Alarmists want skeptics prosecuted under RICO by Paul Driessen

Losing the climate science battle, climate alarmists want government to silence skeptics

They haven’t employed the thumb screws, rack or auto-da-fe that churches and states once used to interrogate, silence and eliminate heretics and witches. However, global warming alarmists are well practiced in the modern equivalents, to protect their $1.5-trillion Climate Crisis Industry.

They see only what they want to see, and publicize only what they want us to see. They refuse to debate anyone who questions the nature, severity or reality of “manmade climate change dangers” that are the foundation of their demands that we slash fossil fuel use, lower our living standards, and accept global government planning of economies and massive climate “adaptation and reparation” payments.

They collude to hide and manipulate data, and employ computer models that that make the Little Ice Age disappear and global temperatures climb rapidly after 1950. They pressure editors to keep contrarian papers out of scientific journals, and present false claims that 97% of scientists agree that humans are causing dangerous climate change. They take billions from government agencies whose policies and regulations they promote. They blindly ignore the serious adverse effects that their policies have on blue-collar families and the world’s poor. Imbued with religious zeal, now they’re really ramping it up.

Led by Jagadish Shukla and four associates at his George Mason University-based Institute of Global Environment and Society, NCAR researcher Kevin Trenberth and 14 little-known “climate scientists” joined in signing an astounding letter that shows how far they will go to defend their turf and cause.

It asks President Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Obama science advisor John Holdren to investigate “organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change,” under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

The letter claims the organizations’ actions “have been extensively documented,” and their “misdeeds” must be “stopped as soon as possible,” so that the world can “restabilize the Earth’s climate, before even more lasting damage is done” to human health, agriculture, biodiversity and the world’s poorest people.

The letter’s ironies, fallacies and falsehoods are almost too numerous to recount.

First, the attack on skeptic scientists was launched from a university named for George Mason, the patriot who wrote the original Virginia version of our Bill of Rights. They include freedom of speech, association, assembly, petitioning our government, and not having livelihoods and other property unreasonably seized. Sadly, it reflects the appalling state of “academic freedom” on too many campuses, which today celebrate every kind of diversity except diversity of opinion.

Second, this action is a blatant effort to (a) coerce, intimidate, slander and silence scientists and organizations that question human-caused climate dangers; (b) forcibly shut down skeptic research, funding, speech and publication; (c) destroy skeptics’ funding, businesses and livelihoods; (d) protect alarmist funding, standing and influence; and (e) bankrupt skeptics, who would have to spend personal fortunes responding to RICO charges and a Justice Department that has limitless resources at its disposal.

Third, the RICO-20 signed their names as members of university faculties and government agencies – suggesting that they represent their organizations and/or these organizations endorse their efforts. If that is the case, it represents another blatant double standard – and a tacit endorsement of the RICO agenda.

Will those institutions now demand that the RICO-20 remove any mention of their affiliations? Will they step forward to vigorously defend academic freedom, constitutional rights, and a scientific method that is severely undermined by this letter and other toxic battles over manmade climate cataclysm claims?

Fourth, RICO is used to prosecute underlying patterns or practices of criminal behavior. This letter may constitute just “acting out.” But whether it represents a pattern of alarmist parties illegally engaging in items (a) through (e) above by calling for criminal prosecution of climate skeptics – or whether opposing the ideological and political campaign for the anti-fossil fuel climate agenda constitutes the required “criminal enterprise” – remains unanswered.

In any event, the “misdeeds” alluded to in the RICO-20 letter are studies, reports and discussions that contradict alarmist allegations and what skeptics charge are exaggerations, fabrications and computer model failures that underlie those claims. This extensive library of challenges to the climate chaos thesis includes peer-reviewed NIPCC Climate Change Reconsidered reports, international climate skeptic conferences, and numerous articles, op-eds, interviews and briefings. They clearly undermine climate chaos theory, but they are protected free speech and reflect honest, replicable science.

This raises the fifth point, that “racketeering” means conducting a “racket.” The term is commonly understood to mean fraudulently offering to solve a problem, because the problem does not actually exist and/or the proffered “solution” would do nothing to solve the problem. Many would say this definition accurately describes the Climate Crisis Industry.

