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Environment

Cap & Muzzle

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And you thought the the whole cap-and-trade debate surrounding the U.S. climate bill was already hopelessly politicized. What's that, you've become a bit numbed to it all? How about we throw in a juicy free speech angle to spice things up a bit. Remember those two EPA lawyers that wrote a critical op-ed of cap-and-trade last weekend in the Washington Post? They also made the same case in a video posted on YouTube (entitled, "The Huge Mistake"), which EPA is now demanding be removed, according David Roberts at Grist. Wrong move, Roberts points out, for one obvious reason:

When Bush administration NASA officials attempted to monitor and control what scientist James Hansen said to the press, they were rightly criticized. By the same token, even though I think many of Williams & Zabel's policy arguments are deeply flawed, I can't see any justification for refusing them the right to communicate honestly about their backgrounds to the public. EPA should back off.

The irony of the EPA's attempted muzzling doesn't stop there. In May of 2008, the same two lawyers wrote a similarly critical missive against cap-and-trade in an open letter to Congress. Guess what, the Bush Administration had no problems with this demonstration of free speech. As Keith Johnson at the WSJ's Environment Capitol noted at the time, if the muzzle was strapped on for the likes of Hansen,

it apparently can also be removed"“like when a chance arises to criticize the climate-change bills in Congress that the administration dislikes.

Never mind the charges of hypocrisy that are sure to be leveled at the Obama Administration if its EPA insists on that video being pulled down. As one commenter at Grist observes

No, the real stupidity by the EPA is that by reacting so, they propel this into greater controversy and publicity.

Too late for that, unless Morano sleeps in on Sundays. Lost in all this is a larger, perhaps even uglier debate that might soon rear its head, if anyone picks up on the argument Michael Tobis is making, in light of recent events:

Now that Copenhagen is not a big deal anymore, there's no real rush to produce a bill in the US. Let's drop Waxman-Markey and its variants, and take our time to try to come up with something that works.

Michael, what are you, a "delayer"?

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