Scott Pruitt’s Effort to Expose ‘Secret Science’ Has Environmentalists Scared Stiff

A proposed rule announced Tuesday by Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is intended to bring much-needed transparency to agency rule-making.

The environmental lobby is positively apoplectic about the proposal (naturally), even though it aligns perfectly with its long-held commitment to the public’s “right to know” principle.

The proposed regulation would require the EPA to ensure that the scientific data and research models “pivotal” to significant regulation are “publicly available in a manner sufficient for validation and analysis.”

Despite existing rules on government use of scientific research, federal agencies routinely mask politically driven regulations as scientifically-based imperatives. The supposed science underlying these rules is often hidden from the general public and unavailable for vetting by experts. But credible science and transparency are necessary elements of sound policy.

The opposition from greens and much of the media greeting Pruitt’s announcement is, frankly, hypocritical in the extreme. Opponents claim that the EPA’s regulatory power would be unduly restricted if the agency is forced to reveal the scientific data and research methodologies used in rule-making.

But that is precisely the point. The EPA should no longer enjoy free rein to impose major regulations based on studies that are unavailable for public scrutiny.

Their claim that research subjects’ privacy would be violated is groundless. Researchers routinely scrub identifying information when aggregating data for analysis. Nor is personal information even relevant in agency rule-making.

Meanwhile, the EPA and other federal agencies are duty-bound to protect proprietary information.

Transparency in rule-making is vital to evaluating whether regulation is justified and effective. It is also essential to testing the “reproducibility” of research findings, which is a bedrock principle of the scientific method.

It takes real chutzpah for the champions of environmental “right-to-know” laws to now claim that the EPA should not be required to make public the scientific material on which regulations are based.

The public’s “right to know” was their rallying cry in lobbying for a variety of public disclosure requirements on the private sector as well as state and local governments, including informational labeling; emissions reporting; workplace safety warnings; beach advisories; environmental liabilities; and pending enforcement actions, to name a few.

The proposed rule is hardly radical. It aligns with the Data Access Act, which requires federal agencies to ensure that data produced under grants to (and agreements with) universities, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations is available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act.

However, the implementation guidance from the Office of Management and Budget has unduly restricted application of the law.

Moreover, the Information Quality Act requires the Office of Management and Budget “to promulgate guidance to agencies ensuring the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by federal agencies.”

However, the law’s effectiveness has been limited by a lack of agency accountability. Courts have ruled that it does not permit judicial review of an agency’s compliance with its provisions. The proposed rule is also consistent with the Office of Management and Budget’s Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review.

The proposal also mirrors legislation passed by the House last year to prohibit the EPA from “proposing, finalizing, or disseminating a covered action unless all scientific and technical information relied on to support such action is the best available science, specifically identified, and publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results.”

A Senate companion measure failed to advance to a vote.

The EPA regulation has expanded exponentially every decade since the 1970s at tremendous expense to the nation. Secret science underlies some of the most expansive regulatory initiatives.

President Donald Trump has focused significant attention on re-establishing the constitutional and statutory boundaries routinely breached by the agency. The special interests that thrive on gloom and ever-increasing government powers are attempting to block the administration’s reforms at every turn.

But their opposition to the proposed transparency rule sets a new low for abject hypocrisy.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Diane Katz

Diane Katz, who has analyzed and written on public policy issues for more than two decades, is a research fellow in regulatory policy at The Heritage Foundation. Read her research. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: EPA Chief Fends Off Democrat Critics, Makes Case for Deregulation in Testy Hearings

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters/Newscom.

VIDEO: Move over Rachel Carson! – Politically Incorrect Climate Book outselling ‘Silent Spring’ at Earth Day

During the days following Earth Day, Rachel Carson’s venerable environmental book ‘Silent Spring’ is currently being outsold and deposed during the time of Earth Day by Marc Morano’s new best-selling book,  “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change,” from Regnery Books. Morano also presented the book to EPA chief Scott Pruitt and was featured in an 18-minutes interview on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson.

“The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change,” is currently ranked an Amazon “best seller” and continues to be ranked number one in Climatology, Environment and Nature, Earth Sciences on Amazon. The book had been sold out for weeks at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Barnes & Noble. (See:Sold out! Politically Incorrect Climate Book sells out at Amazon, Target & Walmart! )

The book is now back in stock and on its third printing. The book continues to rank in top 100 on all book sales at Amazon.

As the book’s success continues unabated, Morano has been subjected to increasing hostility for his skeptical stance. See:DEATH WISH: ‘People like you should just die, motherf*cker’ — ‘Go to Hell’ – Skeptical climate book author Morano’s hate mail of the day

This week, book author Morano presented the book to EPA chief Scott Pruitt at EPA headquarters.

Blogger Marc Morano presents his book, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change,” to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt yesterday. Photo credit: Marc Morano/Twitter

Marc Morano presented his book, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change,” to EPA chief Scott Pruitt. (4-24-18) Morano/Twitter

Morano on EPA Chief Scott Pruitt: Begins at 31:27: ‘You see the attacks Trump’s under with all the daily attacks on his EPA chief Scott Pruitt. Pruitt has committed heresy in Washington. He’s done what no other Republican EPA chief has done and I’ll repeat that Scott Pruitt,  Donald Trump’s EPA chief — has done what no other Republican EPA chief had done. He’s stood up to the climate change establishment. George W. Bush appointees didn’t do it. George H.W. Bush’s appointees did not do it.  Pruitt had done it and they are going after him. They are trying to get rid of Pruitt because he had the audacity to try to actually fulfill Donald Trump’s campaign promises on climate which they cannot fathom in Washington.’

Sold out! Politically Incorrect Climate Book sells out at Amazon, Target & Walmart! Ranked as ‘Best Seller’

Order Your Book Copy Now! ‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change’ By Marc Morano

Related Links: 

Sold out! Politically Incorrect Climate Book sells out at Amazon, Target & Walmart! Ranked as ‘Best Seller’

Order Your Book Copy Now! ‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change’ By Marc Morano

E&E News Features Pic of Morano presenting ‘Politically Incorrect’ climate book to EPA Chief Pruitt at EPA HQ

Marc Morano presented his book, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change,” to EPA chief Scott Pruitt yesterday. (4-24-18) Morano/Twitter

Read: Bonus chapter: Intimidating the ‘Deniers’ to Enforce the ‘Consensus’ – Climate ‘deniers’ threatened with being ‘thrown in jail’

Update: Morano’s new book shoots to #1 at Amazon in 4 Categories! Climatology, Earth Sciences, Env. Science & Nature & Ecology

New Book: ‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change’ – by the ‘evil planet killer Marc Morano’ – ‘Like a bullet, it is now the #1 New Release in Environmental Science books

The book has been endorsed by Nobel Prize Winning scientist Dr. Ivar Giaever. (see below) The new book also comes out just in time to greet the upcoming UN IPCC climate report already making the media rounds: See: Leaked UN IPCC Draft Report calls for ‘a radical transformation of society’ – Predicts 1.5°C Warming By 2043

This book is the ultimate reference guide to climate change and no parent should be without a copy as their kids under climate education at school from elementary through college!

