Thursday, September 24, 2009

CO2 Is Green, RS Concusses Itself Slapping Its Head

We've certainly seen our fair share of outrageous claims by legislators, misguided industry groups and oil companies in our time covering the lies and misinformation being spread on the science behind climate change as well as the solutions being offered. So let's just say our tolerance for a particular figurative substance has been heightened as a result.

But, today, even we were floored by an ad placed by the latest in a line of increasingly sad industry front groups.



That's right, friends: the organization in question is defending the emissions of carbon dioxide as downright environmentally friendly!

According to the shills at CO2 Is Green:
CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 makes Earth green because it supports all plant life. It is Earth's greatest airborne fertilizer. Even man-made CO2 contributes to plant growth that in turn sustains humanity and ecosystems...What we see happening in Washington right now is the replacement of politics for science in conversations about CO2.
To channel one of our favorite fake rockers, "ex-squeeze me? Baking powder?" Between a scientifically proven consensus of scientists that warming is real and a few of these suckers, there seems to be a giant gap between the positions of CO2 Is Green and, well, reality. (Not to mention the fact that no political party is capable of pulling off a conspiracy THAT large in scope.)

So please stop me if you've heard this one before (via New West):
The ad doesn’t mention it, but CO2 is Green is a Texas-based nonprofit group founded by H. Leighton Steward, a retired oil and gas executive who, according to Forbes magazine, is an honorary director of the American Petroleum Institute. (The API, one of the nation’s most powerful lobbying groups, launched a campaign to debunk global warming in 1998, and since then has mounted continuous efforts to promote fuel use and fight climate change legislation).

Steward is also the former vice chairman of oil company Burlington Resources Inc., and a former chairman of the U.S. Oil and Gas Association and the Natural Gas Supply Association...

[Snip]

Who’s backing this mission? More than half the contributions to Steward’s group are from the coal industry, Steward told a recent Rotary Club meeting in Wyoming, covered by reporter Kristen Inbody of the Cody Enterprise.
Bonus points to readers who shouted API before we revealed it!

We'll also accept Exxon, Big Oil, or Big Coal.

Fret not, though: while our posts here become more and more predictable (and easier to write, to boot!), the arguments of the exact same polluting interests trying to block clean energy and climate legislation are (clearly) getting more ridiculous. And with progress towards international and national policy building momentum, it's only a matter of time until those interests can use their creative energy for other pursuits.

Perhaps they could expend it on behaving like good corporate citizens that start paying for their own messes that contaminate the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the earth we all rely upon.

The James Inhofe Truthiness Squad

You know silly season is in full swing when Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe announces he'll be leading a "Truth Squad" to the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

The senior senator from Oklahoma is, of course, already famous for his declaration that global warming is "the greatest hoax every perpetrated on the American people." This will also not be his first foray into the international climate debate: in 2003, he conducted a similar fact-hiding mission to UN climate negotiations in Milan, Italy - a stunt that made him (in his own words) an "outcast" among the crowd of frighteningly rational conference attendees.

So if Inhofe's serious about undermining American credibility and climate change science, he's got to bring his A-team. Right? Let's see who's signed up (per Inhofe's own Web site):

Who else will be joining Inhofe on his European crusade? The senator is mum for now. “I’ll see who’s willing to come,” he says.
That would be politi-speak for, "I haven't found anyone whose detachment from reality is so severe as to make this a good idea in their mind."

Well James, we've got a few suggestions for you to get the ol' Truth Squad battle-ready:

Paris Hilton: Hotness expert
Bernie Madoff: Finance specialist
Kanye West: Diplomatic relations
Jack Abramoff: Ethics counsel
The Octomom: Population advisor
Rod Blagojevich: Trade expert
Joe "You Lie!" Wilson: Fact-checker

Have your own suggestions? Sound off in the comments section!

"Runaway melt" on Antarctica

A "runaway melt" on Antarctica? That is what a new study says, using the best satellite information available.

From MSNBC:

"Dynamic thinning of Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheet ocean margins is more sensitive, pervasive, enduring and important than previously realized," researchers wrote in the paper published online Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.
The study said that the melting effect is only getting worse.
In parts of Antarctica, the yearly rate of thinning from 2003 to 2007 is 50 percent higher than it was from 1995 to 2003.

These new measurements confirm what some of the more pessimistic scientists thought: The melting along the crucial edges of the two major ice sheets is accelerating and is in a self-feeding loop. The more the ice melts, the more water surrounds and eats away at the remaining ice.
The cause? That would be global warming. Every time a new study comes out about the state of ice sheets around the world, the diagnosis is worse. Clearly the problem is not getting any better any time soon, especially not without action from our leaders.

This week at the G-20 in Pittsburgh, groundwork can be laid for an agreement to be made in December in Copenhagen. But before that we have a chance to take the lead right here in America.

Soon the Senate will consider comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation and, as this study shows, time is running out. We can help reduce global warming pollution, while helping to create millions of jobs and strengthening our economy.

