Scandal – Obama Officials Caught Pressuring Contractors to Fudge Job Loss Numbers

May 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm (Coal, Coal Miners, Department of Energy, DOE, Economy, Jobs, Jobs Report, Lives Touched, Manipulate, Natural Resources Committee, Office of Surface Mining, OSM)

Shocking or par for the course?

Via the Washington Free Beacon:

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.

Not only has the administration been caught red-handed trying to manipulate numbers, they actively tried to cover up the scandal.

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.

This is an administration that was caught nearly two years ago trying to inflate job numbers by demanding that Department of Energy contractors use a metric called ‘lives touched’ when counting jobs created via the stimulus.  As explained by a CH2M Hill spokesman in the summer of 2010:

“Lives Touched” is a figure that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) uses to track the amount of people who have been positively affected by the Recovery Act funds.  This total would include people who have been provided full time employment (i.e. saved and created jobs) through the Recovery Act and people who at some point have supported a project funded by the Recovery Act.

This meant that the DOE’s accounting system was not accurately counting jobs, but rather was tracking a cumulative analysis of all individuals who contribute anything to any given project.  An overall headcount of sorts.  According to reporting instructions for CH2M subcontractors, this constitutes the “total number of workers who have directly charged 1 or more hours of work time to a … contract”

This new report on contractors and the coal industry is just another in a pattern of the Obama administration using smoke and mirrors to convince the American people that the economy isn’t nearly as bad as one would think.  This particular case had the added effect of trying to minimize the tangible evidence that Obama was intentionally trying to kill the coal industry – a result that has been definitively proven.

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Company That Received Billions From Stimulus Also Receives Annual State Tax Break of $2 Million

February 13, 2012 at 11:53 pm (ARRA, CH2M Hill, Cleanup, Department of Energy, DOE, Economy, Jobs, Layoffs, Nuclear, Richland, Stimulus, Washington)

In November, Accuracy in Media released my report regarding a company known as CH2M Hill, an engineering firm that claimed nearly $2 billion in stimulus awards.  Most of their work concentrated on one division – the CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC) – which operated one of the world’s largest environmental cleanup projects—the Central Plateau on the Hanford Nuclear Site in Richland, Washington.

New information shows that despite their claims, the Energy Department says the company actually received $1.38 billion from the stimulus, but had an additional $3.1 billion in annual budget appropriations.  Furthermore, they are receiving $2 million in state tax breaks annually, yet still laid off thousands of workers.

The Blaze reported:

new investigative report released by Accuracy in Media Wednesday, reveals that CH2M HILL, a Colorado-based consulting, engineering and construction firm, received nearly $2 Billion in stimulus funding despite a history of kickbacks, poor conduct and contaminating their own workers. While they are not in danger of suffering the same bankruptcy plight as Solyndra, CH2M has laid-off thousands of workers since receiving taxpayer stimulus. And like Solyndra, CH2M has donated thousands in campaigns finances to Democrats.

In response to an FOI request for information, the Department of Energy reported that “CHPRC competed for and was awarded a $4.515 B contract on June 19, 2008, to complete select cleanup work at the Hanford Site.”  That award form can be seen here:

Contracts CPRC Contract Conformed Contract RL14788-Section A(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “http://www.scribd.com/javascripts/embed_code/inject.js”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

In a letter dated January 30th, 2012, the DOE explains that “…the $4.5 billion amount is for the total original contract value. The $1.38 billion is the amount of American Recovery and Investment Act (ARRA) funds applied to the contract.  The difference between $4.5 billion and $1.38 billion is funded by normal annual budget appropriations (non-ARRA).

So why the discrepancy between the company’s report of $1.9 billion in stimulus funding and the DOE’s claim of $1.38 billion? More importantly, why is a company operating a nuclear cleanup site to the tune of $4.5 billion taking advantage of a $2 million state tax break for research and development?

From a Seattle Times editorial:

HUNDREDS of Washington companies engaged in research and development in technology-related fields pay a reduced business-and-occupation tax. This break was designed to create a healthy R&D climate in our state and spur companies to maturity.
…the Department of Revenue says three companies — Microsoft, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is operated by Battelle, and CH2M Hill — get up to a $2 million tax break every year. These companies do impressive work in the Northwest. But these firms do not really need state assistance.

By comparison, titans such as Google and Yahoo! received less than $300,000 in business-and-occupation tax forgiveness annually.

What R&D is a nuclear cleanup firm performing exactly?

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