Sunday, August 19, 2012

Every Book About Polar Bears is Now Wrong

A little bit of sarcasm towards the end below. What he says reflects a finding from recent DNA research that shows the polar bear species to be over 4 million years old -- during which time there were huge climate fluctuations that the bears "somehow" survived

It may not always sound like it but I like science. Really. I just don’t like the term ‘the science is settled’ or long-term predictions about stuff or computer models… you get the picture.

The problem is that science has a way of being ‘unsettled’… especially when it comes to polar bears. Until very recently, the polar bear was thought to have deviated from a large Brown Bear ancestor about 160,000-200,000 years ago – fairly recently when speaking about evolution.

Basically, this theory showed that a glacial maximum around 150,000 years ago – the Wisconsin – resulted in brown bears increasingly venturing out onto the sea ice and hunting seals. As the ice retreated during the Eemian warming period (125,000 years ago), this basically stranded the resident brown bears in the high arctic and increased the speed of their evolution into polar bears. As the planet cooled again, the polar bear population grew.

The problem is that DNA evidence now seems to show that polar bears have existed for about 4 million years. This basically up-ends much of what we believe about the evolution of this species. Neat!

So through four million years of warming and cooling trends – what were the polar bears up to back then? Retreating to little enclaves of cold? Or do polar bears – as a species – come and go with global warming/cooling patterns…?

Does the polar bear essentially ‘return’ to being a brown bear when the climate warms – the result of habitat overlap and interbreeding? Then when the planet cools, does the same evolutionary process begin anew – with a new polar bear species the inevitable result?

If it is the case that polar bears come and go as a species, then our polar bear books are still mostly true – the latest polar bear emerged at a time when the planet reached a glacial maximum… on the other hand, if polar bears survived periods of warming that were much more significant than today, well that’s a tough one to figure out!

We’ll probably never know for sure but it keeps you on your toes anyway…


What Governor Moonbeam missed

Have you ever wondered, when you see an assertion along the lines of “The Earth has warmed by 1.62 degrees over the last 100 years,” how anyone could know that? The literature of global warming alarmism is littered with faux precision; the truth, as you might imagine, is that it is very difficult to get reliable data for the whole Earth over a period of decades if not centuries.

Climate realists are generally willing to assume, for the sake of argument, that the Earth has warmed somewhat in recent decades. In fact, though, it is not obvious that even this modest claim is true. Satellite data show no net warming for as long as such data have been collected, i.e., back to 1979. Ocean measurements show no net warming over that period, either; the evidence for warming is based on land measurements. But the accuracy of land measurements depends on proper siting and maintenance of weather stations. One obvious factor is the urban heat island effect: many weather stations are located in cities, which grow warmer as more people and buildings accumulate. Thus, increasing temperatures at such stations may be measuring urban development rather than the climate. We all know that the urban heat island effect is real–”chance of frost in outlying areas”–yet the data that alarmists rely upon do not take it into account.

Apart from that broad issue, the siting and maintenance of weather stations is crucial to the accuracy of the data they generate. This was nicely illustrated in a recent post on Watts Up With That:

Governor Jerry “moonbeam” Brown has created a comical clone of the Skeptical Science website at his state office website, and announced it today in lake Tahoe with this missive via the Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert:

“Global warming’s impact on Lake Tahoe is well documented. It is just one example of how, after decades of pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, humanity is getting dangerously close to the point of no return,” Brown said in a prepared statement. “Those who still deny global warming’s existence should wake up and honestly face the facts.”

Well documented? I suppose Gov. Brown has never seen the kind of problems associated with the official NOAA weather stations….

