Energy & Environmental Policy News: Multimedia Roundup

Gina McCarthy Claims Bizarro Legacies on Bill Loveless Podcast

Some of my all-time favorite television was a show called “Platts Energy Week” with Bill Loveless, which ended in December 2014, much to my sadness. The show’s host has since moved on to both a weekly USA Today column on energy policy, and also a weekly podcast produced by the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy. In this latter role, Loveless last week interviewed outgoing Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy about her legacy.

I’ve blogged before about how McCarthy is a spin master, and she did not disappoint in her discussion with Loveless. She cited two primary legacies that in no way comport with reality.

McCarthy first claimed that the agency’s unprecedented outreach would be one of her lasting influences on the agency. Here’s what she said:

This agency has done everything it could to engage the public in every sector… [to this end] I’m most proud of the work we’ve done on the Clean Power Plan, which really looked at how the real world was working, didn’t look to disrupt that, but looked to underpin it, and provide certainty moving forward so the business community knew where it was standing and knew where it had to go. And people have greatly respected that, even though some have disagreed with the outcome. I think they know how hard we tried to listen.

So she claims that the agency has done “everything it could to engage the public in every sector” and then she cited the Clean Power Plan as an example of the EPA’s engagement. In fact, the Clean Power Plan was written by three lawyers from the Natural Resources Defense Council, a group whose lobbying arm had expended great time and resources to get Obama elected. It is simply false for her to imply that the rule, which was Obama’s marquee climate measure, was a product of collaboration with regulated parties. To be sure, the agency had an unprecedented number of interactions with public, private, and non-profit sectors. But these engagements amounted to the agency telling regulated entities what they would have to do, rather than listening to and accounting for concerns. As such, McCarthy gets it backwards. The poor quality of EPA’s engagement is one of the reasons that an unprecedented number of states, businesses, and non-profits sued the agency over the rule. EPA’s outreach, as demonstrated by the Clean Power Plan, is not a legacy issue; instead, it is lasting criticism of McCarthy’s tenure.

But McCarthy didn’t stop there. She went on to claim a second unfounded legacy: improved relations with the states. Here’s what she said:

One of my goals when I came here was to develop a stronger relationship with the states. [Be]cause having worked at the state level, I thought that EPA often was too slow to look at innovation that states were pushing, and embracing that … There are a number of ways in which I wanted to come in here, and develop a stronger partnership with the states, because I see states as the front line of environmental protection. I certainly see EPA having a strong role nationally, but usually, what happened at the national level started at the local level, got pushed up to the state level, and the states pushed the federal government. And I wanted to have a more collaborative way to do that to expedite the system. We have a wonderful relationship with the states … That’s kind of one of my proudest things, our relationships with the states.

This is ludicrous! It is also demonstrably false. Almost half of all states sued the agency over its ridiculous Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. More than half of all states have sued the agency over both its Waters of the United States rule and the Clean Power Plan. It is not normal for half the country to litigate the agency over virtually all of its major rules. There is other empirical evidence that demonstrates EPA’s coercive relationship with the states over the last eight years. Obama’s EPA has staged 56 takeovers of state Clean Air Act programs; the previous three presidents’ staged only 5 such takeovers. Simply put, relations between the EPA and states have been this bad only during the mid-1970s, when the agency tried to impose vehicle inspection and maintenance programs on a number of unwilling states. As such, it is Orwellian for McCarthy to claim improved state relations as one of her primary legacies at the EPA.

NPR Checks Ex-EPA Chief Whitman’s Nonsense on Nominee Scott Pruitt

In a recent smart column for Forbes, Michael Lynch noted the following eye-opening exchange on National Public Radio:

During a recent NPR interview with Christine Whitman, former EPA administrator, about the proposed appointment of Scott Pruitt as the new EPA administrator, she said “He is very definitely a denier of climate change, something that scientists, by and large, overwhelmingly, say is occurring and that humans have a role to play in that.”  The interviewer, David Greene of NPR, remarked that the NPR staff had not been able to find any evidence of him denying climate change (wow, they actually did research!), which fact Whitman waved off.

Let’s Talk about Me…

Last week I participated in the Heartland Institute’s weekly podcast with H. Sterling Burnett. We discussed energy and environmental policy in the Trump administration, among other things. Have a listen here.

Over the weekend, I had an op-ed distributed by InsideSources. The thesis is that the flimsiness of Obama’s regulatory-based legacy demonstrates deeper constitutional problems with modern American governance. Have a read here.

Last week, I authored several blog posts on Open Market, which are available here.

On Twitter recently, I tangled with NRDC’s David Doniger over the costs and benefits of EPA’s ridiculous Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. It’s inside baseball, be warned.

Waterkeepers Alliance Celebrity Ski-fest Demonstrates Decadent Environmentalism

In mid-December, CBS broadcast the 25th Deer Valley Celebrity Ski-fest. I always make a point to record the annual affair on TiVo, and I watched it this weekend. The show interests me because it is produced by the Waterkeeper Alliance, a green group run by avid skier Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and it serves as one of the best examples of decadent environmentalism. Other examples include the jet-setting lifestyle of climate diplomats and Leo DiCaprio. The Deer Valley Celebrity Ski-fest, for its part, is the paragon example from the category of decadent environmentalism that entails glamorous events whose avowed purpose is to protect the environment but which come with humungous carbon footprints of the sort that would, if you buy into global warming hysteria, doom the planet were everyone to avail themselves of the same luxury.

This year, the celebrities were Cheryl Hines, Heidi Voelker, Rob Morrow, Dylan Bruno, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Mark Feuerstein, Camryn Manheim, Johnny Mosely, Thomas Harman, Nicole Miller, and Chad Lowe. Music was provided by Dierks Bentley. They all stayed at the Deer Valley lodge, which was described thusly in one of the commercials:

Montage Deer Valley Ski Resort has been recognized as the premier destination in the hospitality industry. The luxury ski-in ski-out hotel boasts a 35000 square foot spa, the largest facility of its kind in the state of Utah. The relaxation experience includes 29 treatment rules, and a stunning indoor mosaic pool …

Stories I Read Last Week

Institute for Energy Research Emerges as Policy Powerhouse
Jennifer Dlouhy, Bloomberg, 6 January 2017

Obama’s EPA “Does Not Verify the Accuracy or Science” on Its Blog
Jeryl Bier, Weekly Standard, 6 January 2017

The Case for Scott Pruitt to Lead the EPA
Adam Brandon, Real Clear Energy, 6 January 2017

“Market Conservation” vs. “Government Conservationalism”: Understanding Limits to Energy Efficiency
Robert Bradley, Jr., Master Resource, 5 January 2017

Death of Global Warming “Pause” Greatly Exaggerated
David Whitehouse, Global Warming Policy Foundation, 5 January 2017

Washington Post Publishes Fake News Story on Supposed Russian Hack of Energy Grid
Robert Hackett, Fortune, 4 January 2017

Uncertainties in Sea Surface Temperatures
Judith Curry, Climate Etc., 4 January 2017

EPA Finally Has Something Legitimate It Could Do—So Of course It’s Not Doing It
Seton Motley, Red State, 4 January 2017

Documenting the Global Extent of the Medieval Warm Period
Angus McFarlene, WattsUpWithThat?, 3 January 2017

The House Can Start Reversing Obama’s Regulatory Overreach
Christine Harbin, Townhall, 3 January 2017

When Energy Efficiency Rules Hurt the Public and the Environment
Arthur Corbin, Daily Signal, 3 January 2017

Time for Trump’s EPA Pick To Rein in the EPA
C Borden Gray, Washington Examiner, 28 December 2016