Climate change has been “real” throughout Earth and human history. Driven by powerful natural forces that we do not yet understand and certainly cannot control, it has ranged from gradual to sudden, from beneficial to harmful or even devastating. Contrary to alarmist assertions and computer models, there is still no observational evidence that what we are experiencing today: is different from what our ancestors confronted; is now driven by plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide instead of by the natural forces of yore; or could be prevented or controlled by ending fossil fuel use and dramatically lowering our living standards.

In fact, the notion that we can “restabilize” an unstable and frequently fluctuating planetary climate is ludicrous. So is any claim that carbon-based fuels are superfluous or readily dispensable – or that they are more damaging to human health, agriculture, biodiversity and the world’s poorest people than eliminating those fuels and relying on expensive, land-intensive, unreliable wind, solar and biofuel “substitutes.”

Equally doubtful is any suggestion that the IGES/COLA (Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies) can understand or predict Earth’s ongoing climate variations by focusing on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and ignoring the solar, cosmic, oceanic and other natural forces that govern climate.

However, IGES/COLA derived 99.6% of its 2014 funding ($3.8 million in taxpayer money) from NASA, NOAA and the National Science Foundation, according to IRS Form 990 and other documents. Under the Obama Administration, those agencies have been almost completely co-opted by the alarmist climate agenda – and would likely terminate funding for any organization that expressed doubts about CO2, reduced its focus on greenhouse gases, or reengineered its climate models to reflect the full panoply of natural forces and thereby better assure accurate monsoon and climate forecasting.

Indeed, the latest Form 990 reveals, Dr. Shukla and his wife received salaries and other compensation totaling $499,145 in 2014 from their tax-exempt research organization. Dr. Shukla worked there only part-time, and his $333,048 compensation package “was presumably on top of his $250,866-per-year [George Mason] academic salary.” That totals $750,000 a year to the RICO-20 leader and his family “from public money for climate work & going after skeptics,” Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. wrote.

The ultimate irony would be an evenhanded investigation that exonerates the skeptic organizations that the RICO-20 want investigated – and results in charges against multiple corporations and organizations (and government agencies?) that engaged in collusion, data manipulation, junk modeling and other deceitful climate research practices that have been highlighted over the years.

The Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups could well be what inspired the now fashionable idea of using the Justice Department to prosecute political opponents. The failure of the IRS and DOJ to penalize any of the perpetrators in those cases suggests that prosecution of alarmist fraud or racketeering is highly unlikely under the current administration.

However, the new 2017 administration could take a very different position. At the very least, a new Congress and Executive Branch could derail the climate alarm money train, initiate robust (and long overdue) debate on climate science and models, provide equal funding to skeptics, and end the alarmism. Potential sauce for the gander should make Dr. Shukla and fellow alarmists think twice about their tactic.

This RICO travesty shows how desperate alarmists have become. They are losing the climate science fight. Their models are increasingly contradicted by reality. Their ad hominem attacks will ultimately fail.

They also face major odds in Paris, where they may get a toothless treaty that makes empty promises to redistribute hundreds of billions of dollars from Formerly Rich Countries whose energy use and economic growth are hobbled – but places no binding emission targets on poor countries that will keep developing, burning coal and sending atmospheric carbon dioxide levels ever higher … with no effect on the climate.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.

SideBear: If the justice department chooses to prosecute people for a different opinion, then we crossed into a country where freedom of speech has no become Tryanny.

EPA’s clean power fraud by Paul Driessen

The agency’s plan will do little good and much damage

The Environmental Protection Agency has twisted 280 words in the Clean Air Act into 2,690 pages of Clean Power Plan regulations and appendices. The Clean Power Plan requires that states slash their utility-sector carbon dioxide emissions an average of 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. At least 12 states will have to impose 40% to 48% reductions. Those states now get 50% to 96% of their electricity from coal, and nearly all their electricity from coal and natural gas. Further complicating matters, even replacing coal-fired units with natural gas turbines is highly restricted under the plan. Replacing this power generation with wind and solar will disrupt grid reliability, risk brownouts and blackouts, and bankrupt many businesses, families, and communities.

