Categories
environment government

Cheney Sought to Deny Climate Change

Wouldn’t want to be caught doing anything that might help our planet, would we now, Mr. Cheney?

A disclosure Tuesday that Vice President Dick Cheney’s office sought to alter a federal official’s prepared testimony about the health consequences of global warming intensified an increasingly open conflict between the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House over how to respond to climate change.

The latest in a series of disclosures about internal disputes within the Bush administration came as President George W. Bush was in Japan with other leaders of the Group of Eight nations to forge an agreement on combating climate change. But back home, Mr. Bush’s critics contend that his aides are working to ensure that any actions his administration takes in response to climate change will have a limited impact.

The disclosure about Vice President Cheney’s role came from Jason Burnett, who until last month was the EPA’s associate deputy administrator

[From Cheney Sought to Alter Climate Discussion – WSJ.com]

snip

In his letter, Mr. Burnett notes that at the time of Dr. Gerberding’s testimony “there was extensive debate” over how the EPA should respond to the Supreme Court’s ruling. Mr. Burnett says the White House Council on Environmental Quality suggested to him that he could best serve the EPA “if I would convince CDC to delete particular sections of their testimony.”

In an interview, he declined to elaborate on the assertions in his letter, but said he left the EPA because “I thought I’d done as much constructive work as could be done under this administration” in response to the Supreme Court ruling.

Administration officials said in March that before declaring greenhouse gases endanger health or welfare, the government should first seek public comment. The EPA has yet to do so, however, largely because of a dispute between EPA officials and a White House office that reviews proposed regulations over how to frame the issue, people familiar with the matter said.

Dick Cheney is a truly horrible, corrupted man, though I guess we’ve known that since 1974.

Categories
environment politics

White House Blocks EPA Emissions Draft

Withered and Died

The White House, on its way out to the dustbin of history,1 wants to gut the Clean Air Act before the end of the year. Lovely.

WASHINGTON — The White House is trying to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from publishing a document that could become the legal roadmap for regulating greenhouse-gas emissions in the U.S., said people close to the matter.

The fight over the document is the latest development in a long-running conflict between the EPA and the White House over climate-change policy. It will likely intensify ongoing Congressional investigations into the Bush administration’s involvement in the agency’s policymaking.

The draft document, which has been viewed by The Wall Street Journal, outlines how the government, under the Clean Air Act, could regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from mobile sources such as cars, trucks, trains, planes and boats, and from stationary sources such as power stations, chemical plants and refineries. The document is based on a multimillion-dollar study conducted over two years.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget has asked the EPA to delete sections of the document that say such emissions endanger public welfare, say how those gases could be regulated, and show an analysis of the cost of regulating greenhouse gases in the U.S. and other countries.

[From White House Blocks EPA Emissions Draft – WSJ.com]

Non WSJ subscribers use this Digg-enabled link to full article which includes some colorful charts.

Cheney wants to ensure his oil buddies won’t have to alter any of their polluting practices until after the Rapture:

“Clearly [White House officials] don’t want to leave behind a blueprint that suggests that the Clean Air Act could offer a potential pathway in a cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions,” said one of the people close to the matter who supports the EPA document’s analysis. “Leaving a blueprint behind could leave the next administration a document they could work from, and that’s not in their interest,” the person said.

If the agency establishes a policy direction in this phase of the rule-making but later changes direction in the proposed rule, it could create opportunities for legal challenges under the Administrative Procedures Act, said Peter Robertson, a former deputy administrator at the EPA and a partner at the Pillsbury law firm specializing in environmental public policy.

“There wouldn’t be a reason for OMB to monkey with this document if it weren’t going to be an important step in the process now and later on,” Mr. Robertson said.

Footnotes:
  1. and that’s being very kind []
Categories
Chicago-esque environment

Death at Blommer Chocolate

The ABCs of Chocolate
[The ABCs of Chocolate-across from Blommer Chocolate Company]

First off, I have great sympathy for Gerardo Castillo’s family, that’s got to be a hard way to die.

