Freeway

Who Are the Real Big Guys Behind the Scenes?

            Environmental activists are fond of spinning David vs. Goliath tales and the current coal ash disposal debate is no exception. But a closer examination shows that the roles should probably be reversed.

            “Sunstein Defends Closed-Door Coal Ash Meetings” was the headline of an Inside EPA article Friday, March 12 – an article that once again blindly repeated the environmental activist fiction that industry is somehow wielding inordinate power behind closed doors to frustrate the interests of everyday citizens concerned about the environment.  Here’s the first sentence from the article:  “Obama White House regulatory chief Cass Sunstein is rejecting criticism of the number of meetings his office has held with industry groups lobbying against EPA's stalled proposal to establish first-time waste rules for coal ash…”

The reporter might as well have asked: “When did you stop beating your wife?”  There are so many things wrong with the article; it’s hard to know where to start:

“Closed-door meetings?” You can see every meeting the White House has held, and download copies of everything that was left behind, just by going here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/oira_2050_meetings/  By the way, Inside EPA has never asked the environmental groups how many “closed-door meetings” they had with the EPA officials who are preparing to propose regulations that overturn more than two decades of previous EPA regulatory actions and threaten to unwind one of the most successful recycling programs in history.

“Number of meetings his office has held with industry groups?” Hmmm, a check of the same web site today revealed the last six meetings posted – in fact, all of the meetings posted for February and March so far – have been with environmental groups, not industry!  Some of those environmental groups are back for the second or third time.

“First-time waste rules for coal ash?”  Coal ash use and disposal is subject to numerous environmental regulations at the state level.  Furthermore, EPA itself has said in two previous reports to Congress and two formal Regulatory Determinations that the kind of waste rules being sought by environmentalists now are not warranted. It’s not as if this issue has suddenly appeared out of the ether.

But the biggest deceit of all is the persistent classification of this debate as “industry vs. environmentalists.”  A close reading of the records posted on the White House web site shows the truth: An overwhelming number of the “industry” people who have been speaking out are small businesses that have budgets a fraction of the size of the “environmentalist” groups that mounted the campaign to raise this misguided regulatory proposal in the first place.

(Want to know just how big the Sierra Club’s budget is? Good luck finding it. They don’t post it on their web site and they spread their operations across numerous entities and spin-offs to try to hide their enormous size.)

So here’s a case where the “environmentalists” are bigger business than the recycling “industry” participants they will harm the most by unjustifiably labeling coal ash “hazardous.”  And news media that refuse to open the curtain to show who’s really pulling the levers.



Posted by: on: Mar 18, 2010 @ 08:31