In the News
Lawsuit and a Congressional Hearing as Fisker Bankruptcy Nears
Paul Chesser, National Legal and Policy Center, 11 April 2013
News You Can Use
Heritage Analysis: Sanders-Boxer Carbon Tax Would Cost 400,000 Jobs by 2016
According to an analysis published this week by the Heritage Foundation, the Climate Security Act of 2013, a carbon tax proposed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (S-Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), would cost a family of four more than $1,000 of income per year. By 2016, the proposed tax would lead to 400,000 lost jobs.
Inside the Beltway
Senate EPW Committee Holds Hearing on EPA Nominee
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a confirmation hearing on Thursday, 11th April, on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. McCarthy currently serves as assistant administrator for air and radiation. Senator David Vitter (R-La.), ranking Republican on the committee, concentrated his opening remarks and questions on McCarthy’s involvement in the EPA’s lack of transparency. Vitter remarked: “The nominee recently stated that ‘information is power.’ Apparently, she also believes that withholding information is power.”
Surprisingly, the Society of Environmental Journalists, agrees with Vitter. The SEJ sent out a statement that was critical of the Obama Administration in general and of the EPA and McCarthy in particular. “The Obama administration has been anything but transparent in its dealings with reporters seeking information, interviews and clarification on a host of environmental, health and public lands issues. The EPA is one of the most closed, opaque agencies to the press. Members of the Society of Environmental Journalists – a group of 1,350 journalists who specialize in environmental coverage – face substantial hurdles getting their questionsanswered about air pollution, water quality, oil and gas operations and other issues.”
The SEJ statement then criticizes McCarthy directly: “Today, the Senate holds its hearing to consider McCarthy's nomination. A new EPA administrator is a chance for a fresh start, but we are troubled by her past statements defending the agency's tight grip on communications between journalists and agency scientists and policymakers…The policies she endorsed bottleneck the free flow of information to the public.”s
This, of course, is what my CEI colleague Chris Horner, who is not a member of the SEJ, has been discovering and documenting for several years now with a series of Freedom of Information Act requests that the EPA has inadequately complied with only after being ordered to by federal judges. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) asked McCarthy about the “Richard Windsor” alias e-mail account: “I wonder if anyone at the EPA objected or if you personally objected to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson using an alias that was absolutely against the policy of the EPA? And your emails back to her go back to 2009.”
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the EPW Committee, responded to Barrasso by claiming that alias e-mail accounts were standard practice at the agency and had been used by previous administrators in the George W. Bush administration. David Martosko published an article in London’s Daily Mail that makes it clear that Jackson’s Richard Windsor account was not like those used by previous top officials at the EPA.
For more commentary on the McCarthy nomination, see op-eds by Senator Barrasso and CEI’s Brian McNicoll. Climate Depot provides a round-up of the confirmation hearing with the help of JunkScience.com. And the Heritage Foundation provides a list of top quotes from Gina McCarthy.
Across the States
Green Energy Mandate Moves ahead in Colorado
By a 3-2 vote on Monday night, the Colorado Senate State Affairs Committee passed S.B. 252, legislation that would expand the state’s green energy production mandate. Currently, investor-owned utilities in Colorado are under a requirement to generate 30% of electricity sales from renewable energy by 2020. S.B. 252 would subject rural electric co-ops—a special class of electric utilities created by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal—to a renewable mandate of 25% by 2020.
The legislation was negotiated by environmentalists and the green energy lobby. Rural electric co-ops were not granted a seat at the table, even though they are the regulated entity.
Proponents of S.B. 252 claim that the bill includes an “off ramp,” in the form of a 2% maximum rate impact for any given year. I flew out to Colorado in order to testify on this subject. Specifically, I testified about how the existing green energy mandate (for investor-owned utilities) also has a 2% rate cap, which has been rendered meaningless by accounting gimmicks. I informed the Committee that the real cost of the existing green energy mandate in 2012 was 13% of electricity sales—more than six times the supposed rate cap. The basis of my testimony was a study I published earlier this year with the Independence Institute.
Democrats control both chambers of the Colorado Legislature, and I understand that S.B. 252 is a caucus priority. However, there has been push back. Intermountain Rural Electric Association (Colorado’s largest rural co-op) and Tri-State Generation and Transmission (which provides power to 18 rural co-ops in Colorado) are lobbying hard against the legislation. And on Wednesday, the pro-green energy Denver Post editorialized against the bill.
The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website, www.GlobalWarming.org.