The author notes that the weather station at Tahoe City does show a sharp warming trend beginning around 1980:

Conclusive proof of global warming, right? Well, not so fast. It turns out that other stations in the Sierras show no warming at all over the same period. Here is one such station, in Tahoe National Forest:

This is a newer station, but its temperature record shows no warming trend:

This is the record from a ranger station just 15 miles from the one at Tahoe City, going back to 1949. No warming trend starting in the 1980s:

So what is going on here? Is Lake Tahoe really warming dramatically, or not? This is the weather station that shows the warming trend that so alarms Governor Brown:

Note the trash burning barrel just five feet away from the weather station. That was removed after a global warming skeptic pointed it out. But that isn’t what drove the sudden temperature increase in the early 1980s. Rather, it was the construction of the adjacent tennis court and apartment complex, which occurred at that time:

As you can see there was a significant jump in temperature starting around 1980. A jump that is not evident in other sites around Lake Tahoe and the Sierra. Some investigation revealed that 1980 was about the time a concrete tennis court was installed next to the surface station. According to the condo property manager that an investigator spoke to said the court was installed in the “early 80′s”, though she was not there at the time. This tennis court heats up during the day and gives up energy at night, warming the area. According the groundskeeper, he picked up trash during the day and burned it at the end of the shift, leaving a warm burn barrel to increase the night time temperatures.

This kind of issue exists with respect to an enormous number of weather stations, according to a survey conducted by Anthony Watts, the proprietor of Watts Up With That:

The official record of temperatures in the continental United States comes from a network of 1,221 climate-monitoring stations overseen by the National Weather Service, a department of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Until now, no one had ever conducted a comprehensive review of the quality of the measurement environment of those stations.

During the past few years I recruited a team of more than 650 volunteers to visually inspect and photographically document more than 860 of these temperature stations. We were shocked by what we found.

We found stations located next to the exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots and roads, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat. We found 68 stations located at wastewater treatment plants, where the process of waste digestion causes temperatures to be higher than in surrounding areas.

In fact, we found that 89 percent of the stations – nearly 9 of every 10 – fail to meet the National Weather Service’s own siting requirements that stations must be 30 meters (about 100 feet) or more away from an artificial heating or radiating/ reflecting heat source.

In other words, 9 of every 10 stations are likely reporting higher or rising temperatures because they are badly sited.

So don’t be fooled by the fictitious precision with which climate alarmists talk about the temperature record.


State Department oversight of climate change spending abroad is a mess, watchdog reports

Inadequate oversight, lax bookkeeping, sloppy paperwork, haphazard performance agreements and missing financial documentation have plagued U.S. State Department spending of tens of millions of dollars to combat climate change, according to a report by State’s internal financial watchdog — and the problem could be much, much bigger than that.

The audit report, issued last month by the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), casts an unflattering spotlight on a relatively obscure branch of the State Department that supervises climate change spending, and depicts it as over-extended in its responsibilities, unstaffed in critical monitoring posts, and more concerned with spending money than in monitoring its effectiveness.

The State Department branch is known as the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and its Office of Global Change, or OES/EGC, which have become the nerve center of the Obama administration’s international climate change policy, and the epicenter of its foreign climate change spending, which continues to balloon despite serious economic problems at home.

The OIG report points to a host of lapses in the way OES/EGC has supervised climate change spending, based on what the OIG observed in a sampling of climate change projects between 2006 and 2010, when the overall spending tab amounted to some $214 million.

The OIG sampling involved $34 million of the total.

The picture painted by the OIG report is vigorously disputed by the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Kerri Ann Jones, even as she accepted most of the OIG’s recommendations in her 10-page reply to the audit. Jones took over her post in August 2009, toward the very end of the period examined by the Inspector General’s office.

Since then, however, the situation may have gotten worse. For one thing, the Obama administration’s spending on international climate change projects accelerated between 2010, when the OIG report ended its scrutiny, and mid-2012, when the report appeared — and continues today.

That spending spree has been based on its commitments at a variety of United Nations-sponsored climate change meetings, including the failed Copenhagen climate change conference in December 2009, and subsequent sessions in Mexico, South Africa and, most recently, the Rio + 20 U.N. summit conference on “sustainable development” in Brazil.

Through that process, the world’s developed countries have committed to spend some $30 billion annually on climate change projects in the developing world, with the U.S. a major contributor. (The first board meeting of a so-called Green Climate Fund that hopes to handle most of that money takes place starting on August 23.)

