Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

July 28 2012

13:00

The Real Train Wreck: ALEC and "Other ALECs" Attack EPA Regulations

When business-friendly bills and resolutions spread like wildfire in statehouses nationwide calling for something as far-fetched as a halt to EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, ALEC is always a safe bet for a good place to look for their origin.

In the midst of hosting its 39th Annual Meeting this week in Salt Lake City, Utah, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is appropriately described as an ideologically conservative "corporate bill mill" by the Center for Media and Democracy, the overseer of the ALEC Exposed project. 98 percent of ALEC's funding comes from corporations, according to CMD**.

ALEC's meetings bring together corporate lobbyists and state legislators to schmooze and then vote on what it calls "model bills." Lobbyists, as CMD explains, have a "voice and a vote in shaping policy." In short, they have de facto veto power over whether the prospective bills they present at these conferences become "models" that will be distributed to the offices of politicians in statehouses nationwide.

For a concise version of how ALEC operates, see the brand new video below by Mark Fiore.

 
ALEC Rock

ALEC, though, isn't the only group singing this tune.

As it turns out, one of the "Other ALECs," or a group that operates in a similar manner to ALEC, will be hosting its conference in the immediate aftermath of ALEC's conference: the Council of State Government's (CSG) regional offshoot, the Southern Leadership Conference (SLC).

Like ALEC, CSG produces its own "model bills," which it calls "Suggested State Legislation" (SSL). SSL is enacted via an "up or down" vote manner at CSG's national meetings. This process mirrors that of its cousin ALEC, with corporate lobbyists also able to vote in closed door meetings.

Some key differences between CSG and ALEC: the former is bipartisan in nature, while the latter is Republican Party-centric; CSG has a far larger budget, due to the fact that 43 percent of its funding comes from taxpayer contributions; and CSG is not explicitly ideological in nature because it was founded as a trade association for state legislators (not as a corporate front group like ALEC, although CSG is now heavily influenced by the same forces).

SLC's annual meeting will be held in Charleston, West Virginia from July 28-31.

TruthOut's ongoing "Other ALECs Exposed" series (written by yours truly) digs deep into the machinations of "Other ALEC"-like groups.

One of the key threads tying these two particular groups together is their agreement on derailing what they describe as "job-killing" EPA greenhouse gas emissions regulations. ALEC has referred to these sensible standards on multiple occassions as a "Regulatory Trainwreck."

ALEC, SLC and EPA "Regulatory Trainwreck" Resolutions

ALEC's "Regulatory Trainwreck" Resolution

ALEC has two model bills on the books that call for EPA regulations to be eliminated: the State Regulatory Responsibility Act and the Resolution Opposing EPA’s Regulatory Train Wreck. Essentially clones, the two bills passed nearly a decade apart from one another, the former in 2000, the latter in 2011.

ALEC's description of EPA regulations reads like the apocolypse is looming.

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun a war on the American standard of living," it wrote. "During the past couple of years, the Agency has undertaken the most expansive regulatory assault in history on the production and distribution of affordable and reliable energy…These regulations are causing the shutdown of power plants across the nation, forcing electricity generation off of coal, destroying jobs, raising energy costs, and decreasing reliability."  

Former CMD reporter Jill Richardson wrote in a July 2011 story that the concept behind the resolution originated at ALEC's December 2010 policy summit. Richardson explained,

The policy summit included a session led by Peter Glaser of Troutman Sanders LLP law firm in which Glaser, an attorney who represents electric utility, mining and other energy industry companies and associations on environmental regulation, specifically in the area of air quality and global climate change, told the crowd that "EPA's regulatory trainwreck" is "a term that's now in common use around town. I think everybody should become familiar with it." (See the video here.) Along with the presentations, ALEC published a report called "EPA's Regulatory Trainwreck: Strategies for State Legislators" and provided "Legislation to Consider" on its site, RegulatoryTrainwreck.com. For the public, they created the website StopTheTrainwreck.com.

The Resolution calls for the EPA to stop regulating greenhouse gases for the next two years as a "jobs creation" mechanism.

After the midterm election ransacking, in which the GOP won large majorities in state legislatures nationwide, it was off to the races for "Regulatory Train Wreck" resolutions to pass around the country, and pass they did. 

The "Regulatory Trainwreck" resolution, according to ALEC, has been introduced in an astounding 34 states, passing in 13, as of a June 2011 press release.

