- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2009


President Obama’s climate czar Carol M. Browner doesn’t have a problem with global-warming advocates who try to silence scientists who disagree or hide the data upon which government decisions are based.

Given the opportunity to say anything at all about the Climategate e-mails at a White House press conference, Mrs. Browner had nothing to say on the topic.

Having covered Mrs. Browner in her days as Environmental Protection Agency chief during the Clinton administration, it is easy to see why. That’s exactly the kind of thing she did when she ran the show.

Among her last acts in office was to order the hard drive on her official computer at the EPA wiped clean, even though she knew there was a court order that computer files be preserved. Ms. Browner wasn’t the only senior political appointee to wipe out data as they left the EPA, and eventually, the agency was found in contempt.

Such end-of-term shenanigans weren’t an aberration. As I reported on Mrs. Browner’s EPA for the Detroit News, I learned that hiding facts from the public was a fundamental part of science and regulatory enforcement at the environmental agency.

Early in the Clinton administration, Mrs. Browner raised the idea of using civil rights laws to bolster environmental enforcement in minority areas. Dubbed “environmental justice” and made into an agency priority, the EPA poured millions of dollars into the project.

In the course of the agency’s work, the EPA identified six industrial sites across the country where agency officials believed a good case could be made that racist corporations were targeting minorities for excess pollution.

In each case, the EPA sent out a lawyer to investigate, and in each case, the lawyer came back with a report that said there was no reason for the EPA to prosecute. Mrs. Browner’s minions shelved the reports and never even told the companies involved that the investigation was over.

Moreover, when members of Congress from the impacted areas wrote to the agency to inquire about the status of the investigations, they weren’t told about the draft reviews, either.

At around the same time as the failed investigations, the EPA wanted to put together a strong national case that minorities were hurt by pollution more than whites.

In this effort, the EPA contracted with an outside statistician to analyze existing data and research and put together the broader picture. The statistician found that racial disparities were either statistically insignificant or based on shoddy data sets riddled with inaccurate dates. On one issue - regulatory enforcement - the analysis found that minorities enjoyed stricter environmental protection than whites.

Again, Mrs. Browner’s agency decided to ignore evidence it didn’t like and shelved the report. In the years after the report disappeared into the memory hole, various branches of the EPA continued to cite evidence that the EPA’s own research had shown was false.

Even when Congress began hearings and started asking for documents, the agency continued to try to hide things - withholding the statistical analysis from Congress until the Detroit News had obtained a copy through an internal whistle blower.

The controversy culminated in the agency receiving complaints about discriminatory pollution from a proposed steel mill in Michigan. Mrs. Browner’s agency was in such a rush that it launched a full-scale investigation before checking the demographics of the area around the plant.

Not only where nearby residents majority white - the area was whiter than the state of Michigan as a whole. If anyone was going to suffer a disproportionate burden of pollution, it wasn’t minorities.

So today, Mrs. Browner doesn’t find evidence that global-warming activists in scientific clothing perverted science to advance a political agenda to be anything to get upset about. Nobody should be surprised - they’re just following her lead.

David Mastio is a senior editor for The Washington Times. He was a reporter in the Washington bureau of the Detroit News.

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