According to a State Department website, the U.S. has contributed some $5.1 billion in climate change funding to developing countries in 2010 and 2011 alone, with additional money still pouring forth in 2012.

Among the lapses highlighted by the OIG in its sampling:

* OIG looked at seven of 19 program grants totaling $34 million, and discovered they contained no specific plans for monitoring the results. As the report demurely noted, “Without comprehensive monitoring of grants, the department may not always have reasonable assurance that federal funds were spent in accordance with the grant award; that the grant recipient performed program activities as dictated in the grant award; and that the program’s indicators, goals and objectives were achieved.”

* So-called grant oversight officers whose responsibilities included developing the monitoring plans, also failed to provide written reviews of compliance with State Department reporting standards, along with a variety of other financial procedures. In some cases, there apparently weren’t enough oversight officers to go around; when three left their jobs, OIG found evidence that only one was replaced.

* Oversight officers apparently didn’t do a lot of overseeing. The OIG discovered that actual visits to climate change sites were rare, and when they occurred, not much effort went into examining the actual paperwork involved. In one series of Indian cases examined by OIG, the officers’ reports “typically summarized meetings held with grantee officials where only the statuses of the programs were discussed.”

* Requirements that grant recipients submit quarterly financial statements were apparently ignored, even though procedures called for cutoffs if the statements were not provided. The report cites an unnamed recipient in Hyderabad, India, who got two separate grants totaling $1.1 million: funding continued to be doled out throughout the project, even though the reporting requirements were completely ignored. And in other cases, even when quarterly reports were received, they were often flawed.

* The same cavalier attitude toward reporting apparently applied even when projects ended. As the report discreetly puts it, overseers “did not always obtain the final reports needed to ensure that final deliverables were achieved, funds were reconciled, and proper closeout of the project was completed.”

* One reason for this, apparently, is that reporting requirements for detailed results toward specific indicators — along with general goals and objectives — were not included in any of the seven grants examined by OIG. One of the missing indicators in a number of cases was the actual amount of greenhouse gases removed from the atmosphere by the project.

The lack of a written demand for specific, reported results in the case of State Department grants became even more dramatic when the Inspector General’s Office examined another important financing tool, known as a “climate change inter-agency acquisition agreement” — essentially, the employment of another branch of the U.S. government to carry out commitments State has negotiated in areas ranging from defense to health to legal education.

The acquisition agreements are common for the State Department, where non-diplomatic expertise can be in short supply. During the period examined by the OIG, State spent three times as much -- $115 million — on the agreements, versus $34 million on grants.

If anything, the OIG report says, the quality and quantity of financial and other reporting in the State Department’s hands for such agreements, was even worse than for outright grants.

Among other things:

* In five acquisition agreements examined by the auditors, none contained the required performance and financial reports “necessary for effective program monitoring in a timely manner.”

* In four of the five cases, there was “no evidence” that the Bureau of Oceans had designated an oversight officer, as required. Indeed, OIG found evidence that the Bureau had conducted only one site visit -- in 2008 -- among all the sampled programs that used inter-agency exchange agreements, in this case involving a project carried out by USAID on the bureau’s behalf.

* In that one case, the report says, the visit “did not include a review of receipts or other documentation for expenditures to substantiate financial progress or a review of documentation that supported performance reports submitted to OES/EGC and that served as evidence that activities had occurred.”

* The only expenditures OIG could verify in all five inter-agency cases it examined were for travel costs. As the report starkly put it: “OIG was not provided any supporting documentation that could be substantiated for the majority of the recipients’ expenditures.” The report added that there was only “limited evidence” that Bureau of Oceans officials “had requested or reviewed supporting documentation to substantiate assertions made in the reports.”

* In one specific case where OIG itself demanded the evidence from the contractor of the project, the only available documentation was the demands for payment from five sub-contractors. “OIG received no documentation to verify the expenses claimed or ensure that only authorized expenditures were charged to the project,” the report declares.

