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The non-profit Clean Air Trust today awarded its clean air "Villain of the Month" award for March to Myron Ebell, Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy for the reactionary Competitive Enterprise Institute and chairman of the radical anti-clean air "Cooler Heads Coalition."
Ebell earned this dubious distinction by leading a ferocious lobbying charge to persuade President Bush to reverse his campaign pledge to control electric utility emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to global warming.
"We have won a famous victory, and everyone should congratulate themselves on the work they did to achieve this end," Ebell said in a March 14 e-mail to anti-clean air allies. "This, after all, could be a turning point in the war to save industrial civilization from itself." (The full e-mail is available from the Clean Air Trust.)
Ebell urged his cohorts to step up opposition against environmentally friendly candidates for appointments in the Bush administration, including the post of assistant administrator for air pollution control at the Environmental Protection Agency.
This lobbying blitz was nothing new for the Cooler Heads Coalition, a motley array of radical anti-clean air groups, mostly funded by business, with ties to the extreme right wing of the Republican party. (Note the list of "Cooler Head" members at the end of this report.)
Ebell himself and other members of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) have never been shy about injecting partisan rhetoric into any debate. "President Clinton's statements about the threat of global warming are little more than hot air," said Ebell, in reaction to Clinton's last State of the Union Address in January 2000. The "Clinton-Gore administration" has "a very clear energy policy... It is to reduce the production of fossil fuels, construct supplies of fossil fuels, and raise energy prices," he said in a commentary published last September in the arch-conservative Washington Times newspaper. Added his CEI colleague Christopher Horner (counsel to the Cooler Heads Coalition) in a separate letter to the Washington Times: "The Clinton-Gore administration is concerned about higher energy costs? That concern is nothing a victory in November can't solve."
(Let's digress for one second to point out that, thankfully, Ebell and his ilk don't speak for all elected Republicans. For example, today Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Senators James Jeffords (R-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are joining in a bipartisan effort to reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants from coal-fired electric power plants. Contrary to the assertions of Ebell and President Bush that proposed greenhouse gas controls threaten energy supplies, this very progressive piece of legislation would have absolutely no impact on the current energy situation. It wouldn't even require emission reductions until 2007!)
Ebell also apparently has close ties to former Rep. David McIntosh of Indiana, a longtime opponent of clean-air controls. Ebell praised McIntosh during the latter's failed campaign last year to become Indiana's governor, and he touted him again in the March 14 e-mail. That's because McIntosh, before leaving Congress, had requested that the Energy Information Administration (EIA) study the impacts pollution cleanup. As our colleagues at the Natural Resources Defense Council have noted, the resulting study was full of flaws that exaggerated the cost of carbon dioxide emission reductions. (Please contact us if you want the NRDC analysis.)
At least Ebell's Competitive Enterprise Institute is consistent in its shrill anti-clean air propaganda. The reactionary think tank announced its "disappointment" with the February 27 unanimous Supreme Court decision upholding the bedrock principle of the Clean Air Act that national health standards should be based solely on science and the impacts of pollution on public health. CEI even blasted the 1999 decision by EPA to require cleaner cars and sport utility vehicles and low-sulfur gasoline.
Clean air advocates should be very alert that Ebell has spoken favorably of the so-called "National Energy Security Act" recently introduced by Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska). Most infamous for its proposal to allow drilling in Alaska, this legislation also directly attacks the Clean Air Act by exempting alleged "clean coal" projects from clean air standards.
THE COOLER HEADS COALITION
Alexis de Tocqueville Institution
Americans for Tax Reform
American Legislative Exchange Council
American Policy Center
Association of Concerned Taxpayers
Center for Security Policy
Citizens for a Sound Economy
Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Defenders of Property Rights
Frontiers of Freedom
George C. Marshall Institute
National Center for Policy Analysis
National Center for Public Policy Research
Pacific Research Institute
Small Business Survival Committee
The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition