In the alleged new era of transparency, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making quite a name for itself as being the agency of opacity. The latest is the EPA’s suppression of a video entitled, “The Huge Mistake” by Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, two lawyers currently working at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – a video that says cap and trade will not work. From the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER):
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered two of its attorneys to remove a video they posted on YouTube about problems with climate change legislation backed by the Obama administration or face “disciplinary action”, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The couple had received clearance for posting the video but EPA took issue with its content following publication of an op-ed piece by the two in The Washington Post on October 31.”
PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch remarked, “EPA is abusing ethics rules to gag two conscientious employees who have every right to speak out as citizens. EPA reversed itself because someone in headquarters had a tantrum about their Washington Post essay.”
In their Washington Post column, Williams and Zabel rightly criticize the carbon offset measure in cap and trade, arguing that past experiments with offsets have led to nothing but fraud with no reduction in carbon dioxide. They also stress that likening the carbon cap and trade program to the acid rain cap and trade program is comparing apples and oranges because minor modifications and low-cost alternatives aren’t available for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels – as they were to address sulfur dioxide emissions linked to acid rain.
This comes after the EPA suppressed an internal report from one of the agency’s own, 35-year analyst Alan Carlin – a scientist who specializes in climate change. His report warned that the science of climate change was dubious and that we shouldn’t pass laws that will raise energy prices, hurt American families and hobble the nation’s economy without a full understanding of climate change.
We spoke to Dr. Carlin when the story first broke in June and he said, “I’ve been involved in public policy since 1966 or 1967. There’s never been anything exactly like this. I am now under a gag order.”
Once the Competitive Enterprise Institute released some of the EPA’s back-and-forth emails with Dr. Carlin, it became blatant that report had been smothered for political reasons: “One of the e-mails is from Dr. Al McGartland, director of the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics reads, “The administrator and administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision. … I can see only one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.”
This also comes after Senators Boxer and Kerry produced a ‘semi-final draft’ version of their cap and trade bill, which included the billions of dollars worth of emission allowance permits to different industries and released it only to the EPA to model the economic impacts. The draft was unavailable to the public until after the Environment and Public Works committee voted on it. The Heritage Foundation is one of few organizations to have modeled the economic effects of the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill. Bill Beach, the director of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis, wrote a letter to Senator Boxer (CCing Senator Kerry, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Senator Inhofe) asking for a copy of the semi-draft legislation to model the economic effects of the bill but did not receive a copy of the bill.
Zabel has first hand experience with cap and trade, overseeing California’s cap and trade and offsets programs. Apparently, this was the problem according to the Wall Street Journal’s Keith Johnson. He writes, “One EPA official said that the agency’s response wasn’t due to the content of the attorneys’ writings, but to the way they highlighted their EPA experience in making their arguments.”
But isn’t Zabel exactly the type of person who should be warning us about the inefficiencies of a cap and trade system. Wouldn’t you want to utilize his highly specialized knowledge and experience?
President Obama, in his memorandum for the heads of executive departments and agencies, wrote that “Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use.”
Given Obama’s propensity for hiring czars, maybe the solution to the EPA’s cover ups is a transparency czar.