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State Attorneys General Behaving Badly as Administration Continues Green Follies
August 29, 2003
In the October 2000 stretch run for the presidency, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Representatives Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) sued President Clinton over a last-minute, alarmist federal government document alleging catastrophic anthropogenic “global warming.”
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The numerous failings of the “National Assessment on Climate Change,” a political Valentine to candidate Al Gore, included failing in its hurry to bother with basic science such as peer review and using outlier models to create extreme scenarios. Though the study was 6 years overdue of its statutory deadline, FOIA’d documents revealed an urgent pre-election desire to get something out, in the worst way.
They succeeded. Since then, and despite a momentary fling with reason, the Bush Administration has repeatedly reinforced this junk science so as to adopt the Gore view on global warming and thereby gutting all other efforts to fight the Kyoto Protocol agenda. Incredibly, they are now preparing to ask a federal court to endorse it, in the process undercutting their own defense against the first in the inevitable series of lawsuits seeking to implement <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Kyoto through the backdoor.
After uttering sensible, if occasionally wobbly, skepticism of “climate” alarmism on the way to victory, deep into the pleadings stage the Bush Administration settled CEI, et al.’s lawsuit in September 2001. They got out of it by seemingly disowning the National Assessment, promising the patent legal fiction that, to the Bush White House, this was not a government product but merely one among many third party submissions.
By some bureaucratic snafu or worse, they then abandoned this settlement in May 2002 by submitting to the United Nations, as the U.S.’s “policies and positions,” these “findings” which were actually slapped together and rushed out to help Al Gore scare swing voters into his camp. While conservatives gasped, the establishment press had a field day with the obvious conflict between this “admission” of climate catastrophe and policies not entirely consistent with such apocalyptic beliefs.
Alas, yes, “mistakes were made,” went the White House line. But, beyond a bad couple of press days, they presumed the storm over. This is not merely silly but reckless given the parade of legal and political horribles that can ensue from such a position, including even Alien Tort Claims Act complaints for Third World weather damage that the greens are now preparing.
Not missing the opportunity, a group of northeastern state attorneys general, Democrats all, instructed the administration and not illogically that “admitting” man-made global warming triggers a duty to do something about it. Then they sued, garnering great press with a politically charged complaint under the Clean Air Act.
On the other side, CEI reminded the White House in several detailed petitions that the government no longer has the luxury of circulating such scientific nonsense, courtesy of the new Federal Data Quality Act (FDQA) prohibiting even dissemination of information failing basic thresholds of “objectivity” and “utility.”
The White House was intransigent, ignoring the obvious merits and even manufacturing embarrassingly frivolous claims to avoid application of Data Quality standards to Gore’s report. Exasperated, CEI filed the first test case under this important new tool.
Within days the AGs of Connecticut and Maine lashed out with a bizarre press release and petition to their federal colleague John Ashcroft. With all of the dignity of the evening Univision lineup, these high state officials demanded an investigation of a supposed “sweetheart suit” arrangement between CEI and the White House. What law or other authority they believe was offended by CEI purportedly replicating of one of the Left’s favorite ploys is not readily apparent, nor did the AGs let on.
The AGs’ missive was amusingly sloppy, indicating they did not even read the lawsuit so exercising them, claiming for example that CEI sued to block an EPA report that the lawsuit does not in fact challenge. To discover their error would have entailed reading all the way into the first page. Further embarrassing to these most political of attorneys is that the entire array of White House parries to frustrate CEI were readily available, if requiring a burdensome two or three mouse clicks.
Ceasing circulation of or otherwise correcting Gore’s “National Assessment on Climate Change,” as CEI seeks to do, would, of course, pull the rug out from under these politicians’ global warming lawsuit, which, while likely without legal merit, is nonetheless embarrassing to the administration. Actually, while all along clearly doing the administration a favor (clear to all but the White House, apparently), CEI’s is more analogous to a paternity suit–will you claim this junk science as yours?
The AGs’ bilious PR stunt seems to have cleverly maneuvered a White House frightened of its own green shadow out of even considering proper resolution, however, which naturally would only “prove” the alleged collusion. Instead, the White House fights its base and, ironically, supports the campaign of its antagonists.
A matter of weeks will prove whether, regardless of how inane in form and substance, these mighty Connecticut and Maine politicians actually herded a purportedly savvy White House into abetting its opponents and exposing its citizenry, to the point of even asking a federal court for permission to maintain a thoroughly discredited “global warming” fairy tale as the U.S. position on the issue. If so, the Democrats may have found the political weakness they so desperately seek.