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Entries in CEI (1587)

Friday
Jan182013

CEI Today: Obama gun control vs. the Constitution, ethanol litigation, and green advice on reusable bottles

OBAMA GUN CONTROL - HANS BADER

Openmarket.org: Obama Promotes Constitutional Fallacies In Gun Control Push

 

The president’s remarks about gun control yesterday promoted fallacies about the Constitution and the scope of federal regulatory power under it. Under the Constitution, the federal government — unlike state governments — has only certain enumerated powers, like the powers to regulate commerce among the states or with Indian Tribes or foreign nations. It cannot regulate everything under the sun, even if doing so seems like a good idea, or it promotes public safety.

The president plainly does not agree with, or understand, these principles, arguing that the federal government can regulate private activity. 
> View the full commentary at Openmarket.org


> Inteview Hans Bader

ETHANOL LITIGATION - MARLO LEWIS

Globalwarming.org:
Ethanol Litigation: Another Powerful Dissent by Judge Kavanaugh

 

On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied by 7-1 a petition for a full-court re-hearing of its 2-1 decision last summer to dismiss litigation challenging EPA’s approval of the sale of E15 at retail motor fuel pumps. E15 is a blend of 85% gasoline and 15% ethanol.


In both decisions, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was the sole dissenter, and both times he trounces the majority on the facts and statutory logic.

 > View the full commentary at Globalwarming.org

> Interview Marlo Lewis

 

BPA & CHEMICAL RISK - ANGELA LOGOMASINI

Openmarket.org: Problematic Green Advice On Reusable Bottles

Green activists pushed hard to get reusable metal bottles to replace disposable bottled water and plastic containers made with BPA.  But, as CEI's Angela Logomasini explains, that created some unintended consequences:

A real and verifiable health problem has resulted from these reusable metal bottles: children have trapped their tongues in them because of a vacuum effect related to the rigid container. A recent New York Daily News
article reports on one case of a young girl who suffered these effects. > Read the full commentary on Openmarket.org

 

> Interview Angela Logomasini

 

 

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website, cei.org, and blogs, Globalwarming.org and OpenMarket.org.  Follow CEI on Twitter! Twitter.com/ceidotorg.

Thursday
Jan172013

CEI Today: Hidden EPA rules and emails, fighting back against trial lawyers, and more

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION? - WAYNE CREWS

Openmarket.org: Where Did All The Environmental Protection Agency Rules Go?

 

The Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations has always been squishy and has never bound agencies to issue solely the rules contained within; but the decline in EPA rules in the Unified Agenda between 2011 and 2012 indicates a scrub of some sort before the tardy document was finally released.


Overall, the Agenda contains 4,062 across all the depts and agencies at the active, completed, and long-term stage. This is slightly down from the year before, but it doesn’t seem genuine; the Agenda should be bigger given the far higher number of EPA rules in the past decade.

Where did all the rules go? Liberalization and deciding not to regulate has not been an Obama administration priority. EPA rules have never been lower than 2011′s 318 in the past decade. It seems we’re getting only part of the story and Congress should take a look.
  > View the full commentary at Openmarket.org

> Inteview Wayne Crews

 

EPA EMAIL SCANDAL, CEI FOIA REQUEST - CHRISTOPHER HORNER

At about 4:55 p.m. on Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency finally complied with a court order to deliver the first of four sets of emails in response to a lawsuit filed by Christopher Horner, a senior fellow in the Center for Energy and the Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

EPA owed CEI a cache of identified emails to or from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (by pure coincidence, that’s now "outgoing Administrator Jackson”...), using one or more of four keywords: coal, climate, endanger/endangerment and/or MACT ("war on coal" emails).

Horner shared his initial analysis of the data dump here.