Chicago officials and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration hunted Monday for the cause of a fatal gas release that killed a North Side man and hospitalized two others at a chocolate factory on the Near West Side over the weekend. Gerardo Castillo, 30, was killed Sunday in the second fatal accident since 2001 at Blommer Chocolate Co., 600 W. Kinzie St.

Castillo of the 1700 block of West Olive Avenue was pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital after a release of ammonialike fumes at the factory. A substance mixed into the chocolate somehow triggered a gaseous chemical reaction, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman said.

[snip]

OSHA last inspected the facility in 1994, said federal compliance officer Tricia Railton, who was reading from a report. Those safety investigations had to do with workers who were cleaning a piece of equipment that either had not been disconnected or was not marked as being potentially dangerous to the cleaners if turned on. It was not immediately clear if an injury prompted that inspection, Railton said. In 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent an inspector to check the factory after a neighbor complained about the aroma of burnt chocolate. The unidentified complainant also noted a powder-filled plume churning out of a roof duct.

Based on what the inspector saw two mornings in early September, the EPA cited Blommer for violating limits on opacity, or the amount of light blocked by the factory’s grinder dust.

[From U.S., city probing death at chocolate factory — chicagotribune.com]

But this EPA thing has been ongoing for a while. In fact, we mentioned it to Alderman Reilly when we met him in his office just prior to Reilly being sworn in, and his staff was going to look into it. Pollution and particulates are pollution and particulates, even if they smell like chocolate, and shouldn’t be allowed to permeate the lungs of local residents (like myself, ahem). I am curious as to what the details of this September investigation actually were.

Previous coverage of Blommer on my old blog

Blommer

Categories
environment government

Bush Censors Climate Reports

Speaking about Bush crony-corruption (aren’t we always?), climate change science also was a target of the heavy hand of the Assministration. Following the Bush playbook, oil industry hacks were placed in positions of authority, and manipulated every bit of data they could to obfuscate global warming reports.

Helios is Benevolent

Chris Mooney has more, as does the LA Times:

Congressional hearing heats up over changes to climate reports – Los Angeles Times


Government scientists, armed with copies of heavily edited reports, charged Monday that the Bush administration and its political appointees had soft-pedaled their findings on climate change.The accusations led Democrats and Republicans at the congressional hearing to accuse each other of censorship, smear tactics and McCarthyism.

To underscore their charges of the administration’s oil-friendly stance, Democrats grilled an oil lobbyist who was hired by the White House to review government climate change documents and who made hundreds of edits that the lawmakers said minimized the impact of global warming.“You were a spin doctor,” Rep. John A. Yarmuth (D-Ky) told the lobbyist.

Henry Waxman is doing his job well:

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing was marked by an open confrontation between Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and the ranking Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) — a rare display of direct debate in otherwise carefully choreographed hearings.

The hearing was the latest effort to challenge what the Democratic congressional majority sees as the Bush administration’s unchecked use of power. In the past few weeks, Democrats have held inquiries or announced plans to examine the unmonitored use of national security letters that allow the government to spy on Americans, the dismissal of U.S. attorneys and the identifying of former covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, among other issues.

Waxman has been particularly aggressive, pursuing inquiries about intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq war and the politics of global warming.

To support their charges Monday, the Democrats produced hundreds of pages of legal depositions, exhibits and e-mail exchanges between administration officials. The paper trail illustrated how officials with no scientific training shaped the administration’s climate change message and edited global warming reports, inserting doubt in the place of definitive statements and diminishing the role people play in the planet’s rising temperatures.

Waxman’s committee received more than eight boxes of papers from the White House Council on Environmental Quality that he said provided disturbing indications of political interference.

“There may have been a concerted effort directed by the White House to mislead the public about the dangers of global climate change,” said Waxman, who also cited the administration practice of “controlling what federal scientists could say to the public and the media about their work.”

“It would be a serious abuse if senior White House officials deliberately tried to defuse calls for action by ensuring that the public heard a distorted message about the risks of climate change,” Waxman said.