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AEA Applauds Selection of Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt to Run EPA 

WASHINGTON – The American Energy Alliance applauds President-elect Trump’s selection of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the next Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator. AEA Vice President of Communications Chris Warren issued the following statement:

“Attorney General Pruitt has been a champion for consumers and working-class families in Oklahoma. We know he will do the same for all Americans as EPA Administrator. AG Pruitt will reset energy and environmental policy in ways that will grow the economy, improve the environment, and make life better for the American people.”

###

10 Questions on Fuel Economy Mandates for EPA’s Janet McCabe

This week, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is slated to host a hearing regarding the Volkswagen’s use of emissions defeat devices and the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) program. The Subcommittee has summoned Acting EPA Air and Radiation Administrator Janet McCabe to testify in response to questions surrounding the ZEV program implementation.

This hearing is a welcome opportunity for the Subcommittee to question Ms. McCabe on the ZEV program, and, by extension, EPA’s fuel economy mandates for cars and light-trucks. In a surprise move that was months ahead of EPA’s own schedule (which was previously posted on EPA’s website), last week EPA made a Proposed Determination to keep the 2022-2025 fuel economy mandate unchanged. Given the EPA’s haste, the only plausible explanation for EPA’s quick decision was to finalize their determination before President-elect Trump takes office.

It is surprising that EPA did not revise their 2022-2025 mandate given the evidence. New research shows that car prices are rapidly increasing. From the 1990s through 2008, car prices were falling on a quality adjusted basis. Today, car prices are $6,000 more than they would have been if the trend had continued. An additional $6,000 for a vehicle a lot of money.

Given the timing of EPA’s decisions and the economic strain being placed on the American car buying public, the Subcommittee should use this hearing to get answers from Ms. McCabe on what exactly is going on with EPA’s fuel economy mandates and the ZEV program. Here are ten questions the Subcommittee should ask Ms. McCabe:

1.) Your agency recently released its Proposed Determination document regarding EPA’s 2022-2025 GHG mandate for light duty vehicles. The Proposed Determination did not change the mandate, despite the fact that the price of new vehicles, adjusted for quality, are $6,000 per vehicle higher than if the price trend from the 1990s through 2008 had continued. Are you not concerned about forcing American families to pay $6,000 more per vehicle?

Note: If McCabe is unfamiliar with the study, that is very concerning. The study was cited thousands of times in comments to EPA. If she is not familiar with the study, then why did EPA quickly and aggressively make the Proposed Determination?

2.) According to EPA, the Obama administration’s fuel economy mandates will cause the price of a new car to increase by $3,000 per vehicle. The National Association of Automobile Dealers estimates that a $3,000 per vehicle increase in the cost of a vehicle would force nearly 7 million people out of the market for a new car. Car prices have already increased more than that, compared to the long-term price trend. Why is EPA so upbeat about imposing this mandate that is forcing millions of American drivers out of the market for a new car?

3.) The Center for Automotive Research recently looked at the economic impacts of the fuel economy mandates in various scenarios. In 8 of the 9 scenarios, EPA’s mandate would cause net jobs losses. In fact, the only scenario that does not show job losses is if the cost of the mandate is only $2,000 a vehicle. Why is EPA not more concerned about how this regulation will lead to job losses in the United States?

4.) The evidence suggests that EPA’s fuel economy mandate has driven up the cost of a car by thousands of dollars–making the dream of car ownership more difficult for millions of American families. EPA is doing this because of climate change. According to EPA, the 2017-2025 mandate will only reduce global temperatures by 0.01–0.02 °C by 2100. Why is EPA reducing the mobility and freedom of millions of Americans, not to mention thousands of jobs, in exchange for a change in global temperature of 2 hundredths of a degree by 2100?

5.) Last week you issued a Proposed Determination on the 2022-2025 mandate. To do this, you had to review over 220,000 comments in only 44 working days since the end of the comment period. Given the incredible importance of automobility and the impact this mandate will have on the economy as a whole, why did you rush to make such a hasty judgement?

6.) You released your Proposed Determination on November 30, 2016.EPA’s website previously had a timeline which showed the Proposed Determination being issued in mid-2017, not in 2016. NHTSA’s website has a similar graphic.

nhtsa-cafe-timeline

Furthermore, your letter to Chairman Upton dated June 10, 2016 stated that “…EPA anticipates that [the Determination] will be issued in 2017.”

