NEW REPORT: FOI’d Emails show outside ‘green’ lobby groups staffed up, collude with Obama EPA, calling rules’ legality into question
For Immediate Release:September 15, 2014 |
Obama’s EPA in collusion with “green” lobby groups - Report details the conflicts of interest, “unalterably closed minds”, internal activism and influence of outside interest groups on the Obama Administration EPA. Documents raise questions re EPA rules legality
Washington, D.C. The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) released a report today revealing and piecing together dozens of emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which lay out in detail EPA’s collusion with senior activists within environmentalist pressure groups, and proving the real thinking about the intent behind and impact of EPA’s “climate” regulations.
Far from the required recusing to avoid the appearance of a conflict, EPA filled its senior political ranks with green pressure group activists, continuing their life’s work and coordinating with former colleagues from their new positions in government. These emails show the groups sharing jokes about EPA assurances that it isn’t waging a war on coal, and gloating about the courts serially siding with EPA as it rewrites federal environmental law. More important, they show the special role and undue influence these relationships provided, the very sort of influence the Obama Administration once disavowed.
“EPA is permitted to regulate; but, not these people, not this way,” said E&E Legal’s Chris Horner who filed the FOIA requests and related litigation which produced most of the emails set forth in the report, which also includes and discusses many emails extracted from EPA by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) adding context to E&E Legal’s findings.
The report details many instances of lobbyists for “green” special interest groups helping steer EPA regulations and permitting decisions, and providing advocacy materials for use by former colleagues now inside the EPA who then dutifully circulate the advocacy materials to colleagues. The collusion ranges from orchestrating public hearings, the EPA and Sierra Club teaming to write a U.S. Senator’s public statement on the shared agenda, and even specifically targeting individual power plants which green groups wanted to prevent under any new EPA standards.
“It’s disturbing,” said Dr. David Schnare, a lawyer and a scientist with decades of experience as an EPA employee, now E&E Legal’s general counsel. “There needs to be a clear line between special interests and government. Current EPA officials are ignoring that line entirely,” he added.
Released emails show the orchestration of EPA’s “climate” agenda, plainly predetermined despite the requirement of open-minded review, including its “endangerment” finding.
E&E Legal’s report singles out dozens of emails, of which it has even more equally illustrative exemplars, from many thousands of documents. These were obtained pursuant to FOIA requests which the report also details EPA delayed and stonewalled until E&E Legal had to litigate to force disclosure, however bridging and often heavily redacted.
These show the improperly close collaboration between certain environmental groups and senior EPA officials, many of whom came to EPA from just such groups. The relationship between Michael Goo, recently head of the EPA Office of Policy and a former Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) lobbyist, and John Coequyt, a top Sierra Club lobbyist, is particularly close, to the point that Coequyt worked to ensure Goo participation in meetings important to Sierra, while Goo ensured his colleagues paid particular attention to Sierra’s concerns and materials.
The emails discussed in the report demonstrate how Coequyt supplied research and advocacy materials directly to individual activists within EPA, even helping EPA keep a score for “internal use” of coal plants to shut down. He advised EPA officials to ensure “zombie” coal plants, i.e. plants that had been planned and may one day be built, remain shelved avoided creating complete logs of their interactions through various means, including, e.g., meeting with Goo at the nearby Marriott Hotel near the EPA headquarters (circumventing detailing their discussions in EPA’s visitor logs, where people most logically would look), and when he was otherwise in the building including for numerous meetings with senior officials Goo facilitated had such a direct pipeline into the Agency that when he was on vacation his Sierra Club team would plead with EPA friends for updates.
In another case, EPA press staff collaborated with a Sierra Club lobbyist to write Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) statement on the “climate” agenda for a “roundtable” event EPA, Sierra Club, and Sen. Shaheen participated in.
In multiple instances, green lobbyists provided EPA with their polling on the shared priorities, were directly involved in deciding where EPA would hold public hearings, and ensuring supportive crowds. Further, EPA repeatedly gave green groups a leg up in preparing comments intended for the administrative record on important regulations. This meant the green groups were able to submit comments ahead of any members of the general public, or other interested parties, even though the comments in question were submitted before the record was open for comment by the general public. EPA employees also submitted special interest group comments directly if those groups failed to do so themselves.
The special relationship goes all the way to the top. Lisa Jackson, aka “Richard Windsor”, used her private Verizon account to email directly, impermissibly off the record, with green lobbyists like Sierra Club Michael Brune, which the public only now knows because she clumsily instructed one lobbyist to contact her there, and forwarded a Brune email to EPA colleagues seeking to “amplify” Brune’s work.
There is evidence of substantial correspondence between current EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and green group leaders, which she references in emails that were obtained, though what she references have not been produced even though they were clearly responsive to E&E Legal’s FOIA requests. Still, it is clear from what has been obtained that she gives green lobby groups a “heads up” to save them from “embarrassment.”
“The exclusion of voices from the process other than those already predisposed to agree with and promote EPA’s agenda, its leadership’s former compatriots in ‘green’ lobbying groups, is the precise and illegal opposite of good governmental practices,” said Craig Richardson, E&E Legal’s Executive Director, “These people are not allowed to regulate this way”.
