EPA Officials Caught Using Talking Points From Soros-Backed Group

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

Emails obtained by a free-market legal group show that EPA officials may have been using talking points given to them by a policy expert with the Center for American Progress (CAP) — a think tank founded by Clinton adviser John Podesta and backed by liberal billionaire George Soros.

Then-CAP climate policy expert Daniel Weiss emailed EPA senior counsel Joseph Goffman in September 2013 with “a series of suggestions for convincing [New York Times reporter] Matt Wald of the commercial viability of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

CCS technology is the centerpiece of the EPA’s carbon dioxide regulations for new power plants. It’s the only feasible way for coal-fired power plants to meet emissions limits set by the EPA’s proposed rule. There’s just one problem: the technology has been criticized for not being commercially viable.

The coal industry, Republicans and critics in general have pointed out that CCS has never been done on a commercial scale, and the only examples of CCS being used at a power plant the EPA can draw on are projects that were heavily subsidized by the government. Weiss was advising EPA employees of how to convince the Times reporter the technology was viable.

“Very important,” Weiss wrote in the subject line of his email to the White House’s climate messaging expert Rohan Patel and the EPA’s Brian Bond . “NYT to write CCS not adequately demonstrated?” Weiss warned. “It might be worth your while to have [EPA administrator] Gina [McCarthy] or some other senior person call him ASAP.”

Patel forwarded the email to “Goffman, associate EPA administrator for public affairs Tom Reynolds, and Dan Utech, the president’s deputy assistant for energy and climate change,” reported the Free Beacon. Reynolds and Goffman scheduled a phone call to talk about the pending Times story.

“Thanks for the note on Matt Wald,” Goffman wrote back to Weiss. “We’re on it.”

“The key is to make the most compelling case that CCS is ‘adequately demonstrated,’” Weiss replied. “Since the strategy of the opponents seems to be cast doubt on the technology, the more evidence that it is on its way, the stronger the case.”

Goffman quickly emailed five other EPA officials. That email was mostly redacted, but the first and last sentence used the same wording as Weiss’s email, suggesting that Goffman simply copied and pasted Weiss’s talking points.

“The brazen collusion is staggering,” Chris Horner, an attorney at the Environment & Energy Legal Institute, told the Free Beacon.

“This is a spectacular example of how ideological activists brought in to the Obama administration to jam through the left-wing agenda see no distinction between EPA and their former green-group colleagues,” said Horner, who obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The EPA says that no one at the EPA forwarded a “suggestion as their own and one email is not representative of how the agency works.”

“EPA’s priority is reaching out and engaging with the public and stakeholders so we hear from as many voices as possible,” an agency spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Actually, if anyone deserves credit for giving us ideas, it’s the states and communities on the ground that are developing cleaner, more efficient energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy,” she said. “Nothing we do is about one individual or group coming up with an idea or suggestion.”

The Center for American Progress downplayed the Free Beacon article, saying it’s unsurprising that a policy expert was offering government officials advice on climate policy.

“Oh wow. We were using our policy expertise to help the government achieve good public policy on an issue we care deeply about,” CAP spokeswoman Daniella Gibbs Leger told TheDCNF.

“Fancy that: a policy think tank, pushing policy ideas, with policy makers. Shocking,” she added.

CAP, however, did not answer TheDCNF’s question of whether or not the think tank would be so sanguine about emails showing federal officials being given talking points by groups affiliated with the fossil fuels industry.

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Tags : center for american progress chris horner epa
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