* But while other U.S. government agencies may have been blurry about their supervision of the money they paid out on State’s behalf to other climate change contractors, they were highly specific — and highly expensive — when it came to the fees they charged for that role.

Starting in 2008, the OIG report notes, USAID, the U.S. government’s most active international helping agency, began charging a “General and Administrative Support Overhead Rate” of 23.7 percent for funds it administered under inter-agency agreements, including those in the climate change domain.

Thus, on two Indian grants totaling $10.5 million and administered by USAID over two years, the overhead fee was about $2 million. “Thus,” the report notes, “only approximately $8.5 million of the total was budgeted toward the execution of the [climate change] program.”

On examining the problem more closely, however, OIG discovered that the documentation wasn’t there because the Bureau of Oceans didn’t ask for it. The Bureau’s agreements with other agencies to carry out its work “did not include language that required recipients to maintain supporting documentation for financial expenditures and all pertinent achievements for purposes of substantiation.”

Or, as Assistant Secretary Jones put it in her letter reviewing the OIG report, when it comes to dealing with other Federal agencies, her Bureau provides only “guidance” on the details of performance reporting, while the agencies “are not required to perform project related accounting and are not subject to overhead auditing procedures.”

Overall, a State Department spokesman assured Fox News, in response to questions, the Bureau of Oceans is taking the OIG report and all its recommendations “seriously,” and is “working closely with the [State] Department in the development and implementation of new policies and procedures.”

The catch, however, is that in her letter, Jones promised to change many things more specifically — but only after officials located deeper in the State Department’s labyrinthine bureaucracy come up with “standardized policies for inter-agency agreements.”

And that could involve a much bigger problem. In discussing the lack of documentation with State Department officials early this year, OIG discovered that there are apparently no rules demanding that every part of the State Department handle and account for such inter-agency spending in the same way. And that includes “procedures for reviewing and approving agreements to ensure compliance with Federal and [State] Department requirements.”

The catch, therefore, is that OIG’s discovery about the Bureau of Oceans’ quirky and sometimes non-existent standards could be true across the entire State Department when it comes to inter-agency spending.

Or, as the inspector general’s report delicately put it, the accounting problems with climate change may “signify a Department-wide shortcoming, as inter-agency agreements may not be efficiently and effectively administered and managed in the areas of policy application, review and approval, and overall program management.”

That could mean discrepancies could involve much bigger bucks than have been examined so far, and well beyond the area of climate change.

According to OIG, in fiscal 2010 and 2011 alone, the State Department transferred some $4.6 billion to other U.S. agencies to perform work on its behalf, ranging from USAID ($968 million) to Defense (1.358 billion) to Justice ($558 million).

And while a working group within the State Department’s Office of the Procurement Executive ponders the issue prior to providing “guidance” for changes in the rules, the current procedures — or lack of them — for spending the money, at least when it comes to climate change, will remain in place.


Real energy for a new American renaissance

America needs more economic growth, domestic manufacturing, jobs – and secure, affordable energy to make those things happen.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney understands that achieving this goal requires unleashing American ingenuity, reducing excessive regulatory strangleholds on businesses and working capital, and allowing safe, proven technologies to tap and utilize our vast onshore and offshore deposits of oil, natural gas and other energy riches. He knows we can do all this without sacrificing important environmental values.

President Obama fervently believes the solution is to unleash more taxes, regulators and regulations, keep our subsurface resources off limits, and compel a painful transition from hydrocarbons to wind, solar and biofuel energy. He aligns with and listens to environmentalist agitators who detest hydrocarbons, frighten people into thinking fossil fuel production and use will destroy the planet, and conceal the adverse health, economic and environmental effects of “green” energy “alternatives.”

The Obama vision has been an unmitigated disaster. Countless failures, bankruptcies and layoffs are matched by a need for perpetual subsidies – taken from hard-working, productive people and businesses, and given by unaccountable bureaucrats to failed technologies and companies, run by crony-corporatists who return the favor by contributing substantial portions of our compulsory taxpayer largesse to the reelection campaigns of cooperative politicians.

