A Free-Market Energy Blog

Fighting Executive Fiat on Climate

By Paul Driessen -- June 17, 2014

“EPA’s actions routinely violate the Information Quality Act…. The closed circle of well-paid ‘peer reviewers’ employed by EPA, coupled with its close relationships with numerous Big Green environmentalist pressure groups, hardly satisfies [IQA] requirements. Worse, EPA consistently drags its feet on responses to FOIA requests….”

The Food and Drug Administration requires that companies seeking approvals of medical product meet high standards for the quality, integrity, and transparency of data and information submitted in support of applications. Missing information means products won’t be approved; improprieties in studies or submissions mean companies and employees can face fines, jail, or other penalties.

What if the same standards applied to government agencies regarding the scientists and institutions they hired or utilized? Their taxpayer-supported work affects virtually every American.

Last year, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Congress enacted 72 new laws, while federal agencies promulgated 3,659 new rules. The Code of Federal Regulations now stands at more than 175,000 pages. Each year, these rules cost American businesses and families $1.86 trillion – equal to a hidden $15,000 tax on every family. State and local jurisdictions add still more taxes and regulations.

More Regulation After Bad

It’s hardly surprising that America’s economy shrank by 1% the first quarter of 2014, our labor participation rate is a miserable 63% and real unemployment stands at 14% (and much worse for blacks and Hispanics). Keynesian economics did not work in the 1930s; and it has not worked in our time. Little wonder that a recent Gallup poll found that 56% of respondents said the economy, unemployment, and dissatisfaction with government was the most serious problems facing our nation – versus 3% who said environmental issues was the most important problem (with climate change only a small segment of that).

Yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued another round of draconian restrictions on coal-fired power plants, once again targeting carbon dioxide emissions. EPA rules now effectively prevent the construction of new plants and require the closure of older facilities. By 2030 they will cost 224,000 jobs, force US consumers to pay $289 billion more for electricity, and lower disposable incomes for American households by $586 billion, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calculates.

Many Means to More Government

Meanwhile, Congress continues to enact laws that let Executive Branch agencies interpret and enforce legislation via volumes of regulations. When questions or challenges arise, the courts defer to agency discretion, even when agencies ignore or rewrite statutory provisions. Congress too rarely provides effective oversight, budgetary constraints or amendments to rein in agency excess and assert its proper role vis-à-vis the Judicial and Executive Branches, in a tripartite system of checks and balances.

Some legal philosophers call this “post-modernism.” President Obama’s constitutional law professor called it “the curvature of constitutional space.” Others say it helps ensure standardization with UN, EU or international “norms.” Others might well call it neo-colonialism – under which an uncompromising American ruler and his agents control citizens by executive fiat, to slash fossil fuel use, fundamentally transform the US Constitution, economy and social structure, and redistribute wealth and political power.

Even worse, in the case of climate change, this process is buttressed by secrecy, highly questionable research, contrived peer reviews, crony-capitalism, outright dishonesty, and an absence of accountability.

Climate Disconnect

Fewer than half of Americans believe climate change is manmade or dangerous. Many know that Australia, Canada, China, India and even many European countries are revising policies that have crippled their economies, industries and families with renewable energy and fossil fuel requirements.

They understand that even eliminating coal and petroleum use in the United States will not lower atmospheric carbon dioxide levels or control a climate that has changed often throughout Earth’s history. They know anti-hydrocarbon policies are severely impacting American competitiveness, jobs, economic growth, civil rights, pursuit of happiness, and the health and welfare of poor and unemployed families.

Nonetheless, President Obama and EPA chief Gina McCarthy are determined to slash reliance on coal, even in 20 states that rely on this fuel for half to 95% of their electricity. The President has said electricity rates will “necessarily skyrocket,” coal companies will face bankruptcy. And if Congress does not act on climate change and cap-tax-and-trade, he will by other means. Ms. McCarthy has similarly said she “didn’t go to Washington to sit around and wait for congressional action.”

Cronies Benefit, Not the Children

A forced shift to a renewable energy future will certainly benefit activists and crony capitalists who support their energy agenda, whereas few impacted families and communities are part of their voter base. But they also know “pollution” and “children’s health” resonate much better than “climate disruption” among voters – and put Republicans and other critics on the defensive.

So now, besides railing about carbon dioxide and climate stabilization, they are claiming that shutting down coal-fired power plants will produce important “ancillary” benefits: reduced asthma rates among children, because more soot will be removed from our air. It is a false, disingenuous argument.

But facts are facts. Steadily improving air pollution controls have sent sulfur dioxide emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants tumbling by more than 40% and particulate emissions (the alleged cause of asthma) by more than 90% since 1970, says air quality expert Joel Schwartz, even as coal use tripled.