Coal-reliant states currently pay 8 to 9 cents per kilowatt-hour. Their rates will likely go well beyond the 15 to 17 cents per kilowatt-hour that families, hospitals, factories, schools, and businesses now pay in “green energy” states such as California and Connecticut. They could skyrocket to the 36 to 40 cents that Germans and Danes are paying — or 70 to 80 cents when taxpayer subsidies are included. The EPA claims more taxpayer-financed energy subsidies will help the poorest families. What about everyone else? Millions of workers will lose their jobs, leaving more families destitute and welfare-dependent. Many will have to choose between buying food and gasoline, paying the rent or mortgage, visiting doctors, giving to charities, or saving for retirement. Those still working will pay for everyone else. Families will face sleep deprivation, greater stress and depression, and more drug and alcohol abuse, spousal and child abuse, and theft and robbery. Nutrition and medical care will suffer. More people will have strokes and heart attacks. More will die prematurely or commit suicide. More elderly people will perish from hypothermia, because they cannot afford to heat their homes properly.

Sprawling wind and solar installations and transmission lines across millions of acres of wildlife and scenic areas will kill millions of eagles, hawks, and other birds and bats.

These are among the reasons Congress has rejected nearly 700 climate bills. The Clean Power Plan is the result of the EPA colluding regularly with radical environmentalist pressure groups and circumventing our legislative process, laws and Constitution.

The EPA also uses a “social cost of carbon” scheme that places arbitrary, inflated costs on damages it claims result from carbon-based fuels disrupting Earth’s climate. The agency includes every imaginable cost of using hydrocarbon energy — but ignores even the most important and obvious benefits of using those fuels.

The Clean Power Plan also ignores the real world outside the EPA’s windows. Contrary to climate model predictions, global temperatures haven’t budged in 18 years, and no Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane has hit the United States in nearly a record 10 years. Moreover, slashing America’s CO2 emissions, destroying jobs and impairing human welfare will prevent less than 0.03 degrees Fahrenheit of global warming 85 years from now.

These totalitarian green decrees are fraudulent, illegal and unconstitutional. They severely impair the rights of people to enjoy affordable, reliable energy and the quality jobs, living standards, health and welfare such energy brings.

We must demand debate on every aspect of climate and energy issues — and honesty, transparency, and accountability in all regulatory processes.

There is no room for fraud and deceit. States should refuse to comply with the Clean Power Plan. Elected officials, presidential candidates and citizen groups should speak out loudly, clearly and often — and begin curbing the excessive power and representation of extreme environmentalists and bureaucrats in our government.

Congress and the courts must end the constant collusion and sue-and-settle lawsuits between the EPA and radical pressure groups. Congress must cut agency budgets, especially the billions of dollars the EPA and other agencies give to anti-energy advocacy organizations and rubber-stamping advisory panels.

Congressional committees and our next President must subject secret data, computer codes, models, and studies to full review by independent experts — to determine which assertions, policies, and regulations are reasonable and legitimate, and which are based on serious error, deceptive claims, or outright fraud. During this review process, they should suspend and defund implementation of regulations and programs that raise serious questions about honesty and validity. Rules and programs ultimately found to be based on junk science, doctored data, collusion, or concocted evidence should be terminated — and agency personnel who have engaged in deceptive or fraudulent practices should be penalized or fired.

We must ensure that regulatory agencies and their advisory councils become more honest and transparent; represent a broader spectrum of expertise, viewpoints, and interests than they do now; fully assess evidence for and against alleged “dangerous man-made climate change”; and carefully evaluate the impacts of regulatory actions on jobs, living standards, health, and welfare.

Congress and states must reassert their legislative roles, restore federalism and separation of powers as the foundation of our American system, and address the extreme deference that courts too often give “agency discretion.”

These steps will be opposed by President Obama, many Democrats,and members of the climate crisis and renewable energy complex.

However, these actions are essential if the United States is to have an economic and employment revival, and poor, minority, and blue-collar families are to be protected from regulatory excess and unaccountable ruling elites.

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for CFACT and author of Cracking Big Green and Eco-Imperialism: Green Power – Black Death.