What about the risks?

In the next few columns we will be looking at concerns about the fossil fuel industry and how to discuss those concerns.

A quick review

So far we’ve discussed the unique benefits of using fossil fuels. The big idea there was that the fossil fuel industry produces cheap, plentiful, reliable energy on a scale that no other industry can match.

Therefore, for the foreseeable future, billions of people depend on the fossil fuel industry to have access to energy at all.

Everyone else depends on the industry to have access to cheap, plentiful, reliable energy.

We also saw that any discussion of what to do about energy has to recognize these unique benefits of using fossil fuels.

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Looking ahead

Just as we cannot ignore the unique benefits of fossil fuels, we cannot ignore any unique risks of using fossil fuels.

For any product we have to look at the full context, both unique benefits and the unique risks. Or to be more precise, the potential unique benefits and the potential unique risks. I stress the word “potential” because before you explore something that might be a risk or a benefit, you don’t know if it’s a risk or a benefit. We didn’t know, before we explored the potential positives of fossil fuels, whether there were any unique positives.

By the same token, we don’t know whether there are any unique negatives, when we start. We certainly know that there are some very strong claims that there are unique negatives. Those claims are worth understanding and exploring.

There are three main claims that exist about the risks of fossil fuels:

  1. catastrophic resource depletion
  2. catastrophic pollution
  3. catastrophic climate change

We need to understand these three arguments for our own decision making and for persuading others.

This was a lot of what motivated my own interest in the fossil fuel issue and why I did research over a long period of time. I didn’t feel like there were any discussions that carefully looked at the full context.

When I did look at the full context I came to a surprising conclusion: that certain perceived negatives of fossil fuels are extremely exaggerated while other perceived negatives are actually positives.

Alex Epstein: “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” | Talks at Google

Energy philosopher Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, challenges conventional wisdom about the fossil fuel industry and argues that if we look carefully at the positives and negatives of all our energy alternatives, we have a moral obligation to use more fossil fuels, not less.

Updates from the Twittersphere

Are you following me on Twitter (@AlexEpstein)? If not, here is some of what you’ve missed:

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Join me at Energy Disruptors, get special discount

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In a few weeks I’ll be speaking at the Energy Disruptors conference, which takes place in Calgary, May 15-16. This is a unique conference since it has high-level energy influencers from multiple industries and perspectives.

They’ve offered a special discount for subscribers to this list. You can get tickets for 10% off if you use the promo code ALEX10. You can find more details and order your tickets here.

Also, I’m planning on doing a special meetup and discussion for subscribers to this list. So let me know if you’re going.

Apple’s “100% renewable” lie

A few years ago tech giant Apple announced that it was using 100% renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind for many of its power needs, including its data centers, and that 87% of its global operations were run on “renewables.”

Now Apple says it that it is “globally powered by 100 percent renewable energy.”

As part of its commitment to combat climate change and create a healthier environment, Apple today announced its global facilities are powered with 100 percent clean energy. This achievement includes retail stores, offices, data centers and co-located facilities in 43 countries—including the United States, the United Kingdom, China and India.

It’s not true. As I explained in a 2016 Forbes column, Apple is cooking its energy books to sell us on the lie that it runs on solar and wind.

Apple, like nearly every other international technology company in the world, gets the overwhelming percentage of its power from cheap, plentiful, reliable coal and almost none from expensive, unreliable solar and wind.

Like any other large tech company, Apple requires a lot of energy for its operations–and this energy needs to be cheap and reliable. But today’s politically correct sources of energy, above all solar and wind, are neither reliable nor affordable. To call them “renewables” is a misnomer, because “renewables” advocates generally refuse to support the only cost-effective “renewable” option, large-scale hydroelectric power: building a dam, they say, is not sufficiently “green.” Solar and wind should be called “unreliables” because the intermittent nature of sunlight and wind have made them useless as scalable, reliable sources of energy that can meaningfully substitute for hydro, nuclear, let alone fossil fuel power. These unreliables require subsidies and government mandates to exist.

So how can Apple claim to be between 87-100% renewable yet actually be a coal-powered company?

By committing two types of energy accounting sleight-of-hand:

  1. Paying off other companies and consumers to give Apple “green credits” for its coal electricity usage.
  2. Concealing that the vast majority of computer energy use comes from coal-powered manufacturing and the coal-powered Internet.

You can read the whole thing here.

Unfortunately, Apple isn’t the only company dishonestly portraying itself as “100% renewable.” Everyone from Intel to LEGO to Whole Foods to Google is trying to ride the green bandwagon by lying about their energy usage. (One news story describing Apple’s recent announcement had to append this note: “Clarified that Apple, like Google, is not actually 100 percent powered by clean energy, but it uses the term to signal that it buys enough green energy to offset its global power consumption.”)

It is bad enough that these companies are making false claims to build up their image, but they are using their unearned status to promote policies that would deprive others—especially poorer Americans who can’t afford to live in San Francisco mansions—of energy. That is shameful.

Tim Cook and the other “100% renewable” CEOs owe the public—including members of the fossil fuel industry—an apology. They should tell the truth about their energy usage, and thank the men and women who provide the reliable energy that allows them to flourish.

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Thank you for presenting in Ferndale, WA on March 29th at the Silver Reef. I enjoyed your balanced view of the role of energy and how to frame the conversation in a positive way. Unfortunately, the discussion is biased, sloppy, and anti-human just as you described. Framing the issue with the goal of human flourishing versus unchanged nature is the way to have a productive conversation.

Thanks for your perspective, it’s refreshing. -Jason J.

1. Change a mind by sharing my Google talk. Do you have someone you know who needs to learn pro-human thinking about energy issues? A great place to start is by sharing my talk at Google, which is designed to persuade even those immersed in the biased, sloppy, and anti-human energy thinking in our culture. Click the button below and I’ll send you the link to the talk.

Access Google Talk

2. Empower a friend by inviting them to this newsletter. If you know someone who wants to increase their clarity and influence on energy issues, click the button below to invite them to this newsletter.

Invite to Newsletter

3. Bring me to speak at your next event. If you have an upcoming board meeting, employee town hall, or association meeting, I have some new and updated speeches about the moral case for fossil fuels, winning hearts and minds, and communications strategy in the new political climate. If you’d like to consider me for your event, click the button below and I’ll send you the info.