The Romney vision, by contrast, actually works. Bain Capital investments brought us Staples, The Sports Authority, Steel Dynamics and many other success stories. More recently, on the energy front, America’s private sector ingenuity, sweat and perseverance launched new technologies and discoveries that abruptly ended the myths of “peak oil” and “imminent depletion” of US and global petroleum.

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, for example, was developed by private industry, funded by private investors and tested on private lands. It did not have to depend on taxpayer subsidies, approval by federal bureaucrats, or access to shale deposits on federal lands.

Had it been otherwise, “fracking” would never have gotten off the ground. The incredible North Dakota, Texas and Pennsylvania oil, gas, jobs and revenue boom would never have occurred. Vast deposits of oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids would have remained trapped in shale rock formations, thousands of feet below Earth’s surface.

Natural gas prices would still be above $8 per thousand cubic feet (million Btu), instead of in the $2.50-$3.00 range. America would still be looking overseas for fuels to replace the coal that the Obama EPA is effectively eliminating from our energy, electricity, employment and economic picture.

But thanks to drilling and fracking on private lands, under commonsense state regulations, US oil and gas production is increasing, for the first time in 15 years, despite continued leasing and drilling moratoria on federal onshore and offshore lands. America is on the threshold of a manufacturing renaissance – fueled largely by access to abundant, reliable, affordable fuels and petrochemical feed stocks, to power and supply raw materials for factories, refineries and chemical plants.

Plentiful gas from the Marcellus shale formation has persuaded Shell to plan a $2-biillion ethane “cracking” plant near Pittsburgh – creating 10,000 construction jobs and 10,000 permanent jobs. Steel plants, electric utilities and countless other industries will also benefit from shale gas.

Citigroup’s “Energy 2020” report says the US petroleum industry could add “as many as 3.6 million jobs by 2020 and increase the US gross domestic product by as much as 3 percent,” while also generating billions of dollars in lease bonuses, rents, royalties and taxes for local, state and federal governments.

Fracking could bring new jobs and revenues to depressed areas of Maryland, New York, Ohio and other states. Expanded access to our newfound century’s worth of hydrocarbon energy will keep prices low and reverse the flow of manufacturing jobs out of our country – providing jobs for millions of American graduates and unemployed workers, and creating a new prosperity for current and future generations.

Moreover, the energy, manufacturing, employment and economic benefits will be unencumbered by worrisome environmental impacts. Hydraulic fracturing has been utilized since 1949, and has been carried out more than 2.5 million times, safely and without causing any serious harm.

Fracking fluids are 99.5% water and sand, combined with chemicals that keep sand particles suspended in the liquid, fight bacterial growth, and improve gas flow and production. Most additives used today are vegetable oils and common, biodegradable chemicals found in cheese, beer, canned fish, dairy desserts, shampoo, and other food and cosmetic products. Steadily improving technologies, techniques and regulations will further reduce environmental risks.

For those still worried about catastrophic manmade global warming, natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide than coal. It doesn’t create waste disposal or radiation issues that have stymied nuclear power expansion. Unlike wind turbines, it doesn’t slaughter birds and bats. Unlike solar power, it doesn’t require blanketing millions of acres of wildlife habitat with photovoltaic panels.

Unfortunately, facts like these have not stopped peak oil diehards and anti-hydrocarbon activists in and out of the Obama administration. They have become master fear mongers and propagandists, advancing their “just say no” opposition to North American fossil fuel energy – and using lawsuits, lobbying, fabrications and demonstrations to block drilling, fracking, the Keystone XL pipeline, coal mining and burning, and countless other projects, while promoting subsidies, favoritism, and exemptions from environmental laws for wind, solar and biofuel programs.

During his first inaugural address, in the depths of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt told the American people, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Environmental extremists take the opposite tack – arguing that the only thing we have to fear is … just about everything.