In fact, asthma rates have increased, while air pollution has declined – underscoring that asthma hospitalizations and outdoor air pollution levels are not related. The real causes of asthma are allergies, a failure to expose young children to sufficient allergens to cause their immune systems to build resistance to airborne allergens, and lack of sufficient exercise to keep lungs robust, health experts explain.

Crony Nonprofits

The American Lung Association vigorously promotes the phony pollution/asthma link. However, EPA’s $24.7 million in grants to the ALA over the past 15 years should raise questions about the association’s credibility and integrity on climate and pollution.

EPA also channels vast sums to its “independent” Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, which likewise rubberstamps the agency’s pollution claims and regulations. Since 2000, 15 CASAC members received $180.8 million in EPA grants; its seven executive committee members got $80.2 million of this.

Moreover, even EPA’s illegal studies on humans have failed to show harmful effects from pollution levels the agency seems determined to impose. Other EPA rules are based on epidemiological data that the agency now says it cannot find. (Perhaps they fell into same black hole as Lois Lerner’s missing IRS emails.)

EPA’s onerous new mercury standards are based largely on Faroe Island studies that have no relevance whatsoever to Americans. EPA’s CO2 rulings are based on garbage-in, garbage-out computer models that are fed simplistic assumptions about human impacts on Earth’s climate, and on one-sided IPCC and US National Assessment analyses that outside scientists have shown are faulty and misleading.

Missing: Costs from Regulation

In numerous instances, EPA’s actions completely ignore the harmful impacts that its regulations will have on the health and well-being of millions of Americans. EPA trumpets the wildly exaggerated (or fabricated) benefits its rules will supposedly bring – as by preventing alleged runaway global warming, agricultural collapse, flooded coastal cities and disastrous hurricanes that it falsely blames on rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Meanwhile, the agency refuses to assess even obvious harm from unemployment, soaring energy costs and reduced family incomes.

EPA’s actions routinely violate the Information Quality Act. The IQA is intended to ensure the quality, integrity, credibility and reliability of any science used by federal agencies to justify regulatory actions.  Office of Management and Budget guidelines require that agencies provide for full independent peer review of all “influential scientific information” used as the basis for regulatory action. The law and OMB guidelines also direct federal agencies to provide adequate administrative mechanisms for affected parties to review agency failures to respond to requests for correction or reconsideration of scientific information.

The closed circle of well-paid “peer reviewers” employed by EPA, coupled with its close relationships with numerous Big Green environmentalist pressure groups, hardly satisfies these requirements. Worse, EPA consistently drags its feet on responses to FOIA requests – and all these agencies and groups are actively engaged in attacking and silencing anyone who questions any aspect of the “dangerous manmade climate change” tautology.

World-renowned scientists like Lennart Bengtsson and liberal American University adjunct professor (and Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow) Caleb Rossiter are only the most recent examples of this.

Repeated and persistent violations of law, misrepresentations of fact, and actions that would be prosecuted for fraud if committed by private citizens or companies must no longer be permitted to determine laws and policies on the energy that improves and safeguards our lives. A closed circle of EPA and IPCC reviewers – many with ideological and/or financial interests in the outcome – must no longer be allowed to rubberstamp junk science that is used to justify federal diktats.

Actions Required!

What should pro-liberty, pro-science individuals and constituencies to do in the face of minority, activist, illegal government emanating from the Executive Branch?

Governors, state and federal legislators, attorneys general, and citizen and scientific groups can:

  • File FOIA and IQA legal actions, to gain access to all data, computer codes, climate models and studies use to justify pollution and climate regulations;
  • Subject all such information to proper peer review by independent scientists, including significant numbers of experts who are skeptical of alarmist pollution and climate change claims;
  • Demand that new members be appointed to CASAC and other peer review groups, and that they represent a broad spectrum of viewpoints, organizations and interests;
  • Scrutinize the $2.5 billion currently earmarked for the USGCRP and its programs, reduce the allocation to compel a slow-down in EPA’s excessive regulatory programs, and direct that a significant portion of that money support research into natural causes of climate change; and
  • Delay or suspend any implementation of EPA’s job-killing carbon dioxide regulations, until relevant questions are answered, and genuine evidence-based science is restored to the regulatory process.

Only in this manner can the United States expect to see a return to proper and essential separation of powers, checks and balances, economic and employment growth – and the quality, integrity, transparency and accountability that every American should expect in our government.

___________

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.

2 Comments


  1. Ray  

    Each year the Competitive Enterprise Institute issues a report on Federal regulation. It isn’t fun reading.
    http://cei.org/10KC

    Reply

  2. Ed Reid  

    EPA issued its Endangerment Finding regarding CO2 in 2009. The Clean Air Act requires that EPA follow that EF with an NAAQS for CO2. EPA should be required to issue the NAAQS before subjecting the nation to additional CO2 regulations. I can hardly wait to see the NAAQS for a globally well mixed trace gas.

    Reply

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