The Competitive Enterprise Institute on May 20 held a Congressional staff and media briefing on “EPA’s FOIA Scandals: ‘Richard Windsor,’ Gina McCarthy, and the Abuse of Power,” given by Chris Horner, author of The Liberal War on Transparency and CEI Senior Fellow. Video of Chris’s presentation is now available online at GlobalWarming.org.
In the News
What Happens in the Backroom of a Sue and Settle Lawsuit?
Ron Arnold, Washington Examiner, 7 June 2013
News You Can Use
IER Releases New Energy Subsidy Tracker
The Institute for Energy Research today launched a new online transparency tool—www.energysubsidies.org—designed to give greater access to data about taxpayer-funded energy subsidies, including federal loan guarantees, grants, and various tax credits.
Inside the Beltway
Richard Windsor Wins Scholar of Ethical Behavior Award, While White House Defends Use of False Identity E-mail Addresses
The EPA’s “Richard Windsor” e-mail scandal continued to broaden and gain more media attention this week. On Monday, 3ed June, the top story in the Washington Times featured my CEI colleague Chris Horner’s latest discovery: that although “Richard Windsor” was the false identity of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, “the agency had nonetheless awarded the fictional staffer’s e-mail account certificates proving he had mastered all of the agency’s technology training — including declaring him a ‘scholar of ethical behavior.’”
Inspired by Chris Horner’s discovery of “Richard Windsor,” the Associated Press on Tuesday ran a story that detailed the results of the AP’s own Freedom of Information Act requests. The AP found that a number of other high Obama Administration officials were using secret e-mail addresses to conduct official business. Reporter Jake Gillum claimed that the practice “complicates agencies' legal responsibilities to find and turn over e-mails under public records requests and congressional inquiries.” The Drudge Report made this its feature story through much of Wednesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said during his daily press briefing that the use of secret e-mails had been overblown. According to the Hill newspaper, Carney said, “There's nothing secret. It's about having a public e-mail address and one for internal workings, but they're all available for [Freedom of Information Act] searches.” The story went on to say that Carney “also stressed that government employees ‘do not and should not use private e-mail accounts for work.’” Carney then claimed that, “Our record on FOIA compares favorably to every previous administration and reflects our efforts to be more transparent.”
In response, Chris Horner stated in a CEI press release that Carney’s claims were “outrageously false.” Horner elaborated: “We have shown Robert Perciasepe, EPA’s current acting administrator, conducted public business on private e-mail, as did the top administrators for EPA Regions 8 and 9. Documents produced in related litigation we filed revealed an employee using a Ford Foundation e-mail address, as well as an e-mail address for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that apparently does not identify him. Then, of course, the loan guarantee program made infamous by Solyndra was executed on 14 private accounts.”
A further indication that the mainstream media are paying more attention to the Obama Administration’s multiple violations of the Freedom of Information Act and the Federal Records Act was an editorial cartoon in the Columbus Dispatch by Nate Beeler, which also appeared in other papers, such as the Washington Examiner. President Obama sits at his Oval Office desk with four stacks of paper in front of him labeled, SPYING ON REPORTERS, IRS SCANDAL, DRONE PROGRAM, and SECRET E-MAILS. A speech balloon above the President has most of his words redacted (that is, blacked out). All that is left is, “…CHANGE…YOU…CAN…BELIEVE…IN…?”
Across the States
Nevada Fuel Switching Law Is Great for Warren Buffett, Terrible for Ratepayers
On Monday night, the Nevada Assembly voted 53-10 to approve SB 123, legislation requiring fuel switching of 800 megawatts of electricity generation from coal to natural gas and renewables. The bill had passed the Senate in late May. SB 123 enjoyed bipartisan support from state-wide politicians including Republican Governor Brian Sandoval and Democratic U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The legislation also was strongly supported by NV Energy, the State’s largest utility. Indeed, NV Energy stands to make a huge windfall. As noted by a recent Nevada Policy Research Institute study, SB 123 contains ultra-generous rate-recovery provisions for the utility. It is no coincidence that famed investor Warren Buffett unexpectedly bought NV Energy for almost $5 billion last month. Thanks to SB 123, the utility has locked in big profits.
Nevada ratepayers will be the biggest losers. The coal-fired power plants that will be shuttered prematurely due to SB 123 had already been paid for. In order to replace them, new capital intensive gas power plants and wind turbines will have to be built. Fuel costs will increase precipitously. From 2008-2012, NV Energy’s natural gas fuel cost 230% more than coal fuel on a $/mmBTU basis, according to the utility’s most recent 10k filing before the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Carbon Dioxide Greening Deserts
New research confirms that the Earth’s desert regions are gaining vegetation as a result of higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. According to an online article in Live Science, the study published in the 15th May Geophysical Research Letters found that, “Between 1982 and 2010, leaf cover on plants rose by 11 percent in arid areas, including the southwestern United States, Australia's Outback, the Middle East and some parts of Africa.” The lead author of the study titled “CO2 fertilisation has increased maximum foliage cover across the globe's warm, arid environments” is Randall J. Donohue of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
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.