian civil war. Incredibly, that wasn’t even the silliest thing in the article. That dubious honor goes to Colin Kelley, a climate scientist at the University of California–Santa Barbara and the study’s lead author, who reportedly suggested that the U.S. should be “proactive” about this issue because a western U.S. State is at risk of suffering Syria’s fate (i.e., climate change induced civil war). [click to continue…]

Cooler Heads Digest 28 February 2015

Congressman Constructs Alternative History of Senate Climate Policy

There is something about climate policy in America that drives alarmists batty.

Here’s the crux of their crazy:  Americans (like most of the world’s citizens) lend low priority to “doing something” about climate change. In the face of this apathy, a small subset of political, economic, and academic elites suffer from extreme cognitive dissonance. Because they consider global warming to be the most terrible, awfullest threat ever, for them it simply does not compute that so many fellow Americans have different priorities.

Rather than accept the truth readily at hand, those terrified by AGW restructure reality. I know of two such delusions, which I call Climate Derangement Syndrome Type I and Type II (hereafter “CDS-I” & “CDS-II”)

  • CDS-I is characterized by the mistaken belief that omnipotent fossil fuel companies manipulate the collective American mind into ignoring the dire threat posed by AGW. As I’ve before noted, this silly notion “is belied by a cursory Google News search of the term ‘climate change,’ which reliably engenders a parade of horribles on the impending catastrophic impacts in store for civilization.
  • CDS-II is manifest in those sharing the widely held misapprehension that the only reason Congress hasn’t passed a climate policy is the GOP’s irrational refusal to work hand in hand with the Democrats on saving the world from AGW, the direst threat ever known to any living being in history of the universe. In fact, congressional opposition to AGW mitigation measures is healthily bipartisan (reflecting the low priority lent to AGW by the preponderance of American voters).

Earlier this week, I brought your attention to a classic case of CDS-II exhibited by Slate reporter Alec MacGillis. This morning, I seek to draw your attention to another evident instance of CDS-II; this time, the victim is Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), who was hit with a fit of CDS-II during last Wednesday’s House Energy and Commerce joint-subcommittee hearing on EPA’s FY 2016 budget (about which I reported here). [click to continue…]

also prone to mendacity

also prone to mendacity

On Wednesday morning, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified before a joint hearing of two House Energy & Commerce subcommittees. The subject was the EPA’s FY 2016 budget proposal.

As readers of this blog know well, the EPA is out of control. Since the dawn of the Obama era, the agency has spurned all its rightful partners—i.e., States, Congress, industry, and even fellow federal agencies. In their stead, EPA has embraced a handful of green special interests that had spent considerable time and money getting Obama elected. On their behalf (the NRDC-set), the agency has been busy imposing bad policy. So you’d think that McCarthy’s would be a hot seat, when she testified before the Congress.

That said, Administrator McCarthy is a well-seasoned bureaucrat, who’s been doing this for a long time. Over the course of her career, she’s gleaned all the classic tricks of obfuscation, including (but not limited to) ‘The Big 3 R’s’:

  • The refusal: When presented with a difficult question, one claims ignorance and says he/she’’ll get back to the questioner with an answer.
  • The rote: “The rote” is a close cousin of the filibuster; it entails the recitation of canned paragraphs about appealing subjects that are apropos nothing (e.g.., rambling about how ‘children are the future’).
  • The redirect: This occurs when the witness simply answers a question that is related but different to the query that was actually posed.

Administrator McCarthy deftly employed all of these techniques on Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittees. And they (the rote, the refusal, and the redirect) were essential to her success in deflecting almost all of the hard questions directed her way. Yet they weren’t sufficient. In addressing the toughest questions, Administrator McCarthy relied on a technique that can’t be beat: She stretched the truth, often to the breaking point. [click to continue…]

Slate Whiffs on Cause of O’s Climate Authoritarianism; EPA Spokesman Reynolds Sounds Silly on “Special Interests”; Grist’s Unintentionally Hilarious Story; and More

  • Over at Slate, Alec MacGillis has a think piece titled “Why Obama Is So Autocratic about Environmental Policy.” At the outset, MacGillis concedes the authoritarian character of President Obama’s climate policy (i.e., his imposing hugely consequential climate measures that lack any electoral mandate whatsoever), which is a truthful start. But the author then proceeds to absolve the Obama of his “autocratic” ways, because….[wait for it]….those darned republicans won’t work with him on climate change mitigation. In fact, the Slate reporter is two-ways wrong:
    1. Contrary to what MacGillis (and others) would have you believe, opposition to climate policy is healthily bipartisan, rather than being solely a conservative cause; and,
    2. MacGillis treats elected Republicans like an independent entity, as if the congressional GOP caucus has policy goals that are distinct from the voters. In reality, it’s not that *Republicans* in the abstract are being unreasonable on climate; rather, the truth of the matter is that most Americans, across the political spectrum, lend low priority to AGW. This is why opposition to climate policy is robustly bipartisan. It’s also why Obama ran from climate change during the 2012 campaign.

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waxman imageThis blog venerates former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), despite the fact that his position was opposite of ours on pretty much every energy/environmental policy ever. Though I disagree with him on everything, I admire Waxman because he is so damned smart and effective.

Here’s the Waxman I know through observation. For starters, he showed up to every Energy & Commerce Committee hearing. If you occasion these sorts of things, you’d know that congressional attendance is terrible, yet Waxman would show up even to hearings convened by E&C subcommittees on which he wasn’t a member. (The only other Members of Congress I know of who do this are Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Darrell Issa). And wherever Waxman showed up, he was supremely effective. He’d ask the toughest questions, blunt the opposition with procedural mechanisms, and generally control the proceeding–even if he was in the minority.

To my knowledge, Waxman was the finest practitioner of parliamentary hand-to-hand combat (although I’m too young to have witnessed Rep. John Dingell in his prime, and I understand he was something to behold). Unfortunately, environmental policy was Waxman’s bailiwick, and no one benefited more so from his acumen than the green movement.

So when I heard that Waxman, upon retiring at the close of the 113th Congress, wrote and circulated a business plan to all the top lobbyist outfits in D.C., I would have thought that he’d have immediately fielded a number of offers at an annual salary that K St. normally reserves for just-retired Senators (~$1 million). I thought this for two reasons: (1) Waxman is a master of congressional process; (2) the green movement, his closest ally, is spending evermore on elections and lobbying.  [click to continue…]

Grist.org describes itself as “independent green journalism.” Keeping this self-description in mind—with an emphasis on the modifier *green*—consider the following Grist stories that were promoted on the blog’s twitter feed in the previous 8 hours:

Why is Grist, “independent green journalism,” writing *serious* posts on subjects like student loan debts and feminism, which have nothing at all to do with the environment? The answer to this question reflects the rise of green special interests as big time political players. [click to continue…]

peeweeWhenever EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy talks about the Clean Power Plan, the word of the day is always “flexibility.”

Pursuant to her telling, the regulation was crafted by EPA so as to give States a near-boundless freedom to choose what they believe is the best path for achieving greenhouse gas emissions reductions. As she told the National Governors Association this past weekend,

We have designed this rule to allow States to design their own pathway forward that is consistent with where they want to see their future in their state and their economy…So we are continuing with collaborating with the States, recognizing that the glue that holds us all together is the flexibility that we have offered.

Later, the f-word popped up again as McCarthy responded to questions about the rule:

Because we’ve provided so much flexibility, every state gets to dictate for themselves [their compliance strategy]

Finally, Administrator McCarthy intimated that EPA granted so much flexibility to the States, that Governors could somehow leverage the Clean Power Plan into a central plan that would create wealth and reduce unemployment: [click to continue…]

Last April, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jointly proposed a regulation that would “clarify” federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. Both agencies—rather than EPA alone—administer the Act, which is why both agencies proposed the jurisdictional rule.

On February 4th, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy told a congressional committee that her agency was working on a number of revisions to the rule. However, her suggested alterations were news to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, EPA’s supposed partner, according to a report last Friday by Inside EPA ($):

Moreover, the industry source says the Corps does not does appear to have seen a draft of any revised changes since November, and a second industry source similarly says that Corps staff have “expressed frustration” that they’ve had limited involvement in the rulemaking.

Thus, EPA reportedly has sidelined the U.S Army Corps of Engineers. Unfortunately, this is only the latest instance of EPA refusing to cooperate with a sister federal agency.*

EPA’s repeated spurning of federal agencies within the same administration raises an important question: Is there anyone with whom Obama’s EPA will work, besides the green lobby?

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