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Report: Lifting Oil Export Ban Would Decrease Gas Prices
Inside the Beltway
Senate EPW Minority Releases Report on Endemic Use of Private E-mails at EPA
The Republican minority on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, led by the ranking Republican, Senator David Vitter (R-La.), this week criticized the Office of the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency for lackadaisical investigations of several areas of continuing malfeasance at the EPA. One area is the OIG’s flawed and incomplete report on the use of private and alias e-mail accounts by high EPA officials to conduct official business. EPW Republicans note that the “OIG relied solely on interviews of EPA officials willing to co-operate, and never examined in any way actual staff e-mails.”
Their criticism continues: “Additionally, according to the OIG, they have no authority to review the use of private e-mail accounts for agency business beyond asking the employee if they had ever improperly used a private e-mail account, and did not follow-up or fact-check. Moreover, investigators never spoke to former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson or former General Counsel Scott Fulton, two senior level officials who played central roles in the controversy, nor did the OIG examine or compare the practice of using alias accounts by Administrator Jackson and past Administrators. The OIG also did not review the e-mails showing that EPA officials were inappropriately using their e-mail accounts that were produced in response to multiple FOIA requests.”
Those Freedom of Information Act requests were filed by Chris Horner, my CEI colleague. The revelations that the EPW Republicans are complaining about resulted primarily from lawsuits filed by CEI because the EPA refused to comply with the law. In a press release, Horner states: “Although EPA officials, like Region 9 Administrator Jared Blumenfeld, denied use of private e-mail accounts for business purposes to the EPA’s Office of Inspector General, just this week the EPA produced more than 150 megabytes of supposedly non-existent, EPA-related e-mails from Blumenfeld’s Comcast account.”
Horner continues: “Blumenfeld is only one of numerous officials whose use of private e-mail accounts CEI uncovered. Others include former Region 8 Administrator James Martin, who has since resigned, and current Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck, whose account appears to be the same one she used during previous work at an environmental pressure group. So far, e-mails from these types of accounts have revealed relationships between EPA officials and special interest groups that are far too close for comfort.”
The EPW Republicans’ statement lists seventeen political appointees at the EPA whose use of private e-mail accounts for conducting private business have been revealed by CEI’s FOIA litigation.
House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings Will Retire at End of Year
Representative Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, announced this week that he will retire at the end of the 113th Congress. Hastings was first elected in 1994. His six-year term as the top Republican on the committee (two as Ranking Minority Member and the last four as Chairman) ends this year, so this is a natural point to leave Congress.
Hastings has been an able and energetic chairman. He has pushed for more timber, energy, and mineral production on federal lands and has opposed major new lockups of federal lands in the various preservation categories. Hastings has guided a number of major bills to passage on the House floor, but few have been enacted because of uniform obstructionism by the Democratic-controlled Senate. Earlier this month, a Republican task force that he set up released their report on Endangered Species Act reform.
Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) is the senior member of the Natural Resources Committee, but he served as chairman from 1995 through 2000. Next in seniority is Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.). Another strong competitor for the chairmanship will be Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Ut.), next in seniority, who is currently chairman of the public lands and environmental regulation subcommittee. Both Gohmert and Bishop, like Hastings and Young, are strong supporters of property rights and continuing resource production on federal lands and opponents of acquiring and locking up more federal lands.
My guess is that Bishop has an advantage over Gohmert because he represents a federal lands State. Two-thirds of Utah is federally owned. Federal lands in Texas, which was an independent republic before it became a State, are less than 2% of the State. The Natural Resources Committee has jurisdiction over the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service (which is part of the Agriculture Department), the Bureau of Land Management, and Outer Continental Shelf oil leasing, as well as the other agencies of the Department of the Interior and the Endangered Species Act, which regulates increasingly large areas of private land. The four federal lands agencies together control nearly 30% of the land in the United States.
Across the States
Ohio Legislature Mulls Repeal of Green Energy Mandate
Several state legislatures are considering bills this year to repeal or eliminate renewable energy mandates for generating electricity. This week, Greg Lawson of Ohio’s Buckeye Institute arranged for me to testify before the Ohio Senate’s Public Utilities Committee on a bill to repeal their two-part mandate, which was enacted in 2008. Ohio’s law requires that 12.5% of the electricity consumed in Ohio be generated from renewable sources by 2025 and another 12.5% from “advanced energy technologies,” also by 2025. A third title requires major increases in energy efficiency, but it is not targeted for repeal in the bill under consideration.
My testimony is posted here. The other witnesses, all in favor of repeal, were Greg Lawson of the Buckeye Institute, Jay Lehr of the Heartland Institute, Travis Fischer of the Institute for Energy Research, and Michael Farrin, a Ph. D. candidate at Ohio State University. A short summary of the hearing was posted at SaveOurSkylineOhio.
I was impressed by the capability of the Senators on the Public Utilities Committee on both sides of the aisle, but was especially impressed by the chairman, Bill Seitz. He was a major opponent of the renewables mandate when it was passed in 2008 and is now leading the effort to repeal it. The main sponsor of the bill, SB 34, is Senator Kris Jordan, who is not a member of the committee. Ohio is home to several of the leading anti-wind activists in the country, including Tom Stacy, who attended the hearing, along with Kevon Martis, an anti-wind leader in Michigan.
Around the World
Global Governance: Down But Not Out
John Podesta, President Obama’s top energy and climate advisor, has been quietly preparing tougher U.S. emission reduction commitments for the successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, slated for adoption in Paris in 2015.
Podesta is also an influential behind-the-scenes player in the “High Level Panel of Eminent Persons” advising UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on “transformative” Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the world. As you might expect, combating climate change is a major goal of the Eminent Persons’ SDG report.
What, you may wonder, is “sustainable development”? It is a rhetorical term devised by Western environmentalists to gloss over the basic incompatibility between their hostility carbon energy and developing countries’ imperative need to consume more carbon energy to lift their peoples out of poverty.
Perpetuating the obfuscation, SDG report boasts that, thanks partly to UN programs, there are half a billion fewer people today than in 2000 who fall below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. But then the report laments that previous efforts “fell short” by not promoting “sustainable patterns of consumption and production,” and warns that poor people will “suffer first and worst from climate change.”
What the report conveniently overlooks is that most of the poverty eradication of the past three decades took place in China – a country whose economic development is overwhelmingly fossil-fueled. In China alone, 680 million people moved out of extreme poverty during 1981-2010. In the process, China became the world’s second-largest economy and largest CO2 emitter. Environmentalists did not know how to combine poverty eradication with coercive de-carbonization in the 1990s and 2000s, and they still don’t know.
Former French President Jacques Chirac called the Kyoto Protocol the “first step towards an authentic global governance.” Could Obama and Podesta revive the flagging fortunes of the UN-centered global governance agenda?
One risk is that developing countries will be lured by promises of foreign aid into joining the club of the carbon-constrained. That would be a tragic loss because government-to-government aid is a dependency trap that stifles rather than stimulates developmentAnother risk is that Obama, advised by Podesta, a long-time advocate of bypassing Congress, will commit the U.S. to international emission reduction targets through executive agreements that, unlike treaties, do not require Senate ratification.
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.