Send Speaking Engagement Details

4. Recommend me for a high-level speaking event (and get an I Love Fossil Fuels t-shirt). One way to influence a high-level audience is to have me speak to them. If you are connected to any high-level events at companies, associations, and conferences, your recommendation could make a huge difference. A simple way to do this is to send an email to your event contact, CC’ing me, with: 1. That you’ve seen me speak. 2. Why you liked it. 3. Why I might be a good fit for their event. For every introduction you make I’ll send you an “I Love Fossil Fuels” t-shirt or a signed copy of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.

The Connection Between Russia and 2 Green Groups Fighting Fracking in U.S.

New Yorkers who are missing out on the natural gas revolution could be victims of Russian spy operations that fund popular environmental groups, current and former U.S. government officials and experts on Russia worry.

Natural gas development of the celebrated Marcellus Shale deposits has spurred jobs and other economic growth in neighboring Pennsylvania. But not in New York, which nearly 10 years ago banned the process of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, to produce natural gas.

Two environmental advocacy groups that successfully lobbied against fracking in New York each received more than $10 million in grants from a foundation in California that got financial support from a Bermuda company congressional investigators linked to the Russians, public documents show.

The environmental groups Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club Foundation received millions of dollars in grants from the San Francisco-based Sea Change Foundation.

“Follow the money trail, and this [New York] ban on fracking could be viewed as an example of successful Russian espionage,” Ken Stiles, a CIA veteran of 29 years who now teaches at Virginia Tech, told The Daily Signal.

To Stiles and other knowledgeable observers, this looks like an actual case of knowing or unknowing collusion with Russia.

Both Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club Foundation also accepted tens of millions from the Energy Foundation, the top recipient of grants from Sea Change, according to foundation and tax records.

When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, renewed his state’s ban on fracking three years ago, the Natural Resources Defense Council issued a statement supporting the ban. So did the Sierra Club, the primary recipient of grants from its sister organization, the Sierra Club Foundation.

Environmental activists associated with the groups receiving Sea Change Foundation grants continued to pressure Cuomo and other public officials to maintain and expand New York’s fracking ban.

Most recently, the two environmental groups scored another victory when the Delaware River Basin Commission, an interstate regulatory agency that includes the governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, proposed a ban on fracking within the Delaware River Basin cutting across all four states.

The Sierra Club and the Natural Resource Defense Council have pressed the regional commission to impose the ban, issuing statements (here and here) calling for  restrictions that are tighter than what the commission proposed.

PennEast Pipeline Co. is set to begin construction on a 120-mile-long pipeline to transport natural gas from the Marcellus Shale across Eastern Pennsylvania into New Jersey. In a new public relations campaign, PennEast asks New Jersey residents if they would rather obtain their energy from Pennsylvania or Russia.

PennEast cites media reports describing how anti-pipeline policies in Massachusetts forced the state into a position where it had to rely on Russian imports of liquified natural gas during peak cold periods this past winter.

The Russian Money Trail

Government officials and environmental leaders have a responsibility to track the money, Stiles, the former CIA officer, told The Daily Signal in an interview.

“The Russians are very adept and skilled at making long-term investments,” Stiles said. “They sit back very patiently to see how their funding can pay off over a period of many years.”

Stiles added:

Whether these environmental groups realize it or not, they could be operating as what we [in the CIA] call ‘agents of influence.’ By working to block natural gas production, environmental activists are advancing policies that work to the advantage of Russia and to the disadvantage of America and America’s allies.

Logo of the Natural Resources Defense Council

Karen Moreau, who is in charge of the New York office of the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association for gas and oil companies, argues that the resulting policy hurts state residents and businesses.

“New York remains at a disadvantage because other states are not just more pro-energy, they are more pro-business and therefore pipelines that could have been constructed in New York taking gas from the Marcellus Shale are instead moving south, not north,” Moreau told The Daily Signal.

“The manufacturing renaissance that is taking place in this country thanks to the president’s policies is not happening in states like New York,” she said.

A senior adviser to the State Department told a recent conference that Trump administration policies supporting energy dominance could help the U.S. eclipse the amount of natural gas Russia exports to the European Union.

The Daily Signal unsuccessfully sought comment from the Sierra Club Foundation and its affiliate the Sierra Club, as well as Natural Resources Defense Council and Sea Change Foundation, on the allegations of Russian financial support for environmentalists’ anti-fracking and anti-pipeline campaigns.

The Marcellus Shale is a geological formation of sedimentary rock with large deposits of natural gas that cuts across southwestern New York, northern and western Pennsylvania, western Ohio, most of West Virginia, and small portions of Kentucky and Tennessee.

The U.S. Geological Survey determined that the Marcellus Shale contains “about 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas and 3.4 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas liquids.”

Since the U.S. is now the top producer of natural gas in the world, and well positioned to export liquefied natural gas across the globe, Russia recognizes it gradually could lose influence in parts of the world where Moscow has been the dominant supplier of oil and gas, Stiles said in a phone interview.

“America’s natural gas revolution has huge geopolitical ramifications, so Russia’s motivation to try to block our natural gas development is easy to understand,” the CIA veteran said. “If you are worried about the Russian bear rearing its ugly head in the next several years, the way to stop that and put it back into its cage is to cut it off at the knees financially.”

“That’s what natural gas pipelines are all about and that’s what fracking is all about. We are providing affordable energy to average Americans at home and our allies overseas.”

The Sierra Club Foundation’s logo

US Gains in Market

In the fracking technique applied to shale formations, engineers inject water mixed with sand and chemicals into a well at high pressure, producing a fluid that fractures the rock and releases trapped oil or natural gas.

Environmentalists continue to challenge fracking, arguing among other things that it contaminates well water.

The natural gas import-export equation has changed radically in the past few years, with trends pointing to the U.S. becoming a net exporter.

Richard Westerdale, the senior adviser with the State Department, made this point in November during the Heartland Institute’s America First Energy Conference in Houston, Texas.

“By 2020, the U.S. will be approaching nearly 100 billion cubic meters in [liquefied natural gas] exports,” Westerdale said in a presentation. “It’s simply amazing to me to think that back in 2010, we were building [liquefied natural gas] import terminals.”

As natural gas markets become increasingly competitive, the “world wins,” he added, since “well-functioning markets reinforce global energy security, foster economic growth and commercial interests abroad, and, depending upon how host countries choose to use [natural gas resources], it can in fact enhance environmental stewardship.”

In three of the first five months of 2017, U.S. natural gas exports were greater than imports, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The most recent available data shows that U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas increased for the duration of 2017 as new facilities went operational.

Logo of Sea Change Foundation

What Consumers Know

Stiles, who teaches espionage and national security issues in Virginia Tech’s geography department, defines espionage, or spying, as “an operation that is planned and executed as to conceal the identity of, or permit plausible denial by, the sponsor.”

