The American Environmental Movement - The American Counter-Movement Perspective
By William Walter Kay
A loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires presides over a vast well-knit network of like-minded funders, government bureaucrats, and enviro-activists who manufacture phony grassroots campaigns and churn out bogus propaganda disguised as science and journalism in an effort to control economic decision-making across America.
The green billionaires oversee America’s environmental movement which in turn steers major policy decisions and lobbies to further empower ideologically aligned government agencies, like the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), that are statutorily prohibited from lobbying on their own behalves.
Supposedly unbiased agencies like the EPA are run by career environmentalists who work hand-in-glove with their allies in the environmentalist non-governmental organization (ENGO) community. Members of this green state elite have no experience as elected politicians nor in business nor in labour. They are bureaucrats, academics, and former ENGO activists. Having seized branches of government, they now lavish tax dollars upon the ENGOs. Obama’s Administration is unprecedentedly stacked with closed-minded enviro-activists.
American environmentalism’s current agenda centres on aggressively tightening regulations on the coal and oil industries to evermore controversial levels. These and other environmental regulations cost businesses and consumers tens of billions of dollars a year. This enviro-regulatory regime is being gamed by rent-seeking crony capitalists from the renewable energy and pollution control industries who now number among environmentalism’s principal cheerleaders.
Environmentalism’s victories come at the expense of American workers and small businesses. Enviro-regulations cause unemployment, and unemployment undermines the health and well-being of ordinary Americans. Environmentalism consolidates wealth and power into the hands of the already wealthy and powerful. Environmentalism hurts the poor.
If the above passage seems eccentric, overly antagonistic, and perhaps a tad radical, then you are in for a surprise. The above passage is a faithful synopsis of an assessment of environmentalism widely held by members of the United States Republican Party.
This posting condenses and collates four publications from late 2014; two written by Republican staffers employed by the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; and two published by Republican-allied free-market think-tanks.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Organizational Structure of American Environmentalism
The Green State Elite
The War on American Energy Independence
The Beale-Brenner Gang and the Heist of the Century
The Organizational Structure of American Environmentalism
Among the critters gracing in the big green pastures are: 501 (c) (3) public charities, 501 (c) (3) foundations, 501 (c) (4)s, fiscal sponsors, and pass-throughs.
The movement workhorse is the environmental non-governmental organization (ENGO). These are usually 501 (c) (3) charities and as such they are not required to disclose their donors on their Form 990 tax documents. One-third of their donations must come from the public and only the first $5,000 of any such donations counts toward this requirement. Donors get tax breaks of up to 50%.
Between 2000 and 2012 some 26,500 distinct US-based ENGOs collected revenues of $81 billion ($6.6 billion per year). (1) Many ENGOs are small, short-lived, outfits with few paid staff. However hundreds are large established enterprises.
Here is a sample list of some major American ENGOs alongside their 2012 revenues: Sierra Club ($97 million), Environmental Defense Fund ($112 million), Natural Resources Defense Council ($99 million), National Audubon Society ($96 million), Greenpeace USA ($32 million), National Wildlife Federation ($84 million), National Parks Conservation Association ($26 million), Wilderness Society ($25 million), Alliance For Climate Protection ($19 million), Conservation International ($141 million), and The Nature Conservancy ($949 million). (2)
Only a fraction of ENGO revenues come from membership dues. ENGOs get money from foundations, governments, corporations, from merchandizing, and from one-off fundraising campaigns where they showcase their mastery of constructing and perpetuating crises. As one former National Audubon Society exec put it:
“What you get in your mailbox is a never-ending stream of crisis-related shrill material designed to evoke emotions so that you sit down to write a check…” (3)
The most important and revealing source of ENGO funding is the philanthropic foundation. Many ENGOs get half their funding from foundations. The American environmental movement is dominated by the directors of major foundations.
A 501 (c) (3) foundation must disclose its donors on its Form 990; however they have no public funding requirements and are usually bankrolled by a single family. Donors get tax breaks of up to 30%.
Between 2000 and 2012 American foundations made 345,000 grants to ENGOs totalling $21 billion. (4)
Here is a sample list of American foundations alongside figures representing their donations to ENGOs in 2012: Hewlett Foundation ($45 million), Packard Foundation ($120 million), Marisla Foundation ($30 million), Mellon Foundation ($30 million), Heinz Endowments ($14 million), Mott Foundation ($11 million), and Rockefeller Brothers Fund ($11 million). (5)
Here is a partial list of leading enviro-grantmaking foundation directors as drawn from the names appearing in this web-posting’s four main source documents: Nancy Packard Burnett, David Orr, Susan Packard Orr, Julie Packard, Gordon Moore, Adelaide Park Gomer, Richard Rockefeller, Stephen Rockefeller, David Rockefeller, Justin Rockefeller, Laurence Rockefeller Jr, Richard Schmidt, Nathanial Simons, Tom Steyer, Astra Wallace, Scott Wallace, Christy Wallace, Walter Hewlett, Joanie Bronfman, Susan Ford Dorsey, Sam Rawlings Walton, Laura Turner Seydell, Daniel Tishman, Frances Beinecke, Henry Paulson, Michael Bloomberg, and Anne Earhart. These people range from multi-millionaires to billionaires, and each give significant money and time to the environmentalist cause. The full list of Americans of similar wealth and ideology would be ten times as long. That list would encapsulate the nucleus of American environmentalism.
Thus, Barbara Dudley, foundation executive and Greenpeace leader, understated things when she blurted:
“It is true the environmental movement is an upper class, white movement.” (6)
Over time different foundations, and the dynasties controlling them, rise to preeminent positions with the movement. Presently the driving green foundations include: Packard, Moore, Heinz, Pew, Park, Rockefeller Bros, Schmidt, Sea Change, Walton, Hewlett, Mellon, Robertson, MacArthur, and Ford. A few hundred other foundations play supporting roles; examples: Marisla (Anne Earhart, heiress to the Getty Oil fortune), Kendeda (Bernard Marcus of Home Depot), Beryl Buck (Beldridge Oil), Sundra (John Andrus), William Bowes, Charles Schwab, Russell Berrie, Randolf Compton, Turner, and Goldring.
During the 1990s green foundations became “prescriptive.” They no longer entertain unsolicited grant applications. They formulate plans internally and contract ENGOs to do their bidding.
Also during the 1990s green foundations began coordinating their efforts through groupings like Environmental Grantmakers Association, National Network of Grantmakers, Democracy Alliance, Divest/Invest, Media Matters, and Center for American Progress.
Democracy Alliance (DA) caters to billionaires while combatting: “the flood of special interest money in our political system.” DA members pay $30,000 dues and pledge to contribute at least $200,000 to DA-endorsed groups. In return, DA doles out grantmaking advice and invitations to exclusive confabs. DA’s website is members only. (7)
New York City-based Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) is the main venue whereat wealthy donors coordinate the distribution of grants to ENGOs. In 2011 EGA members donated $1.13 billion to ENGOs; an amount equal to 40% of all foundation giving to environmental causes in that year. EGA refuses to divulge its membership list, even to Congress. (8)
The aura of secrecy pervading environmentalism’s upper echelon is well-illustrated by new kid on the block, Sea Change Foundation. $43 million in grants made this San Francisco-based foundation the sixth largest private donor to environmental causes in 2011. In two years (2010-2011) Sea Change gave Energy Foundation $28 million, League of Conservation Voters Education Fund $10.7 million, and Sierra Club Fund $7 million. There is a dearth of data on Sea Change. Inside Philanthropy’s blurb on Sea Change relays:
“No more fundraising, just lots of check writing to some of the top organizations in the environmental world. Big checks too. And without dealing with the infamous bureaucracies of the large legacy foundations.” (9)
Nat Simons is President of Sea Change. His wife is Secretary. Nat’s father, James Simons, is worth $12 billion. James and his wife contributed $3.3 million to Democratic Party in 2014.
Nat Simons is also CEO of the renewable energy firm Elan Management. Prelude Ventures, an Elan subsidiary, is also involved in renewable energy. It’s not always easy being green; Prelude’s Managing Director bemoans:
“Unfortunately, energy is still a very inexpensive resource in North America…”
Aside from the Simons family, the only other Sea Change funder is a shady Bermuda-registered firm, Klein Ltd., which gave Sea Change $23 million in 2010-2011.
501 (c) (3) charities and foundations are prohibited from engaging in political activity beyond non-partisan voter education drives. Furthermore, they can allocate no more than 10% of their resources to lobbying. Donations they make to other groups must be for activities within the permissible scope of a 501 (c) (3).
