Monday, December 28, 2015

Revealed: How environmentalists were allowed to draft Obama's White House energy policy

By David Martosko

President Barack Obama’s aggressive and controversial Climate Action Plan grew out of a draft proposal from one of America's richest environmental activist groups, it emerged Monday.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, which spent $41 million of its $210 million nest egg last year pushing for changes in energy policy, circulated a 110-page document in 2012 that outlined what would become the president's latest salvo in the global-warming wars.

Now that the Obama administration has adopted the green-group's plan, the NRDC's insider status is widely seen as an in-your-face response to oil, gas and coal companies that had a seat at the table 13 years ago when then-Vice President Dick Cheney convened meetings in secret to chart future energy policy.

While the Bush administration focused on extracting as much energy out of the ground as legally possible, the current White House's policy is to erect roadblocks in the path of 'big coal' while rewarding alternative energy speculators with loan guarantees and other sources of public funds.

The NRDC's proposal departed from the green movement's previous one-size-fits-all approaches, allowing states to determine how to meet stringent carbon-emission targets while drawing them all toward the central goal of squeezing coal-generated electricity to the margins of the U.S. national power picture.

As with the Obamacare law, however, state-based solutions could result in a patchwork quilt of crisscrossing rules that aggravate tensions between businesses and the White House, while opening up the floodgates for a wealth of legal avenues by lawsuit-waving opponents.

Environmental Protection Agency regulators were among a narrow group of stakeholders who got private briefings on the proposal beginning in 2012, and based their eventual written rules on what they heard.

'Once enacted,' The New York Times reported on Monday, the new EPA regime 'could do far more than just shut down coal plants; it could spur a transformation of the nation’s electricity sector.'

Such a wholesale shift is high on the list of NRDC's priorities, and its three activists who wrote the proposal – and frequently advocate for green policies with government agencies – had all the resources they wanted to pull it off, according to an NRDC insider.

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