This assault conducted by ALEC and its corporate backers is merely the tip of the iceberg. ALEC itself boasts,

There are 27 groups of state and local officials that opposerecent EPA action, including tens of thousands of state legislators, utility commissioners, agricultural department officials, foresters, drinking water administrators, fish and wildlife agencies, solid waste management officials, state wetland managers, mayors, counties, and cities.

One of these 27 groups included CSG's Southern Leadership Conference.

SLC Adopts the "Regulatory Train Wreck" Resolution as its Own

On July 19, 2011, the SLC adopted the ALEC Regulatory Train Wreck resolution at its 65th Annual Meeting in Memphis, TN. The Resolution called for, among other things, to

  1. "Adopt legislation prohibiting the EPA from further regulating greenhouse gas emissions for the next 24 months, including, if necessary, defunding the EPA greenhouse gas regulatory activity;"
  2. "Impose a moratorium on the promulgation of any new air quality regulation by the EPA, including, if necessary,the defunding of the EPA air quality regulatory activities, except to address an imminent health or environmental emergency, for a period of at least 24 months;"  

In other words, this is a copycat of the ALEC Resolution. SLC, like ALEC, chocks it up to the false dichotomy of regulation vs. jobs, and regulations "killing jobs." As DeSmogBlog has written, the opposite is actually the case.

The resolution's opening paragraph is a case in point. It reads,

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed, or is in the process of proposing, numerous regulations regarding air quality and regulation of greenhouse gases that likely will have major effects on Southern state economies, impacting businesses, manufacturing industries and, in turn, job creation and U.S. competitiveness in world markets."

Lobbyists representing the Nuclear Energy Institute, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), Southern States Energy Board (a lobbying tour de force, which has a whole host of dirty energy clients in the oil, gas, and nuclear power sectors), Piedmont Natural Gas, Spectra Energy, and Southern Company were all in attendance to vote on this resolution. 

Dirty energy sponsors of the 2011 SLC meeting included the likes of Spectra, General Electric, ACCCE, Chevron, Honeywell, Piedmont Natural Gas, BP, Southern Company, and Atmos Energy, to name several.

If adopted at a federal level, this resolution would, of course, make all of these companies a hefty fortune.  

ALEC's Bifurcated Approach: Strip Federal Regs, Attack Local Democracy

Oil, gas, nuclear and utility corporations that fund ALEC and groups like CSG would like nothing more than to see EPA regulations disintegrate into thin air.

Part one of DeSmog's investigation on ALEC's dirty energy agenda showed that, along with pushing for the elimination of EPA regulations, it has also succeeded in promulgating legislation that would eliminate local democracy as we know it, including altering key standards such as zoning rights - a Big Business giveaway of epic proportions.

This would mean only extremely underfunded and understaffed state regulatory agencies like the New York Department of Environmental Conservation would have any oversight on environmental regulatory issues. 

If anything is clear, it's this: statehouses have become one of Big Business' favorite domiciles for pushing its "Corporate Playbook." 

Image CreditLane V. Erickson ShutterStock

(**Full Disclosure: Steve Horn is a former employee of CMD and worked on the ALECExposed project)

December 16 2011

02:32

'Consumer Energy Alliance' Front Group Exposed by The Tyee and Salon

In a must-read piece co-published today by Salon.com and The TyeeGeoff Dembicki exposes the dark underbelly of the public relations and lobbying industry, revealing the interconnectedness between Alberta tar sands movers and shakers in Alberta and their oily compatriots in Washington. 

The investigative article focuses on the fossil fuel industry front group Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), which is run out of the offices of the PR firm HBW Resources, headed by David Holt, Andrew Browning, and Michael Whatley.

Geoff Dembicki's article "Big Oil and Canada thwarted U.S. carbon standards," exposes CEA's effort to thwart government efforts to favor relatively cleaner conventional fuels over the dirtiest forms of extreme unconventional energy like the Alberta tar sands. 

Dembicki reveals how CEA influenced the debate at both the national and state-by-state levels on low carbon fuel standards (LCFS), working to defeat or delay any efforts to differentiate between the emissions footprints of extreme and unconventional fuels like tar sands oil and cleaner-but-still-dirty conventional oil.

Oil industry power players, including BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon, Shell and Norway’s Statoil are among the CEA's key financially backers, and many of these companies also happen to have deep ties to the Alberta tar sands.