Donations to a 501 (c) (4) are not tax deductible but 501 (c) (4) revenue is exempt from federal income tax, state franchise taxes, and other expenses. A 501 (c) (4) may engage in partisan activities providing such activity does not consume over 50% of its budget. A 501 (c) (4) has no lobbying limits.
Many major 501 (c) (3) ENGOs have an affiliated 501 (c) (4) that influences elections and engages in lobbying. Sierra Club is not a charity and thus relentlessly lobbies politicians and officials. In 1960 Sierra set up a 501 (c) (3), Sierra Club Foundation, which by 2013 had assets of $106 million and annual receipts of $83 million. Greenpeace is not a charity but Greenpeace Fund is. This overlapping of a 501 (c) (4) with a 501 (c) (3) is provocative in light of restrictions prohibiting charities from political campaigning.
An affiliated 501 (c) (3) and 501 (c) (4) can share office space, staff, and directors yet still be considered separate entities. League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (LCVEF) is a 501 (c) (3) charity. League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is a 501 (c) (4) political organization. 40% of LCVEF directors sit on the LCV board. LCVEF gives millions of dollars to LCV and LCV gives millions of dollars to Democratic Party candidates. (10)
Because environmentalism’s attorneys and accountants have mastered the loopholes and grey areas in the Internal Revenue Code, even motivated revenue agents would have a hard time monitoring the expansive orchestrated effort whereby billions of dollars are spooled around inside the movement. This point is mooted by the fact, as regards Big Green, oversight is suspiciously lax. What little public information there exists about green grantmaking comes from Form 990s whereupon green groups get away with vague descriptions. Further financial shell games, even grander than the above-described 501 (c) (3) – 501 (c) (4) overlap, are provided by “fiscal sponsors” and “pass-throughs.”
A “fiscal sponsor” collects tax deductible charitable donations on behalf of third organizations that are not recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. Fiscal sponsors often provide payroll services, office space, employee benefits, fundraising assistance, publicity, and training to their sponsored organization. Sponsorship fees are skimmed off the money disbursed to the sponsored group and range from 5% to 14%. Fiscal sponsorships are provocative because tax deductions are received for donations that ultimately end up in the hands of groups that are not charities.
Fiscal sponsorships allow big foundations to dispatch nimble, transient squads to address fast-moving developments. Fiscal sponsorships also allow for a plausibly deniable arm’s-length relationship between old-school establishment donors and radical fringe recipients. The overall process is well-described by a former Rockefeller Brothers Fund official:
“Funders can play a role in using money to drive, to create, ad hoc efforts, in many cases that will have a litigation component coming from one group, a lobbying component coming from another group, a grass roots component organizing component (sic) from yet a third group with a structure that enables them to function well.” (Donald Ross) (11)
Fiscal sponsorships help with the grassroots organizing component. In common parlance “grassroots” refers to the ordinary people in society; people without a lot of money or power. Environmentalists use the “grassroots” label to gain street-level credibility and to hide their substantial funding, well-organized structures, and powerful influence. Examples of fake grassroots abound.
Bold Nebraska (BN) opposes the Keystone XL oilsands pipeline. Jane Kleeb, BN’s face, voice, and driving force, gets quoted in the New York Times and appears on MSNBC. Kleeb does not protect the “environment.” She protects the “land.” Behind a homespun façade she fights to stop rich foreigners from poisoning her precious Nebraska’s pristine lands. Kleeb is actually a South Florida native with powerful family contacts inside the Democratic Party. In 2012-2013 BN received $155,000 in out-of-state foundation money. Another foundation spawn, New Energy Voter, works with BN to influence elections at all levels in Nebraska. (12)
Virginia Organizing (VO) represents itself as a humble grassroots group yet it is run by a well-known professional organizer. Moreover, VO received $1.3 million from the Marisla Foundation and $600,000 from Sea Change. VO obstructs coal mining in Appalachia and launches lawsuits to expand EPA authority. (13)
One significant fiscal sponsor, Sustainable Markets Foundation (SMF), collects donations from foundations and flips this money to ENGOs. SMF is a major funder of Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) chapters, which are venues for environmental attorneys and activists. SMF is a paper shell with zero public presence, not even a website.
The top fiscal sponsor, San Francisco-based Tides Center, is part of a conglomerate created by uber-activist Drummond Pike and Jane Bagley Lehman (heiress to the Reynolds tobacco empire). Since 1994 Tides has sponsored 230 green activist projects. Tides’ sponsored groups are subject to Tides oversight regarding: governing board formation, payroll management, and risk monitoring. Tides creams off 9% of funds disbursed.
Tides Center (TC) and Tides Foundation (TF) are affiliates. (TF has assets of $135 million). Between 2010 and 2012 TF gave TC $10 million and TC gave TF $39 million. The only purpose of such conduct is to obscure a money trail. According to Pike:
“Anonymity is very important to most of the people we work with.” (14)
A “pass-through” organization is similar to a fiscal sponsor; however, the end recipient of the funds is a recognized charity. Pass-throughs often call themselves “foundations” but they are not primary funding sources.
Energy Foundation (EF) began in 1991 with a $20 million endowment from Pew Charitable Trusts, Rockefeller Foundation, and MacArthur Foundation. Sea Change later emerged as a major EF supporter although it is not a listed EF partner. The $14 million Sea Change gave EF in 2011 constituted 15% of EF revenues for that year. This donation is dwarfed by the $166 million EF received from fellow pass-through, Climate Works Foundation.
Climate Works has received the largest cheques in movement history. Between 2010 and 2012 Packard gave Climate Works $232 million while the Hewlett topped this with donations of $350 million.
Such huge donations are rare but not unprecedented. Moore Foundation (created by Intel’s Gordon Moore) gave Conservation International $200 million in 2001. The same foundation handed out $108 million to ENGOs blocking Alaska’s Pebble Mine.
EF is a grant maker to the 501 (c) (4) Green Tech Action Fund but is vague as to why these grants are given, declaring only “to support clean energy.” Green Tech re-distributes millions of dollars to groups openly engaged in electioneering.
Inefficiently, though not irrationally, many foundations indirectly channelling money through pass-throughs to specific ENGOs often also directly fund those same ENGOs. Again, a money trail is obscured.
Government agencies are also major ENGO donors. Over the last decade the EPA ladled out $3 billion in grants to various non-profit societies. In its first four years Obama’s EPA gave the following groups the following sums: American Lung Association ($13.9 million), The Nature Conservancy ($10 million), Environmental Defense Fund ($1 million), and Natural Resources Defense Council ($1.8 million). The EPA also donates to thousands of lesser known and sometimes extreme ENGOs. (15)
The EPA is not the only federal agency colluding with ENGOs. During the late-1960s/early-1970s the Wilderness Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, etc. became power bases for the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, etc. As with the EPA, these agencies fused their operations into symbiotic combines with allied ENGOs.
The most insidious form of ENGO-government collusion is the “sue and settle” racket. “Sue and settle” refers to the practice whereby government agencies (usually the EPA) and ENGOs conspire to file lawsuits and then settle them out of court to get a judge’s order imposing an expanded mandate upon the agency that it would never have acquired through normal legislative processes. The agency accepts its expanded authority claiming to be merely following the judge’s order.
Since 2009 there have been 71 “sue and settles” between the EPA and ENGOs. Sierra Club initiated 34 of these sweetheart lawsuits. Wild Earth Guardians initiated 20. In 49 of these 71 lawsuits taxpayers paid the ENGO’s legal bill. (16)
“Sue and settles” are now a significant part of movement strategy in part because environmentalists have lobbied legislators into incorporating citizen (i.e. ENGO) lawsuit provisions into environmental laws. The “sue and settle” process is anti-democratic. Costly regulations are imposed without Congressional hearings or public input. The regulations’ victims are not even informed.
Sue and settles are hardly the only undemocratic aspect of American environmentalism. On the contrary, this is a movement characterized by: deceptive propaganda, mafia-style money laundering, illegal campaign financing, de facto bribery of public officials, political action committees disguised as charities, top-down puppet shows masquerading as popular uprisings, usurpation of legislative authority by rogue agencies, and the intrusion of Big Money-funded activist cabals into public administration to the point of achieving secret parallel governance.
The Green State Elite
Obama’s “Climate Czarina” (officially, his Presidential Assistant for Energy and Climate Change Policy), Carole Browner, was a protégé of Al Gore – the visionary who wishes to abolish the internal combustion engine in his lifetime and who believes: “environmentalism is the central principle of world civilization.”