Climate Crisis, Inc. has become a $1.5 trillion industry by Paul Driessen,

No warming in 18 years, no category 3-5 hurricane hitting the USA in ten years, seas rising at barely six inches a century: computer models and hysteria are consistently contradicted by Real World experiences.

So how do White House, EPA, UN, EU, Big Green, Big Wind, liberal media, and even Google, GE and Defense Department officials justify their fixation on climate change as the greatest crisis facing humanity? How do they excuse saying government must control our energy system, our economy and nearly every aspect of our lives – deciding which jobs will be protected and which ones destroyed, even who will live and who will die – in the name of saving the planet? What drives their intense ideology?

The answer is simple. The annual revue Climate Crisis & Renewable Energy Industry has become a $1.5-trillion-a-year business! That’s equal to the annual economic activity generated by the entire US nonprofit sector, or all savings over the past ten years from consumers switching to generic drugs. By comparison, revues for much-vilified Koch Industries are about $115 billion, for ExxonMobil around $365 billion.

According to a 200-page analysis by the Climate Change Business Journal, this Climate Industrial Complex can be divided into nine segments: low carbon and renewable power; carbon capture and storage; energy storage, like batteries; energy efficiency; green buildings; transportation; carbon trading; climate change adaptation; and consulting and research. Consulting alone is a $27-billion-per-year industry that handles “reputation management” for companies and tries to link weather events, food shortages and other problems to climate change. Research includes engineering R&D and climate studies.

The $1.5-trillion price tag appears to exclude most of the Big Green environmentalism industry, a $13.4-billion-per-year business in the USA alone. The MacArthur Foundation just gave another $50 million to global warming alarmist groups. Ex-NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chesapeake Energy gave the Sierra Club $105 million to wage war on coal (shortly before the Club began waging war on natural gas and Chesapeake Energy, in what some see as poetic justice). Warren Buffett, numerous “progressive” foundations, Vladimir Putin cronies and countless companies also give endless millions to Big Green.

Our hard-earned tax dollars are likewise only partially included in the CCBJ tally. As professor, author and columnist Larry Bell notes in his new book, Scared Witless: Prophets and profits of climate doom, the U.S. government spent over $185 billion between 2003 and 2010 on climate change items – and this wild spending spree has gotten even worse in the ensuing Obama years. We are paying for questionable to fraudulent global warming studies, climate-related technology research, loans and tax breaks for Solyndra and other companies that go bankrupt, and “climate adaptation” foreign aid to poor countries.

Also not included: the salaries and pensions of thousands of EPA, NOAA, Interior, Energy and other federal bureaucrats who devote endless hours to devising and imposing regulations for Clean Power Plans, drilling and mining bans, renewable energy installations, and countless Climate Crisis, Inc. handouts. A significant part of the $1.9 trillion per year that American businesses and families pay to comply with mountains of federal regulations is also based on climate chaos claims.

Add in the state and local equivalents of these federal programs, bureaucrats, regulations and restrictions, and we’re talking serious money. There are also consumer costs, including the far higher electricity prices families and businesses must pay, especially in states that want to prove their climate credentials. The impacts on companies and jobs outside the Climate Crisis Industry are enormous, and growing. For every job created in the climate and renewable sectors, two to four jobs are eliminated in other parts of the economy, studies in Spain, Scotland and other countries have found.

The effects on people’s health and welfare, and on overall environmental quality, are likewise huge and widespread. But all these adverse effects are studiously ignored by Climate Crisis profiteers – and by the false prophets of planetary doom who manipulate data, exaggerate and fabricate looming catastrophes, and create the pseudo-scientific basis for regulating carbon-based energy and industries into oblivion.

Meanwhile, the regulators blatantly ignore laws that might penalize their favored constituencies.

In one glaring example, a person who merely possesses a single bald eagle feather can be fined up to $100,000 and jailed for a year. But operators of the wind turbine that killed the eagle get off scot-free. Even worse, the US Fish & Wildlife Service actively helps Big Wind hide and minimize its slaughter of millions of raptors, other birds and bats every year. It has given industrial wind operators a five-year blanket exemption from the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, Migratory Birds Treaty Act and Endangered Species Act. The FWS even proposed giving Big Wind a 30-year exemption.