DeSmogBlog has previously written about CEA, as has The Tyee on numerous occassions. But what makes Dembicki's article so unique this time around is the valuable insight into CEA's behavior revealed in records obtained via the Freedom of Information Act from the Alberta government. The documents lend insight into how CEA interacts with the Alberta government, and in turn, how the Alberta government, working alongside CEA, influences the American government at both the state and federal level.

An excerpt from the article explains the significance of the FOIA documents:

The messages lay bare a sophisticated and stealthy public relations offensive, one designed to manipulate the U.S. political system; to deluge the media with messages favorable to the tar-sands industry; to sway key legislators at state and federal levels; and most importantly, to defeat any attempt to make the gasoline and diesel pumped everyday into U.S. vehicles less damaging to the climate. The goal of it all? "Defeat" Obama's effort to reduce carbon consumption and keep America hooked on Canada's $441 billion tar sands industry, no matter what the cost to our planet's future.

The article demonstrates once again what the father of modern propaganda, Edward Bernays, referred to as the "invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country” in his 1928 classic, Propaganda.

Some highlights from the article:

  • Michael Whatley (the "W" in HBW Resources) worked overtime to defeat low carbon fuel standards, dating back to December 2009, waging an all out lobbying assault to ensure that low carbon fuel standards would not be implemented, working on a state-by-state basis. How did Whatley gain so much influence, you ask?

Dembicki explains,

"Whatley served as attorney and senior policy advisor on George W. Bush’s first presidential campaign and transition team. And Whatley was later appointed chief of staff to Senator Elizabeth Dole, a former cabinet secretary and the wife of GOP elder statesman Bob Dole."

Whatley is now in private practice at HBW seeking to influence policymakers on behalf of his industry clients, a Beltway Bandit par excellance.

  • Another key player is Whatley's close pal, Gary Mar, a former Canadian politician and "smooth-talking and ambitious diplomat at the Canadian embassy" in Washington, DC, who played an instrumental role while CEA/HBW waged the anti-LCFS battle throughout the U.S. 

Dembicki writes,

"Mar’s lobbying wasn’t just confined to the U.S. capitol. Anytime state policymakers tried to introduce global warming laws potentially bad for Alberta’s oil sands, Mar hit the road, ready to glad-hand and charm. One major victory came in early 2009, when he apparently worked closely with the Maryland legislature to remove a climate bill that would have banned sales of high-carbon road fuel."

Both Mar and Whatley understood full well that the apperance, or illusion, of a mass groundswell of support for dirty air is necessary — astroturfing and front groups are key tools in deceptive PR propaganda campaigns.

Dembicki summarizes,

"Despite their skills and experience, Mar and Whatley knew that defeating climate policy required allies. That’s why one of the first strategy proposals in Whatley’s January 25, 2010, campaign briefing to Mar was to team up with 'affiliated energy coalitions and trade associations, thought leaders, elected officials, unions and key allies.' The goal was to enlist these players to 'build opposition' towards low carbon fuel standards 'in each of our target regions.' The campaign apparently needed 'state-based and regional 3rd party advocates for Canadian oil sands' to give it legitimacy."

These "third party advocates" included the likes of "airlines, truckers, railroads, highway users, shippers," or those most dependent on fossil fuels.

Corporate front group "think tanks" also play a key role, Dembicki explains: 

"Whatley’s proposal suggested engaging with seven prominent think tanks, two of which, the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, received millions of dollars in funding from Koch Industries to question the science behind global warming."

Read the whole article and check out the emails obtained via FOIA for a glimpse inside the world of unethical dirty energy PR campaigns.

Stay tuned for the forthcoming original investigation by DeSmogBlog about CEA, as well.

August 10 2011

21:28

In the Wake of the US Credit Downgrade Cuts to Entitlements may be the Key for the Green Economy


Now is the time to begin developing the green ecomomyA truly balanced approach to managing America’s debt involves reduced mandatory spending while at the same time, investing in the green economy. Despite the doom associated with Standard & Poor’s downgrading of U.S. treasury debt, a political window may have opened that could see entitlement reform as a means of advancing the low carbon economy.

Sustainability is the biggest opportunity of the century, and an extraordinary jobs creator, however this is a global competition which America cannot win without government support. With governments like the UK and China investing in sustainability, the global competition for green leadership is a powerful incentive for Congress to act. Growing the green economy will also provide significant additional government revenues.