We need jobs and renewed economic vitality. We all want a clean environment. Since the first Earth Day in 1970, industries of all kinds have made tremendous progress in reducing emissions and improving safety, efficiency and sustainability. They will doubtless continue to make further progress.

But giving in to fear and hysteria, and throwing more roadblocks in front of responsible energy and economic development, creates far more harm than benefit for our nation and its people. President Obama should stop catering to environmental extremists and join Governor Romney in supporting sensible, responsible North American energy development.


High-Speed Rail Line from nowhere to to Las Vegas a big taxpayer risk

This Taxpayer Risk Analysis reviews ridership, revenue and capital cost forecasts to the extent that they are available. The principal focus is on ridership, since the repayment of the proposed federal loan from taxpayers is entirely dependent upon commercial revenues, principally the fares that will be paid by riders and ancillary revenues, such as advertising.

Since XpressWest, formerly called DesertXpress, is nominally a commercial (private) project, not all relevant information is publicly available, which makes it necessary to rely on broader industry data for some elements. However, even substantial variations in the assumed data that is not directly available for the project would make little difference in the overall financial conclusions of the Taxpayer Risk Assessment.

Should the Victorville to Las Vegas train commercial revenues fail to pay operating costs and debt service, the project would not have enough money to repay the federal loan, resulting in a default. Taxpayers would lose up to $6.5 billion in principal and any unpaid interest, an amount that could climb to more than $7.5 billion if a full six-year deferment of repayment is granted. The Taxpayer Risk Assessment identifies a number of concerns that could result in taxpayer losses.

There are six principal risks to taxpayers from the XpressWest Victorville to Las Vegas train.

* A Speculative Consumer Market: The greatest risk is that the potential consumer market for the train is far smaller, in geographical terms, than is assumed in the project documentation (see Part 3 of the full study). There is no parallel for large numbers of drivers and airline passengers to travel well outside the urban areas in which they live to connect to a train (or plane) to any destination, much less one so close to Southern California as Las Vegas. As a result, common sense finds ridership and revenue likely to be a mere fraction of forecast. This would likely make repayment of the federal loan impossible. This risk to taxpayers of an exaggerated market is “unknown, but potentially severe.”

* Materially Changed Circumstances (Not Reflected in the FEIS Forecast): Even if the consumer market were geographically as large as assumed, growth in the Las Vegas tourist market has been far below forecasts in recent years. As a result, the base ridership figures are implausibly exaggerated and need to be revised downward (see Part 5). The ridership and revenue risk to XpressWest from this factor is high and risks make paying the federal debt impossible, calling for a taxpayer bailout.

* Ridership and Revenue Forecast Model Concerns: The international record indicates that rail projects tend to average approximately 39% less in ridership than forecast. Specific factors of the ridership forecast for the Victorville to Las Vegas train indicate that actual ridership is likely to be 39% to 70% less than the FEIS forecast, even after adjustment for the materially changed circumstances. These factors include an optimistic estimate of the base year market, a market growth rate greater than in pre-recession years, an optimistic assumption of attraction from cars and an optimistic bus attraction assumption. Such rosy predictions increase the likelihood that the federal loan would not be repaid.

* Capital Cost Escalation: Capital cost escalation for rail projects has been pervasive in similar projects, suggesting that capital cost escalation is likely to occur on the Victorville to Las Vegas train (Part 6), leaving the project impossible to complete and triggering a default on the federal loan. Governments (federal, state and local) would be faced with difficult decisions about whether to complete the project, at elevated costs, with public funding or to fund dismantlement of a partially completed system.

* Likely Commercial Losses: Even if there is no capital cost escalation, it is unlikely that the business plan for this project is flexible enough to deal with all the variations discussed above without suffering either higher costs or commercial revenue shortfalls. This inflexibility could lead to a default on the federal loan with the loss paid by taxpayers. Further, political pressure to keep the train operating could lead to a federal Amtrak-style takeover with subsidies, or the train could be operated with state and/or local subsidies. The risk of taxpayer loss from this factor is evaluated at “high.”

