One blogger’s research of open records reports reveals that there are some serious questions about whom the Obama administration is meeting with about energy policy.
Brendan Demelle’s posts on DeSmogBlog.com over the last few months have documented a number of concerns about the lobbyists meeting with the administration and who's reporting on these meetings. The most recent post entitled, “Coal Lobbyist Grinches Stole 2010 As Obama Transparency Initiative Falters,” is absolutely worth a read, but in case you don’t like clicking on links, I will give you some highlights of that and other posts.
Lots of holes in OMB’s 'opened government records'
Demelle’s research reveals that the Office of Management and Budget’s last publically recorded meeting between the White House, EPA staff members and coal industry lobbyists was on April 2, 2010. Perhaps more interesting is Demelle’s discovery that there are no records of meetings with outside lobbyists on any solid waste issue since Sept. 22, 2010. Worse, writes Demelle, there are few or zero records of any 2010 meeting activity for other White House offices as well. Then there is this nugget: “The OMB’s disclosure page for the EPA administrator office’s meetings with outside lobbyists contains a sole archival entry from June 2006.”
Coal lobbyists get meetings and results
DeSmogBlog reported that White House staff members and coal ash interests “had dozens of secretive meetings between October 2009 and April of 2010.” The actual number of meetings is reported to be 33. This is interesting because a ruling on regulating coal ash was first guaranteed to be delivered by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson by the end of 2009. The coal ash ruling continues to be delayed, and was most recently postponed just a few weeks ago.
There are some serious questions about who is influencing President Obama and how often, but perhaps more concerning is that there are serious gaps between what our government officials are telling us and what they are actually doing. It seems that what they are up to is meeting lobbyists and other interests. As for the White House, all this is much different than the transparency promised during the 2008 presidential campaign.