> Interview Christopher Horner


> View A Timeline of the EPA's "Richard Windsor" Email Scandal


> See also:
New mysteries in EPA's Windsorgate scandal


EPA releases first tranche of Lisa Jackson’s alias e-mail correspondence

CLASS ACTION ATTORNEY FEES - SAM KAZMAN

CEI Lawyer Fights Sky-High Class Action Attorney Fee in Groundless Merger Challenge

Oral arguments are scheduled in Houston today in a lawsuit over a class action settlement that netted attorneys several hundred thousand dollars in fees in return for trivial proxy statement changes.

The case arose from the 2011 Frontier Oil-Holly merger. The shareholders were overwhelmingly satisfied with the proposed merger.  However, as is the case with over 95% of mergers, several trial lawyers saw this as a money-making opportunity and filed class action challenges to the merger, alleging deficiencies in the proxy statements.
> Read more about the case

 

> Interview Sam Kazman

 

 

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website, cei.org, and blogs, Globalwarming.org and OpenMarket.org.  Follow CEI on Twitter! Twitter.com/ceidotorg.

Thursday
Jan172013

CEI Lawyer Fights Sky-High Class Action Attorney Fee in Groundless Merger Challenge

Center For Class Action Fairness Argues Against $600K Fee for Trivial Additions to Frontier Oil/Holly Merger Proxy Statements

 

Washington, D.C., January 16, 2013 – Oral arguments are scheduled in Houston today in a lawsuit over a class action settlement that netted attorneys several hundred thousand dollars in fees in return for trivial proxy statement changes.  CEI general counsel Sam Kazman is the appellant in the case; his challenge to a lower court ruling is being brought by Ted Frank, head of the Center For Class Action Fairness and D. Wade Carvell of the Dallas firm Hoge & Gameros LLP.

The case arose from the 2011 Frontier Oil-Holly merger. The shareholders were overwhelmingly satisfied with the proposed merger.  However, as is the case with over 95% of mergers, several trial lawyers saw this as a money-making opportunity and filed class action challenges to the merger, alleging deficiencies in the proxy statements.  In a pattern that has become depressingly widespread in this field, the companies found it cheaper to pay a litigation tax to the attorneys than fight. Plaintiffs and the companies quickly settled, with the companies agreeing to issue a 1,300 word 0proxy supplement consisting of immaterial tweaks to the original disclosure. In return, the plaintiff class lawyers would receive over $600,000 in fees—nearly $500 per useless word.

The Texas trial court upheld the settlement despite its unjustified nature, the short notice that shareholders were given to examine and object to it, and the fact that it ran counter to a new Texas law that severely restricts class action attorney fees when the class itself receives no cash benefit. Today’s argument is over the validity of the trial court’s action, and whether it is permissible for class action attorneys to bring litigation that hurts the shareholders they purportedly represent.

In the recent case of Robert F. Booth Trust v. Crowley (7th Cir., June, 2012), Mr. Frank succeeded in objecting to and winning the dismissal of a shareholder derivative suit that would have paid the attorneys nearly a million dollars in settlement without any benefit to shareholders of Sears Holding Corporation.

CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman, who is participating in this case in his personal capacity, stated: “I receive lots of notices of proposed class action settlements, and I usually toss them. But I read this one because I owned a few shares in Frontier Oil and because Ted Frank’s Center for Class Action Fairness had spurred my interest in the issue. Despite the short notice we all had, Ted and Wade have been able to bring this case the expert attention that it and the broader issue of sky-high class action attorney fees deserve. Their litigating this is a public service that we all should appreciate.”

Ted Frank may be reached by phone after 4:30pm ET: 703-203-3848.

Related Files: Kazman v Frontier Oil.pdf

See also: Don't mess with Texas (if you're a lawyer for plaintiffs in an M&A case)

 


CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website, cei.org, and blogs, Globalwarming.org and OpenMarket.org.  Follow CEI on Twitter! Twitter.com/ceidotorg.

