Thursday, October 1, 2009

Daily Show Takedown of Big Oil, Dirty Coal Front Groups

Here at R?S?, we've been hammering away on phony front groups like the American Petroleum Institute and FACES of Coal for quite some time now. So imagine our delight when The Daily Show recently decided to do the same! Our segment begins at 5:35:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Daily Show
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Hey look everybody, it's Firefighter Guy and People on Raft!

Big Oil Sounds Alarm on Foreign Oil?

The Big Oil mouthpiece American Petroleum Institute is warning that the clean energy and climate legislation introduced yesterday by Sens. John Kerry and Barbara Boxer could -- wait for it -- increase America's dependence on foreign oil. From API's press release:
"Unfortunately, the Kerry-Boxer legislation is beginning to look a lot like the House’s Waxman-Markey bill and a loser for American consumers.

Analysis has shown Waxman-Markey would drive fuel prices up to between $4 and $5 a gallon and double our dependence on imports of gasoline and other fuels. We strongly encourage the Senate to not follow the House example.”
Hear that? Clean energy and climate legislation would double America's dependence on imports of gasoline! This warning comes from a group that flacks for big oil companies like ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco and others -- the same folks who've spent millions to defeat clean energy and keep us hooked on failed energy policies that have... doubled our imports of foreign oil over the last two decades.

So the Big Oil playbook appears to be: (1) do whatever's best for your bottom line for decades, regardless of its implications for America's environment, economy and strategic position in the world, then (2) accuse anyone who tries to clean up your mess of trying to create.... the exact same mess.

Now, we don't spend much time with Big Oil outside of the workplace, but we're guessing if their behavior in everday social settings looks anything like their poll-tested strategy in the climate debate, it might look something like this:

Big Oil: Hey there, pretty lady. That's a great outfit! Mind if I buy you a drink?
American people: Eww, stop hitting on me!
Big Oil: No, how about YOU stop hitting on ME!

Way to be that guy, Big Oil.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Backfire: "CO2 Is Green" Campaign Generates Pro-Clean Energy Calls!

A group calling itself "CO2 Is Green" has been spending heavily in New Mexico in an effort to convince Sen. Jeff Bingaman's constituents that - contrary to mountains of scientific evidence - we should all rejoice at the prospect of global warming, and certainly not (*shudder*) consider regulating carbon as pollution. The campaign includes a slick Web site, a TV spot and a half-page ad in the Albuquerque Journal with a phone number listed for Sen. Bingaman's office urging readers to call.

Well, that's quite a bit of effort for 4 pro-CO2 phone calls, which is what Sen. Bingaman's office is reporting they have received in the wake of the advertising campaign. But that's not all, according to the Journal's John Fleck:
Here's an interesting tidbit I came across in reporting the story. According to Jude McCartin, Sen. Bingaman's spokeswoman, the senator's office has received four telephone calls in response to the ad who agreed with its message. That was outnumbered, Jude said, by the calls by people who saw the ad and called Bingaman's office to say they favor legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
That's right, the CO2 Is Green campaign was a net positive for proponents of clean energy and climate legislation, as far as calls to Sen. Bingaman's office are concerned.

Thanks guys!

New Action on Clean Energy, You Say? Release the Hounds!

It was a banner day for Americans interested in job creation, energy independence and a cleaner environment, with Sens. John Kerry and Barbara Boxer releasing the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. Unsurprisingly, as momentum is clearly building in favor of comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, the big wigs at Big Oil are "releasing the hounds" (to borrow a phrase from one of America's favorite television characters).

With the ink still wet on the Boxer-Kerry legislation, every one of Big Oil's attack dogs put out a statement As expected, Big Oil and its special interest allies in Washington are already letting fly with some real whoppers about the bill. Would you expect anything less from the folks who reap record profits while our nation remains hooked on the failed energy policies of the past?

Let's see what they're feeding these bad puppies to make them so fierce.

American Petroleum Institute. THE MONEY: As the primary lobbying group for Big Oil, API takes millions from oil giants ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, Shell and others. BIGGEST FAIL: A leaked memo from API President Jack Gerard to member companies that reveals the company's so-called grassroots movement against clean energy for the sham that it is. To wit, the "grassroots" campaign is headed by "a highly experienced events management company that has produced successful rallies for presidential campaigns, corporations and interest groups."

ACCCE: THE MONEY: The coal industry's counterpart to API, the "American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity" is powered by more than $7 million in membership fees from dirty coal polluters. BIGGEST FAIL: A public relations disaster that ensued when it was revealed a lobbying company hired by ACCCE had forged 14 letters to members of Congress pretending to represent senior citizens, veterans, Hispanic groups and the NAACP in opposition to clean energy. Numerous member groups, including utility giant Duke Energy, bailed on the ACCCE following the revelations.

Chamber of Commerce: THE MONEY: By spending (over $40 million a year), the Chamber of Commerce is the biggest lobbying group in the country. It accepted more than $90 million in 2005 from a narrow swath of its elite corporate membership (the "President's Advisory Group"), which includes energy giants like ExxonMobil and others. BIGGEST FAIL: In an ill-advised stunt, the Chamber this summer called for a latter-day "Scopes-monkey" trial that would question the legitimacy of settled global warming science. An exodus of some of the Chamber's largest member energy companies ensued.


Chamber Woes Continue: Nike Quits, Media Narrative Grows

Two items of interest today for those following the soap opera that is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's campaign against clean energy.

First, having already issued a strongly-worded rebuke of the Chamber's science-denying campaign against a clean comprehensive clean energy and climate bill, Nike Inc. this morning strapped on a pair of running shoes and hit the road, leaving the Chamber's board of directors in its dust. In a statement, the company criticized the Chamber as having failed to acknowledge that a considerable number of its smart member businesses strongly favor clean energy legislation.

Have any doubt how the membership exodus is being interpreted? Submitted for your review: an article in today's POLITICO:
The announcement is another blow to the business lobby, which has come under intense fire for its position on cap and trade legislation. Over the past two weeks, three major utilities have left the group. Environmentalists heralded the departures as a weakening of the business community's traditional opposition to climate legislation.

On Monday, Chicago-based Exelon Corp. said it would not renew its membership in the Chamber; last week, Pacific Gas & Electric, a major California utility, and PNM Resources, a holding company that includes a large New Mexico utility, withdrew from the group.

A large part of the campaign against Chamber membership stems from the group’s call to launch a “Scopes Monkey Trial of the 21st century” about the science of climate change, referring to a 1926 trial that challenged Tennessee law mandating the teaching of the divine creation and forbidding the teaching of evolution.
So that's black eye number one for the day. On to the next: a blunt editorial in today's New York Times calls the Chamber out on its flagrant double-speak when it comes to climate legislation. In a panicky move yesterday, the Chamber posted a statement that appeared to endorse action on clean energy and climate legislation. Somewhat confused? So, apparently, were the authors of the Times editorial:
The United States Chamber of Commerce’s Web site says the group supports “a comprehensive legislative solution” to global warming. Yet no organization in this country has done more to undermine such legislation.

In the last Congress, the chamber attacked the rather modest Lieberman-Warner bill, with a Harry-and-Louise-style commercial. This year, it testified against the House-passed bill limiting greenhouse gases, and it is almost sure to oppose a similar measure that will be introduced this week in the Senate.

Some responsible chamber members are so fed up that they are quitting. First out the door was Pacific Gas & Electric, the big California utility whose chief executive, Peter Darbee, last week lambasted the chamber’s “extreme rhetoric and obstructionist tactics.” Two other big utilities, PNM Resources and Exelon, also announced their intention to leave the organization for similar reasons. While stopping short of quitting, Johnson & Johnson has criticized the chamber’s actions.
Short of a complete mind-body transplant, there's essentially nothing the Chamber can do to greenwash it's way out of the snowballing narrative that most smart and self-respecting businesses are racing to distance themselves from the group's extreme tactics. We fully expect the hits to keep coming.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chamber of Commerce Hits Panic Button over Member Exodus

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is running major damage control after a string of high-profile member companies quit over its science-denying opposition to a clean energy and climate bill.

In the wake of being dumped by PG&E Corp., PNM Resources and Exelon (as well as strongly rebuked by Nike), the Chamber felt the need to put out a lengthy press release today denying that it opposes clean energy and climate legislation. That's a mighty tall order, considering that each high-profile energy company that's quit the Chamber in recent weeks took the opportunity to do things like call its approach "disingenous" and saying its strategy is comprised of "antics."

The choicest gem contained in the release comes from President and CEO Thomas Donohue's statement:
Some in the environmental movement claim that, because of our opposition to a specific bill or approach, we must be opposed to all efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, or that we deny the existence of any problem. They are dead wrong.
Well, don't take our word for it. Take the word of PG&E Corp. chairman Peter Darbee, who described the Chamber's stance in an open letter entitled "Irreconcilable Differences":
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.
OK, so the Chamber isn't "denying the existence of any problem," it's merely "diminishing or distorting the reality of the challenge." That's much better! In fact, the next time I'm in court, I'll simply pull a Donohue and explain that I wasn't "driving recklessly," I was merely "thirty miles over the speed limit in the right shoulder with my headlights off after dark."

Yet the evidence against Donohue's attempt to greenwash his special interest group gets quite a bit more damning. In a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency this summer - still posted on the Chamber's own Web site, no less (oops?) - the Chamber goes so far as to argue that "warming of even 3ºC in the next 100 years would, on balance, be beneficial to humans."

If that's not science-denying, we don't know what is.

Simply put, the Harry Houdini of press flacks could not talk his way out of this one.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Death Watch: Chamber of Commerce's Anti-Clean Energy Crusade

The hits just keep coming for the Chamber of Commerce and its science-denying campaign against comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation.

After losing PNM Resources and PG&E. in the wake of what can charitably be described as its antics, the Chamber this morning shed another member: in a speech to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy today, John Rowe, president of Exelon Corp., which delivers power more than 5 million customers, announced that his group would not renew its membership. As Bloomberg News reports:
Exelon Corp., the biggest utilityowner by market value, said it will not renew its membership inthe U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Exelon Chief Executive Officer John Rowe spoke at a conference sponsored by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy in Chicago, where the company is based. Exelon chose to leave the Chamber because the business group doesn’tsupport federal climate-change legislation.
For Bill Kovacs and the rest of gang at the Chamber of Commerce, it's going to be yet another sad song and pint of ice cream day.