Friday, July 31, 2009

Exxon Spent $15M And All It Got Was A Climate Bill

We leave you this Friday with a headline that really sums up the challenges we still face (via Greenwire - subscription required):

Exxon spends more in Washington than entire clean energy industry

That's $14.9 million over the first six months of 2009, 23 percent higher than clean tech businesses combined. And, to think, they still couldn't block the passage of the first comprehensive clean energy and climate reform bill ever from a chamber of Congress.

UPDATED: DC Lobbying Firm Posing As Minority Groups Against Climate Bill

Freshman Representative Tom Perriello's (VA) vote for the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) was crucial in securing its passage through the House of Representatives, and demonstrated the real effect elections have in shaping policy. The man he beat last year, former Representative Virgil Goode, boasted an (im)perfect 0% in the 2008 National Environmental Scorecard, and almost assuredly would have voted against ACES.

Of course, national Republicans have made it a priority to smear Mr. Perriello to no end in an attempt to win back a seat that many thought they would never lose. But their attempts to run an attack ad over his vote failed miserably after a Roanoke television station refused to air the spot when it became clear that it contained egregious factual inaccuracies.

As it turns out, we've only scratched the surface of the deceit and lies Mr. Perriello has faced in the wake of his vote. While those who oppose progress on clean energy and climate change have every right to let their Member of Congress know, Washington corporate lobbying firms posing as constituents is another matter altogether (via Daily Progress):
“They stole our name. They stole our logo. They created a position title and made up the name of someone to fill it. They forged a letter and sent it to our congressman without our authorization,” said Tim Freilich, who sits on the executive committee of Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit network that tackles issues related to Charlottesville’s Hispanic community. “It’s this type of activity that undermines Americans’ faith in democracy.”

The faked letter from Creciendo Juntos was signed by “Marisse K. Acevado, Asst Member Coordinator,” an identity and position at Creciendo Juntos that do not exist.

The person who sent the letter has not been identified, but he or she was employed by a Washington lobbying firm called Bonner & Associates.
So, having failed to thwart the passage of a bill that will revitalize our economy, improve our national security, and protect our planet from the catastrophic effects of climate change, it seems Bonner & Associates have taken sour grapes to a new level by forging letters from local minority-focused organizations.

In case you were wondering, organizational principal Jack Bonner is an alumnus of the National Republican Committee press shop.

And wait, there's more:

After being notified of the bogus Creciendo Juntos letter, staffers in Perriello’s office realized that the wording of the letter sounded familiar.

The staffers dug through the stacks of thousands of letters, e-mails and faxes Perriello received about the bill — the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 — and found five more forged letters, these purportedly from the Albemarle-Charlottesville branch of the NAACP.

M. Rick Turner, president of the local NAACP branch, said he checked his organization’s roster and found none of the five people who signed their name to the five faked letters.
To the anonymous culprit, for future reference, it's probably best to check if the organization you seek to impersonate doesn't hold an completely opposite view. In the wake of the climate debate, the NAACP unanimously passed a resolution that seeks to fight climate change and create green collar jobs through developing clean energy technology.

Or perhaps you're better off just avoiding the whole fraud thing altogether.

UPDATE (2:52PM): We've received word that Representative Ed Markey (MA) has announced an "investigation of the extent and scope of this activity." Is this just the tip of the (melting) iceberg?

UPDATE (3:05PM): Senator John Kerry (MA) says it's "a desperate distortion too many" and that "we have to fight this."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Palin Tweets Energetic

On issues of energy policy, it seems that now ex-Governor Sarah Palin is not going quietly into the night.

Since Ms. Palin's surprise resignation announcement a few weeks back, speculation has centered around what the former vice-presidential nominee planned to do after she left office. Would she make a Presidential run in 2012? Join fellow right wing pundits and host a talk show? Become a Butterball turkey spokesperson (CAUTION: a bit grisly)?

Though countless words have been written debating the issue, it seems the answer was just 140 characters away the entire time.

