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Climate-Denying Indiana Regulator Helps ALEC Coal Companies Delay EPA Climate Rules

Connor Gibson
Polluter Watch / News Report
Published: Friday 14 December 2012
Leaked documents obtained by Greenpeace reveal that ALEC’s anti-environmental jamboree was inundated with coal money and featured an Indiana regulator advising coal utilities on delaying US Environmental Protection Agency rules to control greenhouse gas emissions and hazardous air pollution.
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You're probably familiar with the old "fox in the hen house" story, but what about when a hen joins the fox den?

This is the case with the recent American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meeting in Washington, DC. Leaked documents obtained by Greenpeace reveal that ALEC's anti-environmental jamboree was inundated with coal money and featured an Indiana regulator advising coal utilities on delaying US Environmental Protection Agency rules to control greenhouse gas emissions and hazardous air pollution.

At ALEC's coal-sponsored meeting, where state legislators and corporate representatives meet to create template state laws ranging from attacks on clean energy to privatization of public schools, Indiana's Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Management Tom Easterly laid out a plan to stall the U.S. EPA global warming action in a power point clearly addressed to coal industry representatives at ALEC's meeting.

In a USB drive branded with the logo of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a folder labeled "Easterly" contains a presentation titled "Easterly ALEC presentation 11 28 12" explaining current EPA air pollution rules and how Tom Easterly has worked to obstruct them. The power points is branded with the Indiana Department of Environmental Protection seal. In the latter presentation, Easterly ended his briefing to ALEC's dirty energy members with suggestions for delaying EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions at coal plants.

Easterly's presentation, which is posted on his Indiana Deptartment of Environmental Management commissioner's webpage, even offered a template state resolution that would burden EPA with conducting a number of unnecessary cost benefit analyses (which the federal government has done through the Social Cost of Carbon analysis) in the process of controlling GHG emissions.

The template resolution Easterly presented to ALEC was created by the Environmental Council of States (ECOS), a group of state regulators that create template state resolutions similar to ALEC, often with overlapping agendas that benefit coal companies. ECOS has some questionable template state resolutions for an "Environmental" organization, including a resolution urging EPA not to classify coal ash as "hazardous." Although its less regulated than household trash, coal ash contains neurotoxins, carcinogens and radioactive elements and is stored in dangerous slurry "ponds" that can leak these dangerous toxins into our waterways.

Almost too predictably, ECOS' work is sponsored by the coal fronts like ACCCE and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), both sponsors of the ALEC meeting where Easterly presented the ECOS model resolution. See clean air watchdog Frank O'Donnell's blog on ECOS for more.

Easterly's work, including his presentation to ALEC, is also promoted by the Midwest Ozone Group, a group whose members include ACCCE, American Electric Power and Duke Energy.

Commissioner Tom Easterly's suggestion of burdening EPA with tasks beyond its responsibility is concerning, as is his ongoing campaign to discredit the science of global warming—something he doesn't have the scientific qualifications to do. To this end, the Indiana regulator fits nicely into the coal industry's long history of denying problems they don't want to be held accountable for and delaying solutions to those problems. The same processes applied to acid rain, a problem the coal industry also denied for years—check out Greenpeace's collection of Coal Ads: Decades of Deception.

Climate Science Denial at Indiana's Department of Environmental Management

Even before Indiana's top enforcer of federal and state environmental regulations was advising coal companies on how to continuing polluting our air and water, it appears that denial of basic climate science is the state's official position on global warming--Indiana's 2011 "State of the Environment" report rehashes tired climate denier arguments such as global temperature records having "no appreciable change since about 1998." (see why this is a lie) and referencing the "medieval warm period" as false proof that current temperature anomalies are normal (they aren't, see Skeptical Science for a proper debunking). Similar arguments have apparently been presented by the Indiana government to ALEC since 2008--the ACCCE USB drive contains another Indiana power point created in 2008 full of junk climate "science." This level of scientific illiteracy is concerning, especially for the regulatory body responsible for overseeing pollution controls for the coal industry.

Remember, this isn't the Heartland Institute. It's Indiana....working with the Heartland Institute, a member of ALEC's anti-environmental task force that has been central in coordinating campaigns to deny global warming. See Commissioner Easterly's full presentation to ALEC on climate "science."