One way for Moscow to conceal its sponsorship of anti-fracking campaigns in New York or elsewhere in the U.S. is to move its funding indirectly and anonymously through various entities, the former CIA analyst told The Daily Signal.

“I think the groups and individuals on both sides of the debate over fracking and pipelines have a tendency to just look in their own back yards, without looking at the larger geopolitical picture,” Stiles said. “If it was more widely known that anti-fracking, anti-pipeline operations may be benefitting from a foreign source of funding, this would certainly impact the debate.”

The agents of influence described by Stiles range from “controlled agents” and “trusted contacts” who know they’re working for a foreign government to “manipulated sources” who have no idea that they’re doing the bidding of a foreign power.

The former CIA analyst said he is inclined to characterize environmental activists who received Russian funding through indirect channels, such as Sea Change or the Energy Foundation, as manipulated sources.

Stiles calls on the leadership of environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council, which accepted large amounts through such channels, to start asking hard questions.

“It’s either a lack of due diligence or incompetence, or they may actually know something about a particular donor, but they don’t want to ask that question,” Stiles said. “I tend to think the issue is more that they are just not looking the gift horse in the mouth, and they are just taking the money.”

Energy Foundation’s logo

Paperless Money Trail

Sea Change Foundation, a family charity, is identified in congressional reports and correspondence as a major incubator of funding from foreign sources, including Russia. That money ends up in the coffers of U.S. environmental groups opposed to natural gas development and drilling techniques such as fracking that make that development possible.

Nathaniel Simons and his wife, Laura Baxter-Simons, established Sea Change Foundation in 2006. Simons is the son of James Simons, founder of the New York-based Renaissance Technologies hedge fund firm.

Sea Change, according to its website, works to “address the serious threats posed by global climate change,” focusing on “climate change mitigation and clean energy policy in the United States and internationally.”

In July 2014, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released a report describing how a Bermuda-based company, Klein Ltd., “was set up for the sole purpose of funneling anonymous donations to Sea Change.”

Bermuda law permits Klein Ltd. to conceal foreign sources of funding, the report explains.

“It appears that Klein exists on paper only, as it does not have an internet presence, and was set up for the sole purpose of funneling anonymous donations to Sea Change,” the report says.

Subsequent investigations building on the findings of the Senate committee—including that of the Washington-based Environmental Policy Alliance—established a connection between Wakefield Quin, the law firm that set up Klein, and top Kremlin officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Lawyers and others at Wakefield Quin have been associated with Russian energy companies and worked with Leonid Reiman, a former Russian minister of telecommunications and longtime Putin ally, these investigations found.

Environmental Policy Alliance, which opposes the agenda of liberal green groups, is affiliated with Washington lobbyist Rick Berman and his Berman & Co. public affairs firm.

Sea Change has not responded directly to The Daily Signal in the past, and did not respond for this report.

In an email to Salon, however, the foundation in July 2017 acknowledged receiving financial support from Klein, saying it accepted the company’s grant money as “general support” with no proviso that it be used for specific programs.

Response From Klein Ltd.

In an email to The Daily Signal, Roderick M. Forrest, a Wakefield Quin lawyer representing Klein Ltd., described allegations against his Bermuda-based client as “completely false and irresponsible.” Klein, he said, “has no Russian connection whatsoever.”

Forrest made similar assertions in an email to The Washington Times in July 2017.

The Daily Signal had sought the law firm’s comment on allegations of Russian funding of U.S. environmental groups and Klein’s alleged role in easing movement of Russian funds to the Sea Change Foundation.

“Our firm has represented Klein since its inception,” Forrest said in the email, “and we can state categorically that at no point did this philanthropic organization receive or expend funds from Russian sources or Russian-connected sources and Klein has no Russian connection whatsoever.”

The lawyer for Klein added:

Attorneys, law firms, financial institutions and all other companies based in Bermuda operate under a regulatory and anti-money laundering regime which applies standards which are amongst the highest in the world. Illicit movement of funds falls well below such standards and any informed party would understand that, not only is there no substance or truth to such allegations in this case, the allegations appear to be intended to damage the reputation of the Bermuda-based individuals and businesses named.

Bermuda and the U.S. have in place an information exchange framework under which the U.S. government, its regulators and law enforcement agencies have access to all information concerning financial transactions in Bermuda and by Bermuda entities. Through this framework, information is available to such proper authorities, enabling them to be satisfied as to the probity of any alleged payments.

Julie Hill, a professor at University of Alabama School of Law with expertise in regulation of financial institutions, told The Daily Signal that it is not “as easy as it was at one time to engage in money laundering” in places such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

That’s because monetary authorities now collect more information from companies than they did previously, Hill said.

“This information is not made public, but it can be given to foreign governments,” Hill said in an interview, adding:

The advantage in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands now would be more in terms of tax neutrality rather than anonymity. But it’s certainly true that various entities have in the past engaged in money laundering schemes in these locations, and the Russians would be part of this history. Today there are more barriers than in the past. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, it just means it’s harder.

‘Ripe for Investigation’

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, sent a letter in June to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying allegations of Russian financial support for U.S. environmental groups “are ripe for an investigation” by the Treasury Department.

In the letter, previously reported by The Daily Signal, Smith noted that Klein Ltd. and Wakefield Quin share the same Bermuda address “with more than 20 other companies” apparently run through the law firm.

A review of IRS 990 Forms shows that Klein contributed $23 million to Sea Change in 2010 and 2011, almost half of what the California foundation received in that time. The 990 forms indicate Sea Change then made grants concentrated on environmental advocacy groups.

From 2010  through 2015, the Sierra Club Foundation received more than $18 million from Sea Change and Natural Resources Defense Council received more than $15 million.

Both groups are on record opposing natural gas development in New York, and both are among the top 10 recipients of Sea Change grants, according to an analysis of foundation records.

The Energy Foundation, at $64 million, was the top recipient of Sea Change grants from 2010 through 2015, the most recent year for which 990s are available.

The 2014 Senate report describes the Energy Foundation as a “pass through” public charity that donates to environmental activist groups such as the Sierra Club Foundation and Natural Resources Defense Council.

The idea behind a “pass through” organization, according to the Senate report, is “to create the appearance of a more diversified base of support” and to “shield” donors from accountability.

Between 1998 and 2015, the Energy Foundation paid 30,178 grants to 12,058 recipients totaling more than $1.2 billion, records show. Grantees included environmental groups active in opposing natural gas development of the Marcellus Shale.

The top recipient was Natural Resources Defense Council, with more than $35 million. The Sierra Club Foundation received more than $16 million. (The council has $236.5 million in net assets, while the foundation has $113.2 million in net assets.)