Browner was Senator Gore’s legislative assistant from 1988 to 1991. Vice-President Gore secured her appointment as EPA Administrator in 1993. Browner turned out to be the longest serving EPA Administrator (eight years), and probably the most zealous and effective. Her greatest triumph was imposing radical air quality standards for particulate matter and ground-level ozone in 1997.
Before working for Gore, Browner assisted Senator Lawton Chiles (D-FL) in promoting park expansion and banning off-shore drilling. Florida Governor Lawton Chiles placed Browner in charge of his 1,500-employee Environment Department where she fought for the protection and clean-up of swamps. Her main triumph cost Florida’s sugar producers $1 billion.
Upon departing the EPA in 2001 (and destroying her files) she co-founded the Albright Group with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. This firm consults the likes of Coca Cola and Merck. She returned to Albright after her stint as Climate Czarina ended in April 2011. (The position itself was discontinued.) Her annual income may be as high as $5 million.
Browner was a founding director of Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection and is currently a director of the Center for American Progress. Between 2003 and 2008 she was National Audubon Society’s Chairperson, a title she currently holds at the League for Conservation Voters.
Co-chair of Obama’s EPA Transition Team, and later EPA Senior Policy Counsel, Robert Sussman was formerly a Director of Environmental Alliance and the Environmental Institute. Sussman was also a Senior Fellow at the Centre for American Progress. As Transition Team co-chair Sussman grilled potential EPA employees on what support they had from environmental justice leaders and on what contacts they had within the ENGO milieu. (1)
In 2009 John Holdren became Obama’s science advisor. His official titles are Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. He held a similar position under Clinton.
Holdren owes his success to his having been chosen by Paul Ehrlich to co-write Human Ecology (1972). At the time Holdren was a young unknown with a Ph.D. in Physics, while Ehrlich was a Stanford Biology Prof whose top-selling Population Bomb (1968) had made him a wealthy celebrity. (The book was the brainchild of Sierra Club President David Brower and Ian Ballantine of Ballantine Books – a Sierra business partner.) Population Bomb predicted mass famines by the 1970s. The book led to the formation of Zero Population Growth (now Population Connection).
Human Ecology called for a mass grassroots movement to promote population control. The authors hoped this movement could wrest control of the federal government and then “de-develop” the USA. Human Ecology ensured Holdren a long career at Harvard and Berkley.
Obama’s first EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, held the post from 2009 to 2012. Jackson had been an engineer at the EPA years earlier before taking a similar job in the New Jersey Department of Environment. She was the New Jersey Governor’s Chief of Staff when Obama summoned her back to the EPA.
Jackson resigned after it was revealed she used a false-identity email account to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act. She used a private Verizon account to send and receive emails, regarding EPA business, to and from Sierra execs and Siemens lobbyists. (2)
The Siemens connection re-appears in the bio of David McIntosh. He was part of the Obama Transition Team before taking top EPA positions from 2009 to 2011 when he left to become Siemens’ Vice President. (3) Siemens is one of the world’s largest wind energy companies.
Obama’s pick for EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of International and Tribal Affairs, Michelle De Pass, was a Ford Foundation Environment Program officer and an Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) director. She was briefly employed by both the EPA and the Ford Foundation.
In one email exchange De Pass and Jackson strategized over how to best leverage an appearance before the EGA. (De Pass was then still on the EGA board.) In another email De Pass asks Jackson to do a “drive-by” at an upcoming Grist soiree. (De Pass is a Grist director.) De Pass adds: “I invited the CEQ (Council of Environmental Quality) posse.” (4)
De Pass’s Deputy at the Office of International and Tribal Affairs, Shalini Vajjhala was, pursuant to an arrangement between the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF) and the EPA, paid by the RFF while she sat on the White House Council on Environment Quality. This pleased EPA execs who hoped Vajjhala would “stake our claim there.” Jackson’s Chief of Staff added: “The more inside connections the better.” (5)
After cycling through the White House and the EPA, Vajjhala returned to RFF. She now runs E.invest Initiative with a portfolio supported by the Rockefellers. Vajjhala contributes to Huffington Post – another foundation darling.
With the possible exception of Browner, Lisa Heinzerling was perhaps the most zealous environmentalist in the Obama Administration. She had been the lead lawyer in Massachusetts v. EPA (2007) – a case culminating in a US Supreme Court 5-to-4 ruling granting the EPA the authority to establish standards for CO2 under the Clean Air Act. Massachusetts v. EPA did NOT say the EPA must regulate CO2, merely that it could. Heinzerling argued strenuously that the EPA should regulate CO2 despite CO2 being nowhere listed among the Clean Air Act’s pollutants and despite Congress having rejected regulating CO2 every time it had been proposed.
Immediately after Obama’s inauguration (January 21, 2009) Heinzerling became Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Policy Economics and Innovation. From this perch she conspired closely with Climate Czarina Browner on a massive scheme targeting America’s electricity supply.
On February 8 2009 Heinzerling emailed Jackson regarding power plants in anticipation of a February 9 conference call with Browner’s team. On February 9 Heinzerling emailed Jackson about getting a head start on regulating CO2.
On February 10 Heinzerling sent a cryptic email about “pending items” adding “reinforcements have arrived” to take over her tasks. She apparently remained in charge until December 2010 when she departed to teach environmental law at Georgetown University. Heinzerling is an Affiliated Scholar for the Center for American Progress Action Fund. (6)
After the Jackson email scandal, her Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy et al. switched to text messaging so they could routinely destroy communications without backup. (7)
After McCarthy got her Masters in Environmental Engineering in 1981 she ascended the green spiral staircase to the level of Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. She went on to be an environmental advisor to five Massachusetts Governors before being summoned by Obama in 2009.
McCarthy lied to Congress when she claimed the EPA did not use Climate Change arguments to justify fuel standards for cars. She used junk science in devising onerous mercury and soot regulations. Her public statements regarding CO2 regulation are verbatim repeats of Sierra Club arguments. She eagerly welcomed a report from the Clean Air Council, on Sierra’s behalf, concerning the contentious “regional haze” issue. She regularly met ENGO reps for dinner at the Metropolitan Club. (Other senior EPA officials routinely held crucial discussions with ENGO reps at the Starbucks in the Marriott Hotel across from EPA offices.) (8)
In 2010 McCarthy dispatched her minions to contact the green groups “we normally work with when we have a message developed.” Clicking his heals, fellow Assistant Administrator Bob Perciasepe liaised with two dozen green groups to better involve them in the process. In a related email Perciasepe informs:
“…the purpose is to create a photo-op and narrative beat for the comment gathering efforts on the issue. Groups will use materials from the event to communicate with supporters and recruit additional comment signers via newsletter, emails and social media”. (9)
In 2013 McCarthy became the 13th EPA Administrator.
In the interregnum between Jackson and McCarthy, Bob Perciasepe wore two EPA hats: Assistant Administrator and Acting Administrator. Forty-two years earlier young Bob enrolled in a Natural Resources program at Cornell. After finishing his education, he got hired by the Baltimore Planning Department where he stayed until greener pastures beckoned at the Maryland Environment Department. He eventually rose to the top of this then-770 employee bureaucracy.
In 1993 Clinton made Perciasepe an EPA Assistant Administrator; a position he held until 2001 when he left to become Vice-President, and later COO, of the National Audubon Society. He returned to the EPA from 2009 to 2014. He is now President of the Pew-funded Center for Climate and Energy Solutions where he serves under Chairman Theodore Roosevelt IV.
Jared Blumenfeld worked for both the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council prior to becoming Administrator of EPA’s Region 9. (The EPA is divided into ten regions.) EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding formerly ran the ENGO Save the Bay. Region 8 Administrator James Martin held green jobs in academia and state governments and was Environmental Defense Fund’s Senior Attorney from 1995 to 2005. Martin was a protégé of enviro-supremo Tim Wirth (husband of eco-philanthropist Wren Winslow Wirth).
After Al Armendariz got his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering he worked as a Research Assistant for MIT’s Center for Global Change Science and then as an Environmental Engineering Prof at Southern Methodist University. He was involved with the Environmental Integrity Project and served as a technical advisor to, and court-room expert witness for, Wild Earth Guardians – a service he also provided for Sierra Club.
While at Wild Earth Guardians Armendariz worked on the “regional haze” desk under Jeremy Nichols – an architect of Wild Earth Guardians vs Jackson. This exemplar of “sue and settle” involved ten green groups suing the EPA in June 2009 for allegedly inadequately enforcing its regional haze program – a controversial EPA effort to use “Federal Implementation Plans” to usurp state authority. (The Obama EPA has issued 52 Federal Implementation Plans. The three preceding administrations issued five in total.)