You see, Think Progress did an analysis of Mrs. Palin's Twitter account (AKGovSarahPalin), and by the looks of it, it appears she may be transitioning into an energy related career:
A comprehensive analysis of Palin’s last two months of Twitter updates (May 26-July 26) reveals that she mentioned energy 53 times out of 400 updates, far more than any other single issue. That is nearly 4 times as many mentions than the economy, and just short of 11 times the mentions of health care.
A "word cloud" underscores this point (apparently she also really likes picnics), as does this excellent graphic (via Think Progress):


Ms. Palin's insights into America's clean energy future haven't gone unnoticed. Should you choose to keep tweeting/writing/flip flopping on campaign promises about climate change, we'll be standing by.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Watchdog: Inhofe "Minority Report" Represents Minority Scientists

Sad as it is to say it, we readily admit there's no shortage of climate change skeptics roaming the halls of Congress. The name Joe Barton (TX) immediately jumps to mind, as does Paul Broun (GA). But nobody does it like Senator James Inhofe (OK).

Well known for claiming that climate change is the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," the ranking minority member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has continually used his position of power to propagate this outrageous view.

A much publicized report posted on Senator Inhofe's blog entitled "U. S. Senate Minority Report: More Than 700 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims," attempts to contradict the consensus behind the science of climate change:
Over 700 dissenting scientists (updates previous 650 report) from around the globe challenged man-made global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore. This new 2009 255-page U.S. Senate Minority Report [...] features the skeptical voices of over 700 prominent international scientists...
Perhaps noting that Mr. Inhofe's relationship with the scientific community has been traditionally less than stellar, the Center for Integrity (CFI) decided to dig a bit deeper into who indeed made up these "700 dissenting scientists."

Examining the credentials of the 'scientists' it listed, the CFI (unsurprisingly) cast major doubts in their own study of these "scientists," in a publication appropriately dubbed the "Credibility Project." Their found that:
• Slightly fewer than 10 percent could be identified as climate scientists.
• Approximately 15 percent published in the recognizable refereed literature on subjects related to climate science.
• Approximately 80 percent clearly had no refereed publication record on climate science at all.
• Approximately 4 percent appeared to favor the current IPCC-2007 consensus and should not have been on the list.
The worst part?  Inhofe has been using this 'study' to claim that skeptic scientists outnumber those who authored the definitive climate science report from the UN's Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 13-1. Turns out when you crunch the numbers, that too is a bit off (via the Huffington Post):
And, of course, the number of people cited by Inhofe who merit being on the table as relevant scientists is perhaps in the range of 100, not 700. Thus, if one were to, inaccurately, assume that all 100 were dissenting scientists, then the ration (sic) of dissenters to scientists involved in the 2007 IPCC report is not 13-1 but 1 to 20.
The irony of the term the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" just took on greater significance...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Boehner Leads the PAC (Of Utilities, That Is)

As followers of R?S? know, common themes here include Big Oil's continued funding of key clean energy opponents, breaking of its promises, and their ongoing, well, bigness.

Not to be outdone, it seems some coal-dependent utility companies have stepped up their game and are trying to win influence with their checkbooks (via Greenwire - subscription required):
Large electric utilities that rely heavily on coal poured money into re-election campaigns as the House shaped and passed landmark climate legislation, a bill that helps those businesses partly sidestep its toughest provisions. Employee-run committees for American Electric Power Co. Inc., Duke Energy Corp. and Southern Co. gave $165,000 to 70 House members in April, May and June. They sprinkled money among senators, too, contributing $46,500 to 18 Senate re-election campaigns.

The money went heavily to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that amended and voted on the bill before the final floor vote. Contributions also went to lawmakers from states where the utilities have plants. Both the companies and lawmakers insisted there is no correlation between campaign contributions and votes.
Who received the most money from the utility companies? Here are some hints: He loves to chit-chat (even though he doesn't always have his facts straight) and can throw a mean party.