Recalling Cold War History

Paul Kengor, a Grove City College political science professor who has researched the history of Moscow’s manipulation of U.S. political figures, told The Daily Signal that he sees an “old Cold War powder keg that went dry suddenly being reignited.”

“What makes the current situation more nefarious today is the possibility—if this is indeed accurate—of Russian manipulation of domestic groups inside the United States and the willful cooperation of those domestic environmentalists,” Kengor, a biographer of Ronald Reagan, said in an email, adding:

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan had one heck of a time trying to enlist the support of our Western allies in blocking the Siberian gas pipeline in Russia. Even [British Prime Minister] Margaret Thatcher balked; in fact, that’s an understatement: Thatcher was vehemently opposed because she wanted Britain to have the cheap Russian gas and wanted some British firms to have some of the construction contracts. The same was true for the West Germans and the French.

Ronald Reagan boldly proceeded almost alone in this effort in the 1980s. But here today … we have the extremely troubling possibility of our own U.S. citizens being targeted by the Russians for manipulation in undercutting our own domestic energy industry, our workers, and our citizens.

What stands out in terms of Cold War history and its relevance to contemporary questions of espionage is the role of Putin, warns Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, a Washington-based think tank that supports free market solutions to policy challenges.

“Putin, let’s not forget, is an old hand at using Western pressure groups to serve the Kremlin’s purposes,” Cohen said in an email.

“When, in the 1980s, the old Soviet Union was manipulating self-styled ‘peace groups’ in Western Europe and the U.S. in an effort to divide NATO and isolate the U.S., Putin was a mid-level KGB agent in East Germany.”

Cohen added:

Though that effort ultimately failed, Putin learned his lesson well. Then it was U.S. missiles to defend Western Europe that had to be demonized; today, it is U.S. oil and natural gas that are portrayed as a threat. In both cases, money changed hands, and scare tactics were the order of the day.

New Yorkers and High Energy Costs

New York residents continue to pay the price for Cuomo’s ban on drilling techniques that make it possible to access natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, laments Moreau, executive director of the American Petroleum Institute’s New York office.

“People who could have had inexpensive natural gas instead have had to pay very high electricity prices due to the cold snap this winter,” Moreau told The Daily Signal, “and many power generators were actually forced to burn oil instead of natural gas due to the constraints on natural gas.”

The 625 members of API, a national trade association, include major energy companies in the oil and gas industry.

Although New York is the fourth-largest consumer of natural gas in the nation, that natural gas primarily is imported from other states, Moreau said.

“If not for the pro-energy development policies of other states, New Yorkers would be bitterly freezing this winter,” she said.

The Daily Signal sought comment from Cuomo’s office to ask if the New York governor had concerns about allegations of Russian support for environmental groups active in his state. His office has not responded.

Cohen, of the National Center for Public Policy Research, said he sees a connection between Putin’s government in Moscow and influential U.S. environmental groups that is difficult to deny.

“The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and other advocacy groups may have their own ‘green’ reasons for opposing America’s realizing the energy potential of its abundant fossil fuels,” Cohen said in an email to The Daily Signal.  “At the same time, these groups know full well that they receive funding from the Sea Change Foundation and the Energy Foundation, both of which, according to a congressional report, are funded by Russian interests via a Bermuda-based shell company.”

Some green groups and Russia under Putin “have a common interest in demonizing fracking and related technologies that have tilted global energy markets in America’s favor,” Cohen said.

“Just as the shale revolution has been an economic godsend to millions of Americans, providing them with affordable electricity and transportation fuel, it has been a nightmare for Russia and environmental activists.”

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Kevin Mooney

Kevin Mooney

Kevin Mooney is an investigative reporter for The Daily Signal. Send an email to Kevin. Twitter: @KevinMooneyDC.

RELATED ARTICLE: PennEast Pipeline Backers Tout Lower Energy Prices in Fighting Well-Funded Green Groups

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaking on Jan. 21st in Lower Manhattan, renewed a ban on fracking for natural gas in his state. (Photo: John Roca/Polaris/Newscom)

Oil is everywhere

On top of the many benefits that fossils fuels provide, including the ability to use machines to amplify our productivity and improve our lives and the ability to provide cheap, plentiful, and reliable energy on a scale of billions, we have yet another set of benefits.

Our hydrocarbon world

Using oil and gas, the hydrocarbon industry also produces a caliber of synthetic materials that cannot be matched by any other industry. We have so many diverse materials. We have artificial hearts, bullet-proof vests, insulation, carpet, golf balls, ink.

Where did these materials come from? Let’s take something as seemingly unrelated to oil as paper. You might say, “I know where paper comes from. Paper comes from trees.” But if you notice, there’s a coating on the paper that makes it a lot easier to write on.

It’s worth asking with all of these things, “Where does it come from? Does it come from a rock, does it come from a plant, does it come from metal? Glass? Sand? Where does it come from?”

If you ask that question, you’ll find that the answer more often than not that it comes from oil, or from natural gas. It’s amazing how much in our life is made from hydrocarbons.

Another question you should ask yourself is, “How frequently do I use oil-based materials?” You may be surprised to find that it’s nearly impossible to get through an entire day without coming into contact with dozens of oil-based products that improve your life. And when I say oil-based, I include natural gas-based products too.

An oil walk

Let’s try this. Say you wake up reaching to snooze your alarm clock. It’s an electric device so why aren’t you worried about potentially getting electrocuted? Well, there’s a cord that insulates the electricity and protects you from that. What’s that made of? It’s made of oil, which means that some brilliant engineers figured out how to take this substance, this hydrocarbon, and turn it into a cord, and do it very affordably.

How does that work? Basically, hydrocarbon molecules have a potential to be very versatile, but you need human ingenuity to figure out how to break them down into “monamers,” which are very small hydrocarbon molecules. Then, the brilliant engineers figure out how to make the monamers into “polymers,” which are these different combinations of the hydrocarbon molecules that can serve any purpose.

Next, say you don’t want to get out of bed because it’s so comfortable and you think, “Gosh, I love this Tempur-Pedic bed, it feels so good.” Where does Tempur-Pedic come from?

This is oil, too. You might think, “Well, this isn’t relevant to me because I have a Sleep Number bed, and that’s high gauge plastic, not just foam.” Wait. The oil industry makes that, too.

You can’t even get out of bed in this exercise, because there’s so many things about your bed that are made from oil.

When you do get up, what’s the first thing your feet touch? The floor and very likely a rug or carpet. What’s that carpet made from? It’s made from oil. And why are you warm? It’s not just because of the natural gas-based heating you may have, but also because of the insulation in the walls. “What about the paint on the walls?” That too, is from oil.

