With public concern about climate waning, the EPA turned its anti-fossil messaging campaign to fear-mongering about child health impacts. 

An internal 2009 email to top officials recognized that, “The number of Americans who say the global warming threat has been exaggerated is at an all-time high,” and that outreach pitches directed to polar ice cap and polar bear “mascots” were losing effectiveness.  [Note: the poll at left is from 2010.  Source: BBC.]

Accordingly, it urges the agency to shift its emphasis to respiratory illness justifications which will “make this issue real for many Americans who would otherwise oppose many of our regulatory actions.”

Newly released by Anthony Watts at the popular blog site, “Watts Up With That,” the memo was obtained by attorney and Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Chris Horner through a Freedom of Information Act request. That copy was addressed to “Richard Windsor” — an alias used by then-EPA Director Lisa Jackson’s secret email account — which she has defended, upon investigation, as necessary for personal, unofficial uses. Titled “Strategic Communications Conversation,” it clearly dispels that ruse.

Circulated just months after President Obama took office, the memo states: “Most Americans will never see a polar ice cap, nor will ever have a chance to see a polar bear in its natural habitat. Therefore it is easy to detach from the seriousness of the issue. Unfortunately, climate change in the abstract is an increasingly — and consistently — unpersuasive argument to make.”

Then, pivoting entirely from CO2 climate-based anti-fossil arguments to unrelated regulatory justifications based upon particulate emissions, it goes on to say: “However, if we shift from making this issue about polar caps [to being] about our neighbor with respiratory illness, we can potentially bring this issue home to many Americans.”

What is “this issue” they didn’t want to be “all about polar caps” and was somehow connected “with respiratory illness”? It is obviously the “health argument,” for a war on coal and other fossils, whereby the memo adds: “There will be many opportunities to discuss climate-related efforts this year. As we do so, we must allow the human health argument to take center stage.” 

Conflating separate issue associations in the public’s mind regarding concerns about global warming, the safety of water they drink, and the air they breathe, the memo states, “We must begin to create a causal link between the worries of Americans and the proactive mission we’re pushing.” That “mission” is to advance EPA’s sweeping regulatory authority and restrictions by any and all means possible.

The strategy emphasizes a need to “reach beyond those inside the tent.” This, it says, means not only that the EPA must continue to “ensure we maintain a constant pipeline to that ever-important cadre of reporters,” but also pursue “a bloc of reporters who would fall outside the typical press gallery of EPA.” It specifically notes and includes the ethnic minority press [African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American], women-oriented press, youth press, urban radio, bloggers and key columnists.

Referring to engaging those already inside the EPA tent who are concerned about protecting “caribou, polar bears and sea otters,” which “obviously does not reflect our caribouday-to-day work,” the new strategy is to rebrand the EPA “mission” to be about equal justice.

“It is important for us to change this perception, particularly among those who are critically impacted by EJ [equal justice] issues, but are otherwise ‘unchurched.’” By “unchurched,” the memo clarifies this to “mean they are not affiliated with a group or effort that would self-identify as EJ or environmentalist.”

Speaking to the Daily Caller News Foundation, Chris Horner observed that the memo reflects the EPA’s “breathtakingly disingenuous shift” from its failing global warming campaign, to making its case be about respiratory illness. He said, “It also shows the conviction that if they yell ‘clean air’ and ‘children’ enough, they, the media, and the Green groups will get their way.”

So far, it’s all working out just as planned. We can thank the EPA’s conflation of CO2 as a public health-influencing “pollutant” for its first-ever regulations on greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions issued in 2012, along with the Obama Administration’s new Clean Power Plan, which will impose draconian CO2 restrictions upon existing coal-fired plants. Neither have anything to do with reducing smog or harmful asthma-causing particulates.

On the other hand, the public health of the American economy and household budgets will very much be impacted. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that these new EPA rules will shut down hundreds of generators, cost the U.S. economy 2.3 million jobs and half a trillion in lost GDP over the next 10 years, and add $289 billion in consumer electricity costs to lower household disposable incomes by $586 billion by 2030.

Those burdens will weigh heaviest upon the poorest among us. “Equal justice” be damned.


  • Larry Bell

    CFACT Advisor Larry Bell heads the graduate program in space architecture at the University of Houston. He founded and directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture. He is also the author of "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax."