Carol Browner

Post image for Gina McCarthy’s Responses to Sen. Vitter’s Questions Part II: Fuel Economy*

Gina McCarthy — President Obama’s nominee to succeed Lisa Jackson as EPA Administrator — is often described as “straight shooter” and “honest broker.” Is that reputation deserved?

Last week, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) released a 123 page document containing McCarthy’s responses to hundreds of questions on a wide range of issues. Part 1 of this series examined McCarthy’s responses to Vitter’s questions about the agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases from stationary sources. The key points were:

  1. McCarthy and the Air Office over which she presides gave Congress and the electric power sector false assurances that the EPA would not require utilities planning to build new coal-fired power plants to “fuel switch” and build natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plants instead.
  2. Such misinformation undercut the credibility of critics who warned that the EPA, if left to its own devices, would use greenhouse gas regulation to prohibit the construction of new coal electric generation.
  3. The EPA’s dissembling on fuel switching may have swayed votes against measures sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in 2010 and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) in 2011 to reclaim Congress’s authority to determine climate policy.

Agencies are not supposed to provide false or misleading information to influence how Members of Congress vote. Banning new coal generation — the inexorable effect of the EPA’s ‘Carbon Pollution’ Rule — is a policy Congress would reject if proposed as legislation.

Part 1 concluded that confirming McCarthy as Administrator would reward the EPA’s duplicitous pursuit of an agenda Congress has not authorized. Breaking news of the EPA’s grossly unequal treatment of groups seeking information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) — based on whether the groups support or oppose a bigger, more intrusive EPA — leaves no doubt that this out-of-control agency deserves a kick in the butt, not a pat on the back.

Even the Society of Environmental Journalists — hardly a hotbed of libertarians, conservative Republicans, or fossil-fuel industry lobbyists — recently complained that the Obama administration “has been anything but transparent in its dealings with reporters seeking information, interviews and clarification” on environmental, health, and public lands issues, and that, “The EPA is one of the most closed, opaque agencies to the press.”

Today’s post examines McCarthy’s responses to Vitter’s questions about the administration’s motor vehicle mandates. As in Part 1, I begin with an overview of the issues and political back story. For more detailed analyses, see the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee report, A Dismissal of Safety, Choice, and Cost: The Obama Administration’s New Auto Regulations, and my article, EPA Regulation of Fuel Economy: Congressional Intent or Climate Coup? [click to continue…]

Post image for Issa Challenges Legality of California Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards

I keep coming back to this topic because fuel economy zealots are trashing our constitutional system of separated powers and democratic accountability. Only Congress can make them stop. Leading the counter-offensive is House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who has been watch-dogging the Obama administration’s fuel economy agenda since 2009. [click to continue…]

Obama’s Green Albatross

by William Yeatman on November 15, 2011

Post image for Obama’s Green Albatross

Stimulus spending on environmentalist policy is a green albatross around the neck of President Barack Obama. Inspectors General are having a field day auditing stimulus-funded programs for so-called “green jobs,” and the media LOVES stories about wasted taxpayer money. What started as a sop to his environmentalist base, now threatens to become a slow-drip nightmare of negative press. The timing couldn’t be worse for the President. It takes time to disburse scores of billions of dollars, so we are only now starting to scrutinize stimulus spending. By November 2012, we’ll be able to account for most of the money, and unless the current trend changes radically, the Executive in Chief is going to look conspicuously incompetent.

Here’s the back-story: In early 2009, the Executive and Legislative branches of government had a popular mandate to defibrillate America’s moribund economy with a huge injection of taxpayer dollars. Instead of limiting this “stimulus” to state bailouts and infrastructure spending, the Obama administration (led by climate “czar” and former EPA administrator Carol Browner) and the Congressional majority (led by House Energy and Commerce Chair Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills)) also sought to advance environmentalist policy.  As a result, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a.k.a. the stimulus, included almost $70 billion in spending for green jobs and renewable energy infrastructure.

Every single link along the green energy supply chain was showered with subsidies. There was funding for green jobs training, funding for factories to make green products, and funding to incentivize demand for green goods and services. It was as like a green Gosplan!

[click to continue…]

Post image for Issa: 54.5 MPG Fuel Economy Standard Negotiated Outside Scope of Law

In a sharply worded letter (August 11, 2011) to White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) contends that “the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and EPA vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) standards announced by President Obama and select automobile manufacturers on July 29, 2011, were negotiated in secret, outside the scope of law, and could generate significant negative impacts for consumers.”

Issa is also concerned “that the government’s ownership interest in General Motors and Chrysler at the time these negotiations were conducted creates a troublesome conflict-of-interest.”

Accordingly, Issa is launching “an investigation into the activities of the Administration leading up to the agreement for new CAFE standards for model years (MY) 2017-2025.”

I won’t try to summarize Issa’s 8-page letter, which among other things developes a detailed case that the 54.5 mpg fuel-economy deal will adversely affect vehicle prices, consumer choice, vehicle safety, and, hence, automotive sales and auto industry jobs. This post will only discuss the legal issues that Issa spotlights. My concern here — as in numerous previous columns — is with bureaucratic ‘lawmaking’: the trashing of the separation of powers and democratic accountability in the illusory pursuit of climate stability and energy independence. [click to continue…]

Dan Berman reported in Politico on Wednesday that: “The White House rewrote crucial sections of an Interior Department report to suggest an independent group of scientists and engineers supported a six-month ban on offshore oil drilling, the Interior inspector general says in a new report.  In the wee hours of the morning of May 27, a staff member to White House energy adviser Carol Browner sent two edited versions of the department report’s executive summary back to Interior. The language had been changed to insinuate the seven-member panel of outside experts – who reviewed a draft of various safety recommendations – endorsed the moratorium, according to the IG report.”  This is the most outrageous example yet of the Obama Administration’s improper manipulation of science to support its agenda.  I responded in a CEI press release by calling for the firing of President Obama’s Climate Czar, Carol Browner. Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and two of his colleagues on the committee, John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and David Vitter (R-La.), have requested that the committee hold a hearing on the Inspector General’s report.