Thankfully, the US District Court in San Jose, CA recently ruled that the FWS and Interior Department violated the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws, when they issued regulations granting these companies a 30-year license to kill bald and golden eagles. But the death tolls continue to climb.

Professor Bell’s perceptive, provocative, extensively researched book reviews the attempted power grab by Big Green, Big Government and Climate Crisis, Inc. In 19 short chapters, he examines the phony scientific consensus on global warming, the secretive and speculative science and computer models used to “prove” we face a cataclysm, ongoing collusion and deceit by regulators and activists, carbon tax mania, and many of the most prominent but phony climate crises: melting glaciers, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, disappearing species and declining biodiversity. His articles and essays do likewise.

Scared Witless also lays bare the real reasons for climate fanaticism, aside from lining pockets. As one prominent politician and UN or EPA bureaucrat after another has proudly and openly said, their “true ambition” is to institute “a new global order” … “ global governance” … “redistribution of the world’s resources” … an end to “hegemonic” capitalism … and “a profound transformation” of “attitudes and lifestyles,” energy systems and “the global economic development model.”

In other words, these unelected, unaccountable US, EU and UN bureaucrats want complete control over our industries; over everything we make, grow, ship, eat and do; and over every aspect of our lives, livelihoods, living standards and liberties. And they intend to “ride the global warming issue” all the way to this complete control, “even if the theory of global warming is wrong” … “even if there is no scientific evidence to back the greenhouse effect” … “even if the science of global warming is all phony.”

If millions of people lose their jobs in the process, if millions of retirees die from hypothermia because they cannot afford to heat their homes properly, if millions of Africans and Asians die because they are denied access to reliable, affordable carbon-based electricity – so be it. Climate Crisis, Inc. doesn’t care.

This global warming industry survives and thrives only because of secretive, fraudulent climate science; constant collusion between regulators and pressure groups; and a steady stream of government policies, regulations, preferences, subsidies and mandates – and taxes and penalties on its competitors. CCI gives lavishly to politicians who keep the gravy train on track, while its well-funded attack dogs respond quickly, aggressively and viciously to anyone who dares to challenge its orthodoxies or funding.

Climate change has been “real” throughout Earth and human history – periodically significant, sometimes sudden, sometimes destructive, driven by the sun and other powerful, complex, interacting natural forces that we still do not fully understand … and certainly cannot control. It has little or nothing to do with the carbon dioxide that makes plants grow faster and better, and is emitted as a result of using fossil fuels that have brought countless wondrous improvements to our environment and human condition.

Climate Crisis, Inc. is a wealthy, nasty behemoth. But it is a house of cards. Become informed. Get involved. Fight back.

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for CFACT and author of Cracking Big Green and Eco-Imperialism: Green Power – Black Death.

The Agency That Contaminated the Animas River is About to Start Regulating Water That May be in Your Backyard by Marita Noon

Unless a federal judge issues a preliminary injunction, the definition of the “Waters of the U.S.” will change on August 28—giving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate the water in your backyard (even the water that might be in your backyard due to a heavy rain). Even, according to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey: “any area where agencies believe water may flow once every 100 years.”

Thirty-one states, in four districts, have filed motions with the federal courts to block the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) from beginning to enforce the new “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule—which represents a new interpretation of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Federal Register calls the new rule “definitional” and states: “The rule will ensure protection for the nation’s public health and aquatic resources, and increase CWA program predictability and consistency by clarifying the scope of ‘waters of the United States’ protected under the Act.”

WOTUS was published in the Federal Register on June 29 and will become effective on August 28.

The interpretation is important. The CWA used to apply to “navigable waters” to now, as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recently said: “include almost any piece of land that gets wet and puddles.”

Morrisey calls the rule “regulatory lunacy.” He’s hosted town-hall meetings where he’s heard from citizens concerned that “this rule would infringe on their property rights and force them to pay thousands of dollars to do basic work around their homes, farms and workplaces.” Morrisey adds: “This rule expands a scheme whereby property owners have to ask the EPA for permission to do yardwork.” He claims: “Failure to comply with the new regulations could result in fines of up to $37,500 a day.”