Why is EPA working so hastily to finalize this determination?

7.) It is difficult for EPA to meet all of its statutory deadlines. For example, with the Renewable Fuel Standard, EPA repeatedly missed deadlines in setting volume requirements. Similarly, in administering the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) the EPA is frequently late in issuing regulatory documents. Why is EPA so far ahead of schedule issuing the Proposed Determination?

8.) When are you planning on finalizing the Proposed Determination? Should we expect that before the new administration?

9.) The National ZEV Investment Plan under the VW settlement requires VW to spend $1.2 billion over ten years “to support increased use of zero emission vehicle technology.” How is this remedy at all related to VW’s illicit use of “defeat devices?” What happens to the ZEV program once VW fulfills its financial obligation? How will the fund be financed?

10.) The National ZEV Investment Plan was considered by Congress and rejected. As policy expert William Yeatman explains:

Having failed to persuade Congress, the administration now seeks to co-opt the judiciary’s injunctive and contempt powers in order to advance the President’s failed legislative agenda. The proposed partial consent decree would give EPA control of $1.2 billion in ZEV investments, which is four times what the administration unsuccessfully sought from Congress for effectively the same purpose in 2011.

Why is EPA trying to get VW to fund a program Congress rejected?

A Blueprint for America’s Comeback

After eight years of the Obama administration’s divisive energy and environmental policies, the American people have voted for a change—a big change. Now is the time to carry out that change.

It is time to modernize and improve energy policy in the United States. As we consider our energy future and which policies will work best, it’s important we understand that energy breakthroughs happen when the government gets out of the way and lets innovators and entrepreneurs flourish.

The Obama administration often touts the increasing energy production from its preferred energy sources—wind and solar. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that wind and solar production has grown as the Obama administration has provided tens of billions of dollars in subsidies for these sources and administered regulations that hinder competing energy sources.

However, the real energy success story of the past decade has been the hydraulic fracturing revolution. Since 2007, electricity generation from natural gas alone has increased four times faster than from wind and solar. Over the same time period, domestic oil production has increased by 85 percent—almost all of which came on state and private lands. The increase in oil and gas production was a result of private property rights and technological advances from the private sector—not the federal government providing targeted subsidies to increase oil and natural gas production. In fact, it happened despite the Obama administration’s keep-it-in-the-ground approach to oil and gas production.

Besides the Obama administration’s antagonism to oil and natural gas production, this revolution also did not happen because Congress passed an “energy” bill directing how oil was to be produced or providing targeted subsidies. Instead, the hydraulic fracturing revolution flourished because Congress specifically precluded the federal government from usurping the states’ regulatory authority over groundwater.

The results of the hydraulic fracturing revolution have been unbelievably positive. Global oil and natural gas prices have fallen and remained low. Increased energy production has diminished the power of OPEC and Russia to manipulate energy markets.

A decade ago the experts did not predict that U.S. oil and natural gas production would dramatically increase. Instead, there was talk about running out of oil and importing natural gas. Now the conversation is about exporting both. As we look to the future, it is important to remember how people did not see this revolution coming.

This should be an important reminder that Congress and Washington policymakers do not know what the future holds, and neither do we. The hydraulic fracturing revolution shows that our future will be brighter if we allow the American people to figure out what works best instead of trying to dictate policy and special subsidies from Washington.

President-elect Trump has a unique opportunity to advance an energy plan that fosters true innovation, helps consumers, and improves opportunities for American workers and families.

To do so, the Institute for Energy Research and the American Energy Alliance encourage the Trump administration to do the following:

  • Keep electricity affordable and reliable by halting EPA’s attempt to take over the nation’s electricity system. Currently the D.C. Circuit is considering the legality of the rule. However, the Trump administration can issue Executive Orders the first day of his administration that effectively halts this harmful regulation. As attorneys David Rivkin and Andrew Grossman recently explained:

President Trump can immediately issue an executive order to adopt a new energy policy that respects the states’ role in regulating energy markets and that prioritizes making electricity affordable and reliable. Such an order should direct the EPA to cease all efforts to enforce and implement the Clean Power Plan. The agency would then extend all of the regulation’s deadlines, enter an administrative stay and commence regulatory proceedings to rescind the previous order.

