Friday, August 28, 2009

Big Oil's Millions Not Changing Public Support for Clean Energy: Poll


Big Oil and its fringe allies in Washington have dumped millions on false and misleading attacks against the American Clean Energy and Security Act. According to a new Washington Post - ABC News poll out today, their efforts have done little to sway popular public opinion.

By a margin of 57 to 29 percent, respondents supported "the proposed changes to U.S. energy policy being developed by Congress and the Obama administration."What's more, supporters of a clean energy bill also have intensity on their side: 29 percent of respondents strongly support the proposed changes, while only 19 percent strongly oppose them.

On the question of jobs, respondents believe by a more than two-to-one margin that the proposed changes will lead to a net increase in jobs in their state, and support for a cap-and-trade plan that would reduce harmful global warming pollution remains exactly where it did in June: 52 in favor to 43 opposed.

How can big energy interests spend $80 million with such little effect?

Maybe it's because the vast majority of attacks -- as well as the attackers themselves -- are so silly on their face. Exhibit A: this morning's op-ed in Roll Call by one Joseph Farrell. What makes Mr. Farrell an expert on the clean energy debate?
Joseph C. Farrell served as the chairman, president and CEO of the Pittston Co. (now the Brink’s Co.) from 1991 to 1998, a Fortune 500 coal, mineral products, transportation and security services firm headquartered in Richmond, Va.
A former coal CEO opposed to a clean energy bill? Say it ain't so!!

As for sources, Mr. Farrell clearly ranged far and wide: he cites the fuzzy-mathers at the Heritage Foundation and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) in claiming it would cost Virginia between 41,000 and 56,000 jobs.

That's in contrast to the non-partisan Political Economy Research Institute's estimate of 44,000 new jobs for the state. Perhaps someone at Heritage sneezed on their computer screen and read the jobs number with an extra "minus" sign. Funny thing about being funded by big energy interests, mistakes like that just sort of... happen.

Then, of course, there's our friend Margo Thorning, who's touring the country as a clean energy "expert" who just happens to oppose the House clean energy bill. Thorning's supposed cred comes from her position with the National Council for Capital Formation (NCCF) -- a seemingly innocuous name that suggests an interest in American economic strength. Oh, how naive we are...

Not only does the NCCF take a large share of its money from ExxonMobil, but Thorning herself is a former member of President George W. Bush's energy and environment team (which, for all of you Simpsons fans out there, is like bragging that you graduated from the Nick Riviera school of medicine).

Which brings us back to our original point: if you wouldn't trust medical advice from "Dr. Nick," why would you waste your time on clean energy propaganda from former Bushies and Big Coal CEOs?

You wouldn't. And if today's Washington Post - ABC poll means anything, it's that Americans aren't.

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