Thursday
Jan172013

CEI Today: Defending the AIG lawsuit?, more on the EPA Windsorgate scandal, and a dubious study on BPA chemical risk 

DEFENDING THE AIG LAWSUIT? - JOHN BERLAU

Huffington Post: Matt Taibbi Sort of Defends AIG Shareholders' Lawsuit - for Good Reason

 

In a rant headlined, "Hank Greenberg Should Be Shot into Space for Suing the Government over the AIG Bailout," Taibbi calls Maurice "Hank" Greenberg -- AIG's CEO from 1968 to 2005 and current CEO of the financial services company Starr International that is filing the shareholder lawsuit -- "maybe the biggest douchebag of all time." But then comes the real shocker. Taibbi puts forth a partial defense of the reviled lawsuit. "Here's the funny thing about the lawsuit filed against the government," he writes. "It isn't all wrong. In fact, parts of it are quite on the mark."

Why is Taibbi defending the seemingly indefensible? Because he knows the real recipients of the federal government's "rescue" of AIG were not its shareholders, but his loathed "vampire squid," Goldman Sachs, as well as some of the largest banks in America and the world that were counterparties with AIG on risky mortgage bets. 
> View the full commentary at Huffingtonpost.com


> Inteview John Berlau

 

EPA WINDSORGATE SCANDAL - CHRISTOPHER HORNER

Fox News:
Attorney Chris Horner on Departing EPA Chief Lisa Jackson’s Secret Email Accounts: ‘Only Foreseeable Outcome Would Be to Subvert the Law’

 

America Live updated a story surrounding last month’s resignation of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who is said to have used alias email accounts in her communications with outside groups.


Critics have said the practice may have been used as a way to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests. > Watch the interview


> Interview Christopher Horner


> See related:

BPA & CHEMICAL RISK - ANGELA LOGOMASINI

Openmarket.org: Dumb And Dumber BPA “Science”

Rationalizations to support claims that the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) poses a real and serious health threat have gone from dumb to dumber! Even reputable researchers make their case by regularly citing one inconclusive study to suggest another inconclusive study is meaningful. But science doesn’t work that way.

A recent example comes from one of the authors of
yet another study on BPA using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). It suggests that BPA levels could contribute to heart and kidney disease.

[But] Why and how could a study with findings that are “at best hypothesis generating” strengthen an “unconfirmed” finding of another study?
  > Read the full commentary on Openmarket.org

 

> Interview Angela Logomasini

 

 

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website, cei.org, and blogs, Globalwarming.org and OpenMarket.org.  Follow CEI on Twitter! Twitter.com/ceidotorg.

Tuesday
Jan152013

CEI - EPA Email Release “Gravely Compounded Unlawful Activity We Have Exposed” 

CEI’s Chris Horner Says Agency Has ‘Gone Bunker’ Over Growing Richard Windsor Scandal

 

Washington, D.C., January 14, 2013 – At about 4:55 p.m. on Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency finally complied with a court order to deliver the first of four sets of emails in response to a lawsuit filed by Christopher Horner, a senior fellow in the Center for Energy and the Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Here is Horner’s statement on the emails:

Where in the World is Richard Windsor?

EPA’s Court-Ordered Email Production Proves Agency Has “Gone Bunker”

Just before 5 pm on this deadline date for producing records, I received a hand-delivered CD and cover letter from the EPA in response to CEI v. EPA, now best known as the “Richard Windsor” suit. The delivery came under order of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In short, this response is deeply troubling and seems to have gravely compounded the unlawful activity we have exposed involving a false identity assumed for federal recordkeeping purposes.

Problems begin with the cover letter, which states not the promised (to the court) first delivery of "approximately 3,000" but "more than 2,100 emails received or sent” by Jackson, on what EPA insists is her one non-public account.

“Waiter, the food was terrible, and the portions too small!”

First, 2,100 is two-thirds of the way to the agency’s commitment (possibly the agency also will determine two-thirds of 12,000 is sufficient, although we have our doubts). Perhaps seeking to take the air out of a growing scandal, EPA’s defective compilation boasts an impressively anemic content-to-volume ratio. It starts with Washington Post daily news briefs, then follows with Google alerts for “Lisa Jackson EPA” (none for “Richard Windsor”). Then EPA HQ national news clips. And so on. Rope a dope. Clever. Maybe too much so.