And as you get dressed, you’ll find that your plastic eyeglass lenses, your nylon socks, and your rubber-soled shoes all come from oil, too. You see that so much of our lives is based on using hydrocarbons, for all of these amazing modern materials.

What if hydrocarbons were more expensive?

Here’s the question to ask. What would happen to these materials if oil and gas were more expensive? It’s very simple. The products that use those materials are made that way, because the oil-based materials enable them to be higher quality, less expensive, and sometimes exist in the first place. Sometimes there’s no other way to do it.

To recap what we’ve covered so far:

  • Energy is fundamental
  • Energy needs to be cheap, plentiful, and reliable
  • The process for creating energy also needs to be cheap, plentiful, and reliable.
  • The fossil fuel industry is the only industry that can provide cheap, plentiful, and reliable energy for billions of people

And that brings us to the conclusion that without the hydrocarbon industry’s unique efficiency, vital energy and materials would not be affordable or available to billions more people.

Fossil fuels = access to energy

Simply put, using fossil fuels means more people have more access to energy. Which means all things being equal, more years of life added on to billions of people’s lives.

And thus, every fossil fuel discussion should incorporate the context that the fossil fuel industry is the only industry that can produce cheap, plentiful, reliable energy for billions of people.

RELATED ARTICLE: Which Energy Sources Are Actually Sustainable

Overcoming Bias in Energy Conversations

Last week I gave a 5-hour workshop on How to Have Constructive Conversations about Energy. Here’s a clip where I discuss the biased thinking behind opposition to fossil fuels–and a simple but deeply powerful technique for framing a conversation to minimize bias.

Please share the video. And if you’re interested in having me host a Constructive Conversation Workshop or speak on some other topic click the below link.

Send Speaking Engagement Details

What are fossil fuels?

The hydrocarbon industry has developed a highly resource efficient process to find, extract and harness a naturally concentrated, plentiful and stored source of energy. It’s the only industry that has come up with a process that is cheap, plentiful and reliable. To understand why that is, it’s important to understand what fossil fuels are and how to explain it to someone who doesn’t work in the fossil fuel energy.

Fossil fuels 101

Fossil fuels are created by the decomposition of living organisms over millions of years. Let’s take the example of coal. The organic matter decomposes and combined with time, heat, and pressure, becomes more and more dense, getting buried under several layers of earth and eventually forming coal.

Fossil fuels are also referred to as hydrocarbons because they are very rich in molecules made of hydrogen and carbon atom combinations. When these atoms bond together, they have some remarkable properties.

One is that they are able store a lot of energy in a very small amount of space that is released when burned. This is what allows hydrocarbons to power engines, such as an internal combustion engine or a steam engine.

When you burn fossil fuels, you introduce oxygen into the system, leading the carbon atoms to bond with oxygen and become carbon dioxide, while the hydrogen atoms bond with oxygen to become dihydrogen oxide—that is, water. The energy formerly holding them together is released in the form of heat, which creates pressure that can move the engine. That’s basically how all the different engines in modern life work. It’s a very efficient way of generating energy.

Just how plentiful are fossil fuels?

It’s important to note that there is an enormous amount of hydrocarbon in the earth. But even though there is a huge amount of this material, if we don’t know how to get it or don’t know how to use it, it’s useless. For most of history, we haven’t been able to do either. However, today, thanks to the ingenuity of the fossil fuel industry, we’re able to find and extract those hydrocarbons and use them more efficiently.

Exactly how much is there? What we often discuss is what are called reserves, which is the amount we have in inventory. The thing to realize is that the reserves are usually a very small fraction of the overall in-place amount or deposits that actually exist in the earth.

If you notice, what this graph shows with oil—and the same is true for natural gas—our consumption over time goes up, but our reserves also go up.

image

That seems impossible unless you realize that the overall deposits are massive; many, many, more times than we have used in the whole history of civilization.

So the key question is not how much deposit is there; it’s whether we have the ingenuity to turn those deposits into usable energy.

The hydrocarbon industry has answered this question by continuing to improve how we access and use these resources, which has translated into an abundant energy source for billions.

Vitamin O

The hydrocarbon industry produces energy for every kind of use: heating, electricity, but perhaps the most distinctive form of energy it produces that no other industry can replicate, is oil.

Oil is a cheap, plentiful, and reliable form of portable energy. Why is portability important? It has allowed us to create new applications for energy, such as cars, planes, and harvesters, which would not exist if their energy sources were not portable.

For example, a modern harvester that reaps enough wheat for 500,000 loaves of bread a day needs to carry its energy with it. Nothing can match liquid hydrocarbons, in this case in the form of diesel fuel. That’s why over 90% of the world’s transportation comes from liquid hydrocarbons, because in terms of portability, it is the best.

So when people talk about restricting that, particularly oil-based fuels, the conversation should include all of the potential consequences. The hydrocarbon industry produces energy for so many different types of uses.

It is the only industry that can produce cheap, plentiful, and reliable energy that we need to power our machines, amplify our productivity, and provide significant amounts of power on the go. It is the only industry to do so for billions of people throughout the world.

EPA Begins Revision of Obama Climate Regulations for Cars, Trucks

EPA chief Scott Pruitt said Monday that the Obama administration’s fuel economy regulations aren’t appropriate and his agency will help revise them.

Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would begin crafting new greenhouse gas emission and mileage standards for vehicles built in 2022 through 2025.

dcnf-logo

“The Obama EPA’s determination was wrong,” Pruitt said in a written statement about the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards. He said:

Obama’s EPA cut the midterm evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high.

The EPA’s revising of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations put the agency on a collision course with California state officials. The Golden State got permissions from the Obama administration to issue its own, higher emissions standards.

Conservative groups have urged Pruitt to repeal California’s waiver, arguing the state can use its influence over automakers to supplant federal standards. The EPA is still examining California’s waiver, but Pruitt seemed critical of continuing the policy as it stands.

“Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country,” Pruitt said. “EPA will set a national standard for greenhouse gas emissions that allows auto manufacturers to make cars that people both want and can afford—while still expanding environmental and safety benefits of newer cars.”

“It’s in everyone’s best interest to have a national standard, and we look forward to working with all states, including California, as we work to finalize that standard,” he said.

The EPA also is moving against former President Barack Obama’s emissions pledge under the Paris climate accord, which he joined in 2016. Obama committed the U.S. to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025.

The Obama rules required cars to get 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Officials estimated the rules would cut 540 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and save consumers money.

However, automakers missed fuel efficiency targets for model year 2016 cars and light trucks by about 9 grams per mile. The Obama EPA’s own analysis found cars may not meet the 2025 target, likely getting between 50 and 52.6 miles per gallon by then.

COMMENTARY BY

Michael Bastasch

Michael Bastasch is a reporter for The Daily Caller News Foundation. Twitter: @MikeBastasch.