Some resist the green economy by pointing to the costs associated with combating global warming, but what they ignore is that this is a fraction of the costs if we continue with business as usual. According to an analysis by Google, failure to move aggressively to implement a clean energy economy will cost the US GDP “trillions” over just the next five years. In 2009, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) published a report authored by the co-chair of the IPCC and other climate science experts, revealing that the net present value of climate change impacts, i.e. the costs to civilization, are US$1,240 trillion under our current emission path and $410 trillion if we manage to stabilize atmospheric carbon at 450ppm. Most climate scientists would like to see that number at 350ppm or less.

According to conventional logic, the credit downgrade makes it that much more likely that Congress will not get involved in efforts to combat climate change. Economic uncertainty has already taken a toll on the government’s environmental initiatives. The recession killed climate change legislation in 2008 with opposition coming from Republicans and Democrats from the Rust Belt and coal-friendly regions.

As Yvo de Boer, former director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change said, “If industry is in a difficult pass, most sensible governments will be reluctant to impose new costs on them in the form of carbon-emissions caps.”

In 2008, Rep. John Dingell, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said,”In times of economic downturns, members [of Congress] are extremely reluctant to add burdens to the economy.” In addition to the cap-and-trade bill that failed in the Senate in 2008, the financial crisis also helped to bury the Kyoto Protocol.

The credit downgrade further weakens America’s economy which is still struggling to recover from the recession. Ironically, a stronger-than-expected July jobs report helped steady global markets on Friday August 5, but hours after the close of U.S. stock markets, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+. The credit downgrade caused stock markets around the world to decline resulting in the loss of trillions of dollars.

Many stock market insiders are expressing concerns about another recession. In response to an informal Dow Jones questionnaire, two-thirds of 45 economists, portfolio managers and financial consultants surveyed gave a better than 50 percent chance of recession in the next year. About 25 percent put the odds of recession at better than 75 percent.

Even if the U.S. does not fall into another recession, S&P’s downgrade of America’s sovereign debt is a psychological blow that will have significant consequences. The credit downgrade will add $100 billion a year to government costs, it will also further weaken an already weak dollar, increase costs for US companies and undermine the economic recovery. Some investors and analysts are saying that over time, Standard & Poor’s downgrade may mark a moment in the decline of U.S. economic strength.

Despite accusations from both sides, Republicans must assume the bulk of the responsibility for the US credit downgrade. The credit downgrade could have been averted if Republicans would have accepted putting an end to Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent. The GOP’s refusal to work with President Obama and the Democrats has hog-tied the US economy and undermined efforts to implement policies that spur job growth.

Standard & Poor’s said that GOP strategy had shaken its confidence. The agency explained its downgrade by citing heightened political risks:  “The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed.”

The GOP has been hijacked by the Tea Party whose intransigence over the debt ceiling is responsible for the political deadlock that led to the downgrade. The Tea Party’s woeful ignorance on the role of government has fueled the political insanity that has created this economic uncertainty.

The downgrade prompted Gregory Ellena, chief executive of First National Bank of Santa Fe, to say, ”It’s very disappointing that the money markets have become hostage to political maneuvering.”

Sen. Mike Crapo (R., Idaho) said the credit downgrade will put pressure on the bipartisan commission to go beyond the minimum $1.2 trillion in savings threshold set in the debt ceiling agreement. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mr Crapo said, “This decision focuses us on the scope of the issue we are facing. It increases the momentum for a much larger plan.” Sen. Mike Crapo is a member of the bipartisan group of six senators who sought to craft their own deficit reduction plan earlier this year.

S&P criticized the $2.4 trillion debt ceiling deal as too limited and singled out Republicans for failing to increase taxes on the wealthy and Democrats for refusing cuts to entitlements. With Standard & Poor’s warning of further downgrades, it will be hard to avoid deep cuts, including mandatory spending.

As his first term winds down, President Obama could yet show leadership on the politics of climate change. Republicans claim they want deeper cuts and economic growth. Entitlement reform provides a way of cutting spending while simultaneously investing in American competitiveness.

America is confronted with the need to make major budget cuts while finding funds to invest in the green economy. Both taxes and entitlement programs will be on the table as lawmakers seek a broader package of cuts.

