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Obama officials pressured contractors to change job loss figures, recordings reveal
FreeBeacon ^ | May 21, 2012 | Bill McMorris

Posted on 05/21/2012 11:18:58 AM PDT by Kaslin

Obama administration officials may have pressured government contractors to change job loss estimates associated with coal regulations, audio recordings reveal.

The tapes show that unnamed officials with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) asked government contractors to change their calculations of job losses associated with the Stream Protection Rule.

A preliminary draft of an environmental impact statement estimated that up to 7,000 coalminers could lose their jobs under the administration’s “preferred” regulation. After a leaked copy of the report went public, officials asked the contractors to compare job estimates to a model in which another regulation was enforced, rather than the real world numbers.

“It’s not the real world, this is rulemaking,” an OSM official tells a skeptical contractor on the recording.

“If we’re to assume [the 2008 rule] is enforced in the coal-producing states, this is a very small [impact],” the contractor replies. “But that, as you said, is not the real world, that’s pretending … I thought we were looking at what’s going to change in Kentucky, what’s going to change in Pennsylvania, what’s going to change in Ohio, what’s going to change in Wyoming.”

When a second OSM official makes light of the “theoretical discussion,” the contractor shoots back that “his [the OSM official’s proposed criteria] was theoretical, mine was practical.”

The agency fired the contractors studying the rule less than one month later.

The House Natural Resources Committee obtained the tapes from an unidentified third party after OSM provided heavily redacted transcripts—the exchange above, for example, was blacked out—and withheld the audio recordings.

Rep. Bill Johnson (R., Ohio) blasted the administration’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation.

“The tapes validated many of our concerns that the administration went into this with an intent of devastating the coal industry, fully knowing that the provisions in the proposed rule would put 7,000 jobs at risk,” he said. “And they wanted to get away with it by playing pretend.”

The committee has served OSM with two subpoenas since the beginning of the year. Department officials denied any wrongdoing and accused the committee of launching a political witch-hunt.

“The documents reflect the fact that there is a lot of analysis, discussion, and input that’s needed if we’re going to have a balanced rule that continues to support the development of important domestic resources,” Department of the Interior spokesman Adam Fetcher said. “We look forward to the Committee’s input on the substantive issues at any time, including once a rule is proposed, but the Committee’s cherry-picking of the documents to manufacture a false narrative shows again that their investigation is about politics, not good policymaking.”

Contractors and officials acknowledged in the closed-door meetings that rewriting the rule would be “atomic” for small businesses and start-up coal operations and worried aloud that spending $200 million per year to protect only 15 miles of stream in high unemployment regions such as Appalachia would be a hard “sell.”

Since 1983, mining companies have conducted operations while maintaining a 100-foot barrier between their activities and streams.

The rule, known originally as the Stream Buffer Zone Rule, was never codified and has been loosely enforced. George W. Bush signed an official Stream Buffer Zone rule in 2008 that maintained the 100-foot restriction, but also included more exemptions for mining companies to conduct operations within the barrier.

When Obama came into office, he ordered OSM to rewrite the rule to please his environmentalist base. OSM has spent more than $5 million studying the impacts of sediment run off and water protection and hopes to release an official rule proposal later this year.

Former contractors who studied the rule told the Washington Free Beacon that such a calculation would have made job losses seem smaller, but also denied that OSM acted inappropriately.

The committee released the tapes on Friday. OSM officials have until May 24 to respond to a second subpoena from the committee. Johnson pledged to continue pushing for transparency at the agency.

“We’re going to keep marching down this path,” he said. “We’re not going to stop until we get a full accounting of why the administration has chosen to rewrite this rule and why they are going about it in a speedy, haphazard way.”

Fetcher said that OSM has fully cooperated with the committee, providing it with more than 13,000 pages of documents detailing the history of the rule.

He did not respond to an email asking if the department would release the recordings before the deadline, however.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Front Page News; Government
KEYWORDS: 2012; bhocorruption; bhofascism; coal; coaljobs; corruption; democratcorruption; democrts; elections; envirofascism; fraud; globalwarming; globalwarminghoax; nobama2012; obama; obamacorrupt; obamalies; obamatruthfile; thegreenlie

1 posted on 05/21/2012 11:19:01 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Nixon redux?

2 posted on 05/21/2012 11:22:53 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: Kaslin
When TARP first hit, I was testing asphalt against the QC guys from an asphalt plant. They had a bunch of small 2 week paving jobs at airports that were being funded by TARP. Even though it was the same paving crew and truckers, each little 2 - 3 week paving job was counted as being 20 or 30 "new jobs created" with TARP.

With the rats doing the counting, I doubt if they were ever even counted once as a job loss when they were over.

3 posted on 05/21/2012 11:39:06 AM PDT by Slump Tester (What if I'm pregnant Teddy? Errr-ahh -Calm down Mary Jo, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it)
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To: Kaslin
We are beginning to look more and more like the old Soviet Union with the continual lying about the success of the '5 year plans'. The truth is not in this administration and never will be. I have this on direct report from a Mr. Winston Smith in the Ministry of Truth.


4 posted on 05/21/2012 11:53:19 AM PDT by Don Corleone ("Oil the the cannoli. Take it to the Mattress.")
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To: Don Corleone

Lysenko had the idiotic idea - based on Lamarkian evolutionary concepts - that you could “winterize” wheat with cold treatment just once and effect a permanent change in the characteristics of the wheat plant.

He was the darling of Stalin - and so his ideas were implemented - and then they sent out surveys to assess just how great “Soviet Science” was to the running dog capitalists. WOE to any who didn't report a stunning success! Despite huge losses and the USSR having to import wheat - every wheat farmer was reporting that wheat production was UP - or they were sent on a one way vacation to Siberia.

5 posted on 05/21/2012 12:09:08 PM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to DC to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: Slump Tester

Jesse Kelly (running for Congress AZ-8) reported that when his construction company sat down with the city of Tucson to plan the way ahead on a pipeline contract they’d won, the FedGov was there. They said they were providing the pipe. Which means that every person the private company used on the pipeline was a “new job”, even though most had been with the company for years.

I remember reading, also, that they hired too many Census workers, so laid a bunch of them off. Then rehired them when the actual Census started. All got counted each time as “new jobs”.

6 posted on 05/21/2012 12:39:36 PM PDT by FrogMom (There is no such thing as an honest democrat!)
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To: Kaslin

“When a second OSM official makes light of the “theoretical discussion,” the contractor shoots back that “his [the OSM official’s proposed criteria] was theoretical, mine was practical.”

The agency fired the contractors studying the rule less than one month later.”

Welcome to Obama’s Amerika.

7 posted on 05/21/2012 12:42:01 PM PDT by keats5 (Not all of us are hypnotized.)
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To: cuban leaf

My thoughts exactly...after all the hype washed away he stands naked as a crook potus.

8 posted on 05/21/2012 12:56:10 PM PDT by Hotlanta Mike (Resurrect the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC)...before there is no America!)
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To: keats5
The agency fired the contractors studying the rule less than one month later.

Getting fired was a blessing for these guys. In a few years if things keep up, those contractors would have been relocated to some government run facility (probably north of Fairbanks) if they keep running their mouths.

Stalinism is alive and well and living in Washington DC just waiting to bust loose. Bill Ayres can finally get his long dreamed of death camps.

Tow the Party Line... or else.

9 posted on 05/21/2012 8:55:47 PM PDT by Ditto (Nov 2, 2010 -- Partial cleaning accomplished. More trash to remove in 2012)
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