The Spectacle Blog

Mountaineer Mutiny

By on 10.6.10 | 9:20AM

How's this for "the most transparent administration in history"? After returning from travel I thumb through my emails for some indication that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has decided to stop violating the law, giving up its stonewall of access to what they originally said were 8,000 pages of responsive documents to a "climate"-related FOIA (think Hockey Stick, Michael Mann, and IPCC). I'm not sure what the holdup is -- maybe it has something to do with some "climate" litigation, early November, or possibly a lame-duck push on related issues, I just don't know -- but NOAA first told me that they were sorting through them 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, as a not overly clever way to get around FOIA. It should come as no surprise that after I confirmed this statement in writing, three days later and presumably after speaking with their lawyers, they wrote back to say they never said that. It's come to this.

So, anyway, I don't see anything from NOAA but I do encounter a copy of another FOIA request, this one from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to the US EPA'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. Distilled, they want to know if the Obama administration has decided to essentially 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 decision when the strategy first emerged, but is being treated as top secret now; sort of like apparently sensitive records at NOAA.

As WV DEP notes, according to the law and rumor EPA did indeed make its recommendation about the Spruce Fork mine two weeks ago. It's just that EPA is not complying with the law by refusing to let anyone see it in the form of Federal Register publication.

I understand from the Campaign Spot that WV Gov. and Senate candidate Joe Manchin has decided to not wait for an answer but to sue, an announcement of which is being made today. It's bad enough when politicians preen, worse when they do so to boast of behavior that is precisely the opposite of how they behave. This is further worse when an administration declares war on an industry and, inescapably, a region. Even worse still is when they violate their legal obligations in order to keep this from the public, even telling a state regulator that they'll have to guess at the answer about their fate, or pry it out of them.

The only good news, for many of you, 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, maybe not 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. Unlike our political class.

Had enough yet?

Send to Kindle

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article