On November 5, 2009 Armendariz was hired as EPA’s Administrator of Region 6, and while not officially at his desk until December, he hit the floor running. On November 10 the suit was settled via a consent decree. Armendariz kept in touch with “Jeremy” regarding manipulating regional haze deadlines to trap state governments. States failing to meet deadlines face EPA-imposed regulations costing billions of dollars (and delivering undetectable air quality benefits).
As Region 6 Administrator, Armendariz hired two close colleagues who had been litigating against the proposed Las Brisas Energy Center petroleum coke-fired power plant (Houston, TX). Armendariz had also prepared testimony against this plant. After taking their activism in-house at the EPA, the three amigos quickly shot down the plant’s permit. (10)
In a posted video Regional Administrator Armendariz pontificates on his general philosophy toward enforcing enviro-regulations. He says:
“It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw, and they would crucify them. And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. So that’s our general philosophy.” (11)
When the video surfaced Armendariz quit the EPA to take over Sierra’s “Beyond Coal” campaign in Texas.
Before being appointed EPA Region 2 Administrator, Judith Enck had been: Executive Director of Environment Advocates of New York, Senior Environmental Associate at NY-PIRG, and President of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. (After Enck assumed her EPA position, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater received four EPA grants worth $160,000.)
In a telling affair from 2012, Enck sat down with Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF) officials and representatives of an upstart ENGO, El Puente. Soon after, El Puente received $52,000 from RFF and Tides. The EPA chipped in $25,000. After El Puente failed to comply with disclosure regulations, Enck personally intervened in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to save their funding. (12)
Joe Goffman, EPA liaison to Sierra Club, spent a dozen years with Environmental Defense Fund and was a director of Environmental Resources Trust (a non-profit affiliated with EDF and the National Audubon Society.)
Michael Goo held several senior positions at the EPA including Associate Administrator for Policy. Goo was formerly Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Legislative Director for Climate Change.
In one email Goo tells Sierra Club officials, “I am always happy to meet with you guys.” He held joint meetings with Sierra Club and NRDC and circulated Sierra info throughout the EPA. He met frequently with ENGOs at a coffee shop near EPA headquarters to discuss Keystone XL pipeline and anti-coal initiatives. (13)
Goo worked with Sierra Club to stop “zombie” coal plants from being resurrected. (Zombies are plants shelved due to uncertainty around CO2 regulations. If emission standards are set that these plants could meet, they might be revived.)
In a 2012 email Sierra Club updated Goo on their efforts to influence media coverage on key environmental hearings. The EPA then spread the Sierra message through social media and turned a Sierra press release into a Time magazine article. Sierra’s President thanked them for the “cool amplification.” (14)
Goo is now with the US Department of Energy.
Obama’s National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Chief from 2009 to 2013 was Jane Lubchenco. Just prior to her appointment Professor Lubchenco co-authored Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Oceans of Abundance report to relay the ridiculous claim that 90% of large fish had been hauled out from the oceans by greedy fishing companies.
Lubchenco is an EDF board member. She is also a past president of the Ecological Society of America and the recipient of both a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant and a $150,000 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation.
The Packard Foundation gave $2.1 million to Lubchenco’s Aldo Leopold Leadership Program to train young eco-scientists in public relations techniques. (The trainers are journalists from the New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, and bureaucrats from federal government agencies.)
EDF advocates culling America’s fishing fleet through a pseudo-market regime called “total allowable catch program” – basically a coercive buyout of small fishing vessels. The Moore Foundation gave EDF $3.5 million to promote “total allowable catch.” The Packard Foundation also donated $2.2 million to EDF’s fishery program. (Pew Charitable Trusts supports similar initiatives.) Lubchenco brought “total allowable catch” onboard with her at NOAA.
Chief Lubchenco’s handpicked senior staff at NOAA included a former Senior Adviser from Pew Charitable Trusts (and wife of Vice-President Biden’s Chief of Staff), The Nature Conservancy’s former Chief of Staff, and the former Communications Director from Pew Charitable Trusts.
By the end of her NOAA term Lubchenco was the focus of bitter protests by unemployed fishermen. Even Democratic Congressmen cursed her treacherous hostility toward the American fishing industry.
(During her tenure, NOAA enforcement officers were found to have seized and sold $96 million worth of fishermen’s assets. This slush fund bought cars, trips, and even a luxury yacht for NOAA officers.) (15)
Obama’s Advisory Council of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is illuminated by Episcopal Canon Sally Bingham. In 2007 Bingham picked up an EPA Climate Protection Award. Between 2007 and 2009 Bingham’s Interfaith Power and Light received $450,000 from the EPA to advance: “an innovative way to educate Americans about the link between their energy use and their environmental impact.”
Bingham’s hard lobbying for California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (2006) earned her an invite to Governor Schwarzenegger’s signing ceremony. Bingham met Prince Philip at Windsor Castle as part of his Alliance of Religion and Conservation project. She has also met UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
Bingham is a director of EDF, Climate Action Network, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), and Environmental Working Group.
Interfaith Power and Light’s (IPL) genesis dates to a 1998 Tides project called “Ecoventure.” (Its first treasurer was from Rockefeller Philanthropic Advisors.) In 2006 Ecoventure was re-christened the “Regeneration Project” with Bingham listed as founding president and with the IPL campaign listed as its main mission.
IPL’s 38 state chapters and 10,000-member congregations distinguish fuels from hell (oil and coal) from the energy from the heavens (wind and solar). IPLers pray away the coal.
Since 2006, foundations have given IPL $6.4 million. On IPL’s board sit two officials of the Schmidt Family Foundation. On IPL’s Advisory Council sit EDF’s Fred Krupp, UCS’s Andrew Gunther, and William Reilly. (16)
William Reilly is a director of the Packard Foundation and an Advisory Board member of Duke University’s Nicholas School for Environmental Policy Solutions. He is Chairman Emeritus of both WWF-USA and Climate Works Foundation. He was President of WWF-USA in 1989 when he got the call to be EPA Administrator; a position he held for four years before handing the reins to Carol Browner.
The War on American Energy Independence
America’s two principle fuels, oil and coal, are available from domestic reserves in inexhaustible abundance. Extracting and utilizing these fuels is critical to America’s prosperity. Attacking America’s coal and oil industries is treasonous.
The wars on coal and oil are environmentalist priorities. Climate Change is a cover for an effort to phase out oil and coal. Presently, the war on coal mainly targets coal-fired electricity generation. The war on oil mainly targets “fracking.”
Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) began in Kansas after World War II. Now aided by computers, micro-seismic instruments and down-hole sensors, this game-changing technology allows oil producers to drill 6,000 feet down and 8,000 feet sideways and hit within 3 feet of an intended target. (1)
Horizontal drilling allows multiple wells to be drilled out from a single site like the spokes of a wheel. A 300 acre drilling site can access a 20 square mile deposit. Up to 40 years of production can be extracted from a few months of drilling.
Fracking is used in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota, Texas, and Louisiana. In 2013 fracking contributed $285 billion to the US economy, supported 2 million direct and indirect jobs, and supplied federal and state treasuries with $62 billion.
Fracking increased North Dakota oil production from 36 million barrels in 2005 to 237 million barrels in 2012, thereby creating 40,000 direct jobs and lowering the state’s unemployment rate to 3%. In the area around Dallas, Texas fracking created 110,000 jobs between 2001 and 2012.
Fracking drove down natural gas prices in the US from $8 per thousand cubic feet (tcf) in 2008 to $3.50 per tcf in 2013, thereby saving consumers and companies $100 billion a year. (The rest of the world pays $10 to $15 per tcf.)
Fracking drove down US oil imports from 60% of domestic consumption in 2005 to 28% in 2013.
On the ideological front, fracking defeated a major environmentalist argument. For decades environmentalists claimed that because oil reserves were running out, governments had to facilitate a transition to a post-oil age through all manner of penalties and subsidies. Fracking plus developments off shore and in the oilsands prove that the world in general, and North America in particular, will not experience oil scarcity in the foreseeable future.
Arguments against fracking mainly relate to water pollution and/or water waste. Such concerns are based on misinformation.
Normal oil extraction procedures require drill stems to be encased within cement cylinders that descend hundreds of feet past underground water deposits. The fracturing of bedrock occurs far below water deposits.
The fluid used to crack open the bedrock is 99.5% water and sand. The other 0.5% consists of biocides to prevent bacteria from clogging pipes and lubricants to allow water and sand to slip into cracks in the bedrock. These ingredients are non-toxic and biodegradable.
The US oil industry has fracked wells in over 1 million locales without harm. Even former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson conceded to Congress:
“I’m not aware of any proven case where the fracking process has affected water.”