While the word “navigable” hasn’t been removed from CWA—as that would require an act of Congress—the EPA has expanded that definition to include any water that has a “significant nexus” with navigable waters. This is where water in your back yard could be impacted. Regarding the final rule, Paxton explains: it “is so broad and open to interpretation that everything from ditches and dry creek beds, to gullies, to isolated ponds formed after a big rain could be considered a ‘water of the United States.’”

The CWA’s single word, “navigable,” has, for decades, been contentious with those who want to expand government control and limit industrial activity such as oil and gas development, mining, ranching, and farming. Former Representative Jim Oberstar (D-MN) fought hard to have the word navigable removed from the CWA and to expand its control to any waters. Despite repeated bites at the apple, prior Congresses refused to pass his legislation.

EPA, once again, uses rulemaking to do what its proponents couldn’t do through legislation—a hallmark of the Obama administration.

A July 28, 2015 letter signed by officials from 31 states, sent to EPA and ACOE by North Dakota Assistant Attorney General Margaret Olson, requesting a minimum nine month extension of the WOTUS effective date, states: “the new regulation will also have a significant impact on agricultural, homebuilding, oil and gas and mining operations as they try to navigate between established state regulatory programs and the EPA’s and ACOE’s new burdensome and conflicting federal requirements. This uncertainty especially threatens those states that rely on revenues from industrial development to fund a wide variety of state programs for the benefit of their respective citizens.”

On August 11, thirteen states—including oil and gas “heavyweights,” as Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI) calls them, Alaska, Colorado, North Dakota, and New Mexico—became the latest to ask a federal judge to block the controversial rule from taking effect. The states have asked for a hearing on the motion during the week of August 24. NGI states: “The oil and gas industry is opposed to the regulations because they believe it could stifle development.” A statement from the Independent Petroleum Association of America supports this assertion: “The 297-page rulemaking would require a federal permit for any activity that results in a discharge into any body of water covered by the new definition of ‘waters of the United States,’ including small streams and wetlands.”

The Texas Railroad Commission, which overseas oil and gas activity in the state joined the multi-agency multi-state lawsuit because “the rule redefines navigable waters as used in the CWA, allowing the EPA and ACOE to regulate private land anywhere in the United States where water can conceivably flow—even dry creek beds and manmade ditches. The Texas economy is a proud beneficiary of shale drilling, and some of the water used in this process would move under the jurisdiction of the EPA with the implementation of this rule change.”

Luke Popovich, spokesman for the National Mining Association told me: “This rule embodies all that is wrong with EPA’s overall regulatory approach: its costs will far outweigh any benefits, it violates both the spirit and intent of Congress in the Clean Water Act, and it has been sold as a benign attempt to add ‘clarity’ and ‘certainty’ to the marketplace when in fact it only clarifies and makes certain the threat EPA poses to a wide swath of the economy—from mining and farming to home building and construction.”

Jason Bostic, Vice President of the West Virginia Coal Association adds: “It’s no longer about water or discharges. It’s about regulating the landscape.”

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia filed on June 28, on behalf of 9 Southeastern states (now 11, including Indiana and North Carolina), received an expedited briefing and oral arguments were heard on August 12. Morrisey’s office told me they are hopeful for a decision by August 28.

North Dakota’s Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem believes the States are entitled to an injunction “because implementation of the Rule will cause immediate and irreparable harm and deprive the States of the opportunity to present the merits of their case prior to this unprecedented jurisdictional over-reach taking effect.”

In addition to the 31 states, on July 2, a coalition of a dozen industry groups—from agriculture to manufacturers to mining—filed a complaint against the EPA and ACOE over the WOTUS rule.

The goal of the litigations is to delay or defeat the regulations before they go into effect.

Morrisey, in a statement, explains: “While the Clean Water Act gave the EPA and Corps authority to regulate ‘navigable waters’—defined as ‘waters of the United States’—Congress made sure that states would retain their constitutional, sovereign responsibility over non-navigable, intrastate lands and waters. The U.S. Supreme Court has twice rejected the agencies’ attempts to expand their authority (in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. Army Corps of Engineers and Rapanos v. United States). However, this latest rule written by the two administrative agencies gives them virtually limitless power over these waters.”