  • Lower the price of cars and trucks and empower consumers by repealing the federal fuel economy mandates. These mandates, also known as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, were dramatically increased under the Obama administration to require cars and light trucks to average 54.5 mpg by 2025. According to recent research, this mandate may have already driven up the cost per vehicle by $6,000—and the even stricter mandates have not yet kicked in. Vehicles are already too expensive, and this additional mandate should be stopped and American drivers should be allowed to choose the attributes of the vehicles they drive, rather than Washington bureaucrats.
  • Produce more energy on federal lands. Less than 3 percent of federal offshore areas are currently leased for energy development, and the Obama administration just released a 5-Year offshore plan with no areas open offshore Alaska (other than a small area in Cook Inlet), the Atlantic, or in the Pacific. More lands should be leased onshore, including the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and oil shale lands in the West.
  • Let workers mine coal. The Obama administration’s coal leasing moratorium on federal lands—part of its “keep it in the ground” agenda—should be lifted.

“The federal government does have stewardship of millions of acres of land. Rather than selling the land to states and private enterprises, the first step should be establishing a shared governance structure with the states. This first step would allow for maintaining the aesthetics of the land while finding ways to gain revenue that would benefit both the federal and state governments.”

  • Defend the Constitution and withdraw from the Paris Agreement. President Obama was warned by many members of Congress that he should not enter into the Paris Agreement without the consent of the American people through their representatives in the U.S. Senate. Because the Paris Agreement is an executive agreement that does not bind the United States or any other country, President Trump can, and should, “unsign” it and submit the agreement to the Senate for its consent. President Obama’s unilateral executive actions cannot bind future administrations.
  • Modernize and update the data that underpins the endangerment finding. In response to Massachusetts v. EPA, the Obama administration found that greenhouse gas emissions harmed human health and welfare. This is the regulatory predicate to the Obama administration’s CAFE mandates and carbon dioxide regulations for power plants. This finding should be updated with the most recent science and information.
  • Improve the siting of pipeline infrastructure. The Obama administration slow-walked the Keystone XL pipeline to make it a political issue and eventually denied the pipeline. They have similarly held up the Dakota Access Pipeline. Pipeline siting should be a streamlined and orderly process.
  • Treat all energy sources equally. The federal government should treat all types of energy equally. No subsidies and no special tax treatment.
  • Protect America’s fuel supply by repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS was based on the belief that America had limited energy resources and was running out of oil. The RFS requires refiners to blend expensive, and largely unavailable, “advanced” biofuels. The RFS should be repealed.
  • Preserve consumers rights to their own property. The Obama administration’s “waters of the United States” rule usurps the states’ regulatory prerogatives as well as private property rights. This regulatory definition should be rewritten.
  • Follow the rules. Any regulatory action needs to follow the rules laid out for the federal government. The “Social Cost of Carbon” (and methane) is impermissibly arbitrary and does not follow Executive Orders and federal rulemaking requirements. The Social Cost of Carbon should not be used in federal rulemakings.
  • Be open and honest. The government should act openly, honestly, and transparently.
  • Count the costs of regulations. We need an accounting of the cost of all the regulations imposed by the federal government.
  • Inventory the assets. We need to make sure that the government has a good idea of the value of energy resources on and under federal lands.
  • Stop corruption. Agency work on regulations and science should be reviewed by truly independent reviewers.

Conclusion

For decades, the federal government’s role in Americans’ energy choices has steadily grown and has ballooned under the Obama administration. If we want our children and grandchildren to enjoy the same opportunities and economic growth as past generations, we must reset a generation of failed environmental policies from a distant and out of touch federal government.

The Trump administration provides an opportunity to protect the environment and grow the economy. It is important that we move America forward with energy policies for the 21st century that empower Americans to make their own choices, instead of relying on bureaucrats make such vital decisions for them.

It’s time for an American comeback.

Click here for the PDF.

