Planet Gore

Obama vs. West Virginia Coal

How’s this for “the most transparent administration in history”?

Some weeks ago, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). I asked for 8,000 pages of “climate”-related documents (think Hockey Stick, Michael Mann, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). I still haven’t received a single page. I’m not sure what the holdup is — maybe it has something to do with some “climate” litigation, early November, or a lame-duck push on related issues.

At first, they first told me they were sorting through the documents to determine “which are agency records and which are IPCC records.” Yes, you read that correctly; and you are right as well that there are no such thing as “IPCC records” sitting on taxpayer-funded computers produced by taxpayer servants in their official time in officially assigned roles. It should come as no surprise that three days after I confirmed this statement in writing, they wrote back to say they never said that, presumably after speaking with their lawyers.

After returning from travel this week, I scrolled through my e-mail for some indication that the NOAA has decided to stop violating the law. I didn’t see anything from NOAA, but I did encounter a copy of another FOIA request, this one from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP) to the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office in Philadelphia. The long and the short of it is that Barack Obama vowed to “bankrupt” coal, and is proceeding down that path in several ways. With cap-and-tax stalled, these ways include trying to use the regulatory process to strangle surface coal mining. And the administration is trying to keep their formal steps toward this end under wraps even in violation of the law.

Specifically, West Virginia would like to see a copy of an EPA-recommended determination about continued surface mining in that state. Essentially, they want to know if the Obama administration has decided to shut down that state’s economy. And some of Ohio’s. And other neighboring states’. This was, as you might imagine, a very high-profile strategy when it first emerged, but it is being treated as top secret now; it’s sort of like those sensitive records at NOAA.

EPA did comply with the law and make its recommendation two weeks ago. But EPA is violating the law by refusing to let anyone see the recommendation in the form of a Federal Register publication. I understand from the Campaign Spot that Joe Manchin, West Virginia’s governor and a Senate candidate, has decided not to wait for an answer but to file a lawsuit, an announcement of which is being made today.

For many of you, the good news is that you’re not an Appalachian miner. Or living in a town dependent on those miners’ producing abundant, reliable, politically assailed energy resources. Or a farmer or rancher or living in such a community out West. Your livelihood isn’t under assault by the full force of the federal government. Yet.

You just depend on what these fellow Americans do to make you richer, freer, and safer. Had enough yet?


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