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Who’s Really ‘Breaking Down the Door’ to the White House?

            A favorite deception by anti-coal environmental groups – and one that news reporters have yet to even attempt to fact check – is the idea that “industry” is somehow wielding undue influence behind closed doors at the White House regarding coal ash.

            “…industry has clearly been breaking down the door,” declared Trip Van Noppen, president of Earthjustice, in a news release issued April 15.  The news release further accused: “Lobbyists with the power, mining and coal ash industries have met with OMB nearly 30 times during this delay, putting pressure on the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to scale back and even scuttle any effective federal oversight of this toxic threat.”

            What Earthjustice doesn’t admit is the fact that environmental groups have been meeting with the White House at a startling rate.  Earthjustice itself has met with the Office of Management and Budget on at least four occasions. (That’s double the number of meetings by either the American Coal Ash Association, which represents ash recyclers, or the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, which represents utilities that dispose of ash.)  Furthermore, the Sierra Club has met with OMB at least six times and the Environmental Integrity Project has met with the office at least seven times.

            Newspaper reporters, however, are taking what the environmental groups say without even the tiniest grain of salt. For instance, Michael Collins filed a story for the Scripps Howard News Service the same day as the Earthjustice news release that began this way: “The White House regulatory office that is reviewing proposed standards for the storage of toxic ash from coal-fired power plants has met behind closed doors more than two dozen times with industry groups and other parties who oppose the new rules. Yet environmentalists and others pushing for the new standards have had only a handful of meetings with the federal regulators, according to government records.”

            The Michael Collins news story goes on to interview representatives of the Southern Environmental Law Center, Earthjustice, and OMB Watch, but makes no attempt to get “industry’s” side.  Nor does it appear that the reporter actually looked at the government records he is claiming as a source.

            Everything left behind in those “closed doors” meetings can be found just by looking here:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/oira_2050_meetings/. Even a casual review of those government records will reveal that:

1)      Environmental groups have had ample access to the meeting process, and

2)      Industry groups are not attempting to “scuttle” federal oversight – they are merely trying to persuade the Administration that declaring coal ash a “hazardous waste” is unwarranted, unnecessary, and would do more environmental harm than good.           

            Maybe the environmental activists are correct, after all, when they say everyone else is “breaking down the door” to see the White House.  For anti-coal activists, the door simply appears to be wide open.



Posted by: on: Apr 16, 2010 @ 02:35