If you guessed John Boehner (OH), you were right:
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) received the highest total contribution amount from utility PACs during the second quarter. He took in $11,500 total, comprised of $8,500 from Ohio-based AEP, and $3,000 from Southern Co. Boehner declared his opposition to the Democrats' climate bill early on.
Though the utility companies insist "there is no correlation between campaign contributions and votes," we're going to start looking into the apparent connection between utility PAC donations and referring to progress on clean energy and climate reform in terms that would make a sailor blush.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back In The Stalls Of Congress

Among the most talked about political sagas in recent years is that of former Senator Larry Craig (ID). Mr. Craig retired last year after serving 28 years representing Idaho in Congress following his 2007 arrest in men's bathroom stall at the Minneapolis- St. Paul International airport on suspicion of lewd conduct. Following his retirement, it seemed Mr. Craig wanted to put the ordeal, as well as the halls of Congress, behind him. But it appears Mr. Craig is returning to his old stomping grounds, this time as an energy lobbyist.  And we'll give you a hint: he won't be helping our efforts to pass energy and climate change legislation. Shocking, huh?

Anne Mulkern of E&E News has the story:
Former Sen. Larry Craig is back in the halls of Congress, this time as a consultant focused on energy.The Idaho Republican has started a firm, New West Strategies, with his former chief of staff, Michael Ware."We provide strategic advice, guidance, and advocacy to companies, trade associations, and other clients on a wide range of legislative and regulatory issues," the firm's Web site says.It describes Craig as "a forceful advocate for conservative, common-sense solutions to our nation's problems."Mr. Craig, bringing his "common-sense" approach to his new firm, already has four clients.
As E&E News reports, his firm is affiliated with National Environmental Strategies, a large lobbying firm with clients such as the American Gas Association and American Petroleum Institute (API), the trade groups for the natural gas and oil industries. API, in particular, shills for such climate change meddlers as (you guessed it) ExxonMobil.

Of course, our favorite API tale involves a video they produced and distributed through the National Science Teachers Association, entitled "You Can't Be Cool Without Fuel," a film all about the benefits of oil. In 1998, an API memo was leaked to the media and explains the logic behind their educational masterpiece:
Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science will begin to erect barriers against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future.
The video's opening line: "You're not going to believe this, but everything I have that's really cool comes from oil!"

You're right, API, we don't believe it. We don't have to tell you that this probably won't be the last you hear of newly minted Big Oil lobbyist Larry Craig.

By George (Will), I don't think he's got it!

George Will, the well known conservative columnist and author, dislikes many things. Sure, his disdain for blue jeans and video games (no joke) definitely had us scratching our heads. But it's his apparent hatred of what one could call 'scientific consensuses' that has brought us well beyond head-scratching, and moved us into the 'vision impairment due to excessive eye-rolling' category of shock at his strange selection of things to despise.

In a Washington Post Op-Ed from last week, Mr. Will recycled a worn out claim popular amongst many climate change skeptics:
When New York Times columnist Tom Friedman called upon "young Americans" to "get a million people on the Washington Mall calling for a price on carbon," another columnist, Mark Steyn, responded: "If you're 29, there has been no global warming for your entire adult life. If you're graduating high school, there has been no global warming since you entered first grade."
A (seemingly) shocking assertion, right? What's even more shocking is that someone can get away with delivering such obvious misinformation. Kevin Drum does an excellent job responding to the claim:
Here's the deal: Will is being cute. If you're 29, you became an adult in 1998, and average global temperatures last year were lower than they were in 1998. So: no global warming in your adult lifetime.

But as about a thousand serious climate researchers have pointed out, it's not true. Global temps have been trending up for over a century, but in any particular year they can spike up and down quite a bit. In 1998 they spiked up far above the trend line and last year they spiked below the trend line. So 2008 was cooler than 1998.

Of course, you can prove anything you want if you cherry pick your starting and ending points carefully enough. For example: The year 2000 was below the trend line and 2005 was above it. Temps were up 0.4°C in only five years! The seas will be boiling by 2050!
Drum also links to a great graphic from NASA on his blog which clearly shows this positive trend. BUT BE FOREWARNED, in looking at the chart, you run the risk of the following: having your jaw drop all the way to the floor, being rendered speechless for roughly a week, or, at the very least, you may have a strange desire to stare at a photo of George Will and say "tsk-tsk" for hours on end.
To close, we'll let Mr. Drum sum this one up for us:
Sigh.