It didn’t take long for Thursday’s House committee hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s role in blocking the Pebble Mine to start sounding less like a congressional probe and more like the plot of a Michael Crichton thriller.We already covered the story of Philip North, the EPA official who appears to have started the ball rolling against the Pebble Mine.
Start with a proposed Alaska mine worth untold billions, add a trail of emails linking EPA staff with the mine’s opponents, and throw in an ex-agency scientist now refusing to answer questions in Australia.
“I’m just amazed. When I hear all the questions and the testimony and, quite frankly, the evidence that I’ve seen, this reads more like a novel,” said Rep. Barry Loudermilk, Georgia Republican.It's pretty easy to get a complaint you can accept, if you get to write it.
At the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing, Republicans took aim at the EPA’s objectivity in assessing the project, producing a cache of emails from EPA staffers obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests.
One exchange from April 12, 2009, showed EPA scientist Philip North making “suggested edits” to a draft petition drawn up by opponents of the mine calling for a review of the project under the Clean Water Act’s Section 404(c).
Another email between EPA employees David Evans and Palmer Hough referred to a press release from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican, on the EPA’s decision to conduct a Bristol Bay watershed assessment.Note that like the IRS, the EPA is in the habit of "losing" inconvenient emails through hard drive failures. And that's only when they're not using email accounts under the names of dead activists (Richard Windsor), or using private email accounts to conduct government business.
“Interesting spin on EPA’s announcement/decision. Her communications would suggest no [review] would be done until all the science is in,” Mr. Evans wrote in the Feb. 7, 2011, email. “Obviously, that’s not what we have in mind.”Why does EPA hate science? Clearly, they don't want the science to be done first because there's a chance it might come back in way that doesn't suit their preconceived result.
Rep. Gary J. Palmer, Alabama Republican, called the email “just another example of the EPA working outside acceptable parameters, overreaching and, in some cases — and in this case — it just appears to be very manipulative of the process to reach a predetermined outcome.”As I said when the Pebble Mine case first came to my attention:
“We’ve seen it in other areas where the EPA’s involved — the ozone standard, the Clean Power Plan, the waters of the United States and now with Pebble Mine. I just think at some point EPA’s got to be held accountable for actions such as this.”
The EPA, almost unique among federal agencies, is almost totally populated by true believers in environmental catastrophism. They know the answer they want to get, and they know the scientists that will find those answers for them; they should, they have them all on the payroll.
The House of Representatives should treat the EPA (and the IRS) like enemy strongholds, to be starved into submission using the power of the purse.
As another alternative, they could institute my "modest proposal" for political affirmative action at Federal agencies involved in controversial decisions (and aren't they all?). Fire half, and form the agency from a pool chosen to fairly represent the parties. Hey, fairness is the highest virtue, isn't it?