Saturday, January 13, 2007

"Mostly Rubbish"

On 3 January, Myron Ebell wrote:
"Unfortunately, some environmental pressure groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, and some politicians are trying to silence anyone who disagrees with them... Nearly everything in the Union's report is recycled uncritically from other sources. It's mostly rubbish. The report even mistakenly labels me an economist."
Indeed, it is always a mistake to say that Myron is qualified for anything except lying. To be fair, there is no qualification for being a respected economist, aside from supporting big business, and being wrong about nearly everything. Now, what about the other "rubbish" in the report? Do you think if there were any more significant errors, he would have mentioned them? It reads:
The network ExxonMobil created masqueraded as a credible scientific alternative, but it publicized discredited studies and cherry-picked information to present misleading conclusions...

A close look at the work of these [Exxon-funded] organizations exposes ExxonMobil’s strategy. Virtually all of them publish and publicize the work of a nearly identical group of spokespeople, including scientists who misrepresent peer-reviewed climate findings and confuse the public’s understanding of global warming. Most of these organizations also include these same individuals as board members or scientific advisers.

Begun in 1996 by former [Republican] Senator Malcolm Wallop, Frontiers of Freedom was founded to promote property rights and critique environmental regulations like the Endangered Species Act. One of the group’s staff members, an economist named Myron Ebell, later served as a member of the Global Climate Science Team, the small task force that laid out ExxonMobil’s 1998 message strategy on global warming. Following the outline of the task force’s plan in 1998, ExxonMobil began funding Frontiers of Freedom...

A more prominent organization funded by ExxonMobil is the Washington, DC-based Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). Founded in 1984 to fight government regulation on business, CEI started to attract significant ExxonMobil funding when Myron Ebell moved there from Frontiers of Freedom in 1999. Since then, CEI has not only produced a steady flow of vituperative articles and commentaries attacking global warming science often using the same set of global warming contrarians. CEI has also sued the federal government to stop the dissemination of a National Assessment Synthesis Team report extensively documenting the region-by-region impacts of climate change in the United States...

Not surprisingly, ExxonMobil vociferously objected to the conclusion of the multiagency "Climate Action Report" that climate change posed a significant risk and was caused by humanmade emissions. Concerned about the matter, Cooney contacted Myron Ebell at the Exxon-Mobil-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute. "Thanks for calling and asking for our help," Ebell responded in a June 3, 2002, email to Cooney that surfaced as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request. Ebell urged that the President distance himself from the report. Within days, President Bush did exactly that, denigrating the report in question as having been "put out by the bureaucracy." In the June 3 email, Ebell explicitly suggests the ouster of then-EPA head Christine Todd Whitman. "It seems to me that the folks at the EPA are the obvious fall guys and we would only hope that the fall guy (or gal) should be as high up as possible," Ebell wrote. "Perhaps tomorrow we will call for Whitman to be fired." Sure enough, Whitman would last for less than a year in her post, resigning in May 2003. Finally, Ebell pledged he would do what he could to respond to the White House"s request to "clean up this mess."

A major piece of Ebell's "clean-up" effort presumably came on August 6, 2003, when the Competitive Enterprise Institute filed the second of two lawsuits calling for the Bush administration to invalidate the National Assessment (a peer-reviewed synthesis report upon which the U.S. Climate Action Report was based). The CEI lawsuit called for it to be withdrawn because it was not based upon "sound science."

Given the close, conspiratorial communication between Ebell and Cooney that had come to light, the lawsuit prompted the attorneys general of Maine and Connecticut to call upon the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the matter.

However, the Bush administration Justice Department, then led by John Ashcroft, refused to launch such an investigation, despite the fact that the Maine and Connecticut attorneys general stated forcefully that the evidence suggested that Cooney had conspired with Ebell to cause the Competitive Enterprise Institute to sue the federal government. As Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe noted: "The idea that the Bush administration may have invited a lawsuit from a special interest group in order to undermine the federal government’s own work under an international treaty is very troubling."
Myron Ebell's name also appears as an author in the American Petroleum Institute's Global Climate Science Communications Action Plan (Appendic C Part 1) which will be written up in the next blog post.

This is not rubbish. It's damning.

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