 

AEA Congratulates Rep. Walden on E&C Chairmanship 

WASHINGTON – American Energy Alliance President Thomas Pyle issued the following statement congratulating Rep. Greg Walden on being elected the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

“Representative Walden is an outstanding choice to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee and brings a much-needed Western perspective to the committee. I have known Rep. Walden and his team for many years and there is no doubt in my mind that under his leadership the committee will work to reset years of bad energy policies that are failing the American people. He understands the issues and recognizes that policies such as the renewable fuel standard, unrealistic fuel economy mandates, and the EPA’s carbon regulations for power plants harm American families and businesses.”

###

AEA Issues Statement on EPA’s Proposed Fuel Economy Mandate

WASHINGTON – AEA Vice President Daniel Simmons issued the following statement after the EPA hastily proposed an unrealistic fuel economy mandate for 2022-2025:

“The EPA has abandoned its own timeline in an effort to ram through another unrealistic and costly mandate. It’s clear the EPA wants to make it difficult for the Trump administration to get fuel economy standards in line with the needs and expectations of American families.

“The Obama administration is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole as consumers are increasingly buying larger vehicles, such as trucks and SUVs. While fuel economy is important, Americans buy cars for a whole host of reasons, including size, safety, comfort, and many others. This stricter mandate elevates the choices of Washington bureaucrats above the choices of American families. It will make it more difficult for Americans to buy cars that fit their needs and could prevent millions of people from even buying a car. Simply put, this is an affront to the American dream of mobility.”

Click here to watch AEA’s video on the impacts of the Obama administration’s fuel economy mandates.

###

President Obama Delivers Most Anemic Offshore Leasing Plan in U.S. History

WASHINGTON – American Energy Alliance President Thomas Pyle issued the following statement on the Obama administration’s five-year offshore leasing plan:

“As a farewell gift to the keep-it-in-the-ground activists, President Obama has delivered the most anemic offshore leasing plan in U.S. history. The Obama administration has excluded lease sales in the most promising areas—offering nothing in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, or off the Atlantic coast. Under President Obama’s direction, the share of our country’s oil production from federal lands and waters has shrunk to its lowest point in decades. President Obama’s legacy is one of intentionally undermining America’s energy production and economic growth by holding our vast energy resources under lock and key. We look forward to President-elect Trump’s pro-energy and pro-growth outlook.”

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Washington State Carbon Tax Vote is a Momentous Victory

WASHINGTON – American Energy Alliance President Thomas Pyle released the following statement on the failure of Initiative 732 in Washington State. If passed, this ballot measure would have implemented a carbon tax.

“This is a momentous victory for the people of Washington State. The results show that even in a blue state that elected Governor Jay Inslee, Washingtonians have no appetite for a harmful carbon tax. It signals to lawmakers and carbon tax advocates across the country that when put to a referendum, Americans reject higher energy taxes.

“A carbon tax is a regressive tax on the American way of life. Implementing such a policy would not only raise gasoline prices, but would also raise the cost of living for American families. Low-income families would be hit the hardest, leaving them with less money to spend on other necessities like proper healthcare and education.

“The failure of I-732 should put to rest the talk of a revenue-neutral carbon tax bargain. Even environmental groups couldn’t get in line to support this ballot measure because they didn’t want to give the money back through tax cuts. Instead, they would rather spend it on growing government. For the greens, a carbon tax isn’t about the environment—it’s about the greenbacks.”

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AEA Issues Statement on Trump Victory

WASHINGTON – American Energy Alliance President Thomas Pyle issued the following statement on Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election:

“This election showed that the American people are tired of their interests taking a back seat to special interests in Washington. President-elect Trump’s victory presents an opportunity to reset the harmful energy policies of the last generation. He has laid out an energy plan that puts the needs of American families and workers first.

“We were among the first organizations to endorse President-elect Trump and we’re excited to work with his administration to put forth energy policies that will deliver affordable energy to American families, invigorate the economy, and create more opportunities for future generations.”

