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September 08 2011


Meet Marlo Lewis: The Dirty Energy Industry’s Best Friend

When polluters needs someone to write an industry-friendly article, or make an appearance in the media to argue against the science of climate change, they often turn to a man named Marlo Lewis. A senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), Marlo has been on the front lines of the energy industry’s war on science, as well as the fight against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the battle over the Keystone XL tar sans pipeline.

What makes Marlo a valuable asset is that he actually has a great resume. He received a Ph.D. in government from Harvard – a daunting and admirable task that commands respect. He’s also served in various governmental positions, including a brief stint in the Reagan administration, bolstering his credentials among elected officials in Washington, D.C. His position at the CEI also allows him a great deal of influence over our elected officials (it also happens to pay him a $100,000 a year salary for his work.) These credentials allowed him access to Congress a few years ago, when he was permitted to give a rebuttal to Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” to the assembly. Marlo was also allowed to tout the “dangers” of the Kyoto Protocol to Congress in 1998.

But Marlo’s resume does not qualify him as an expert on anything climate or science related. In fact, if you look just below the surface, it becomes starkly apparent that he is just another energy industry crony who is paid to deny that fossil fuel pollution causes problems.

Let’s start with his position at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The CEI has received funding from all sorts of energy industry interests, including the Koch family foundations, ExxonMobil, Texaco, Arch Coal, and the American Petroleum Institute. Because of their funding from the energy industry, CEI has been one of the loudest voices claiming that anthropogenic climate change is a myth, and that the government does not need to limit any global warming pollution.

CEI has even gone as far as running television ads touting the benefit of excessive C02 emissions into the atmosphere. CEI has also staunchly defended mountaintop removal mining, claiming that limiting the practice would destroy jobs and therefore the economy of Appalachian towns.

Marlo Lewis’s work with the CEI eventually earned him a spot as the chairman of the Cooler Heads Coalition, a climate-change denial group representing members of the energy industry and various conservative think tanks. The group makes the following claim in an archived version of their website from 2004: “The risks of global warming are speculative; the risks of global warming policies are all too real.”

The group’s main project is their website – GlobalWarming.org – designed to spread misinformation about climate change.

While his affiliations – and their corporate backing – are bad enough, to really get a sense of how dangerous he is, you have to look at his work. Here are a few choice pieces that Marlo has written in the last few months:

- A short blog post touting the economic benefits of coal.

- An article claiming that cap-and-trade is an unfair tax on coal companies.

- A call to action to stop the EPA from “destroying democracy.”

- A story about environmentalists “institutionalizing” the Department of Defense.

- Claiming environmental policies are hindering economic growth.

- Questioning the legality of President Obama’s fuel economy standards.

As absurd as some of these stories may be, they pale in comparison to his undying support for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Marlo Lewis has posted several stories proclaiming the “benefits” of Keystone XL and the tar sands, and even made a trip to Canada to view the existing Keystone pipeline. (You can find some amusing photos of Marlo posing with the pipe here.) The headline of his enthusiastic story was “My Excellent Journey to Canada’s Oil Sands.”

In another recent story, he made a list of the reasons why we should all “love” the Keystone XL pipeline. Here are a few of Marlo's colorful reasons:

A win for Keystone XL is a defeat for the global warming movement. Green groups view Keystone as an opportunity to regain momentum and offset their losses after the death of cap-and-trade. If friends of affordable energy win this fight, which seems likely, the greenhouse lobby will take another hit to its prestige, morale, and influence.

Keystone XL strains relations between Obama and his environmentalist base. If Obama approves the pipeline, greenies will be less motivated to work for his re-election. If he disapproves, Republicans and moderate Democrats will hammer him for killing job creation and increasing pain at the pump. Either way, the prospects for new anti-energy legislation should be dimmer.

Keystone XL is bringing aging, New Lefties out of the woodwork, where they can misbehave and get themselves arrested.

Marlo Lewis, a man with a Ph.D. from one of the most distinguished universities on the planet, honestly wants the Keystone XL Pipeline built for little more than his personal pleasure so he can give the finger to people who care about the environment. Well, at least he’s being mature about it all.