Entitlements consume a large share of the U.S. government budget. According to Congressional Budget Office records, federal outlays for entitlement spending was 33.8% in 1965. According to a CF&P Foundation article “Prosperitas,” as of 2000, entitlement spending almost doubled, accounting for 62.6% of the U.S. budget.

More cuts are needed and the debt downgrade may present the right conditions for the President to propose cuts to entitlements. In exchange for reductions to mandatory spending, Republicans may even consider a compromise, if not, the GOP may risk being punished by voters in 2012.

Although many Americans many not see it, the US is at a crossroads that could very well determine its future prosperity or ongoing decline.

——————-

Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, green investor and author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, eco-economics and enviro-politics. He is the owner of THE GREEN MARKET, a leading sustainable business blog and one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. Find The Green Market on Facebook and follow The Green Market’s twitter feed.

Enhanced by Zemanta

April 05 2011

02:04

Paul Krugman's Must-Read NY Times Op-Ed On Immoral Climate Denial

New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman has a must-read piece today noting the "cynical careerism" of climate deniers who won't even acknowledge the truth when one of "their own" discovers that climate science is sound.  Singling out Anthony Watts as an example of this head-in-the-sand approach, Krugman notes that Watts and other climate skeptics changed their tune about the Koch-funded Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project when its lead researcher testified in front of Congress last week that climate change is real and man-made.  It wasn't what the skeptics - or the anti-science GOP - wanted to hear.

UC Berkeley physicist Richard Muller - whose reputation as a climate skeptic and funding by a Koch foundation the Republicans likely assumed made him one of "theirs" - instead shocked the hearing by reporting that his group’s preliminary results find a global warming trend “very similar to that reported by the prior groups.”

Krugman notes that Anthony Watts had recently "praised the Berkeley project and piously declared himself 'prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.'"

But then of course when Professor Muller announced the preliminary results of his study upholding the scientific basis of climate disruption, Watts ridiculed the hearing Muller attended as “post normal science political theater.” <!--break-->
Krugman notes that the skeptic camp's decision to ostracize Professor Muller provides further evidence of the divisiveness of the political discussion about what we must do as a society to fight global warming.  This polarization, Krugman warns, "has probably ensured that we won’t do anything about climate change until catastrophe is already upon us." 

Read the rest at NYTimes.com: "The Truth About Climate Change, Still Inconvenient".

March 09 2011

18:45

Union Busting and the GOP’s War Against the Environment


Protests inside the Wisconsin State House against the GOP efforts to bust the public unionRepublican efforts to break unions in states across America have dire implications for the environment. It is no secret that the GOP are opposed to unions and those who advocate on behalf of the environment. Union-busting, like the Republican war on the EPA, is part of a multi-pronged thrust to undermine the Democrats and environmental protection.

Unions are the Democrats’ power base, the same way the Christian right is the Republicans’ power base. Unions are the Democrats’ biggest sources of financial and grass roots organizational support. Republicans are using their victories in November’s mid-term election to declare an all out war against unions. Republicans have already been successful in blocking state employees from forming unions in 12 states and 22 states have undermined unions with so-called “right-to-work” legislation.

On Friday February 25, the Wisconsin Lower House voted 51-17 in favor of a union busting bill, which strips most public workers of their collective bargaining rights. Republican Governor Scott Walker has said that he will not compromise on the collective bargaining issue. Walker’s support for the bill to weaken unions has not been deterred by the tens of thousands of people who have flocked to Madison to stage sit-in protests.

Republicans are anti-union because they advocate on behalf of corporate interests. Unions have contributed to American prosperity and the growth of the middle class; they have helped to increase the buying power of Americans while growing the tax base. Unions have also played a critical role in changing employer attitudes towards ‘greening’ the workplace and creating safer, healthier working and living environments. Unions are often the driving force behind energy savings which are a huge cost benefit for their employers. Unions are also behind efforts like recycling and raising public awareness about environmental issues.

While Republicans have consistently voted against legislation to manage climate change, unions have been champions of environmental laws. This is illustrated by the testimony of Bob Baugh, Executive Director AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council and Chair AFL-CIO Energy Task Force on Climate Change bills before the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

“The AFL-CIO believes it is time for our nation to take bold steps to meet the 21st Century challenges related to climate change. Scientific evidence has confirmed that human use of fossil fuels is undisputedly contributing to global warming, causing rising sea levels, changes in climate patterns and threats to coastal areas. Unrestrained growth in greenhouse gas emissions poses critical economic and environmental issues. This challenge is an opportunity to enact an energy policy that will result in a cleaner planet, greater energy efficiency and the revitalization of our manufacturing base.”