It seems EPA simply decided it had to produce a lot of something. Desperate to produce nothing at the same time, it came up with this. But in the details, the desperation shows through.

A big red flag in the cover letter is the claim that, “As you are aware” -- with no support for how we know this, which we do not -- “the Administrator uses one secondary official account to conduct EPA business,” then states these emails come from that one account.

In fact, the record is far more clear the Administrator likely has two such secondary or “alias” accounts: one as previous administrators have used, showing her name in the sent to/from box, and one that uses the false identity “Richard Windsor,” which neither Jackson nor EPA disputes is her account and which obviously does not reflect the administrator’s name.

At this time it is useful to remember EPA’s public statements earnestly but aggressively implied Windsor was just another secondary account. So EPA has some explaining to do.

So EPA is implying here – until a journalist or the court wrenches a straight answer to the question: Did you produce “Richard Windsor” emails? – that Jackson’s single alias account is the admitted-to, recently revealed “Richard Windsor.” After all, we know this alias account exists. EPA confirms it. So EPA’s implication in trying to waive away revelation of her alias account(s) – that she in fact does not have another EPA.gov account in her name, like all other administrators – is no longer operative.

Accepting this means the only EPA.gov email account Jackson used to correspond with EPA employees (including lawyers, presumably the EPA IG who has vowed to get to the bottom of this) was the false identity of “Richard Windsor.”

In that case, nearly everyone at EPA and throughout the ranks of senior Obama officials was in on the secret. Even though we know from sources and anecdotally this revelation came as a great surprise to Agency employees. Strike one.

Further, it means Jackson did not have an account she used to correspond outside of the Agency. Really. Meaning, either she did not correspond outside of EPA, or she used a private account.

No good answers or implications there. Yet EPA really wants to go there – as preferable, apparently, to just coming clean about Richard Windsor’s activities.

Staking out the position Jackson used only one secondary account signals the agency has gone bunker. Rather than search or produce from the Richard Windsor account, it is more likely the agency intends to in essence pretend it does not exist. Count as wasted that week EPA spent with all of the muttering to the contrary about its origin being a combination of her pet’s name and the town in which she once lived.

EPA would rather fight than snitch. Instructively, in EPA’s view, tempting Congress, the court and public opinion risks less fallout than revealing “Richard Windsor's” correspondence.

This is both deeply distressing and entirely consistent with its approach throughout. But then again, frankly, what did you expect from a gang caught using false identity for federal record-keeping purposes? To just say 'you caught me; now I'll come clean?'

* This conclusion no longer would be operative if EPA established that in fact Lisa Jackson did communicate internally exclusively using the Richard Windsor address, however implausible that is, and even though that would simply then beg the troubling questions noted above.

BACKGROUND of key points to remember:

a.) CEI sought emails from Lisa Jackson's secondary or "alias" email account(s) using one or more search terms: coal, climate, endanger, MACT

b) There is no record of any other senior official having ever created such an account using a false identity

c) EPA's own memo informing the National Archivist of having discovered these accounts stated they always show the administrator’s name

d) 3 exemplars we have obtained from elsewhere all show "Richard Windsor"

e) This presents EPA with a fork in the road: Burrow deeper into the bunker, and interpret that this request sought only the secondary account that shows Jackson’s name, or come clean and search her various non-public, alias accounts

f) Even given EPA’s public spin when the Windsor identity was revealed – that the Windsor account is just another secondary account, a continuation of a practice every administrator has employed since Carol Browner – now, despite this spin, EPA claims Jackson had just one such account

g) if indeed EPA is producing only non-Windsor email, it really has decided to declare war on this one, risking the obvious fallout and revealing it truly has much to hide.



> See also: cei.org/richard-windsor for a story timeline.

> To schedule an interview with Christopher Horner, please email: bmac@cei.org

 

 


CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website, cei.org, and blogs, Globalwarming.org and OpenMarket.org.  Follow CEI on Twitter! Twitter.com/ceidotorg.