The point is this – Marlo Lewis is someone whom both the press and the government have previously handed a megaphone to. But given his documented misinformation work for fossil fuel interests, and his chief role working to confuse the public about climate change and the threats posed by reckless dirty energy projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline, why does anyone take him seriously?

June 29 2011


Climate Sceptic Group Reveals Strategy Document to Win Hearts and Minds

In December 2009 at a gathering of climate change deniers in Copenhagen, Dr Tom Harris was shimmering with enthusiasm for his latest project.

Dr Harris, executive director of the Ottawa-based sceptic group the International Climate Science Coalition, explained how he had managed to gather "hundreds" of signatures from "climate experts" who wanted to challenge "supporters of the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused climate change" to provide evidence.

Not only that, but it had taken him just "two weeks" to gather the signatures, which he then explained numbered 150 (so much for hundreds).

"This list is growing quickly," he said, "and we are going to maintain it as something called the register. We expect it eventually to be thousands."

With such a surge in supporters, how is the global register going a full 18 months on?

As detailed in a new ICSC strategy document released this month by ICSC, the organisation's register has expanded to… wait for it… 142.

The document, entitled Winning Hearts and Minds to Climate and Energy Reality, is a compendium of the coalition's recent activities and reads like part-annual report, part-fundraising document and part-instruction manual.

If the document is anything to go by, enthusiasm for the "register" continues despite the apparent implosion of support.

"Once it is more broadly known that many relevant scientists do not support the need for carbon dioxide (CO2) emission controls, public appetite for expensive programs "to fight climate change" will quickly wither,'' the document states.

"Politicians can choose to follow or eventually risk defeat. Mass media that are seen to be out of step with their readers will lose circulation and ratings. Businesses that promoted the scare will have difficulty regaining public trust. Climate campaigners will be increasingly discounted and the extremists in the environmental movement may be set back decades as their signature crusade, the quest to 'stop climate change', will be regarded as hopelessly misguided."

The document outlines how the ICSC places columns in newspapers and mentions successes in the New Zealand Herald, Washington Times, The Gazette (Montreal), The Australian, National Post (Canada) and The Epoch Times. They also expect to get a "Letter to the Editor" published once every two weeks.

On radio, Mr Harris has, the document explains, appeared as a caller more than 100 times on popular talkback radio shows in Canada and the United States.

But small community newspapers are where the real easy pickings are to be found. The strategy explains these publications are more likely to publish submissions because they're not swamped with offers like larger newspapers. Also, these publications might not yet have an editorial stance on "controversial, 'big city' media issues such as climate change".

To capitalise on this ripe fruit, the ICSC proposes to send "multiple submissions to newspapers in different locations". They'll also be targeting the "Letters to the Editor" pages where it is "generally easier" to get their views published. So easy, in fact, that it is worth sending their letters "to a number of papers simultaneously".

Under the heading "Other Educational Activities" the ICSC recommends astroturfing "prominent news and other web sites, blogs and other forms of popular social media". When climate change is in the news, "we may post several times a day".

According to the document, a central philosophy of the ICSC is to avoid "attacking our opponents" by avoiding "nasty ad homenims [sic]" and to be non-partisan.

The memo perhaps failed to reach Lord Christopher Monckton, a member of the ICSC policy advisory board, who in recent weeks branded the Australian government's climate change policy advisor Professor Ross Garnaut a Nazi.

Similarly, earlier this week in The Age newspaper the ICSC's chief science advisor, Australia-based Professor Bob Carter, collectively described Professor Garnaut, the Australian climate change minister Greg Combet, Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery and the country's chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, as the "four horsemen of the climate apocalypse".

The ICSC affiliate group in Australia includes such non-partisan advisors as Vivian Forbes and Professor Ian Plimer. Mr Forbes is a director of coal export business Stanmore Coal.  Professor Ian Plimer is a director of at least five mining companies, including Ormil Energy, which this week received state approval to drill near Sydney in search of coal bed methane.

February 08 2011


Climate Scientist Sues Skeptic for Libel

An article described an expert who served as a lead author of a crucial 2007 report as lacking a basic understanding of climate science -- and incorrectly stated that he would not take part in the next United Nations climate-change panel because of concerns about its credibility.
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