As indicated by a report from AFL-CIO Energy Task Force titled Jobs and Energy for the 21st Century, unions advocate for a forward looking energy policy: ”It is time for our nation to take bold steps to meet the 21st century challenges related to energy policy. We believe our nation should embrace a balanced approach that assures abundant, affordable energy supplies, creates good paying jobs for American workers, improves the environment, and reduces our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.”

Unions are not without fault and many states need to make adjustments to ease their deficit. Americans are prepared to make concessions, but they do not want to lose their collective bargaining rights altogether.

A February 2011 Gallup poll found that 61 percent of Americans said they would oppose a bill taking away collective bargaining rights of public workers in order to balance the budget while only 33 percent would support it.

By using the budget to break unions across America, Republicans are declaring war on workers and enlarging their war on the environment.

——————

Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, sustainable investor and writer. He is the owner of THE GREEN MARKET, one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. He is also the author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, green investing, enviro-politics and eco-economics.

Image credit: Jessie Reeder, courtesy Flickr

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

February 18 2011

22:39

Chevron in Ecuador; GOP Aims to Kill EPA


Chevron's attempt at a clean public image is juxtaposed with an $8 billion judgement from an Ecuadorian court for decades of environmental damage in the AmazonThe Weekly Mulch from the Media Consortium
By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
(reposted with permission)

A Bolivian judge ordered Chevron this week to pay $8.6 billion in damages for polluting the Amazon rainforest from 1964 until 1990. The payout is the second largest ever in an environmental case, with only the damages BP agreed to pay in the wake of last summer’s Deepwater Horizon spill being higher.

Environmental lawyers and advocates hailed the case as a landmark victory, but as Rebecca Tarbotton reports at AlterNet, Chevron is still planning to fight the case.

“In fact, the oil giant has repeatedly refused to pay for a clean up even if ordered to by the court,” she writes. “In one chilling statement, Charles A. James, Chevron’s vice president and general counsel, told law students at UC Berkeley that Chevron would fight ‘until hell freezes over, and then skate on the ice.’”

The Cost of Doing Business

Chevron can continue to fight the case because it’s cheaper for them to fund their lawyers than to cough up billions. Like so many environmental issues, this one comes down to money, which environmentally destructive corporations always seem to have and activists, regulators, and victims simply don’t.

In Washington, the newly empowered Republican Party is doing its darndest to make sure that remains the case. It’s budget season, and the Environmental Protection Agency is one of the prime targets for cutting in Republicans’ budget proposals. Kate Sheppard reports at Mother Jones that House Republicans are not only trying to take away $3 billion from the agency, but also are pushing to bar the EPA from regulating carbon or other greenhouse gasses. Putting this in context, Sheppard writes:

The National Wildlife Federation says the cuts amount to a “sneak attack” on existing environmental laws like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, because they would make it basically impossible for the EPA to do its job. The huge cut—the biggest in 30 years—”would jeopardize the water we drink and air we breathe, endangering the health and well-being of all Americans,” Gene Karpinski, the president of the League of Conservation Voters, said Monday.

The need for green

But environmentalists have their backers, too. At Grist, Bill McKibben, the author and climate activist who co-founded the climate group 350.org, has an interesting look at how the Sierra Club’s National Coal Campaign, led by Bruce Nilles, banded together with other environmental activists to successfully shut down proposals for coal-fired power plants across the country. One of the keys, of course, was money:

A consortium of foundations led by the Rockefeller Family Fund helped provide not only resources for the fight but crucial coordination. By the summer of 2005, RFF’s Larry Shapiro, David Wooley from The Energy Foundation, Nilles, and others formed a loosely organized “coal cadre.”

The coordination was crucial not only for the advocacy groups involved, which each have different strengths and geographical bases, but for the money men as well:

“I first went to Florida in 2005 to meet with several groups fighting coal plants,” said Shapiro. “I thought I would figure out who we could give $50,000 to. After my trip, I realized it wasn’t a $50,000 project — it was a million-dollar project. Over time, the Energy Foundation and others got into the game, so we ended up with some real money.”