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Podesta Emails Reveal Clinton Campaign’s Close Ties to the Environmental Left

In October, WikiLeaks began publishing a series of emails from John Podesta’s Gmail account. Podesta is the former White House Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton and former Senior Advisor to President Obama, and current Chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. These emails number in the thousands and provide a rare window into the world of Podesta’s political dealings as well as the operations of the Clinton campaign. Unsurprisingly, given Podesta’s longstanding relationships with progressive donors and leaders in the national environmental lobby, many of the exchanges involve the likes of Tom Steyer and Nat Simons. It also includes leaders of the national environmental lobby like Gene Karpinski of the League of Conservation Voters (LCV)

Podesta’s emails reveal a collusive, quid-pro-quo relationship between the Clinton campaign and national environmental groups. They show a disturbing and unusual level of access to power for billionaire donors like Steyer and Simons, and that Bernie Sanders never really stood a chance at getting the endorsement of prominent environmental groups. The emails also reveal attempts to silence academics and discourage the production of oil and gas resources. Lastly, the emails show the political calculus behind forming the Clinton campaign’s policy positions.

There is much more to learn from the Wikileaks email drop, but here are some noteworthy exchanges that we’ve discovered or that have been reported on in the media:

1. Clinton campaign coordinated on endorsements from NRDC and LCV, showing that Bernie Sanders never really stood a chance.

An email exchange from June 2015 shows that a member of the Clinton campaign met with NRDC and LCV to discuss the perks that would come along with public endorsements from those groups.

The Natural Resource Defense Council

According to the emails, NRDC’s endorsement would come with two fundraisers raising potentially $1 million for the campaign. In return for their endorsement, NRDC requested that Clinton meet with their political committee.

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Although NRDC didn’t endorse until May 2016, it appears that they were prepared to endorse early or whenever the campaign preferred. The Clinton staffer wrote: “They would like to endorse early – June/July [2015] but willing to do a public endorsement at any point (want to be a benefit to the campaign)”

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This shows that NRDC was already committed to Clinton even amidst a competitive primary with Bernie Sanders.

The League of Conservation Voters

In the same email, the Clinton staffer reported the following about LCV:

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According to the email, LCV’s endorsement—like NRDC’s—was conditioned on a quid pro quo arrangement:

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2. LCV helped with Clinton’s answers to questionnaire

A second email exchange from July 2015 shows a back and forth between the Clinton campaign and LCV over Clinton’s answers to their questionnaire. After receiving Clinton’s responses, LCV’s Tiernan Sittenfeld wrote in an email to John Podesta that “we very much hope that the attached questionnaire can be strengthened.”

Included in this email were suggested edits to Clinton’s responses. For example, Sittenfeld wrote, “It’s good to see her moving in the right direction, and we know she has been clear that she is not going to comment while the process is still underway, but it’s hard to imagine we can move forward until she makes clear she now opposes KXL.”

It’s clear that LCV wouldn’t move forward with an endorsement until Clinton explicitly opposed the Keystone XL pipeline.

In a third email on September 9, 2015, an updated version of the Clinton’s responses to the questionnaire was sent around with a “new KXL answer,” which explicitly opposed the construction of Keystone XL.

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Later that month, Clinton publicly opposed the pipeline and, in November 2015, LCV endorsed Clinton over Bernie Sanders. It’s worth noting that Sanders has a lifetime score of 95% on LCV’s legislative scorecard, while Clinton has a score of 82%.

3. Emails expose Obama’s Offshore Alaskan shell game.

An email from former Interior Department Deputy Secretary and current Stanford lecturer David Hayes suggests that the Obama administration did not want Shell to succeed in their oil exploration in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska. The Obama administration may have officially “approved” a permit to drill, but placed so many restrictions on the drilling that it became incredibly expensive. The Obama administration allowed Shell to drill a single exploratory well at the cost of $7 billion. Shell ultimately suspended their operations in the Chukchi. It’s important to note that there are vast oil resources in the Arctic, but regulatory hurdles from the Obama administration severely limited Shell’s ability to explore for those resources.

In September 2015, following Shell’s withdrawal from the Chukchi, David Hayes emailed Podesta to celebrate the news. Hayes, who was Deputy Secretary at Interior during the negotiations, stated, “Shell’s dry hole in the Chukchi obviously is huge and welcome news.”

Hayes continued:

“Perhaps the best part of this is that the Bush-era leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas that were purchased for $2+ billion in 2006 are now likely to expire before any new finds are confirmed. As a result, a future Administration should avoid the need to spend billions to buy out leasholders’ [sic] interests in order to prevent future Arctic offshore drilling.”

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It is very telling that this former high-ranking official at the Interior Department (while the agency was considering Shell’s permit) was so ecstatic when Shell pulled out of the Chukchi.