EDITORS NOTE: Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

U.S. Energy Facts

The U.S. Energy Information Administration provides these U.S. Energy Facts:

Americans use many types of energy

Petroleum, natural gas, coal, renewable energy, and nuclear electric power are primary energy sources. Electricity is a secondary energy source that is generated from primary energy sources.

Energy sources are measured in different physical units: liquid fuels in barrels or gallons, natural gas in cubic feet, coal in short tons, and electricity in kilowatts and kilowatthours. In the United States, British thermal units (Btu), a measure of heat energy, is commonly used for comparing different types of energy to each other. In 2016, total U.S. primary energy consumption was about 97.4 quadrillion (1015, or one thousand trillion) Btu.

In 2016, the shares of total primary energy consumption for the five energy-consuming sectors were:

    • Electric power—39%
    • Transportation—29%
    • Industrial—22%
    • Residential—6%
    • Commercial—4%

The electric power sector generates most of the electricity in the United States, and the other four sectors consume most of that electricity.

The pattern of fuel use varies widely by sector. For example, petroleum provides about 92% of the energy used for transportation, but only 1% of the energy used to generate electricity.

Domestic energy production is equal to about 91% of U.S. energy consumption

In 2016, energy produced in the United States was equal to about 83.9 quadrillion Btu, which was equal to about 86% of U.S. energy consumption. The difference between production and consumption was mainly in net imports of petroleum.

The three major fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—accounted for most of the nation’s energy production in 2016:

The mix of U.S. energy production changes

The three major fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—have dominated the U.S. energy mix for more than 100 years. Several recent changes in U.S. energy production have occurred:

    • Coal production peaked in 2008 and trended down through 2016. Coal production in 2016 was about the same as production was in 1977. The primary reason for the general decline in coal production in recent years is the decrease in coal consumption for electricity generation.
    • Natural gas production in 2016 was the second largest amount after the record high production in 2015. More efficient and cost-effective drilling and production techniques have resulted in increased production of natural gas from shale formations.
    • Crude oil production generally decreased each year between 1970 and 2008. In 2009, the trend reversed and production began to rise. More cost-effective drilling and production technologies helped to boost production, especially in Texas and North Dakota. In 2016, crude oil production was lower than production in 2015, mainly because of lower global crude oil prices.
    • Natural gas plant liquids (NGPL) are hydrocarbon gas liquids that are extracted from natural gas before the natural gas is put into pipelines for transmission to consumers. NGPL production has increased alongside increases in natural gas production. In 2016, NGPL production reached a record high.
    • Total renewable energy production and consumption both reached record highs of about 10 quadrillion Btu in 2016. Hydroelectric power production in 2016 was about 12% below the 50-year average, but increases in energy production from wind and solar helped to increase the overall energy production from renewable sources. Energy production from wind and solar were at record highs in 2016.

The greatest energy technology of all time

Earlier we discussed that for energy to be useful, it must be cheap, plentiful, and reliable, and to be cheap, plentiful, and reliable, every element of the process to create energy must also be cheap, plentiful, and reliable. We saw how this can be difficult to achieve with some alternative energy sources, such as solar.

It’s important to know this because if somebody tells you “Let’s replace the way we currently produce energy with this other way,” you have to be able to evaluate whether or not the process is really viable.

Fossil fuels: cheap, plentiful, reliable energy for billions

The subject of this column is that the hydrocarbon, or fossil fuel, industry is the only industry that can produce cheap, plentiful, reliable energy on a scale of billions. That means that without such an industry, we don’t have the amount of food we need, the amount of technology we want, really the amount of anything we need or want.

The first thing to realize is that the vast majority of the world’s energy is in fact produced by the hydrocarbon industry. This was true back in 1980, and it’s also true in the present.

As you can see, there’s much more overall energy consumption now and the vast majority of that is still fossil fuel energy. What that means is that we’re using considerably more fossil fuels, not less.

image

There is currently no other industry that can match what the fossil fuel industry is producing and on the scale that it’s producing it.

Why? The reason is that the hydrocarbon industry has developed a highly resource efficient process to find, extract and harness a naturally concentrated, plentiful, and stored source of energy. It’s the only industry that has come up with a process that is cheap, plentiful and reliable.

To understand why that is, it’s important to understand what fossil fuels are and how to explain it to someone who doesn’t work in the fossil fuel energy. We’ll take that up next week.

RELATED ARTICLES:

EPA Revision of Obama-Era Fuel Standards Will Make New Cars More Affordable

U.S. Energy Facts – U.S. Energy Information Agency

EPA Chief Puts Science Back Into Environmental Protection

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt may be just a lawyer, but so far he has done more to bring sound science to the EPA than any scientist ever affiliated with the agency.

And, apparently, he’s just getting started.

Since taking the reins at the EPA and despite not having a full complement of presidential appointees helping him—not to mention the 15,000 agency employees, many of whom fancy themselves as part of the “resistance”—Pruitt has shaken up the EPA’s 47-year-old culture and practice of politically-driven science.

Pruitt’s first move last fall was to reform the agency’s practice of appointing its own university research grantees to its science advisory boards so they would be in position to rubber-stamp agency actions. This practice contravened federal law that requires these boards to be made up of unbiased scientists.

In one example, a 26-member board had 24 EPA grantees who had received more than $200 million in research grants from the agency. These scientists were “reviewing” either their own research or the research of their colleagues. It was pal review, not peer review.

So, Pruitt changed the EPA’s policy. Researchers now must choose whether they want to receive research grants from the EPA or serve on its advisory boards. But they can’t do both.

Pruitt also appointed new members to some of these boards. For the first time in at least 20 years, individuals were appointed who are prominent critics of how the EPA uses science—including the chairmen of the two most important science advisory boards.

Pruitt rightly recognizes these boards are advisory in nature and he is not bound to accept their advice. As such, Pruitt should be commended for wanting to get different points of view from the members of his advisory boards. In contrast, the Obama EPA boards were largely just echo chambers of a single point of view.

Just last week, Pruitt announced another giant leap toward improving how the EPA uses science. Pruitt says he will ban the use of so-called “secret science” from agency rule-makings.

Over the past 20 years, for example, the most costly EPA air quality regulations have been based on scientific data in taxpayer-funded studies that Harvard and Brigham Young University researchers have literally kept secret for decades.

In 1994, an EPA external science advisory board known as the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee asked for the data, but the request was ignored by the agency. In 1997, Congress requested the data and was outright refused.

In 1998, Congress passed a law requiring that scientific data relied on by the agency must be made available to the public. But an appellate court held the law unenforceable in 1998.

In 2011, Congress again began politely asking the EPA for the data. No luck. So, in 2013, Congress issued its first subpoena in 30 years to force the EPA to produce the data. Again, no luck.