ALEC States & Nation Policy Summit 2012: brought to you by King Coal

ALEC's brochure for last week's meeting shows a disproportionately large presence of coal sponsors. The brochure lists 14 sponsors, five of which are coal interests:

  • American Electric Power (AEP): the second largest coal utility in the U.S. now that Duke Energy and Progress Energy have merged.
    • Political spending since 2007: AEP has spent over $46.2 million on federal lobbying and $3.9 million on federal politicians and political committees.
  • Peabody Energy: the world's largest private-sector coal mining company, known for its legacy of pollution and aggressive finance of climate change denial.
    • Political spending since 2007: Peabody has spent over $37.9 million on federal lobbying and $690,769 on federal politicians and political committees.
  • American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE): a coal public relations front whose members include AEP, Peabody and other ALEC-member coal interests. ACCCE's new president is Mike Duncan, former Republican National Committee chairman and founding chairman of Karl Rove's American Crossroads. ACCCE spent over $12 million on advertising during the 2012 election to promote the fantasy of "clean coal." ACCCE reportedly spent $40 million on TV and radio ads during the 2008 election and over $16 million around the 2010 election. ACCCE was caught up in a scandal when a subcontractor forged letters on behalf of senior and civil rights groups urging members of Congress to oppose national climate legislation. For more, see ACCCE on PolluterWatch.
  • Edison Electric Institute (EEI): the primary trade association for electric utility companies, whose members include AEP, Duke Energy and numerous other members of ALEC's energy/environment task force.
    • Political spending since 2007: EEI has spent over $63.7 million on federal lobbying and over $2.1 million on federal politicians and political committees.

 $15.3 million: total federal politicians and committees spending from these groups since 2007

$194 million: total federal lobbying expenditures from these groups since 2007

The collective millions spent on federal lobbying and politicians went a long way for these five coal interest groups. Their lobbying goals included weakening 2009 climate legislation and working to interfere with US EPA rules to reduce coal pollution or greenhouse gases.

All five of these groups have recently lobbied to prevent US EPA from controlling greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. These five interests only represent a slice of the coal interests spending money in politics, and just a few players among many in the coal, oil, gas and chemical industries that dump millions of dollars into public relations campaigns telling us that climate change is not a problem.

Click here for the ACCCE USB drive docs - ALEX Nov. 2012 Meeting



Something I wrote in June

Something I wrote in June 2007:

I listened to Senator Breaux sound off on CNBC television June 19, 2007 about
how ethanol from corn cannot solve our energy problem and that we seriously
need continued use of fossil fuel; in particular oil. (No mention of course
of Global Warming and our serious need to reduce emissions. And of course,
no mention that the biggest threat to our national security is our
dependence on Mideast oil.) Shame on us. Members of our Senate are
supposed to oversee our Executive and Congressional Branches of Government
to assure everything is being done ethically and in the best interests of
all of us citizens

I am convinced that people like Breaux are financed and controlled by people
like Rex Tillerson of EXXON who currently emphasize how ridiculous it is to
depend upon corn to provide sufficient amounts of ethanol. That is supposed
to convince us that more drilling in Alaska and other places like that is
proper; and that we should continue to import crude oil from Mideast
countries.

We have a serious communication problem infecting our entire United States.
Somehow, it has to get across to our general public that it never was
intended for corn to be our only source of ethanol. Further, that it is
entirely possible and viable that the eventual use of ethanol from
cellulose, and biodiesel made from things like soy beans, will replace crude
oil imports from the Mideast countries. When that happens, we will no
longer need to maintain war ships and military personnel in and around the
Persian Gulf. Hydrogen is another alternative to fossil fuels that will be
popular in about ten years or so.

It makes me angry that our U.S. big oil mafia can so easily pull the wool
over our citizens’ eyes while concurrently raking in obscene profits.

My grandchildren ask me what is happening because it seems to them that it
is unfair for gasoline to cost so much. I tell them that it is because
there are people in our country that are so powerful and greedy that they do
not care what is fair; that the only thing that matters to them is that
they maintain their power and wealth. I also tell them that there is no
need to give up hope because there is a grass roots movement in our United
States that our media is not property reporting on television. I tell them
about our Governors' Ethanol Coalition and our National Ethanol Vehicle
Coalition and about Companies like BlueFire.....a great big national
movement that eventually will result in a massive change of power and
control in our beloved country is forthcoming. Similar to how a long time
ago Cattle Barons wielded power until the railroads took over, and then
later with our industrialized development, the steel Barons took over, and
then how the oil Barons took over.

It is interesting how no one listened to Dwight Eisenhower when he spoke
publicly and warned all of us of the great danger of the integration of U.S.
industry and U.S. government (especially sustained by industrial lobbyists).
It is interesting how no one listened to Jimmy Carter when he spoke publicly
and warned all of us of the terrible danger and threat to U.S. security
caused by our dependence upon Mideast countries oil. In both instances, our
U.S. media remained silent. Why? While deductive logic is not available to
us, inductive logic extrapolated from history and current events dictates
that the media was and is controlled by whoever is in power in our great
nation. I believe that our United States is still the best place to live in
the world. Maybe that doesn't say much for the rest of the world. I pray
that our transition from fossil fuels to alternative fuels will generate a
new and healthier government structure and a nation of proud and happy
citizens that will enjoy a Federal Government that works for them.

Recognizing that it is money that is the source of power over too many of our US Representatives and Senators it is time we took that power away. Click on, or copy and put into your browser, http://signon.org/sign/take-money-out-of-politics

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