The American Energy Alliance is testing out a new tactic for fighting the Environmental Protection Agency: comparing the agency’s proposed regulations to torture tactics committed against terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.
In a short blog post and comic posted Friday, the pro-fossil fuel non-profit said the EPA’s proposed limits on smog-forming pollutants and carbon dioxide were comparable to tactics outlined in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s recently released report investigating the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In one instance, the group implied the EPA’s attempts to reduce pollution were even worse than torture, claiming the regulations would kill American jobs, raise energy costs, and “crush” small businesses.
“[I]t’s clear that the CIA isn’t the only government agency engaged in torture,” the post read. “At least the CIA isn’t torturing Americans.”
— Timothy Cama (@Timothy_Cama) December 15, 2014
The American Energy Alliance — a group with deep ties to the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch — called out two proposed EPA regulations at the center of the so-called “EPA Torture Report”: newly proposed limits on ground-level ozone pollution (the main ingredient of urban smog) and proposed limits on greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants.
Meanwhile, media reports surrounding the Senate Intelligence Committee’s actual torture report focused on two gruesome details: the forced feeding of inmates of puréed food through their anuses, and that more than 20 percent of detainees subject to torture tactics were “wrongfully held.”
With both the proposed ozone and carbon regulations, the American Energy Alliance has claimed they would be extremely costly to businesses, predicting trillions of dollars in losses for both the manufacturing and coal industries. Those purported job losses amount to the torture of American citizens, the group argues.
The CIA’s torture of detainees at Guantamo Bay reportedly included threatening to kill and rape detainees’ mothers, performing mock burials on inmates, “use of insects,” sleep deprivation, and use of diapers.
There is reason to doubt the dramatic monetary and job losses predicted by the American Energy Alliance and other industry groups as a result of the proposed EPA regulations. For one, both regulations are in proposed stages, meaning the final rules could look drastically different than they are now. For another, industry groups have been vastly overestimating the cost of environmental regulations like these since the EPA first began issuing regulation of this kind.
There is also reason to doubt that the CIA’s torture tactics on Guantanamo inmates actually did anything to prevent future terrorist attacks in the United States. As per the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report: “At no time did the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques lead to the collection of imminent threat intelligence, such as the hypothetical ‘ticking time bomb’ information that many believe was the justification for the use of these techniques.”
The EPA predicts substantial environmental and public health benefits as a result of both the ozone and carbon regulations. For the strictest ozone standard, the EPA predicts savings of up to $38 billion annually in 2025 for a standard of 65 parts per billion, savings derived from prevented illnesses, missed sick days, and other problems triggered by smog. For the carbon rule, the EPA estimates public health and climate benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion per year in 2030.
In contrast, the CIA’s torture program reportedly cost well over $300 million in non-personnel costs, including funding for the CIA to construct and maintain detention facilities, and millions of dollars in cash payments to foreign government officials.