In the end, McKibben reports, RFF gathered together, from its own pockets and from other foundations, $2.8 million.

Windfall

On top of the type of advocacy work that McKibben details, there’s another reason why more communities and companies are moving away from coal-fired power plants: they have a choice. Plants fueled with natural gas are a popular alternative, but as Gina Marie Cheeseman writes at Care2, in some areas, onshore wind power can compete with coal on costs.

“In some areas of the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and Sweden, the cost of wind power ($68 per megawatt hour) generated electricity is competitive with coal-fired power ($67 a megawatt hour),” Cheeseman writes. Wind power is also, she notes, competitive with natural gas, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Close to home

These sort of adjustments make it easier for consumers to make sustainable choices. And in the end, personal choices do impact the amount of carbon humanity is spewing into the atmosphere. As two recent European studies showed, men make choices that generally produce more carbon emissions than women, Julio Godoy reported for Inter Press Service.

One study focused on France, the other on Germany, Greece, Norway, and Sweden. The second study, conducted by researchers at the Swedish Defence Research Agency, found that men ate more meat, drank more processed beverages, and drove more frequently and for longer distances. Annika Carlsson-Kanyama, one of the study’s authors, has argued that their results apply more broadly, too.

“These differences are not specific to the four countries studied, but are generalised across the European Union and have little to do with the different professional activities of men and women,” she told Godoy.

——————–

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

May 29 2010

03:04

‘Energy Town Hall’ Oil Bus Tour Run by GOP Team At American Energy Alliance

Brad Johnson over at The WONK ROOM reports:
The American Energy Alliance (AEA), a new polluter front group, is touring the nation to smear President Barack Obama’s clean energy reform agenda. Employees riding the “American Energy Express” bus are spreading the conservative lies that the American Clean Energy and Security Act will “cripple our sluggish economy.” AEA is the 501 c(4) offshoot of the Institute for Energy Research, a right-wing oil-industry think tank run by Robert Bradley, a former speechwriter for Kenneth Lay. E&E News reports that AEA’s “Energy Town Hall” bus tour pictures workers in hard hats:

The American Energy Alliance, which is affiliated with the conservative Institute for Energy Research, has begun a four-week bus tour to county fairs, sporting events and public meetings in several coal-reliant states. Representatives of the group will travel in a large blue bus carrying the slogan “Stop the National Energy Tax, Save American Jobs” and a picture of workers in hard hats. They will cross Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Virginia. Yesterday, AEA officials participated in a rally with another group, Americans for Prosperity, in Zanesville, Ohio; a day earlier, they visited a county fair in western Pennsylvania.

In fact, by attacking legislation that addresses climate change and our national dependence on fossil fuels, AEA is preventing a clean-energy economic boom. Laughably, AEA claims it has “no ties to any political party“:

AEA has no ties to any political party, and it has no interest in supporting the agenda of any particular political party.<!--break-->

AEA Team
American Energy Alliance staffers Kevin Kennedy, Patrick Creighton, and Laura Henderson on tour in Pennsylvania. All are former House GOP staff.

AEA may be telling the truth that it has “no interest in supporting the agenda of any particular political party” — its only interest seems to be blocking progressive reform by spreading lies and distortions. However, AEA is tightly connected to the Republican Party and right-wing oil interests. In fact, all of its employees are former House Republican staffers:

Thomas J. Pyle, AEA President, Is A Oil Lobbyist And DeLay Operative. Before joining the Institute for Energy Research and the American Energy Alliance, Pyle worked as a lobbyist for the right-wing oil giant Koch Industries, first in-house starting in 2001, and then at the Rhoads Group. In 2008 Pyle became a lobbyist for the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. Previously, Pyle served as policy analyst for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives and as staff director for the GOP Congressional Western Caucus. Pyle started as a legislative assistant for radical anti-environmentalists Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) and Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA). [Institute for Energy Research, Center for Public Integrity]

Patrick Creighton, AEA Communications Director, Worked For Bush And Pennsylvania Republicans. Patrick Creighton was the special assistant to Samuel T. Mok, the chief financial officer at the Department of Labor from 2004 to 2006. He then worked as a spokesman for oil and natural gas advocate Rep. John Peterson (R-PA) from 2006 to 2009, worked to elect Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), then joined Thompson’s office until May 2009. [Institute for Energy Research, Legistorm]