Rules like WOTUS, and the recently announced Clean Power Plan, are lauded by environmental groups who are the likely impetus for the regulatory overreach. Senator David Vitters (R-LA), Chairman of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy regarding “reports that the Agency inappropriately coordinated with outside organizations during the WOTUS rulemaking process.” His statement on the matter offers this reprimand: “For decades, the Department of Justice has recommended that federal agencies do not lobby the general public to build political support for policies promoted by the Executive Branch. In 2014, the EPA embarked on an unprecedented public relations campaign, which may have violated anti-lobbying laws, to promote the WOTUS rule by working closely with outside organizations including the Sierra Club and Organizing for Action, which is closely affiliated with President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.”

Apparently, the EPA—which allowed millions of gallons of toxic waste to spill into the Animas River—and its “far-left environmental allies,” believe it can do a better job of protecting waterways, streams and wetlands than the states. A wide majority of states and industry disagree. The coalition hopes the lawsuits—which are expected to be combined into one—will overturn the rule and prove that the EPA has gone beyond it jurisdiction with this expansion of regulatory authority.

Source: Heartland Institute

EPA’s gross negligence at Gold King by Paul Driessen

On August 5, an Environmental Restoration company crew, supervised by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials, used a backhoe to dig away tons of rock and debris that were blocking the entrance portal of Colorado’s Gold King Mine, which had been largely abandoned since 1923. Water had been seeping into the mine and out of its portal for decades, and the officials knew (or should have known) the water was acidic (pH 4.0-4.5), backed up far into the mine, and laced with heavy metals.

But they kept digging – until the greatly weakened dam burst open, unleashing a 3-million-gallon (or more) toxic flood that soon contaminated the Animas and San Juan Rivers, all the way to Lake Powell in Utah. To compound the disaster, the EPA then waited an entire day before notifying downstream mayors, health officials, families, farmers, ranchers, fishermen and kayakers that the water they were drinking, using for crops or livestock or paddling in was contaminated by lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic.

Three million gallons of turmeric-orange poisonous water and sludge is enough to fill a pool the size of a football field (360×160 feet) seven feet deep. Backed up hundreds of feet above the portal into mine adits, stopes, rooms and other passageways that begin at 11,458 feet above sea level, the flash-flooding water had enough power to rip out a road and propel its toxic muck hundreds of miles downstream. (You can review EPA’s incompetence and gross negligence in these project photos and post-disaster images.)

Anyone who follows mining, oil spill, and power plant accidents knows the EPA,the Obama White House, and Big Green animas2environmentalist rhetoric: There is no safe threshold for chemicals. They are toxic and carcinogenic at parts per billion. The water will be unsafe for years or even decades. Wildlife will die. Corporate polluters are criminals and must pay major fines. We will keep our boots on their necks.

This time the White House was silent, and Democrats and eco-activists rushed to defend EPA and shift the blame to mining and mining companies. EPA officials made statements they would never use if a private company had caused the blowout. EPA had simply “miscalculated” how much water had backed up. It was just trying to stick a pipe into the top of the mine to safely pump liquid out for treatment. We were “very careful.” Contaminants “are flowing too fast to be an immediate health threat.” The river is already “restoring itself,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy insisted.

The evidence strongly suggests that the EPA never studied or calculated anything, had no operations plan vetted and approved by state officials or mining experts, was not trying to install a pipe – and was grossly careless and negligent. Toxic sludge was carried and deposited along hundreds of miles, contaminating water and riverbeds, where it will be stirred up for years during every heavy rainfall and snowmelt.

Mining engineers told me the prudent approach would have been to push or drill a 4-inch pipe through the rubble into the mine, to determine the water pressure, toxicity, and extent of water backup in the mine – and then build a strong cofferdam below the portal – before proceeding. Simply removing the debris was stupid, dangerous and negligent, they said. It will take years now to correct the damage and assess costs.

A week after the great flood, EPA finally built a series of retention ponds to contain and filter out heavy metals and chemicals. But the August 5 surge and continuing outflow are still contaminating Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico rivers, in arid regions where water is scarce and precious. The Navajo Tribal Unity Authority says meeting EPA standards for clean drinking water could double the tribe’s costs for building a new treatment plant and cost millions more in testing and operating expenses.