The report extensively documents these and many more abuses by current EPA leadership and calls for a new process, free from conflicts of interest, worthy of public confidence and legal legitimacy, giving all stakeholders an equal voice in the process. Until that occurs, the EPA regulatory process faces legal challenges and deserves only public distrust.
The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its petition litigation and transparency practice areas, E&E Legal seeks to correct onerous federal and state policies that hinder the economy, increase the cost of energy, eliminate jobs, and do little or nothing to improve the environment.
By P Gosselin on 9. September 2014
German scientists Fritz Vahrenholt and Sebastian Luning ridicule the New York climate conference nobody is going to. Enjoy!
Imagine there’s a climate conference, but no one goes
By Sebastian Luning and Fritz Vahrenholt
(Translated, edited by P Gosselin)
Imagine there’s a climate conference, but no one goes. Already months ago South Korean UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon busily sent out invitations to world leaders, kindly requesting them to appear at the Climate Change Special Conference in New York on 23 September 2014. The aim of the conference is to agree on concrete actions for a CO2 reduced world in order to curb a menacing climate catastrophe. At the German Huffington Post Ban Ki-moon set forth his underlying motivation for September 2014 conference (translated from the German):
“I have traveled the world in order to see the impacts with my own eyes. From the Arctic to the Antarctic, from low lying islands of the Pacific, which are threatened by rising sea levels, to the melting glaciers of Greenland, the Andes and the Alps. I have seen expanding deserts in Mongolia and in the Sahel Zone, and threatened rainforests in Brazil. Everywhere I have spoken with the affected people who are deeply worried about the threat to their way of life and their future because of climate change.”
Dear Mr General Secretary: If you really wish to cut back on CO2 emissions, then you should NOT jet around the globe in your UN jet to supposedly see climate change with your own eyes. Perhaps you have heard that the Pacific Atolls are living corals that are growing along with sea level rise. The glaciers already melted before, 1000 years ago during the Medieval Warm Period when it was as warm as today. Currently the Sahel desert regions are not expanding as you claim, rather they are becoming greener. Moreover the rainforests of Brazil are threatened foremost by deforestation thanks to palm oil and biofuels. That is something to be really worried about, and not about climate change.
As opposed to the UN General Secretary, many world leaders have obviously realized that the science is overheated. An increasing number of scientists are distancing themselves explicitly from the catastrophe mindset. After 16 years of no global warming, the basis for trust between policymaking and the IPCC scientists is sustainably disturbed. We believed you and you’ve disappointed us, the scathed politicians bemoan behind closed doors.
So it is little surprise that hardly anyone has the desire to attend the Climate Summit Circus. Already in May, 2014, German Chancellor Angela Merkel respectfully declined - she had other more important appointments. What could they possibly be about? Even today there is still no entry in Merkel’s Online appointment book for the 23rd of September. Perhaps an appointment with the hairdresser that can no longer be put off? Crochet evening with good friends? Let’s keep it a surprise for now.
In the middle of August 2014 India Prime Minister Narendra Modi also declined the invitation to attend. India today is the world’s third largest CO2 emitter. Perhaps someone in New Delhi got cold feet over the requested “concrete measures’. Or perhaps they simply looked at the latest global temperature charts.
Also in Peking they were not amused. Suddenly the world’s largest CO2 emitter, China, no longer has much desire to show up in New York. Chinese Prrsident Xi Jinping wasted little time in canceling his flight ticket. Nothing will result from all the negotiations anyway, the UN needs to know.
No German Chancellor, no Indian Prime Minister and no Chinese President. Consequently the UN General Secretary became visibly nervous and had to make late nominations. He was able to find a person in the political little leagues: Bonn’s Lord Mayor Jurgen Nimptsch cordially expressed his willingness to travel to the Conference. Ban Ki-moon was most pleased, and the conference was saved. Now if all citizens of Bonn made massive efforts, then they would be able to offset the Indian and Chinese CO2 surpluses of the next few years in about an estimated 2 billion years.
And things don’t look all that rosy when it comes to a climate agreement. The famous Kyoto-Protocol expired at the end of 2012. At that climate conference in Doha, 144 countries promised to vote to extend the treaty by 2020. So far today 11 countries have signed the extension document. In the meantime, have the other 133 countries reconsidered? So far not a single one of the 28 EU countries have signed on, also not Germany. But already Mauritius and Micronesia are on board (they would be beneficiaries of climate protection payments).
The climate alarmism-driven US-President Barack Obama also has realized that it no longer makes sense to strive for a large, new international climate treaty. Realistically it would never work anyway. In Paris at the end of 2015 there preferably will be a non-binding treaty. World leaders would more likely sign that. After all, they would not have to fulfill it...especially when they lose desire to do so.
Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt and Dr. Sebastian Luning are the authors of CO2-skeptical book The Neglected Sun, which correctly downgraded CO2 climate sensitivity and forecast the the modest cooling that is now taking place.