In a blockbuster story soon to be swept under the carpet, Politico reports:

“The White House rewrote crucial sections of an Interior Department report to suggest an independent group of scientists and engineers supported a six-month ban on offshore oil drilling, the Interior inspector general says in a new report.

In the wee hours of the morning of May 27, a staff member to White House energy adviser Carol Browner sent two edited versions of the department report’s executive summary back to Interior. The language had been changed to insinuate the seven-member panel of outside experts – who reviewed a draft of various safety recommendations – endorsed the moratorium, according to the IG report obtained by POLITICO.”

In weasel words that even make this Washingtonian of twenty years blush, the Department of the Interior Inspector General writes:

“‘The White House edit of the original DOI draft executive summary led to the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer-reviewed by the experts,’ the IG report states, without judgment on whether the change was an intentional attempt to mislead the public.” (emphasis added)

One can certainly “lead to an inference“. But … “led to the implication”? Oh, right. You are trying not to say “implied“.

This is Exhibit A for why law schools drill into every first year’s head do not use the passive voice. It obscures meaning, begs questions, and diminishes confidence and credibility in the speaker. You come off as trying to weaselly avoid saying something. Like this guy.

And here is the, ahem, ‘implication’ placed in the administration’s twisted report before asserting the recommendations of engineers who in fact did not approve or recommend the moratorium. Prepare yourself to wade through the fog:

“the recommendations contained in this report have been peer reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering”.

An implication that “led to”. A ‘lie’. Whatever. All good. (Except to the federal judge who caught…er, was led into… it, too; see p. 3).

So, the sexed up report implied something that wasn’t true — that ‘science’ and not ideology drove the numb-skulled left-wing fever dream of a drilling moratorium still effectively ravaging the Gulf Coast’s economy — an ‘implication’ which was nowhere to be found in the original report before the political and ideological spinmasters were called in late the night before the White House issued its sexed up document. They moved some language around…’implying’ a politically desirable conclusion that was patently untrue.

Contrast this with the allegedly scandalous toning down of unsupportable language in a legally meaningless climate report to the UN by former George W. Bush staffer Phil Cooney, who became the subject of a smear job in Al Gore’s silly sci-fi movie (treated in detail here). The Obama administration’s stunt entailed sexing up claims for political/ideological purposes. Where’s the outrage? (come to think of it…where’s Gore?)

Not toning hyperbole down. Sexing claims up unsupportably.

The former was scandalous — we were told. The other is being dismissed by the same crowd as, if anything, simply a result of people not reading the report objectively.

Which is where things get worse. Heads now really must roll.

“Steve Black, energy counselor to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, was the department’s point man for the safety report…Black said he didn’t have any issues with the White House edit; he and his staffer both told the IG it never occurred to them that an objective reader would conclude that peer reviewers had supported the six-month moratorium.”

Ah. Interior thinks White House did nothing wrong in…rewriting outside parties’ work to fit the ideology and agenda of Interior and the White House. So I assume BP can indeed clear itself, too?

But the smear of others never ends with people who are never wrong. Guess who the unobjective parties alluded to here are? The scientists who wrote the report that was re-written in the wee hours by an uncomfirmed (because she is unconfirmable) anti-energy czar’s ideologues!

That’s right: The White House is blaming the scientists for not recognizing their own report after the ideologues got through with it. It was they who read their bastardized work and complained. Two of the peer reviewers, upset about the ‘implication’, sent letters to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. The DOI sent letters of apology for the misunderstanding.

Now, having been outed by one of their own, if with weasel-worded friendly fire, the administration blames the people they wronged, for not being objective in reading how people flagrantly mischaracterized their own conclusions.

Incredible. And to think, coming from Carol Browner’s office! Who knew? (well, I did, dedicating the better part of a chapter — “Van Jones Was No Accident:  The Obama Administration’s Radical ‘Green’ Activists” — to her and her M.O.). Orwell and Nixon both live on in the Obama administration.

Richard Morrison and Marc Scribner welcome special guest Christopher C. Horner to Episode 96 of the LibertyWeek podcast, where we discuss his latest book, Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America (segment starts approximately 4:50 in).

White House communications director Anita Dunn is in the news cycle for having said that Mao Zedong, the megalomaniacal Communist dictator of post-war China, is one of her “favorite political philosophers.”  Zedong’s ideas led to the death of scores of millions of human beings, so many people find it news worthy that he’s an inspiration for an important White House official.

I know that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue can be a catty work environment because I’ve seen NBC’s “The West Wing” on television. As such, I know there’s a chance that Ms. Dunn is now being ostracized by her peers on account of her controversial affinity for Mao. With that in mind, I have a comforting thought for Ms. Dunn: You are not alone!

Ms. Dunn has a comrade in Carol Browner, Obama’s climate czarina, who’s also a card-carrying member of the Socialist International. In fact, she’s busily implementing socialist environmental policies in America. SI last week introduced a climate change policy eerily similar to the strategy that Browner is pushing here in the United States.

Read more about Browner’s red plan to green the economy here.