Kevin Kennedy, AEA Federal Affairs Director, Promoted Alaska Drilling Under Don Young. After graduating from Union College in 2004, Kevin Kennedy worked for the Astroturf organization Arctic Power, which advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2007, Kennedy became a legislative assistant for the corrupt Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and the House Committee on Natural Resources. He joined the Institute for Energy Research and American Energy Alliance in 2009. [Institute for Energy Research]

Laura Henderson, AEA Spokesperson, Served Shelby, Dole, And Tiberi. Laura Henderson was a former press secretary for offshore drilling advocate Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) from 2005-2009. Previously, she worked for former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH). [Institute for Energy Research]

Daniel R. Simmons, AEA State Affairs Director, Is A Koch-Funded GOP Staffer. Simmons was the Director of the Natural Resources Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing network funded by Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute, and other corporate and right-wing organizations. Previously, Simmons was a Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, also funded by Koch. From 2001 to 2005, Simmons served on the staff of Rep. George Nethercutt (R-WA) on the House Natural Resources Committee. Simmons holds a B.A. in Economics from Utah State University and a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law, also supported by Koch Industries. [Institute for Energy Research, Legistorm]

Furthermore, AEA’s EnergyTownHall.org website is run by yet another former GOP House staffer:

GOP.gov Webmaster Nathan Imperiale Runs EnergyTownHall.Org. AEA’s EnergyTownHall.org was designed by NJI Media Group, part of Endeavour Global Strategies. Endeavour’s head, Sean Spicer, is a long-time GOP operative, including communications work for the House Republican Conference and the Bush White House. NJI Media Group’s president, Nathan Imperiale, served as Director of New Media for the House Republican Conference, building its GOP.gov website. [Twitter, 2/13/09; Endeavour Global Strategies]

AEA’s “American Energy Express” joins a field crowded by conservative oil and coal propaganda — the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity’s “Factuality” bus tour, the American Petroleum Institute’s “Energy Citizens” oil rallies, and the Americans For Prosperity “Hot Air” balloon tour.

<!-- post updates would go here in theory -->
Update At Free Advice, Institute for Energy Research economist Bob Murphy writes that Paul Krugman doesn't understand tea party protesters because he doesn't care about checks on government power like they do, and continues:
So, by symmetry, I think people on "our side" should realize that the great masses of Americans who are for health care reform and climate legislation (and it pains me to not put scare quotes around those phrases) aren't actually closet socialists who want to bring America to its knees.
By Brad Johnson at The WONK ROOM.

January 12 2010

21:49

Tucker Carlson’s 'Daily Caller' Website Bankrolled by Climate Change Denier

The primary funder of Tucker Carlson’s new website ‘The Daily Caller’ is climate change denier and GOP bankroller Foster Friess, and Carlson has reportedly lined up sponsorship from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Mining Association and Southern Company, all major opponents of meaningful action to curb climate change.

Friess donated $3 million to Carlson’s site, which is run out of an office a “stone's throw from the White House” by a 21-person staff.  ‘The Daily Caller’ is the brainchild (if you can call it that) of Carlson and his college roommate Neil Patel, a former Dick Cheney aide.  The site’s opinion editor is former RNC press secretary Moira Bagley, immediately calling into question Carlson’s insistence that ‘The Daily Caller’ won’t cater to the right-wing crowd.
<!--break-->
Howard Kurtz reports in today’s Washington Post that “Carlson insists this won't be a right-wing site” and quotes Carlson saying "We're not enforcing any kind of ideological orthodoxy on anyone."

But Kurtz notes that:
When he announced the Daily Caller last spring, Carlson was more explicit about its ideology, telling Human Events the site would be "opposed to what's going on" under President Obama -- "a radical increase in federal power . . . a version of socialism."

Kurtz describes Friess as “an investment magnate and a Christian philanthropist” who has donated $689,000 to Republican organizations and the Bush presidential campaigns over the last decade.  Friess has “gone hunting with Cheney” (oh boy) and “is a man of many opinions.”

One of those “opinions” is that much of the information on global warming is "distorted and manipulated," according to Friess.

Josh Nelson over at EnviroKnow has compiled a quick rundown of Friess’s opinions on climate change and a list of recent items from Friess’s blog, such as this gem: “Global Warming a religion?”

Given their sources of funding, won’t it be interesting to hear what Carlson and company have to say when it comes to the subject of climate change?

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl