Recently, The Examiner and Op/Ed contributor Paul Chesser, of the John Locke Foundation wrote about Governor O'Malley's creation of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change and its secretive dealings with the consulting group Center for Climate Strategies. CCS is one arm of the green-oriented political advocacy group The Pennsylvania Environmental Council Inc (PEC).
Chesser revealed that Tad Aburn, Director of MDE’s Air & Radiation Management Administration, and chair of the commission's Greenhouse Gas & Carbon Mitigation Working Group refused to release documents, which by law, should be publicly available. The lead of the Scientific and Technical Working Group is Don Boesch, who I took to task here for advocating the same policies as CCS recommends for other states, and soon will for Maryland.
The Examiner questioned whether any of CCS' financial backers are campaign contributors to the governor. I did a quick search of the MSBE campaign database and found that one company, Gannett Fleming did indeed contribute to Martin O'Malley, to the tune of $12,000. Gannett Fleming is a construction and engineering firm who just happens to specialize in green building projects that CCS recommends to its clients.
PEC created CCS and its sister organization Enterprising Environmental Solutions Inc. (ESSI) as a means to influence state governments to reduce carbon emissions within their borders. Even with PEC’s blatant advocacy mission, CCS bills itself as an independent, non-advocacy consulting group.
CCS operates by offering its “services” to state governments at barely any cost. They can do this because deep-pocketed liberal donors and avowed advocacy groups like the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, Heinz Foundation and Ted Turner Foundation fund CCS. RFB alone gave ESSI $1.4 million. RFB also gave the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), also an advocacy group, $275,000.
However, CCAN board member Cindy Parker is also a member of the MCC Greenhouse Gas & Carbon Mitigation Working Group. Can you say conflict of interest!
Parker is a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. You may remember I mentioned her in my post about Johns Hopkins’ rent-seeking Enron impersonation in order to rake in more grant money. Parker is not the only example of the people who compose this working group who have substantial political and financial interests at stake in MCCC policy recommendations. There is John Szallay of BP Solar. BP Solar, with a plant in Frederick, is heavily invested in solar energy. Should Maryland adopt CCS recommendations, this would make BP Solar the controller of one of the major sources of electricity in the state.
The FAQ on the CCS website is illuminating. The word “consensus” appears nine times, and CCS’ definition of consensus is similar to O’Malley’s Orwellian distortion of the term. No wonder he is outsourcing state policy making to them.
Once states initiate the process, CCS controls it totally. CCS performs economic and cost-benefit analyses of any proposed policy implementations. However, The Beacon Hill Institute noted three serious flaws in CCS’ analytical methodology, which calls said policy proposals into question:
• first, CCS fails to quantify benefits in a way that they can be meaningfully compared to costs;
• second, when estimating economic impacts, CCS often misinterprets costs to be
• third, the estimates of costs leave out important factors, causing CCS to understate the true costs of its recommendations;
The Center for Climate Strategies fails to do one of the most basic calculations included in any responsible cost-benefit study: it does not quantify both benefits and costs in dollar terms so that they can be compared. CCS sometimes confuses costs for benefits. Furthermore, there are serious omissions in their estimates of program costs. CCS asks us to believe that there really is a free lunch in their recommendations, and that implementing their policies would actually not have any net cost, despite the fact that private, self-interested individuals are not grasping these opportunities on their own. One has to conclude, given such flaws in their methodology, that CCS overestimates cost savings and underestimates the costs that will be incurred.
Beacon Hill revealed these methodological flaws in its study of CCS’ Arizona Climate Action Plan, which CCS touts as its model program. The Arizona plan is similar to the plan the North Carolina Climate Action Plan Advisory Group (CAPAG) is now finalizing.
The North Carolina Plan, going by other states that have adopted or in the process of adopting CCS recommendations, will be the model for Maryland. The recommendations will include policies with drastic implications for the economy, tax payers and individual liberty. CCS recommendations are broken down into five economic sectors. I will note some CCS policy recommendations for each sector:
1. Residential Commercial Industrial Sectors (RCI).
Utility funded “demand side management” programs. According to Appendix E of the report, “through the rate-making process, utilities and the North Carolina Utilities Commission will develop a mechanism to include the cost of DSM programs in the respective utility’s rate base, or provide for a separate surcharge that utility customers pay.”
Expanded energy efficiency funds, (aka public benefits charge/systems benefits charge). This is a user fee assessed to utility customers based on their usage at any given time. The money incurred from this charge is then given to a third party to conduct energy efficiency programming. In other words, Big Daddy government is going to impose rules that will raise your energy costs to fund an advocacy group to tell you when and how much energy you should use in your home.
Education (Consumer, Primary/Secondary, Post-Secondary/Specialist, College and University Programs). In a word… indoctrination. More class room viewing of An Inconvenient Truth.
2. Energy Supply.
Renewable energy incentives for wind and solar energy. These are essentially inducements for customers to buy wind and solar energy. Is it really any coincidence that BP and General Electric, the largest “green” energy corporations are heavily invested in wind and solar energy generation. As I noted earlier an official from BP Solar sit on the GHG & Carbon Mitigation Working Group here in Maryland.
3. Transportation and Land Use.
Land Development Planning, i.e., implement Smart Growth policies. Vehicle emissions surcharge, i.e. a carbon tax on your SUV.
4. Agricultural, Forestry and Waste.
Ethanol subsidies, tax breaks for biofuel production, and land preservation. Calling David Sutherland!
5. Cross Cutting Issues.
Mandatory reporting of GHG and carbon emissions, and GHG registries. And to top it all off tax payer funded outreach programs to spread the secular religion of global warming.
CCS is currently working in 16 states. Notice the same website format for Arizona, New Mexico, South Carolina, Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, and Vermont.
I recommend perusing the Appendices for each section of the report to see the nitty gritty details of these recommendations. Also, note that many of their data citations come from blatantly alarmist sources.
Here in Maryland the aforementioned Green House Gas & Carbon Mitigation Group has already had five meetings. At the latest meeting, held on Nov 30, 2007 from 10AM to 4PM, perfectly convenient for the working public to attend, they drew up draft policy proposals, take a look at the PDFs for the five economic sectors, they are the same as the final North Carolina report.
Aside from the alarmist policy proposals, the MCCC reports are telling for what they do not reveal: how the sausage was made? We don’t know and we won’t because Tad Aburn will not release documents, which by law, are public domain. We have no way of knowing anything else, other than the alarmist policies stated in CCS' cookie-cutter reports.
Through the MCCC and CCS Governor O’Malley has:
-Outsourced formulation of state climate policy to a blatant advocacy group (with ties to a campaign contributor positioned to take advantage of CCS policy recommendations) and alarmist funding sources;
-Loaded the commission’s working groups with people who have substantial political and financial stakes in implementing CCS policy recommendations, creating serious conflicts of interests and ethical questions;
-Appointed a commission chair (Tad Aburn), who refuses to obey Maryland’s Public Information Act, by not releasing public documents concerning CCS’s contract with the state, and its relationship to the formation of the MCCC. Aburn himself, ordered the Maryland Department of Environment compliance officer to withhold the documents. This is a delicious irony since O’Malley’s father-in-law, former Attorney General Joe Curran, wrote the book on the PIA;
-Set the stage to siginificantly increase the energy costs of working families, further dampen the state's economy, and curtail indivdual liberties.
I am sending a formal request to the MDE asking all documents related to CCS.
You can do the same by sending a request letter to:
Ms. Laramie Daniel
Air & Radiation Management Administration
Maryland Department of the Environment
1800 Washington Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21230