* Higher Cost for Highway Expansion: Use of the median of I-15 for the Victorville to Las Vegas train could preclude the most cost-effective options to expand highway capacity (see Part 8). This would increase costs to taxpayers and highway users. The risk of higher expansion costs on I-15 is evaluated as “moderate.”

SOURCE (See the original for links)

What is the EPA hiding?

The Environmental Protection Agency has been a lightning rod for controversy during the Obama Administration as they have pushed the applications of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act to their limits in seeking to control all land use across the nation.

One area that hasn’t received as much scrutiny, but reeks of old-style influence peddler politics is the Agency’s escalation of sue and settle cases to change the law through federal court decree operating hand in hand with radical environmentalist groups that are willing participants in the scam.

Numerous media reports have focused upon the revolving door between the EPA and various environmentalist groups with hundreds officials reportedly moving back and forth between environmental agencies and those that lobby them. The latest is Alfredo Armendariz, who resigned after a two year old video emerged of him explaining to environmental groups that the EPA’s enforcement policies compared favorably with those of the Roman Empire where they would crucify someone in a newly conquered town to create the necessary fear in the citizenry.

Now Armendariz is working with the Sierra Club on their anti-coal campaign, in just one more example of the cozy relationship between the advocacy groups and the government that they lobby.

And it is these very relationships that are at the heart of the sue and settle controversy enveloping the Obama Administration. Here is how it works:

An organization sues the EPA demanding that they apply the law in a new, expanded way that increases the agency’s jurisdiction. The EPA, rather than defending the actual law, enters into a contractual relationship known as a consent decree with the party who filed the original lawsuit. A judge signs the consent decree without review, since the two disputing parties are in “agreement.” And the EPA suddenly has expanded powers to wield its enforcement cudgel against people and job creators who were previously outside their grasp.

Shockingly, U.S. taxpayers are then required, under federal law, to pay off the attorneys of the organization which engaged in this power grab scam.

Americans for Limited Government filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in May, 2012 (amended on June 14) to get to the bottom of one such sue and settle created regulation dealing with coal-ash.

The request simply asks for all communications between the EPA’s Offices, which entered into the legal agreement, and the eleven groups which sued the Agency including the Sierra Club, Chesapeake Climate Change Network and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Not surprisingly, the EPA is stonewalling the request demanding that the costs of compiling the data be paid for by Americans for Limited Government in spite of the fact that the group has followed the exact procedures under the law which dictate that the information should be provided free of charge. Similar Americans for Limited Government FOIA requests have been delivered without fee by more than a dozen other federal government departments and agencies. Yet, the EPA objects.

Ironically, the EPA’s National Freedom of Information Act Officer, Larry Gottesman testified before the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee in 2010 stating, “EPA is committed to the letter and spirit of the Administration’s Open Government and Transparency goals.”

Apparently, that commitment does not extend to releasing information that promises to prove embarrassing to Obama and his hand in glove environmentalist advocacy group campaign to expand the EPA’s power through the dubious sue and settle process.

Gottesman’s attempts to stop the release of the communications between those who sued the EPA and the Agency which is supposed to defend the law, raises the following questions:

Is the National FOIA officer being coerced by Obama political appointees to stop the release of damaging information until after the November election?

What emails and other communications are so damaging that this career official would risk his reputation to keep them out of the public eye?

What communications have occurred related to the stonewalling of the original standard FOIA request?

The irony should not be lost that while the EPA lectures the rest of America on clean air, their own legal shenanigans are shrouded by a thick stench of obstructionism.

It’s time for America to know if the EPA is colluding with environmental radicals to manipulate the legal system with a promise that the radicals will get paid for their efforts through taxpayer funds.

It’s time for the EPA to come clean by releasing the communications between itself and the eleven organizations whose lawsuit led to the new proposed coal-ash regulations.

And it’s time for the EPA to disinfect their festering reputation as nothing more than a radical environmental advocacy organization with draconian enforcement powers rather than an even handed government agency.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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