Shedding Some Light on O’Malley’s Climate of Secrecy

Today’s Examiner editorial and opinion piece by Paul Chesser reveal yet another secretive and shady dealing by the O’Malley administration:

Both Chesser and the editorial note that Governor O’Malley authorized the creation of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change to address the impact of global warming and formulate the administration’s response. According to the Examiner editorial:

The commission then brought on CCS — a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit public-private partnership — to do in Maryland what it is presently or has already done in many other states, which is to provide policy guidance and day-to-day management expertise. Put simply, O’Malley’s commission outsourced development of the Maryland government’s global warming policy to a group with a financial and ideological stake in the outcome — the environmental firms and consultants behind CCS gaining the inside track for future business in Maryland.
Maryland Department of the Environment officials refuse to provide documents or other important information about CCS’ operations or funding. State officials deny having any kind of contract or other services agreement with CCS, but they admit the existence of internal e-mails and other correspondence with and about CCS. The e-mails and correspondence make it clear the group is an active participant in state government decision-making.
There is a stench about this deal for several reasons. First, in other states where it operates, CCS advocates climate change policies that critics charge will require tax increases, make energy more expensive and restrict private property rights. Maryland residents thus should not be surprised if O’Malley’s commission recommends similar policies. Second, it is impossible for outsiders to determine whether any of the companies or individuals connected with CCS stand to gain financially by the relationship.
Finally, are any of CCS’ financial backers also O’Malley campaign contributors? If there is nothing to hide here, why all the secrecy?

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Please allow me to shed a bit of light on CCS. CCS is a subsidiary organ of Environmental Solutions Inc.(EESI), which itself is a subsidiary organization of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council Inc. (PECPA). PECPA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization so their financial records are open to the public. You can see the IRS 990 forms for EESI and PEPCA at Guidestar. The Green Building Association of Central Pennsylvania was a former subsidiary of EESI, but now have split into two separate but related organizations. CCS, EESI, and PECPA share the same address 130 Locust St. Harrisburg, PA.

Gannett Fleming Companies Inc., a multifaceted firm, also located in Harrisburg is a financial benefactor of PEPCA. Gannett specializes in the “environmental sustainability” of its projects and practices. PEPCA’s Executive Director David Sheridan is the former Director of Gannett’s environmental practices.

Surprise surprise, Gannett Fleming has contributed over $12,000 to Martin O’Malley since 2004.

For more shadiness see what Chesser has to say about MDE director of air and radiation management Tad Aburn’s refusal to publicly release correspondence between the MCCC and CCS.:

Something I was told by Laramie Daniel, an MDE liaison, might answer that question. In trying to explain why I could not have this public information, Daniel said Aburn “is the one who wanted the documents withheld.” Aburn has declined to speak with me directly.
What makes this doubly mysterious is how much more forthcoming officials have been in other states where CCS is involved, including Florida, Arizona, Minnesota, New Mexico, Virginia and others. I’ve had no problem obtaining what I asked for from those states, so what is Aburn’s — and Maryland’s — big secret? It could be the fact that, as in the other states, liberal environmental foundations are paying for CCS’ study process, thus effectively removing them from state budget requirements.
It could be that, according to a draft memorandum from CCS’ leaders to Aburn, “participants will not debate the science of climate change,” which undermines CCS’ claim as an “impartial and expert party [that] does not take positions on issues.”
Or perhaps Aburn has a deal with CCS that for whatever reason he does not want disclosed. It could be all these things, or none of them. Belying the claims to “no budget,” the aforementioned CCS draft memo says its process costs $460,000, which is consistent with its service charges in other states.
Also, as it has elsewhere, CCS promises to secure funds from “a group of private foundation donors” to pay for its work. Those sources remain a secret in Maryland’s case. But if you read CCS’ memo to Aburn, you’d think they have nothing to hide, because they say their “process is fully transparent.” Who are they kidding?

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