Worries about excess water use are similarly unfounded. Many fracking operations use brackish, not fresh, water and even 90% of this water is recovered. Fracking uses vastly less water than do America’s lawn sprinklers. Fracking uses 0.1% of the water per unit of energy produced than does supposedly clean ethanol fuel.
Environmentalism’s anti-fracking campaign is spread across the USA but has gained the most traction in New York and Colorado. While dozens of foundations and other groups bankroll this campaign, the Park Foundation, Schmidt Family Fund, and Sustainable Markets Foundation have assumed prominent roles. Fake grassroots groups like Frack Free Colorado, Frack Action, Frack Free Seneca, etc. have proliferated. (2)
Adelaide Park Gomer’s New York-based Park Foundation has assets of $366 million. In 2010 she gave Cornell University $135,000 for anti-fracking studies done by an ecologist, Robert Howarth, who had previously conferred with Park. While Howarth’s study was declared hogwash by other scientists, Park-funded “alternative” media outlets Yes and Earth Island Journal hyped it. Park then gave Cornell a further $193,000 plus $60,000 earmarked for Howarth’s lab. Park also paid Duke University to have a disgraced bureaucrat write a paper on fracking’s allegedly negative impact on water quality.
Yes and Earth Island Journal are not the only “alternative” media outlets benefiting from Park largess. Between 2010 and 2013 Park gave Grist $95,000, Mother Jones $170,000, and Climate Desk $300,000. (Climate Desk disseminates climate alarmist lore to The Guardian, Grist, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, The Atlantic, and Slate.) Nor is Park the only foundation funding such outlets. Over 2010-2012 Schmidt Family Foundation gave Grist $850,000 and Mother Jones $225,000.
Schmidt Family Foundation (SFF, assets $312 million) was set up by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. SFF grantmaking is “done on a strictly invitational basis.” One ENGO getting an invite was Environmental Working Group (EWG). SFF granted EWG $50,000 for an anti-fracking case study. (EWG directors include Tides’ Drummond Pike and Ted Turners’ daughter, Laura Turner Seydel.)
Both Park and Schmidt use Sustainable Markets Foundation (SMF) to channel money to anti-fracking groups like Mark Ruffalo’s Water Defense and Yoko Ono’s Artists Against Fracking. SMF gave $600,000 to Toxics Targeting – an ENGO run by high-profile New York anti-fracking activist Walter Hang who boasts: “We never reveal anything about who our clients are.”
Park gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Jeff Fox, filmmaker and renowned anti-fracking activist, to finance his Gasland documentaries. More notorious is the anti-fracking melodrama Promised Land starring Matt Damon and funded by the Sheik of Abu Dhabi.
(In a priceless sting operation an enviro-critic pretending to be a wealthy Arab opposed to American energy independence offered money to two Hollywood enviro-doc producers. They were eager to grab the cash, with one producer adding:
“This is not the first major project that we’ve had funded through a funding source which you know, for various reasons – we didn’t disclose. It would have been very unwise for everybody to understand the dynamics of that funding...”)
Of the $590,000 the Park Foundation gave Food and Water Watch between 2010 and 2013, about $350,000 was re-granted to New Yorkers Against Fracking (a group not recognized by the IRS).
New Yorkers Against Fracking employee Russell Mendell worked for two other New York-based anti-fracking groups before being parachuted into Colorado to take over the “grassroots” group Frack Free Colorado in 2012. A year earlier Mendell helped organized a rally protesting the Keystone XL oilsands pipeline in front of the White House. Before that he was active in Occupy Wall Street, noting, “There’s not a lot that separates the environmental movement and Occupy Wall Street.”
Celebrity climateer Naomi Klein got arrested in front of the White House at said anti-Keystone rally, and she too participated in Occupy Wall Street with a goal of uniting it with the environmental movement.
(Klein’s current focus is “The Message” – a multi-platform climate alarmist project. The first component will be a forthcoming screed by Klein. The second component will be a documentary. SFF, Rockefeller Bros Fund, and Wallace Global Fund have given $265,000 to “The Message.” The Ford Foundation and Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute are also being tapped.)
In mid-December 2014 Governor Cuomo banned fracking in New York State. He cited public health concerns but many viewed the ban as the Governor caving in to pressure from New York’s formidable green establishment. Bloomberg, the Rockefellers, and others had come out hard against fracking.
Coal generates 40% of American electricity. At current consumption levels, US coal reserves will last 9,000 years. (3) Coal-fired generation is the most economical, reliable, and practical source of electricity for most of the American market.
The Sierra Club broadcasts its desire to stop coal-fired power plants from being built and to have plants currently operating shut down. Their “Beyond Coal” campaign, which aimed to retire one-third of USA’s 500 coal plants by 2020, is exceeding expectations. In 2012 alone 85 coal plants were retired.
Sierra Club officials email their EPA counterparts detailed inventories of coal-fired plants targeted for closure. In 2011 a Sierra exec bragged:
“Here is the official word from the Beyond Coal Campaign. You can cite this for internal use for sure. 153 defeated/26 progressing.”
He expressed confidence that 70% of planned coal plants would be thwarted. (4)
Beyond Coal was supercharged in 2008 when Michael Bloomberg pledged $50 million. Additional money flowed in from natural gas moguls. (Natural gas competes with coal in the electricity generating market.) Between 2007 and 2010 Sierra Club took in $25 million from the natural gas industry, mostly from Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy. The funds constituted 10% of Sierra revenues. (5)
In 2009 the anti-coal Cap and Trade Bill passed the House of Representatives by a 219-212 vote but failed to overcome a threatened filibuster in the Senate. The Bill needed 60 Senators. No Republican came forward. In response, the EPA deployed “Plan B” – a barrage of anti-coal regulations under the Clean Air Act.
EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy kicked off the surge by meeting with an ENGO coalition (Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council et al.) anxious to get started on this suite of anti-coal regs known internally as the “train wreck.” (6)
(EPA executives routinely assemble teams of ENGO reps, and their lawyers, to plot new air and water regs. In this milieu, industrialists are called “the polluters” and studies prepared by business groups are tossed onto the “industry study pile.”)
Since 2009 the Obama Administration has issued 1,900 regulations curtailing coal mining and use. These regulations blanketed every type of coal industry emission into every part of the environment.
After the Democrats suffered heavy losses in the 2010 mid-terms, particularly in coal-producing states, the EPA-ENGO inner sanctum pivoted from openly declaring their war on coal to dismissing the very existence of a “war on coal” as a loony conspiracy theory. Nevertheless, the war on coal remains an understood reality among EPA-ENGO insiders.
In 2012, after McCarthy assured Americans that coal would not suffer under the new regulations, Sierra’s John Coequyt emailed his EPA cronies mocking her assurances as “pants on fire” lies. McCarthy claimed Carbon Capture and Storage would make coal a viable electricity source despite EPA’s regulatory assault, but nobody believes this. (7) Amidst the fracas, McCarthy dropped this gem:
“…the great thing about this proposal is that it really is an investment opportunity. This is not about pollution control. It’s about increased efficiency at our plants, no matter where you want to invest. It’s about investment in renewable and clean energy.” (Emphasis added.) (8)
This transformative agenda was displayed in a 2013 speech from Obama:
“If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will, I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.” (9)
However, in his 2014 State of the Union Address, Obama dialed back this commitment by acknowledging that America’s energy strategy must have an “all of the above” approach, i.e. including fossil fuels. Upon hearing this, 17 enviro-groups recoiled in outrage before firing off a public letter objecting to any reliance on fossil fuels. These were not fringe groups. Among the signatories were: Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council and last, but definitely not least, Sierra Club.
Sierra Club interventions prompt quick responses from EPA officials. When a North Carolina coal-fired power plant appeared on the verge of approval, Sierra officials contacted the EPA to express their dread that the plant’s emissions were actually within legal limits. The EPA Regional Director immediately emailed his North Carolina counterpart relaying Sierra’s concerns.
When a Sierra official expressed concern that an Industrial Boiler Air Toxics rule might be subject to the Congressional Review Act, several EPA officials jumped to respond. (This anecdote exposes the EPA-ENGO sentiment that Congressional oversight is a threat.) (10)
Another ENGO commanding respect within EPA corridors is the American Lung Association (ALA). ALA long ago hocked its halo and morphed into a green lobbyist. ALA led the rebranding of the war on coal as a “public health” initiative rather than a “global warming” issue. Images of children struggling to breathe resonate better than images of polar bears on ice flows. ALA reaped $20 million in EPA grants in the last decade.