However, Hayes’s reaction shouldn’t be all that surprising if you examine the arduous process Shell endured to explore for oil in the in the Chukchi Sea.

In 2008, Shell spent $2.1 billion for its tracts in the Chukchi Sea. However, after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, President Obama placed a moratorium on all offshore production.

In August 2012, the Obama administration finally gave Shell permission to start “certain limited preparatory activities” in the Chukchi Sea. However, Shell’s 2012 drilling plans were stymied by weather and sea ice, regulatory hurdles (including a government-ordered shortened drilling season), and lawsuits from environmental organizations.

Although the Obama administration approved Shell’s permit, their actions suggested they were intent on making it as difficult as possible for Shell to produce oil in the Chukchi. The Institute for Energy Research wrote in 2012:

“The Obama Administration says that it is supportive of drilling in the Arctic, but its regulatory challenges from the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Coast Guard have slowed Shell’s ability to explore for oil this summer, reducing the company’s best efforts to producing top holes. It is difficult enough to explore for oil in the Arctic where weather and sea ice are major factors, but regulatory hoops make it just that much more difficult. These regulatory challenges have postponed plans of other oil companies to invest in Arctic oil exploration that has cost Shell $4.5 billion already without one well drilled.”

[Click here for a more in-depth analysis]

Ultimately, after investing $7 billion and only being allowed to drill one well, Shell suspended their efforts in the Chukchi.

The fact that Hayes is so excited by Shell ending their activities in the Chukchi shows that Interior did not want Shell to succeed and did not want energy production on federal lands or waters. This indicates that the Obama administration’s approval of Shell’s drilling permit was likely nothing more than a shell game.

4. Podesta was the banker in Tom Steyer’s “pay to play” relationship with Clinton

Several email exchanges between billionaire environmentalist donor Tom Steyer and Podesta show a very close relationship. In one email, Steyer asks Podesta about setting up a time for a call, to which Podesta replied “call anytime.”

 

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In a March 2014 exchange, ThinkProgress editor Judd Legum asked Podesta if it would be “too late to talk to Steyer about the new climate money in early May?”

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In February 2015, Podesta and Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook emailed about the prospect of giving Steyer a formal role within the campaign. While Mook cautioned against this action, Podesta pointed out that they could be leaving a lot of money on the table:

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While Steyer wasn’t given a formal position on the campaign, this exchange provides a glimpse into Podesta’s pay for play mindset.

An email from a Clinton campaign staffer to Podesta outlines a plan for Steyer to host a fundraiser in San Francisco for Clinton.

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On the same email chain, it’s revealed that Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias is also Tom Steyer’s lawyer:

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5. Podesta was also cozy with hedge fund billionaire Nat Simons

Another donor that Steyer often corresponded with is Nat Simons, a hedge fund billionaire and founder of the Sea Change Foundation—a secretive foundation that funnels hundreds of millions of dollars to climate groups and the Democratic Party. Sea Change has come under fire for taking millions from a Bermuda shell-company based out of a law firm with ties to Russian oil interests.

In one email, the two set up a time to discuss an upcoming climate funders dinner with Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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In a later email to Podesta and Figueres, Simons outlines the purpose of the dinner and states that this isn’t a fundraising event, but admits that funding and politics “will almost certainly form part of the backdrop for your presentations and discussions.”

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While these may seem like benign emails, they reveal an unusual level of access to power for billionaire environmentalist donors like Tom Steyer and Nat Simons.

6. The Center for American Progress sought to silence academics

One theme in the leaks is that neither the truth, nor the law matters. John Podesta founded the Center for American Progress and is currently on the board. The Center for American Progress and Podesta himself have been very active in climate politics, working to silence critics and academics, who disagree with them.

For example, in 2014 Judd Legum of the Center for American progress went into full attack mode because Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com hired Roger Pielke Jr. to write on climate change. What Pielke Jr. wrote for fivethirtyeight.com was factually correct and supported by the consensus science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Regardless, the Center for American Progress wanted to silence Pielke Jr.

In an email to Tom Steyer, Legum brags that the Center for American Progress is the reason that Pielke had been silenced:

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For more on this, see this article by Robert Bryce.