The EPA says it will pay for testing, property damage, human injuries, and hauling safe drinking water. But will it pay to truck in safe water for livestock and irrigation, and pay for crops and livestock lost because there is no water in the meantime, and millions in lost incomes for outfitters and hotel operators during what would have been their peak tourist seasons? Exxon paid such costs after the Valdez spill in Alaska; BP did likewise after its Macondo spill in the Gulf of Mexico; so have other companies.

Shouldn’t the EPA do likewise, instead of asserting “sovereign immunity” despite its gross negligence? Shouldn’t it cover these costs out of the millions of dollars it uses for employee bonuses and to pay environmental activists and public relations firms to promote its image and agenda – instead of sticking taxpayers with the tab via special appropriations? Will EPA reimburse state and local governments and private charities for assistance they have already rendered? Will it fire the irresponsible officials, or at least demote and discipline them? Will Environmental Restoration pay its fair share?

Under standards that EPA and environmentalists apply to the private sector, Gold King was a disaster. However, the accident could also GoldKingbe an impetus for reflection and responsible regulatory reform.

Anti-mining pressure groups and factions within the EPA will use this accident to press for new layers of mining rules, bonds, payments, and liabilities. They are unnecessary – and will only restrict the jobs, expertise, and revenues needed to ensure that exploration, mining, reclamation, and repair of abandoned (orphan) mines are done properly. Modern mining, processing, and pollution prevention methods are vastly superior to those employed even 50 years ago, and do not cause the exaggerated impacts alleged by Earthwatch and others. Moreover, the metals and minerals are essential for the wondrous technologies and living standards, the health, housing, transportation, and recreational pursuits that we enjoy today.

The Gold King blowout was predictable and preventable. The mine was leaking slightly polluted water, but the problem was not serious and was being addressed, and the former mining town of Silverton, CO, had repeatedly asked the EPA not to intervene or make Gold King a Superfund site. Mining engineers and other experts were available, and some had offered their insights and expertise. The EPA ignored them.

The EPA – and all government agencies – should end their We-know-best and We-know-what-we’re-doing attitudes … and seek outside advice from real experts in the trenches. They should also develop careful operating plans, assess worst-case scenarios, and take steps to ensure that the worst doesn’t happen. Sometimes they just need to do nothing, get out of the way, and let the private sector handle problems.

The EPA’s new view that these pollutants are not as toxic as previously claimed – and that nature can and does clean things up – is refreshing, even if self-serving. (My use of “toxic” in this article reflects currently prevailing agency, activist and public health industry attitudes and safety standards.) The agency should also take another look at its thresholds for bio-accumulation of toxics in the tissues of fish and shellfish, up the food chain to eagles or humans that eat the stream and bottom dwellers.

Standards for maximum contaminant levels and maximum safe exposures are often absurdly low, and the concept of “linear no threshold” (that there is no safe exposure or blood level for lead, cadmium, arsenic and other metals) is outdated and wrong, Dr. Edward Calabrese and other experts argue.

Not only are pollution, exposure and blood levels often safe at significantly higher levels than regulations currently allow. Low levels of exposure to radiation and many chemicals can actually provide protection from cancer, disease, and other pollutants. While this concept of hormesis is generally ignored by current regulations, we know that a little alcohol improves heart functions, whereas a lot causes multiple problems; an 80 mg aspirin can prevent strokes, but a bottleful can kill; and many vaccinations inject disease strains that cause a person’s immune system to produce antibodies and prevent the disease.

The Obama EPA is already using WOTUS rules on water and a Clean Power Plan on electricity generation and climate change to control virtually everything we make, grow, and do. Congressional committees, presidential candidates, businesses, and citizens need to get involved, debate these issues, ask tough questions, and demand that appropriate reforms be implemented. Our courts and Congress must not allow another collusive sue-and-settle lawsuit – or a new regime of government controls and mine closures that would drive yet another nail into the coffin of western state and local economies.

Gold King presents a teachable moment. Let’s make sure we learn the correct lessons.