A Conservation Law Foundation honcho emailed McCarthy to congratulate her for a recent joint EPA-ALA press conference:
“…great event with the just the right non-government voices at the podium. And it looks it will have a good innocuous name and excellent substance.”
ALA’s Paul Billings emailed an EPA official to complain that an EPA press release regarding the health consequences of coal emissions was inadequate:
“We need to know the numbers of premature deaths avoided and asthma attacks avoided today. All you have released so far is the $ amount of benefits.”
When the EPA official demurred, Billings fired back:
“That is really not an acceptable answer to the public or the media – you have the $ amount that are based on multiplying adverse health events and deaths. EPA must show its work – an(d) really needs to show it today.”
Billings’ concerns were quickly passed upstairs. (11)
The EPA and ENGOs collude on the siting of public hearings. In one case, after choosing Philadelphia for a hearing, the EPA promised both ALA and Sierra Club booth space in the convention centre. The two ENGOs promised to hold a press conference supporting EPA proposals and to bus in activists from as far away as Boston and Wisconsin. At another conference, on EPA property, Sierra Club was allowed to set up a booth, distribute free T-shirts, and even stage a faux adversarial protest. In yet another instance, an Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) official and an EPA Regional Administrator discussed hearing venues. After agreeing on Denver, the Regional Administrator asked EDF, whom he expected would show up in force, to hype their new Clean Air Clean Jobs (anti-coal) initiative.
The EPA channels a flood of ENGO comments into the regulatory record. The EPA files such petitions and comments even when they pre-date the official comment period; a flaw that should disqualify them. The EPA physically submits ENGO comments into the public docket.
ENGOs openly support EPA energy proposals, and the EPA leadership is kept fully apprised. For instance, Sierra Club ran anti-coal ads in Ohio supporting EPA regulations. As well, EPA and Sierra policy wonks co-wrote a speech for Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that was delivered at a “Carbon Roundtable.” The same crew then cooperated on ensuring friendly media coverage for the event. In another example, an NRDC-to-EPA email outlined opinion polling NRDC had done nationally, and specifically in 27 Congressional districts where the sitting Representative opposed EPA energy proposals.
There is a correlation between those ENGOs cultivating the most EPA staffers and those ENGOs which garner the lion’s share of foundation money. ALA and Sierra Club are definitely exemplars of this, but there is also talk of an “NRDC mafia” atop the EPA. Environmental Defense Fund is scarcely less influential.
Coal and oil are both victimized by the enclosure of federal lands and by the Climate Change campaign.
In Alaska and the 11 westernmost states, the Federal Government owns between 30% and 80% of all land. These lands contain vast stores of minerals, timber, natural gas, coal, and oil. If prosperity and energy independence were political goals, then throwing these lands open for development would be a no-brainer.
When Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) calls for a complete ban on oil exploration in federally owned land in the western states, he is calling for impounding 2 trillion barrels of oil. Reid gained infamy for his 2008 “coal makes us sick” tirade, but he is no fringe crank. He is rounding off a 30-year career in the US Senate where he has held every top posting. Reid is one of the most influential politicians of our age.
An outrageous case of resource sequestration occurred at the end of Clinton’s first term (1996). In a move that skirted legality and defied Congress, but delighted Big Green, Clinton declared 2,700 square miles of southern Utah to be a national monument. The law predicating this diktat, the Antiquities Act, was passed in 1906 to protect small archeological sites. The sequestered area contains 60 billion tons of low-sulfur coal and 4 billion barrels of oil.
Almost all the increased oil and gas production Americans have enjoyed in recent years came from drilling on private lands. On federal lands production dwindles.
Environmentalist “climate science” is a bludgeon for waylaying the defenders of oil and coal. The “scientific consensus” is a thousand lapdog scientists madly barking to drown-out skeptical voices. Legislatures, let alone the public, rarely question the non-existent climate “consensus.”
The factoid about 97% of scientists supporting the anthropogenic catastrophic global warming hypothesis arises from a questionnaire given to 10,257 scientists. Not happy with the feedback, the surveyors whittled down the eligible respondents to a 77 “legitimate climate scientists.” Of them 75 (97%) supported the climate alarmist agenda – and they had sound personal financial reasons for doing so. (12)
For all the hype about floods and storms the USA has not had a major hurricane since 2005. Tornados are also down. Sea levels are rising a whopping seven inches per century. There has been no appreciable global warming since 1998.
4% of CO2 emissions are human caused. 3% of human CO2 emissions come from US coal. CO2 emissions are having a miniscule impact on global temperatures and US coal is having a miniscule impact on CO2 emissions.
Never forget a warming world is preferable to a cooling one.
The Beale-Brenner Gang and the Heist of the Century (1)
While it takes a global social movement to steer a national economy into the ditch, it still takes a small cabal to turn the wheel. While the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone and Particulate Matter (NAAQS 1997) was the handiwork of international environmentalism, it still took several individuals from EPA’s “Air Braintrust” to ram this regulatory monstrosity through the gates.
This Air Braintrust consisted of: (a) EPA Administrator Carol Browner; (b) her subordinate Mary Nichols of the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR); (c) a cluster of bureaucrats (Lydia Wegman, John Bachman, and Jeff Clark) from OAR’s Office of Air Quality Planning Standards; and, more importantly, (d) John Beale and Robert Brenner from OAR’s Office of Policy Analysis and Review.
Pursuant to the Clean Air Act the EPA must create and update standards for potential pollutants such as, in this instance, ground-level ozone and particulate matter (PM).
PM refers to ubiquitous airborne particles so tiny they are measured in microns. There are 1,000 microns to a millimeter. A human hair is 100 microns thick. The keenest-eyed watchmaker cannot see objects much smaller than 40 microns. PM10s to PM2.5s are thus completely, and conveniently, invisible. Such PMs are commonly called smoke, fumes, soot, dust, sea salt, pollen, spores, etc. We inhale thousands of such particles with every breath of our lives.
Ozone is created when sunlight strikes volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides. VOCs are a type of PM. 90% of the VOCs floating about come from plants.
In 1988 Robert Brenner became Deputy Director of the Office of Policy Analysis and Review (OPAR); a department within EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation (OAR). He transformed OPAR into a fiefdom staffed with people beholden to him. (After Brenner resigned, OPAR was disbanded.) OPAR’s function was described in cryptic terms. Brenner was supposed to do economic analysis, but he had no training or experience in that field.
Of those whom Brenner gathered into OPAR, none was as important as his old buddy from Princeton, and self-described “best friend,” John Beale. Brenner hired Beale in 1989 at a pay level reserved for public servants with 20 years’ experience. Beale had zero experience. Brenner recommended Beale for bonuses, rewards, and promotions. In the early 1990s, when Brenner got promoted to OAR Deputy Assistant Administrator (while retaining control of OPAR), Beale became OPAR Deputy Director.
Brenner had a cosy relationship with at least one D.C. lobbyist for whom he arranged a perennial seat on the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee. Brenner accepted at least one gift from this lobbyist – an $8,000 discount on a new Mercedes. When the EPA’s Inspector General began investigating his dirty deals, Brenner instantly retired. Despite the cloud hanging over Brenner, EPA Administrator Jackson awarded him a Distinguished Career Service Award. With the culprit gone, the authorities discontinued their investigation.
When describing his employment history John Beale lied about having been an undercover cop in a California town. He also lied about being an employee in the offices of Senator John Tunney (D-CA). (He was an unpaid volunteer for two months.) Beale not only lied about being a Vietnam War vet, he embellished this lie by claiming to have contracted malaria in Vietnam. Beale lied about suffering from a back ailment to justify flying first class on government business (which cost five times as much as flying coach.) Beale’s most notorious lie was that he was a CIA secret agent. Most of the Air Braintrust were probably hip to Beale’s fabrications.
Although Beale had a law degree, he led an itinerant life. Before Brenner tossed him a lifeline, his longest employment stint was as a hired hand on his cousin’s apple farm. Like Brenner, Beale was a Democratic Party activist.
For 22 years Brenner and Beale worked together, dined together, golfed together, and vacationed together. After their triumph in implementing NAAQS 1997, they coasted for the rest of their careers.
During Bush II’s Administration Brenner lost his job as OAR Deputy Assistant Administrator but kept his OPAR fiefdom. At this time Beale assumed the amorphous title “Senior Policy Advisor.” Beale’s annual pay package from 2007 to 2012 averaged $200,000, peaking in 2011 at $213,840.
