Monday, August 29, 2016

Is the Dirty-AirBnB Crew Trying to Stage a CASAC Coup?

Recently, we reported on Dirty-AirBnB, an effort by key lobbyists and polluters such as Koch and ExxonMobil to block new smog standards and weaken the Clean Air Act through campaign contributions to a Texas congressman.

Now some of those key players seem to be shifting their offensive to a different battlefield -- this time in concert with a controversial Texas scientist. In an excellent story you might have missed, Greenwire on Friday noted the "rare" campaign to place an industry-friendly state scientist on a key EPA clean air panel.

The scientist, Michael Honeycutt, is the chief toxicologist with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  He has been a fierce critic of tougher public health standards for ozone, or smog.   In the process, he has become a darling for the oil and gas industries.

And now the love is really starting to show!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

UPDATED: EPA expected to issue truck rule... but what about the issue of truck smog-forming emissions?

As many of you know, the U.S. EPA, by as soon as today, is expected to issue final rules designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from future big trucks.  This is a very big deal and something that will cause much celebration in environmental group circles. 

However, I do want to remind you there is a related issue we are tracking and most interested in: smog-forming nitrogen oxides emissions from big trucks. As you may recall, 11 state and local government agencies have formally petitioned the EPA to set tougher NOx standards for big trucks.   Public health groups have joined in that call. 

As we have learned with this summer’s numerous smog alerts, ozone is not just a California problem. We need additional tools to make sure everyone can breathe safely.

And big truck pollution is something that can and must be reduced. Indeed, without tougher truck controls, big trucks will become the biggest source of smog-forming NOx emissions in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast within the next few years.  

We don’t expect EPA will respond to that state/local petition in its greenhouse rule, but we hope the agency will at least acknowledge the issue — and respond favorably to the petition in the near future.  

UPDATE: In the final rule, EPA promises to "engage with stakeholders" on possible NOx standards.  See pages 99-104 

Saturday, August 06, 2016


Recently, we published a report, Dirty-airbnb? which investigated the ties between Koch Industries and other polluters and an effort in Congress by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) to delay smog cleanup and generally weaken the Clean Air Act.

Olson spokeswoman Melissa Kelly told Greenwire that our investigation was "offensive and wrong."

We are continuing to monitor these issues, and discovered a new connection: Koch is also the principal financial backer of a so-called "Leadership PAC" run by Olson called the "Freedom Matters PAC."

This is basically a legal slush fund through which Koch (and a few other contributors) dish out cash which then is re-gifted to other candidates for office.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016


A Clean Air Watch Investigation

Did the Koch Brothers, ExxonMobil
 and Friends Rent a Texas Congressman
 — in a Gambit to Relax the Clean Air Act?

[“Beware of the dark side…. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.” 
— Yoda, Return of the Jedi]

It’s often said that special interests with ready cash can “buy” politicians, including members of Congress.  The issue came up during the Republican presidential debates when Donald Trump, accused of buying elected officials, readily agreed that he expected a favorable response from politicians who had taken his money (Trump also argued that he was just playing by the rules of a “broken” system.) :

Similarly, we recall a businessman friend bitterly complaining he had to pony up cash that would be bundled and given to then-Senator Hillary Clinton so that she would be receptive to that business’s legislative concerns.