7. Podesta himself has worked to silence academics

Laurence Tribe, the famous liberal constitutional law professor and President Obama’s former professor, represents Peabody Energy and wrote a legal brief opposing the Obama administration’s regulation of carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act. Podesta wanted to publicly attack Tribe for his opinions of what is legal under the Clean Air Act. In the below email, Podesta asks Tom Steyer to get activist Bill McKibben to attack Tribe.

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Steyer responded that he was “on it.”

It is ironic that Podesta states he supports academic freedom in the same email where he gives marching orders to student organizers and uses a billionaire donor to coordinate the protest.

8. Clinton’s public and private positions on energy

These emails also provide a glimpse into how Clinton often takes differing public and private positions on various policy issues. In fact, in a transcript of a paid speech contained in one of the leaked emails Clinton admits as much saying, “you need both a public and private position.”

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A number of emails show conflicting positions from Clinton on a number of energy related policy issues including a carbon tax, hydraulic fracturing, and pipeline infrastructure.

Carbon Tax

In one email exchange from June 2015, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook stated that he’d “be a bit nervous about rushing to say we’d never support such a tax”, but also stated, “To be clear: it’s lethal in the general, so I don’t want to support one. But don’t want to give bernie [sic] contrast right now.”

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However, on January 20, 2015 some of Hillary Clinton’s energy advisors wrote a memo to Clinton considering the possibilities of a carbon tax. In the memo Clinton’s advisors admit that a carbon tax would disproportionately harm the poor. The advisors wrote:

“It is important to note that any policy that increases energy costs – including the recently announced EPA regulations on power plants and methane emissions — will disproportionately impact low-income households.”

Pipelines

Clinton’s track record shows a clear opposition to pipeline infrastructure. She publicly opposed the Keystone XL pipeline (after feeling pressure from LCV) and the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline. However, one of the leaked emails reveals the Clinton campaign is worried about losing favor with trade unions over her opposition to these pipelines.

An email chain from August 2015 shows members of the campaign had a back and forth over the release of an op-ed and fact sheet about the Keystone XL pipeline. In the exchange, one staffer expresses concern about potentially upsetting the building trades, stating, “Just want to make sure we don’t catch anyone by surprise. We are so close to getting bldg trades and if we do this right, it will be ok even though they won’t like it.”

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In another email from February 2016, a campaign staffer states that Clinton has “privately told the building trades that she does not oppose pipelines.”

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This exchange came after Clinton told a University of Virginia student that she opposed the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline.

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Hydraulic Fracturing

Another issue where Clinton has taken different public and private positions is the use of hydraulic fracturing. When asked about her position on hydraulic fracturing during a primary debate, Clinton stated, “By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place.”

However, in a transcript from a paid speech to Goldman Sachs, Clinton calls America’s energy revolution (made possible by hydraulic fracturing) a “gift”.

One email shows Clinton staff discussing potential allies to “whack” Bernie Sanders for his position on banning hydraulic fracturing. The email exchange also warns against coming off as too pro-hydraulic fracturing.

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It’s difficult to determine Clinton’s exact position on some of these issues based on her public and private statements. However, as the saying goes, “you’re known by the company you keep.” The fact that John Podesta, who is Clinton’s campaign chair and is deeply involved with the national environmental lobby, worked to kill Keystone XL, and is close to billionaire environmentalists like Tom Steyer, George Soros, and Nat Simons, tells you all you need to know about where a Clinton administration would come down on these issues. Her administration would be anti-pipeline, anti-hydraulic fracturing, and pro-carbon tax.

AEA will update this post as more information comes to light.

Issues to be on the lookout for during the lame duck session

Once the polls close on November 8th, Congress will enter what is known as the lame duck session. This is the period after elections before the next Congress begins, when the current Congress — composed of some Senators and Representatives who lost elections — will continue to legislate. The 114th Congress will have 16 days in session following the elections this year. The following is a preview of a few of the energy-related issues that may arise.

Federal Spending

On December 9th, the current Continuing Resolution expires (the CR is the short-term funding bill passed at the end of September that kept the government funded). Authorizing funding for the federal government after December 9th is the only must pass legislation for the remainder of the 114th Congress.