The duo threw a lavish joint retirement party in 2011 aboard a luxury yacht. Brenner actually resigned, but Beale did not fill out his retirement papers and continued to collect his salary while spinning a web about being away on CIA business. Beale stopped showing up for work in mid-2011, but his assistant marked him down for 80 hours per pay period.
In December 2012 Beale saw his then-OAR boss, Gina McCarthy, for the first time in 15 months. Failure to report for work for five days is a fireable offence within federal civil service; hence, McCarthy had ample reason to boot Beale out the door. At the December meeting Beale announced he had no intention of retiring. McCarthy dithered for two months before handing his file to the Inspector General. She then allowed Beale to retire with full benefits. Her explanation was that Beale “walked on water at EPA” due to his contribution to NAAQS 1997.
In 2013 the Justice Department charged Beale with theft of $900,000. Beale ultimately confessed and got 32 months in federal prison. His colleagues refused to view Beale as a criminal. Several, including Lydia Wegman, submitted letters to court requesting leniency. Brenner refused to cooperate with investigators and reminded Congress of Beale’s good deeds regarding NAAQS 1997.
In the early 1990s Beale and Brenner assumed leadership roles in devising Clean Air Act regulations. In 1995 when the duo concentrated on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone and PM (NAAQS 1997) Brenner handed the reigns to Beale who stayed in close contact with Administrator Browner. In the early 1990s Beale saw Browner several times a year. By the mid-1990s he was meeting with her several times a week. As Clean Air Work Group Chairman, Beale managed several hundred EPA staff at four OAR Offices.
NAAQS 1997 began with a “sue and settle” agreement between the EPA and the American Lung Association (ALA). This was one of the EPA’s first big “sue and settles” – a practice whereby friendly plaintiffs sue the EPA only to settle on mutually agreeable terms reached behind closed doors.
The ALA lawsuit resulted in a consent decree ordering the EPA to propose standards for PM by November 1996 and to issue final standards by July 1997. The decree was silent regarding ozone. However, when Beale and Co. proposed PM standards, they included ozone as well – something the EPA was not required to do before 1998. This unprecedented action exacerbated the urgency caused by the court-ordered schedule. There was no time to do a normal scientific assessment. Previous NAAQS reviews took eight years.
In a moment of candour, EPA counsel complained, in court-filed papers, that compressing the timeline:
“…would require the EPA to reach conclusions on critical scientific and policy issues with enormous consequences for society before it had an adequate opportunity to collect and evaluate pertinent scientific data.”
EPA’s in-house scientific advisers, the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee (CASAC), asked Browner to seek a time extension with ALA. She didn’t.
There were other contrived complications. NAAQS 1997 was the first time the EPA regulated PMs smaller than 10 microns (pollen-sized). PM2.5 was an arbitrary cut-point that neither CASAC nor the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy supported. The latter group complained:
“The data base for actual levels of PM2.5 is very poor, and only a handful of studies have actually studied PM2.5 per se.”
Another deft tactic involved “Staff Papers.” When doing regulatory reviews the EPA must assemble surveys of scientific literature called “Criteria Documents.” The law nowhere mentions “Staff Papers” – selective science summaries affording EPA mandarins much editorial latitude. NAAQS 1997 relied upon Staff Papers; a process which was later discredited and discontinued. (Obama’s EPA immediately reinstated Staff Papers.)
NAAQS 1997 was the first air regulation subject to the cost-benefit analysis requirements of Executive Order 12866. Under this Order the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) had 90 days to review the proposal. The ALA lawsuit stipulated a 30-day deadline. In any event, the cost-benefit analysis was spurious. The President’s Council of Economic Advisors estimated ozone standard costs at up to $60 billion a year. Beale and Co. estimated costs of $2.5 billion.
Beale liaised with executive agencies, Congressional staff, and outside stakeholders to neutralize Congressional objections. After House Commerce Committee Chair Thomas Bliley (R-VA) requested detailed answers to various questions, Beale wrote a memo warning OIRA officials who dared criticize NAAQS 1997. (EPA later hid the “Beale Memo.”) OIRA drafted Bliley a 27-page letter containing criticisms of the proposed rules. Beale scrunched this into a 7-page letter stuffed with vague generalities favouring NAAQS 1997. Beale then ducked out of the hearing investigating this skullduggery, claiming to have suffered a relapse of the malaria he contracted back in ‘Nam.
Of the five studies relied on in support of NAAQS 1997, only two (Harvard’s “Six Cities” and American Cancer Society’s “ACS II”) conducted primary research on PM2.5s. The other three recycled this data. Neither Browner nor Nichols read the studies.
(A precedent for this occurred in the early 1970s. EPA Administrator Ruckelshaus never attended the hearings on DDT, nor did he read any of the 9,312-page report which deemed DDT to be safe. He nevertheless recommended DDT be banned.)
EPA’s scientific advisors (CASAC) complained the Six Cities study was not in the peer-reviewed literature and that it was unusual for the EPA to rely on such studies.
Six Cities used data dating back to 1970. Its subjects were 8,069 adults living near coal-fired power plants in six US cities. The authors concluded that persons living in polluted cities had a 26% greater chance of premature mortality than persons living in less polluted cities.
ACS II looked at 295,000 adults from 50 cities between 1982 and 1989. The authors discerned a 17% higher mortality rate among persons living in more polluted cities.
The mortality estimates from ACS II were blatantly suspect. In November 1996 the EPA initially used ACS II to claim their proposed standards would prevent 40,000 premature deaths a year. In December 1996, they changed this to 20,000 deaths a year. In April 1997 this was changed to 15,000 a year. Such legerdemain prompted a re-analysis by Dr. Kay Jones (a veteran of the President’s Council on Air Quality) who found ACS II data consistent with 1,000 premature deaths per year.
Six Cities found no increase in mortality among non-smokers between the most polluted and cleanest cities. As well, if participants exposed to airborne workplace hazards were excluded, there was no difference in mortality from one city to the next. Six Cities also ignored differences in humidity and temperature.
Both studies assumed all participants received equal exposure to outdoor air pollution. Neither looked at individual exposure. There was no accounting for indoor air pollution. Neither study contemplated larger PMs. Neither consider covariates like physical fitness, allergies, or income differences. Both neglected the health benefits of ozone such as lower rates of skin cancer and cataracts.
Browner responded to criticism of the studies by ordering a review by the Health Effects Institute. However when HEI completed its report in 2000 it became apparent they had not been given access to the primary data. HEI merely went over certain aspects of the studies with some of the original authors, thereby severely compromising the usefulness of their review.
Defective as these two studies are, and despite the fact that the National Research Council in 2004 recommended and end to reliance upon them, Six Cities and ACS II formed the basis for the purported health benefits for almost every subsequent Clean Air Act regulation! These studies are the scientific cornerstones of American air quality regulation. Since 1997 some 32 regulations have been justified by the regulation’s potential to reduce PM2.5.
Most EPA regulations target other pollutants and impact PM2.5 in an ancillary way. Nevertheless, in such regulations:
“…the bulk of the benefits estimates in their RIAs (Regulatory Impact Analysis) are attributable to reductions in already low concentrations of ambient PM2.5 that EPA has predicted will occur coincidentally as a result of regulation of those non-PM pollutants.”
Almost every RIA for air rules between 2009 and 2011 listed PM2.5 reductions as the sole benefit. In 2010 four regulations claimed 100% of their benefits from ancillary PM2.5 reductions. In 2012, 99% of the alleged benefits from the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) were PM2.5 reduction co-benefits. Regarding MATS, and the related Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards for utilities, the EPA claims these rules will provide astronomical health benefits (over $100 billion a year) – almost all due to PM2.5 reduction.
The costs associated with these regulations are mind-blowing. PM2.5 reduction is the stated justification for forcing industry to install elaborate pollution control equipment such as scrubbers, thermalizers, and filters on generators, incinerators, locomotives, boilers, refineries, etc. The EPA guestimates the annualized costs of the Utility MACT rules at $9.6 billion per year, the Boiler MACT at $1.9 billion per year, and the Tier III Gasoline Sulphur Rule at $1.5 billion per year. Pollution-control equipment is designed, manufactured, and installed by large for-profit environmental engineering firms. Such enterprises employ battalions of lobbyists.
While the costs of PM2.5 regulation are tangible and born by American businesses and consumers, the monetized health benefits of PM2.5 regulations are pixie dust scraped from the virtual reality of computer models based on dated, discredited, and as yet undisclosed surveys.
One can emphasize “undisclosed” surveys because for 18 years the EPA has denied Congress access to the primary data used in the Six Cities and ACS II studies.
