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The Center for American Progress, a progressive, DC-based think tank that has served as a training ground for Obama Administration officials, coordinated with the EPA to provide talking points on carbon control rules, emails show.
A series of emails, obtained by the Environment and Energy Legal Institute, demonstrate an ongoing relationship between the EPA – specifically Joseph Goffman, a senior official with the EPA’s air and radiation practice – and CAP’s then-strategy director David Weiss. The two collaborated as they tried to convince a New York Times reporter, who had discovered that the Carbon Capture and Sequestration program (the EPA’s method for assisting power plants that could not meet Clean Air Act regulations for air pollution) was much less effective than the EPA had previously noted.
A prominent left-wing group helped formulate Environmental Protection Agency talking points designed to sell a controversial regulatory scheme to skeptical journalists, internal emails show.
The emails show Joseph Goffman, the senior counsel of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, circulating talking points from Center for American Progress climate strategy director Daniel Weiss among EPA colleagues attempting to sell the agency’s controversial power plant regulations to a New York Times reporter.
Weiss emailed Goffman in September 2013 with a series of suggestions for convincing the Times’ Matt Wald of the commercial viability of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology, a vital component of the agency’s stringent power plant emissions regulations.
Goffmann, who you’ve met before, no doubt, in our coverage of the EPA’s carbon emissions regulations and “Clean Air Act” materials, had been charged with making a legal justification for the carbon regulations, which would have a demonstrable economic impact on the power industry. As part of that justification, the EPA tried desperately to include references to CCS technology, which they said making adapting to their air pollution standards economically feasible and technologically possible, even for existing coal-powered plants.
The problem? CCS’s reliability has always been in question, and the New York Times became aware of that, sometime in 2013. NYT reporter Matt Wald planned to go public with an “expose” of the CCS program, and Goffman wanted to either head him off or convince him of the error of his ways. Working with associates in the White House and in the EPA’s messaging department (yes, they have one), Goffman contacted Weiss and began sharing ideas. According to the emails, Weiss outlined what he called a “compelling case” that CCS was ready for prime time. Goffman then appears to have emailed Weiss’s suggestions (though copy-pasted in to his own email) to his communications colleagues.
Even though the effort was manic and the collaboration widespread, the “compelling case” for CCS does not appear to have swayed Matt Wald, who went on to write his original story about CCS – and it’s failures. Weiss, on the other hand, apparently so enamored of the CCS justification he’d emailed to Goffman, went on to co-author a Center for American Progress white paper using almost the same language.
The Center for American Progress has filled a number of key roles for the Obama Administration, from rehabbing their ex-employees for suitability on cable news television programs, to serving as a proving ground for administration employees – according to Heartland’s own research, CAP’s outlets have submitted recommendations to 32 regulatory agencies in the Obama Administration and make up 5 of 6 positions on regulatory agencies in the Administration itself. Of the approximately $40 million CAP takes in on a yearly basis from organizations like the George Soros Open Society Foundation and corporations like Wal-Mart, it spends $3.5 million on lobbying for its policies alone. This, however, is one of the first indications that it actively collaborates with the Obama Administration and its officials on marketing strategies for environmental regulations.
The EPA insists that the interactions are just fine (since, of course, no one misrepresented themselves, and no one used copyrighted material), but the emails imply a much larger, closer relationship between the Administration and CAP than was expected. It’s not a surprising relationship of course, given what we known from research on both organizations, but it is concerning – especially that the EPA, which is supposed to focus on environmental protection, is so closely affiliated with an organization tasked with pushing an environmental agenda that relies more on ideology than it does on science.