This year-end deal is nothing new, as Congress has frequently resorted to last minute omnibus legislation: the last ten fiscal years have resulted in some combination of a CR and an omnibus spending bill. Instead of passing 12 individual appropriations bills — as is intended by law — omnibus bills combine all 12 into one massive bill. However, these types of bills frequently result in bad policy as negotiators leverage brinksmanship to push otherwise politically unpopular policies, forcing members to vote on a broad package as opposed to debating individual policies on a case-by-case basis. In fact, just last year Congress passed a massive omnibus bill that resulted in a costly five-year extension of the wind production tax credit (PTC) and solar investment tax credit (ITC), a three year extension of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and failed to block funding for the wasteful Green Climate Fund (GCF). This was all traded to lift the ban on oil exports. Ultimately, this bargain was a bad deal for the American people. Lifting the export ban was good policy and was bound to happen, as domestic oil production continues to rise. However, trading extensions of the PTC, ITC, and LWCF, as well a deposit into the GCF in exchange for lifting the export ban is a bad deal.

This is a perfect example of why year end lame duck spending bills are bad for the American people. Fortunately, Speaker Ryan has floated the idea of moving smaller “minibus” spending bills instead. While there is still potential for bad policy, such as another tax extenders deal, there is a lesser risk of Congress selling the farm for one or two good provisions. However, it will be imperative to monitor the situation to block wasteful spending, such as funding the GCF.

Tax Extenders

Last year’s last-minute spending bill included an extension of the wind PTC and solar ITC, as well as a separate, larger tax extenders bill (the PTC and ITC hitched a ride on the spending bill to be offset by the oil exports provision). All told, these provisions cost nearly $24 billion. Yet immediately after passage of both the spending and tax bills, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid noted that several tax extenders had been left out of the package due to what he called a “drafting error.” These included several Section 48 energy credits dealing with small wind facilities, geothermal heat pumps, fuel cell facilities, and combined heat and power properties. There has been discussion that these extenders could be tacked onto any spending bill, just like last year. These subsidies shouldn’t be given the green light just because Senator Reid claims they were accidentally “left out” of last year’s spending bill.

These tax extenders should not be renewed, whether it be in an omnibus, a minibus, or as a standalone tax bill (which is unlikely). As has been observed over and over, the argument that tax credits, such as subsidies like the PTC, boost industries falls flat. The PTC does help the wind industry, but at the cost to the rest of America. As Warren Buffet explained, “on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” If the only reason to build something is to get tax credits, then it doesn’t make economic sense.

All signs point to a tax extenders package being introduced soon after Congress reconvenes after the elections. Congress should recognize that these tax credits do far more harm than good, all at the taxpayers’ expense. They should allow these tax credits to expire at the end of this year.

Energy Bill Conference

Conference work on a comprehensive energy bill began months ago. Yet the process has been slow, as both chambers and parties pushed this effort down on the list of priorities. As this multiyear effort for major energy legislation has reached its final stage, the prospects of passage during lame duck look increasingly unlikely. Negotiators will need to work through a number of complex issues such as LNG terminal and pipeline permitting reform, energy subsidies, grid modernization, forestry and hunting provisions, and energy efficiency policies, to name a few. Negotiating these issues in earnest will take lots of time, and the legislative calendar only provides for roughly 16 legislative days after the elections. Thus far, there have been few substantial agreements in the conference meetings, as other priorities and campaigns have taken up most of the time.

As we’ve noted before, one significant hang-up continues to be the permanent reauthorization of the LWCF. The LWCF essentially provides funds for agencies to continue purchasing private lands and adding to federal land holdings. This means less private and more federal lands, particularly in western states. Again, this program was reauthorized for three years in last year’s omnibus, but several Senators demand permanence. The issues with this policy are numerous, including the fact that relinquishing Congressional review and oversight is generally bad practice and a principle of poor governance.

Unless the conference committee and their staffs can resolve this impasse, as well as a host of other policy differences, an agreement on an energy package during the lame duck session remains a long shot. However, it is likely that this legislation, either the current House and Senate bills or some variation of these bills, resurfaces in the 115th Congress.

Conclusion

Lame duck sessions always offer the risk of poor policy being pushed through due to a lack of accountability. The deadline for must pass legislation, such as funding bills, further complicates the situation. It is imperative to stand for free-market principles in this period and promote policies that ensure reliable and affordable energy.