Be wary of climate policy
Imagine you are an advocacy group and
want to sway a government's policy development, but really want to keep your
activism a secret. You could learn a lot by observing and then avoiding the
practices of the Center for Climate Strategies, a group of global warming
CCS in recent years has approached many
states, including Washington, with an inexpensive, tantalizing offer: to
establish and manage a process for climate change policy development. The
results are a study legitimized by government that promotes onerous regulations,
property rights infringement through smart growth initiatives, and new taxes and
fees on fuels and utilities.
CCS operates in Washington in nearly the
same way it's worked in every other state where it's been hired. First a
governor (such as Gov. Chris Gregoire) issues an executive order declaring
global warming a problem that must be confronted through state policy. Then a
so-called stakeholder (political appointees and special interests, really) panel
considers dozens of CCS-created policy options -- most of which impinge upon
individual rights, increase energy costs, or add to the cost of government --
that ostensibly reduce CO2 emissions in the state. CCS holds the hand of the
group through several meetings and its decision-making, until the threats to
personal liberty and financial well-being are established as official government
philosophy. Ideally (to CCS), legislatures will adopt them and add to everyone's
cost of living. Nanny-staters celebrate.
But believe it or don't, CCS says it does
not take a position on climate change solutions or push states into their
greenhouse gas emissions decisions. Executive director Tom Peterson told me in
an interview months ago, "(CCS) does not have an advocacy mission, and it
doesn't have an advocacy history."
But CCS' concealment of its activism is
like the fat kid standing behind a flagpole in a game of hide and seek.
Start with its funding. CCS comes to
states promising to bring money with them to pay for their greenhouse-gas
reduction development. Who foots the bill? Several foundations on the global
warming panic train: the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The (Ted) Turner Foundation,
The Heinz Endowments, the Energy Foundation, and many others. For example, the
state of Washington is paying only $200,000 for CCS' services -- half of what
their cheap process has cost in other states.
Then CCS controls the entire policy
development: the agenda, scheduling and oversight of their meetings; the CO2
reduction options that stakeholders consider; analysis (which is not an
examination of cost/benefit or climate impact) of those options; the voting
process; the changing and/or elimination of options; and the writing of all
meeting minutes, presentations and reports.
Virtually every one of CCS's greenhouse
gas-reducing options, which stakeholders find almost impossible to eliminate or
alter (as if they wanted to) because the voting procedures are stacked against
it, will curtail individual freedom or further burden taxpayers and consumers.
Rather than surveying stakeholders in an up-or-down vote, options are instead
considered already approved unless enough members (who are political appointees,
with almost no scientists or economists) are bold and knowledgeable enough to
object to them.
CCS has conducted this cookie-cutter
process in more than a dozen states, and more are in its sights. The motives,
tactics and plans are not hard to see, but they are a threat.
State government watchdogs and
free-market believers need to tag that kid behind the flagpole. He is only
Paul Chesser is an associate editor for
the John Locke Foundation; pchesser@carolinajo
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