epa, again, suppresses politically unfavorable data
Remember the recent flap involving the EPA excising from a report information about global warming that undercuts the President's policies? Hot on its heels comes this tale of the agency attempting to put a lid on its own analysis showing that a Senate air-pollution proposal would be more effective in curbing pollutants than the President's "Clear Skies" initiative.
The Environmental Protection Agency for months has withheld key findings of its analysis showing that a Senate plan to combat air pollution would be more effective in reducing harmful pollutants -- and only marginally more expensive -- than would President Bush's Clear Skies initiative for power plant emissions.
The Clear Skies proposal is designed to reduce power plant emissions over the next 20 years. A centerpiece of Bush's environmental policy, its passage could burnish his 2004 reelection credentials. But the president's plan does not address carbon dioxide emissions, which many scientists consider an important greenhouse gas that may contribute to the Earth's warming.
Bush's stand has drawn sharp criticism on several fronts, and a bipartisan group of senators has proposed an alternative bill that would limit carbon dioxide emissions. Unreleased information from an EPA internal analysis concludes that the competing bill would provide health benefits substantially superior to those envisioned under Clear Skies.
Because leaked copies of the analysis have circulated among interest groups, some environmentalists have criticized the EPA for not releasing all of it. Withholding some of the findings is "a real outrage," said David G. Hawkins, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate Center and a former assistant EPA administrator. "They're playing dodge ball with Congress to push the [Clear Skies] bill."
EPA Associate Administrator Edward D. Krenik, however, said the agency has released pertinent information [Ed: "Pertinent information"?] where it was needed. Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), author of the competing bill, has been given "all the information that we garnered from his bill" regarding carbon dioxide and three other pollutants, Krenik said. "He has all the information."
A PowerPoint presentation on Carper's bill prepared last fall by the EPA for Jeffrey R. Holmstead, assistant administrator for air and radiation, had more information than Carper was given months later. The Washington Post examined a leaked copy of the presentation.
EPA gave Carper information showing that his bill would cut power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury earlier and by larger amounts than would the president's bill. Not provided to Carper, however, was the conclusion that these cuts could be achieved while increasing electricity prices by two-tenths of a cent per kilowatt hour more than the Clear Skies initiative would require. [Ed: Emphasis added. "Pertinent information," indeed!]
...The administration and its industry allies are lobbying aggressively on behalf of Clear Skies, and today EPA plans to release an updated estimate of its costs and benefits. The administration has lined up support from a range of government and labor groups, but manufacturers and the utility industry are far from united. James L. Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said Clear Skies "is very important for the president, and you will see a very strong push."
The administration has refused to consider signing a power plant emissions bill with carbon dioxide caps, and therefore opposes Carper's bill and a version championed by Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.).
But, darn it, the Senate proposal doesn't advance the President's agenda of friendliness to the energy industry! And so, the Administration attempts to squelch information so that Bush can once again follow his pattern of advancing an appealingly named program that does little it's ostensibly intended for while benefiting Bush's political cronies. Nice.
By the way, ol' straight-shooter Bush strikes again:
Bush disavowed a campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, saying such regulations would hurt the economy and consumers by proving too costly to the power industry.
Campaign 2004 ought to be a cakewalk; simply compare what Bush said to what he did. "Credibility gap" doesn't begin to cover it.