The House then began passing bills—three of them in successive sessions of Congress—to bar the EPA from relying on secret data to issue regulations. But all got stuck in the Senate, including the current bill known as the HONEST Act.

So Pruitt has decided he will take the initiative and ban the use of secret science at the EPA. If agency rules are going to be based on scientific data, that data must be available to independent researchers for validation purposes.

It of course would be better if Congress passed legislation to make this permanent, but Pruitt recognizes the EPA and the public cannot wait on the hopelessly deadlocked legislature.

These are all major accomplishments. But there’s a lot more to do. The good news is that Pruitt is eager. He is rightly focused on how the EPA uses science and his plans for improving the process.

As someone who has worked on EPA science issues and controversies for more than 27 years, it’s all music to my ears.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Steve Milloy

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com, was a member of the Trump EPA transition team, and is the author of “Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA” (Bench Press, 2016). Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLES:

Conservative Leaders, GOP Lawmakers Voice Support for Scott Pruitt

EPA Chief Says Media Reports About Him Don’t Tell True Story

Obama EPA Officials Protest Scott Pruitt’s ‘Secret Science’ Reforms. Here’s Why They’re Off Base.

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

Before March 31, we are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associates benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters/Newscom.

Videos on Climate Computer Models & How Russia and China Have Identical Energy Agendas

The accuracy of computer models is critical to the entire climate change issue (and thus renewable energy). Two very good videos [below] have been just released that tackle this complex matter: 1) a 4± minute video in the style of PragerU releases, and 2) a 20± minute film designed for a deeper understanding. (BTW, I have the contact info for both filmmakers, so if you have any suggestions for improvements, let me know and I’ll pass them on.)

Computer Models & Fortune Tellers

Better Understanding… Models

Since Russian collusion is a hot topic, I put together an overview document about how the Russians (and Chinese) have an almost identical energy agenda, as do the leaders of some mainstream environmental organizations. Please also note that this Newsletter has several recent articles about Russian interference (see below).

North Carolina has been ground zero for the environmentalist war on fossil fuels. Currently the battle is about offshore gas and oil exploration. To put some balance into this issue, here is a Position Paper that looks at all of the expressed concerns. It’s a living document so periodically check it for updates.

I also did an update of my article Twenty-One Bad Things About Wind Energy, which has become the most-viewed post on the very popular Master Resource.

I just updated the list of sample NYS towns, comparing each of their local wind ordinances. No matter where you live, if you are dealing with wind energy, this information should be of interest to you.

Lastly, ABC (American Bird Conservancy — one of the more reasonable environmental organizations) is hiring a person to deal with wind energy. Here is the position in case you know someone who would be interested.

Some recent articles on Russians and energy policies:

Russia Is Delivering Loads Of Natural Gas To Massachusetts
A Scandalous Case of Russian Collusion with Liberals
Short video: Russia Behind Eco-Activists
The US blames Russia for cyber attacks on the energy grid
Europe’s cold shoulder to Russian gas could lift US LNG export goals
EU is now even more dependent on Russian gas
Britain may be left out in the cold over Russia row
UK must boost fracking to reduce reliance on Russian energy
Merkel Looks to LNG to Cut Germany’s Dependence on Russian Gas

PS: Our intention is to put some balance into what most people see from the mainstream media about energy and environmental issues… As always, please pass this on to open-minded citizens, and on your social media sites. If there are others who you think would benefit from being on our energy & environmental email list, please let me know. If at any time you’d like to be taken off this list, simply send me an email saying that.

PPS: I am not an attorney, so no material appearing in any of the Newsletters (or our WiseEnergy.org website) should be construed as giving legal advice. My recommendation has always been: consult a competent attorney when you are involved with legal issues.

Energy Poverty Kills: How Germany embraced solar and wind and ended up in energy poverty

Let’s take a look at this in practice. Germany is considered by some to be the best success story in the world of effective solar and wind use, and you’ll often hear that they get a large percentage of their energy from solar and wind.

You can see here on this chart how this claim was made and why it’s not accurate.

image

First of all, this is just a chart of electricity. Solar and wind are only producing electricity and half of Germany’s energy needs also include fuel and heating. So solar and wind ever contribute half as much to Germany’s energy needs as this chart would imply.

But that’s not the biggest problem. What you notice here is that there’s certain days and times where there are large spikes, but there are also periods where there’s relatively little. What that means is that you can’t rely on solar and wind ever. You always have to have an infrastructure that can produce all of your electricity independent of the solar and wind because you can always go a long period with very little solar and wind.

So then why are the solar and wind necessary? Well, you could argue that they’re not and that adding them onto the grid will impose a lot of costs.

In Germany, electricity prices have more than doubled since 2000 when solar and wind started receiving massive subsidies and favorable regulations, and their electricity prices are three to four times what we would pay in the U.S. (Because of its low reliability, solar, and wind energy options require an alternative backup—one that’s cheap, plentiful, and reliable—to make it work, thus creating a more expensive and inefficient process.)

Nuclear and hydro

Fossil fuels are not the only reliable sources. There are two others that don’t generate CO2 that are significant and are more limited, but still significant contributors. Those are hydroelectric energy and nuclear energy.

Hydroelectric energy can be quite affordable over time, but it’s limited to locations where you have the right physical situation to produce hydroelectric power.

Nuclear is more interesting because nuclear doesn’t have the problems of hydro but it’s been very restricted throughout history so today in the vast majority of cases it’s considerably more expensive than say electricity from natural gas. This may change in the future and one thing we’ll discuss under policy is how we need to have the right policies so that all energy technologies can grow and flourish, if indeed the creators of those technologies can do it.

image

The reality of energy poverty: a story

To illustrate just how important it is to have cheap, plentiful, and reliable energy, I want to share a story I came across while doing research for my book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. This is a story about a baby born in the very poor country of Gambia.

The baby was born underweight and premature, but not in such a way that would be a big problem in say, the United States. In the United States, the solution would have been obvious: incubation. This technology would almost certainly bring this baby up to be completely healthy, and if you met the baby later in life you would never know that there had ever been a problem.

Unfortunately, in the Gambia, in this particular hospital, they needed something that billions of people in the world do not have, and that is reliable electricity.

Without reliable electricity, the hospital didn’t even contemplate owning an incubator, the one thing this baby desperately needed to survive.

Without access to this technology, the baby could not survive on her own, and sadly, she died. I think this story reminds us of what it means to have access to cheap, plentiful, and reliable energy, and how having more energy gives us the ability to improve our lives.

To summarize what we discussed, if you can’t afford energy you don’t have energy, and if energy is scarce or unreliable, then you don’t have energy when you need it. It’s not just enough to have energy, the energy and the process to create it has to be cheap, plentiful, and reliable.

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