The EPA has deployed numerous dodgy arguments about why this data must remain secret. Wegman claimed the EPA should refuse access to this data because the EPA did not rely on the underlying data but merely the surveyor’s conclusions. EPA Administrator McCarthy echoed Browner’s assertion that only “legitimate scientists” should see this data. The EPA has also argued that the data is not EPA property but belongs to Harvard and ACS. These two institutes claim that revealing the data would impugn the privacy rights of the survey participants, but the law clearly permits the release of such data provided personal information is redacted. The US Health Department issues guidelines on de-identifying medical records.
The 1999 Shelby Amendment requires public access to all federally funded scientific data. Against this, EPA Counsel Howard Corcoran claimed the Shelby Amendment should not apply to data if the researchers relied on any private funding. This point of view contradicts government guidelines. (Corcoran thereafter took charge of EPA science grant-giving.) EPA stonewalling also flaunts Obama’s Executive Order on Transparency and Data Access and the 2001 Information Quality Act.
In early 2013 Senate Republicans boycotted McCarthy’s nomination hearings to protest EPA’s refusal to make this data public. In July 2013 the EPA acquiesced, and a week later McCarthy was sworn in as EPA Administrator. Then the EPA finally asked ACS and Harvard to hand over the primary surveys. Neither institution had begun the de-identification process. Worse, they claimed their electronic storage had deteriorated. There is no way to analyze the meager data provided thus far.
The war continues as the frontline widens. The House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearings are prying open EPA “science.” In February 2014 Chair Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) complained:
“Virtually every regulation proposed by the Obama Administration has been justified by non-transparent data and unverifiable claims.”
Environment Sub-committee Chairman David Schweikert heartily agrees:
“For far too long the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions.”
In late 2014 the Republican-controlled House passed the Secret Science Reform Act to prohibit the EPA from enacting or proposing regulations without first publishing for independent review the science on which they rely. The Bill is presently stuck in Senate committee where Democrats are resisting.
When it comes to assessing scientific facts, the Democrats believe Americans should simply take the EPA’s word for it. After all, people like John Beale wouldn’t lie to you, would they?
Underestimating environmentalism’s size enables misdescriptions of the movement’s social location, historical roots, and political aims, all with profound consequences for counter-movement strategy. Social critiques of environmentalism usually focus on environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and their funders and on movement-captured governmental agencies. The hundreds of thousands of activists employed by the myriad ENGOs and the hundreds of thousands of public servants employed by environment, park, and wildlife agencies at federal, state, and municipal levels do truly comprise a formidable army, but they are nonetheless parts of a much larger whole. For instance, in addition to these parts, there is an array of movement-built industries existentially reliant upon environmentalism – industries born not of the market but of governments’ green preferences and subsidies.
The counter-movement is vaguely cognizant of the scale of the renewable energy industry but, again, this industry is but one of several movement-built economic constituencies (recycling, hybrid vehicles, pollution control, etc.). The renewable energy industry is indeed huge. Globally, investments in new renewable energy infrastructure (wind turbines, solar panels, etc.) currently cost over $200 billion a year. This figure does not include the bio-fuels industry, nor does it account for revenues garnered by existing wind farms and solar parks. The global renewable energy industry has an overall flow-through of several hundred billion dollars a year. Not bad for an industry that was virtually non-existent circa 1980 when “global warming” began.
Getting less attention is the pollution-control industry. As the Beale-Brenner article demonstrates, this industry is a stealthy and effective lobby. Dozens of engineering conglomerates (Bechtel Corp, CH2M Hill Ltd., Veolia SA, etc.) have Environmental Engineering departments entirely dependent on government-ordered purchases of their filters, scrubbers, and thermalizers. As aesthetically pleasing as these elaborate metal tube-works may be, it is increasingly apparent that they are also largely superfluous. Few politicians dare challenge this lobby’s untrumpable public health claims. However, humans are not entirely a species of immune-disordered “Bubble Boys.” Humans can regularly inhale trace amounts of dust and smoke and still live for a century or so. Public health science, as it relates to air quality, has been colonized by pollution-control firms. The revenues of America’s pollution-control firms are greater than the revenues of America’s ENGOs.
Environmentalism is much larger yet. The environmental movement was originally, and remains, primarily a land-use lobby representing regional and international land-owning cartels. In Europe this lobby was, and remains, led by the aristocracy. In America it is led by the first families of Bo-Wash and San-San. The narrow strips of land from Boston to Washington, D.C. and from San Francisco to San Diego generate a few trillion dollars a year in rent. Land magnates are well-schooled in the laws of supply and demand. Their Great Dread is seeing the majestic wilds of America overrun by that most tenacious of invasive species – the American capitalist. This catastrophe would, coincidentally, reduce the value of their precious parcels off Park Place by a magnitude or more.
America’s landed interest, fused with the movement-built industries, is the dog wagging the ENGO tail. Despite this, practically everyone in the American counter-movement insists on calling environmentalism “leftist.” Case in point is the otherwise excellent 93-page Environmental Chain of Command wherein the environmental movement is denounced as “leftist,” or more often “far leftist,” a neurotic 67 times while the same document calls the movement’s leadership the “Billionaire’s Club” 81 times. This shall be dubbed the: Prince Charles and Ted Turner are Bolsheviks Theory. It is idiocy. Historically, the far left has been a levelling movement uniquely hostile toward the oligarchy. Historically, reactionary movements arising from within the oligarchy have masqueraded as left-populist uprisings. This describes environmentalism. It is not leftist. Nor is it liberal or progressive. Members of the counter-movement who hurl “liberal” and “leftist” at the environmentalists are not simply barking up the wrong tree, they are doing the neo-fascists a big favour.
The Organizational Structure of American Environmentalism
Arnold, Ron. Driessen, Paul. Cracking Big Green; Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, 2014 Washington, D.C.
- Arnold Ron. Driessen, Paul. Cracking Big Green; Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, 2014 Washington, D.C., page 116. They are quoting Giving USA Institute.
- Ibid pages 120-128.
- Ibid Preface.
- Ibid page 144. They are quoting Foundation Search USA.
- Ibid pages 136-148.
- Ibid page 177.
- United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (Minority Staff Report) The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA, July 30, 2014 (Luke Bolar and Cheyenne Steel) page 13.
- Ibid page 11.
- Ibid pages 61-3.
- Ibid pages 51-3.
- Ibid page 12 (Donald Ross is the person quoted).
- Ibid pages 42-3.
- Ibid pages 44-5.
- Ibid page 6.
- Ibid page 29.
- Arnold, page 1411.
The Green State Elite
The War on American Energy Independence
- The Chain of Environmental Command, page 27.
- Horner, Chris. Schnare, David. Improper Collusion Between Environmental Pressure Groups and the Environmental Protection Agency as revealed by Freedom of Information Act Requests – Interim Report; September 2014; Energy and Environment Legal Institute, pages 14 and 104.
- Horner, page 108.
- The Chain of Environmental Command, pages 23-25 and 27.
- Ibid, pages 23-24.
- Horner, pages 32-38.
- Horner, pages 8 and 14-15.
- Horner, page 69.
- Horner, page 66.
- The Chain of Environmental Command, page 28.
- Horner, page 91.
- The Chain of Environmental Command pages 31-33.
- Horner, pages 60-66.
- Horner, page 65.
- Arnold, Chapter 8 “Gone Fishing.”
- Arnold, Chapter 10 “Climate Clergy.”
The Beale-Brenner Gang and the Heist of the Century
- Arnold, Chapter 15 “Fracking Wins.”
- The Chain of Environmental Command, pages 33-41.
- Horner, page 23.
- Horner, page 62.
- Horner, pages 26-27 and 44.
- Horner, page 40.
- Horner, page 60.
- The Chain of environmental Command, page 67.
- Horner, page 25.
- Horner, pages 70-71 and 85.
- Horner, pages 80-84.
- Arnold, page 390.
- Except for the final quotes regarding secret science, all facts and quotes from this article are derived from EPA’s Playbook Unveiled: A Story of Fraud, Deceit, and Secret Science. The final quotes are from Cracking Big Green, Chapter 14 Secret Science.
Arnold, Ron. Driessen, Paul. Cracking Big Green; Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, 2014 Washington, D.C.
United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (Minority Staff Report) The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA, 2014 (Luke Bolar and Cheyenne Steel).
Horner, Chris. Schnare, David. Improper Collusion Between Environmental Pressure Groups and the Environmental Protection Agency as Revealed by Freedom of Information Act Requests – Interim Report; September 2014, Energy & Environment Legal Institute.
United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (Minority Staff Report) EPA’s Playbook Unveiled: A Story of Fraud, Deceit, and Secret Science, March 19, 2014.