In the Best of Hands (Not): Even AP's Borenstein Sees Problems With Obama's Oil Spill Commission

June 20th, 2010 10:36 AM
ObamaAndSpillCommissionCoChairs0610The presidential commission tasked with investigating the BP oil spill is so short on technical expertise and packed with left-leaning politicians and knee-jerk environmentalists that even the Associated Press's resident ClimateGate apologist Seth Borenstein is concerned.

On December 12, 2009, over two weeks after the ClimateGate e-mails first appeared, Borenstein wrote that "the exchanges don't undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions." What part of Kevin Trenberth's famous October 12, 2009 assertion that "The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t" did Seth not understand?

Nonetheless, non-skeptical Seth is somewhat taken aback at the lack of expertise in the spill commission's membership:

Obama spill panel big on policy, not engineering

The panel appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is short on technical expertise but long on talking publicly about "America's addiction to oil." One member has blogged about it regularly.

Only one of the seven commissioners, the dean of Harvard's engineering and applied sciences school, has a prominent engineering background - but it's in optics and physics. Another is an environmental scientist with expertise in coastal areas and the after-effects of oil spills. Both are praised by other scientists.

The five other commissioners are experts in policy and management.

The White House said the commission will focus on the government's "too cozy" relationship with the oil industry.

Geez, why even put together a commission when it's already been told what one of its key conclusions must be?

Brief descriptions of each person on the commission are at a separate AP link (the full White House announcement is here):

  • Co-chairman: Former Democratic Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham of Florida. He often has pushed for a drilling ban off the Florida coast.
  • Co-chairman: William K. Reilly, Environmental Protection Agency administrator under President George H.W. Bush and during the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989.
  • Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
  • Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science.
  • Terry Garcia, a National Geographic Society executive and former chief lawyer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under President Bill Clinton.
  • Cherry Murray, dean of Harvard's engineering school and former president of the American Physical Society.
  • Frances Ulmer, chancellor of the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and former Democratic lieutenant governor of Alaska.

I suspect that a plentiful track record of environmental radicalism and far-left progressive tendencies present in several commission members will be discovered in the next several days.

Anyone hoping that co-chairman Bill Reilly will provide a dose of moderation will get a reality check by going to his still-present bio at the EPA's web site, where the following was found:

Perhaps the most significant failure of the Reilly Administration, as Reilly suggests below, was that EPA was unable to garner the unalloyed support of the Bush Administration during the second half of that Administration's term. This was largely due to the inability of the Agency to muster the politically valuable praise of the Administration's environmental efforts by environmental organizations. As a result, the Bush Administration chose to work more closely with elements of its constituency that would provide political support during the 1992 election season. As a result, EPA found its agenda stifled in the White House and its credibility compromised before Congress.

After leaving the Agency during the final days of 1992, Reilly returned to World Wildlife Fund.

The "EPA found its agenda stifled"?

Just a cotton-pickin' minute. The "EPA's agenda" is supposed to be the agenda of the person running the executive branch, i.e., the President. It's clear that the EPA hasn't seen things that way for a long time. This is a bureaucracy that has instead and for decades viewed itself as its own independent branch of government accountable to no one.

If it wasn't obvious then, it's certainly obvious now, based on the free pass the environmental movement has given to president, that, as Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds wrote a week ago:

Environmentalists, like feminists, are just another arm of the Democratic establishment: “running dogs” to be loosed or reined in as politics require.

Any GOP attempts "to work more closely" with environmental leaders are thus predestined to bear no fruit.

Cross-posted at