Without action we will be running away too - from the coast.

Quote of the Day

**UPDATE 9/24/09** PNM just announced they're completely cutting ties with the Chamber.

Yet another key member of the U.S. "Science isn't Real" Chamber of Commerce is walking back its involvement with the group as a result of its extreme position on clean energy and climate legislation.

PNM Resources, a New Mexico-based energy holding company whose subsidiaries power more than a million homes, has relinquished its seat on the Chamber's Board of Directors. A company spokesman, Don Brown, issued the following *gem* of an explanation (per NRDC):
"We strongly disagree with the Chamber's position on climate change legislation and particularly reject its recent theatrics" in calling for a review of the E.P.A.'s findings, Don Brown, a spokesman for PNM Resources, a New Mexico-based utility holding company, said.
Coming on the heels of PG&E's decision to quit the Chamber completely, we're thinking the press folks at our favorite science-denying group are having a rough morning.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Breaking up is hard to do

The anti-clean energy coalition is falling apart.

Today, PG&E Corp -- one of the country's largest utilities -- parted ways with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, citing the Chamber's "extreme position on climate change."

This was not a quiet break-up. No, it was one of those break-ups that comes complete with electric guitars, televisions and old photo albums getting thrown out of second-story windows.

On the company's blog, which it calls "a dialogue on the next century of energy," PG&E said it faced "irreconcilable differences" with the chamber. It cited two other companies that have already made similar moves, Duke Energy and Alstom (both of who left the pro-coal ACCCE), in making its decision.

In a letter to the Chamber, PG&E Chairman and CEO Peter Darbee did not hold back, blasting the Chamber for its completely false stance on whether climate change actually exists:
We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored. In our opinion, an intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges are quite another.

Darbee also took the opportunity to stress the need for urgent action:

"I fear it has forfeited an incredible chance to play a constructive leadership role on one of the most important issues our country may ever face," Darbee said.

With member companies quitting while calling its positions extreme, we have to ask: does the Chamber of Commerce have any credibility left at all?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Haley Barbour's Humpty Dumpty World

Often it seems like the fight for clean energy legislation is against groups and individuals physically unable to tell the truth.

Take the most recent fairy tale, reported here yesterday, that used fuzzy math to analyze a non-existent proposal and concluded that clean energy and climate legislation would be cost prohibitive, facts be darned.

Now the follow up gets even crazier. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, in his capacity as chair of the Republican Governors Association, is hosting a webinar entitled "Energy 101." They missed the subhead, "taught by Big Oil".

Gov. Barbour's background isn't so much in energy as it is in oil. Big Oil might as well have squatter's rights in his bank account. According to our friends at the Wonk Room:
• The oil, gas and utility industries were major contributor to his Mississippi gubernatorial campaigns, providing over $1.8 million in campaign cash. [National Institute on Money in State Politics, Accessed 7/2/09]

• According to the Center for Responsive Politics, coal companies and electric utilities lavished over half a million dollars on Barbour’s firm during his last two years as CEO and chairman, in 1998 and 1999. After taking time off to work on advisory committees for the presidential campaign of George W. Bush, Barbour returned to the firm in 2001. With the addition of new clients, including from the oil & gas industry, the firm made over a million dollars a year in dirty energy profits by the time he left again for his 2003 gubernatorial run, with $2.24 million in total for 2001-2002. [Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 7/2/09]
Some time has gone by since 2003. Maybe Gov. Barbour has changed his mind on clean energy, like many others have upon realizing the urgency on the matter. Not so much.
Barbour hosted a Southern Company party for lobbyists at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Southern was the top spending special interest that attempted to influence the debate over House the American Clean Energy and Security Act. With a force totaling 63 lobbyists, Southern was nearly twice as high as any other company. Its coal fired power plants emit 172 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. [Politico, 8/12/08; Center for Public Integrity, 7/1/09; IPS News, 11/16/07]
Gov. Barbour once called global warming a "radical fringe issue." He even referred to the regulation of carbon dioxide pollution as "eco-extremism."

And it says something when you try to convince the Bush Administration to pursue your agenda and the Supreme Court just makes fun of you.
• The Dallas Morning News reported that “Within weeks of taking office, Vice President Dick Cheney heard from Haley Barbour – a former Republican Party chairman and utility company lobbyist and now the governor of Mississippi – who urged the administration to reverse the Clinton administration…Southern [Company] and several other utilities faced federal lawsuits filed in 1999 by the Clinton administration, accusing the companies of failing to install expensive pollution-control devices when modifying their generating plants.” [Dallas Morning News, 8/30/04]

• The Bush administration pursued this agenda, only to be blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals. It found that "only in a Humpty Dumpty world" would the Administration’s changes be allowed. [US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Opinions, 3/17/06]
Certainly all the king's horses and all the king's men could find anything, but endless lies coming from this Big Oil puppet either.