WSJ misleads on greenhouse gas memo

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

The Wall Street Journal reported that "a White House document ... says regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act 'is likely to have serious economic consequences,' " but did not note that the statement was reportedly made by the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, which is independent of the SBA and headed by an acting chief counsel appointed by President Bush.

In a May 13 article, The Wall Street Journal reported that "Republicans pounced on a White House document that says regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act 'is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities.' " The Journal further stated that "[t]he document, an amalgamation of comments by government agencies sent from the Office of Management and Budget [OMB] to the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year, presents a more dire view of the consequences of regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act than the Obama administration has publicly stated" and quoted House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) saying the memo "suggests that a political decision was made to put special interests ahead of middle-class families and small businesses." However, the Journal did not mention that OMB director Peter Orszag said the document did not necessarily reflect the administration's position or note that the specific claim regarding "serious economic consequences" reportedly came from the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, which is an independent entity headed by acting chief counsel for advocacy Shawne McGibbon, a Bush appointee.

In a May 12 post on the OMB blog, Orszag wrote that the document was a result of "disparate comments from various agencies during the inter-agency review process of the proposed finding" and that the "collected comments were not necessarily internally consistent, since they came from multiple sources, and they do not necessarily represent the views of either OMB or the Administration. In other words, we simply receive comments from various agencies and pass them along to EPA for consideration, regardless of the substantive merit of those comments. In general, passing along these types of comments to an agency proposing a finding often helps to improve the quality of the notice."

Indeed, the SBA Office of Advocacy website says its "views do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or the Administration."

According to a May 12 Associated Press article about the memo, "[a]n official with the Office of Management and Budget, which compiled agency opinions on the EPA's proposed finding, said the cost critique came from the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration. The official, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid harming the integrity of interagency reviews, said the SBA office was under the direction of a Bush administration appointee who had not yet been replaced." The Los Angeles Times similarly reported on May 13 that "Obama administration officials said the warnings, contained in memos from the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, didn't reflect current White House policy. The office is still stocked with Bush appointees, the administration officials said."

From the May 13 Wall Street Journal article:

Republicans and other interest groups were already turning up the heat on Democrats and the Obama administration ahead of Tuesday's deal. Earlier in the day, Republicans pounced on a White House document that says regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act "is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities."

The document, an amalgamation of comments by government agencies sent from the Office of Management and Budget to the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year, presents a more dire view of the consequences of regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act than the Obama administration has publicly stated.

Asked about the memo at a Senate hearing Tuesday, the EPA's administrator, Lisa Jackson, said the agency's recent declaration that greenhouse gases endanger health and welfare is preliminary and might not lead to regulations under the Clean Air Act. She reiterated the administration's preference for legislation such as Mr. Waxman's that would cap and gradually reduce emissions, while allowing companies to buy and sell emissions permits.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio) said the OMB memo "suggests that a political decision was made to put special interests ahead of middle-class families and small businesses struggling in this recession."

Posted In
Economy, Taxes, Environment & Science, Climate Change
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