The Environmental Protection Agency has threatened two of its own attorneys over a video they posted at YouTube which was highly critical of pending global warming legislation.
This wasn't the first time the agency came down on its own people for having views contrary to the Obama administration, for in March it suppressed an internal report which challenged the connection between rising temperatures and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The agency, citing federal policies, told the two lawyers, Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, who are married and based in San Francisco, that they could mention their E.P.A. affiliation only once; must remove language specifying Mr. Zabel’s expertise and their years of employment with the agency; and must remove an image of the agency’s office in San Francisco.
They have been told that if they do not edit the video to comply with the policy, they could face disciplinary action.
This is the video in question:
The couple published an op-ed in the Washington Post in October outlining problems they see with the pending legislation:
Cap-and-trade means a declining "cap" on total emissions, while allowing trading of pollution permits. Confidence in the certainty of declining caps is based on the mistaken assumption that cap-and trade was proven in the EPA's acid rain program. [...]
What guarantees failure of the proposed climate bills, however, are their provisions for carbon offsets, a concept not used in the acid rain program. Both bills allow all required greenhouse-gas reductions for almost 20 years to be met with carbon offsets rather than actual reductions in use of the capped sources. Offsets -- considered indispensable to keeping cap-and-trade affordable -- are supposed to be "additional" reductions beyond what is legally required. But experience with offsets in Europe and California has shown that ensuring real "additionality" is not an achievable goal.
Suppose, for example, that a landowner is paid not to cut his forest so that it can continue capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Purchasing this offset allows owners of a coal-fired power plant to burn extra coal, above the cap.
But if the landowner wasn't planning to cut his forest, he just received a bonus for doing what he would have done anyway. Even if he was planning to cut his forest and doesn't, demand for wood isn't reduced. A different forest will be cut. Either way, there is no net reduction in production of greenhouse gases. The result of this carbon "offset" is not a decrease but an increase -- coal burning above the cap at the power plant.
Sounds a lot like what NewsBusters has been saying about carbon offsets for years, doesn't it?
The couple correctly concluded:
Carbon offsets create the illusion of "additional" greenhouse-gas reductions, but we are just getting business as usual. Untrackable shifting of economic activity and perverse incentives such as these are inherent problems for carbon offsets and cannot be solved by certification or verification processes. Since the most flawed offsets will be the cheapest, they will also be the most popular.
The House and Senate climate bills are not a first step in the right direction. They would give away valuable rights in cap-and-trade permits and create a trillion-dollar carbon-offsets market that will not lead to needed reductions.
And, as the New York Times reported last week, assist Al Gore in becoming the world's first carbon billionaire.