Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The smog of war: long-time clean air foe C. Boyden Gray attacks EPA yet again!

Those of you who have followed clean-air matters for awhile may not find this surprising. But for those of you who have joined this saga relatively recently, this might be worth noting.

Long-time clean air opponent C. Boyden Gray has opened fire on EPA’s upcoming new ozone standard. Gray’s salvo came in a commentary published in the Washington Times newspaper. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/oct/19/gray-reducing-ozone-could-kill-jobs/

His commentary mirrors what is becoming pretty typical anti-EPA Republican political rhetoric, which asserts that cleaning up the air will increase unemployment. (Actually, numerous studies have found that clean-air standards lead to job creation, particularly in the pollution control and related industries.) The commentary includes a lot of other nonsense which I am happy to discuss, if you want.

I think it is fair to put Gray’s commentary in some context, especially for those of you who are less familiar with his past. I will present just a few highlights. There is much more, of course.

Gray, heir to the Reynolds tobacco fortune, has held numerous government jobs under Republican governments, including as counsel to the first President Bush and more recently as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union.

But it’s his involvement in fighting against clean air controls that catches our eye.

During the Reagan presidency, Gray staffed a “regulatory relief” panel that, among other things, tried to stop the phase out of lead in gasoline. Eventually, the phase out continued after an uproar. http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=where_the_public_good_prevailed

During the first Bush Presidency, Gray and his protégé and assistant, Jeffrey Holmstead (who went on to become head of EPA’s air pollution division during the second Bush presidency and who crafted numerous industry-friendly approaches that were tossed out by the courts) interfered in EPA attempts to carry out the Clean Air Act, as they tried to “interpret” the rules in ways more favorable to industry. As Gray told the New York Times,

"What happens after the passage of legislation is often more important that what happens during enactment," said C. Boyden Gray, the White House counsel. "We are engaged now in a lot of knockdown fights over the Clean Air Act, where Congress left discretion to the agency."

During the Clinton era, when the EPA sought to set tougher national clean-air standards for smog and soot, Gray was the chief tactician of an industry coalition which sought to block the agency.

Gray was also chairman of Citizens for a Sound Economy, an industry-funded anti-government rabble-rousing outfit which claimed that EPA planned to ban barbeques and Fourth of July fireworks. These were all phony assertions.

After EPA went ahead and adopted tougher standards, Gray dreamed up a legal trick aimed at subverting the standards. He argued that EPA had violated the so-called “nondelegation” doctrine – a fancy way of saying EPA had reached too far in setting the clean-air standards.

http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/trlp5&div=8&id=&page=

A federal appeals court agreed with him, but the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected his argument.

But Gray managed to set the cause for clean air back several years in the process and made a lot of money for a lot of lawyers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitman_v._American_Trucking_Associations,_Inc.

And now, EPA is moving again to update national smog standards. And, once again, C. Boyden Gray is on the attack. Keep you eye out for more of the same baloney rhetoric. Will he be on Hannity next? And please let us know if you want a reality check.

What else is Gray doing these days?

Well, he is on the board of directors of the so-called FreedomWorks, an anti-government group which is an offshoot of Gray’s earlier Citizens for a Sound Economy and helps the so-called Tea Party. http://www.freedomworks.org/about/board-of-directors/c-boyden-gray

FreedomWorks, of course, has been very active opposing both legislation and EPA rules aimed at limiting climate change emissions: http://action.freedomworks.org/

Gray also is “founding partner” of the Gray & Schmitz law firm, which is registered to lobby for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which, as you know, has been an aggressive opponent of EPA clean air requirements.

Gray has also lobbied on behalf of Constellation Energy on the House and Senate climate bills.(Funny – I thought Constellation was in favor of federal climate legislation because it thought that would boost the value of nuclear energy. I assume Gray was tasked with rounding up Republican supporters. If so, he didn’t do very well, did he?)

Gray’s firm is also registered to lobby on behalf of the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Gray is also a prominent “Federalist Society” member http://www.fed-soc.org/publications/id.36/author.asp and is scheduled to speak next month at what looks to be the equivalent of a Tea Party rally by dull gray men in dull gray suits. Sorry for the pun: http://www.fed-soc.org/events/eventID.2386/event_detail.asp

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