Thursday, November 5, 2009

Newsweek and Big Oil Front Group Host Climate Conferences

Now this is downright strange (and frightening!).

According to Energy & Environment News and Climate Progress, Newsweek and our favorite Big Oil front group the American Petroleum Institute have been co-hosting expert discussion panels. Because it spends so heavily to advertise in Newsweek, API has apparently earned the right to have its president sit on expert panels that include members of Congress. According to E&E News (per Climate Progress):
Newsweek since 2007 has sold advertising packages to the oil industry’s biggest influence group that included the right to co-host forums on energy issues, including two where members of Congress sat side-by-side on panels with the association’s president.

Newsweek and API have teamed on four forums so far and are planning another — “Climate and Energy Policy: Moving?” — for Dec. 1, when the Senate could be holding a floor debate on climate legislation. An invitation sent yesterday to lawmakers’ offices said Gerard again would be a panelist and that requests to speak were “currently pending confirmation with notable members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.” Lawmakers receiving invitations included Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
That would be the same American Petroleum Institute that's spending millions to run ads attacking clean energy and climate legislation, and which this summer was embarrassed by the leaking of an internal memo from API President Jack Gerard detailing the group's strategy to manufacture grassroots "opposition" to reform.

It's an arrangement that has ethics watchdogs in the journalism field up in arms.
“You’re selling access,” said Edward Wasserman, Knight professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. “Newsweek is using its reputation as a great news organization to convene these officeholders to talk about public policy. Then it’s renting out a space at the table for one of its customers who would not be at the table if not for giving money to Newsweek.”
The panels themselves could use a little balance work:
Newsweek has had the co-presentation partnerships with advertisers since at least 2003, Block said. The relationship with API started in May 2007, when API and the magazine teamed up for a forum called “Progress on Energy Legislation in the 110th Congress.” At that forum, like the one earlier this year, API’s president had the stage along with members of Congress. Panelists were then-API President Red Cavaney, Rep. Jim Matheson (R-Utah), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and a Newsweek representative.
And pundits wonder why Americans have so little faith in the media!

The Stain of Big Oil

We think it's important to (once again) remind folks that while Big Oil and other special interests were raking in billions in profits, they turned around and spent tens of millions lobbying Congress to protect those profits and kill clean energy jobs.

But, as we know, these special interests didn’t stop there.

They've also spent millions more doling out political contributions.

That's why today LCV and Montana Conservation Voters launched a series of TV ads targeting Reps. Roy Blunt (MO-07), Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-09) and Denny Rehberg (MT-AL), all of whom voted against the American Clean Energy & Security Act...and in doing so sided with Big Oil over clean energy jobs.

Check out the TV ad from Montana Conservation Voters here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

No Kidding: Obstructionist Senators Rate High on Big Oil Report Card

Normally, you'd get an "F" for cutting class. But the seven Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who today skipped out on a markup of the Kerry-Boxer clean energy and climate legislation are likely to get a gold star from Big Oil for their obstructive tactics.

The latest "Voter Guide" from the American Petroleum Institute - a front group for major oil companies that organized dozens of Astroturf rallies this summer to defeat clean energy - gives high marks to the EPW Committee's Republican members. Scoring six votes that Big Oil considers important, the API guide gives the minority members a collective 93% -- and a whopping five perfect scores!

James Inhofe – 100%
George Voinovich – 100%
David Vitter – 100%
John Barrasso – 100%
Christopher Bond – 100%
Lamar Alexander – 83%
Mike Crapo – 66%

So, in five of seven cases, minority members of the Environment and Public Works Committee voted in perfect lockstep with what API describes as Big Oil's "preferred position" on legislation. In every single case, what was that preferred position?


In all six cases, Big Oil gave a gold star to Republican committee members for voting to block changes to the status quo -- failed energy policies that are nonetheless lining Big Oil's pockets. Here's a listing of each vote in the 110th Congress, with descriptions of the issues at stake from Congressional Quarterly. See if you can guess why Big Oil might reward a "NO" vote!

NO: Roll call vote 223, on an amendment with Republican and Democratic cosponsors that would establish $32.1 billion of tax incentives for alternative energy sources.

NO: Vote 226, on passage of a bill to overhaul national energy policies and increase the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

NO: Vote 145, to end debate and proceed to a vote on a plan to cap carbon pollution nationwide and set up a trading system for companies to buy and sell carbon pollution allowances.

NO: Vote 146, to end debate and proceed to a vote on legislation to repeal tax benefits for oil companies worth $17 billion over 10 years that were enacted in 2004 and 2005, as well as direct the money to renewable energy.

NO: Vote 150, to end debate and proceed to a vote on a measure to extend dozens of expired or expiring tax provisions for one year and create new clean energy-related tax incentives.

NO: Vote 190, to end debate and proceed to a vote on a similar measure that would also have extended dozens of expired or expiring tax provisions for one year and created new clean energy-related tax incentives.

So, to summarize: Voting NO on any and all reforms that might cap carbon pollution, invest in clean energy or end tax breaks for oil companies making record profits makes you a Big Oil All-Star.

Really? Seriously??!

Tough Day at the Office: Inhofe Skips Climate Bill Markup

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee was planning to hold a markup of the Boxer-Kerry clean energy and climate bill this week, but Oklahoma Sen. and Science Denierism Grand Poobah James Inhofe and his Republican colleagues on the committee were, as planned, not in attendance.

Thus, we present a photo of all the hard work Inhofe and his colleagues put in today at the committee markup.

Good job out there today, guys. Hit the showers.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Quarterly Lobbying Reports: Now THAT'S Why They're Called "Big Oil"

Want to know what happens to all that money you spend on gas? Well, in addition to the about $1 billion per day that heads to overseas governments hostile to American interests, a good portion of it ends up in the pockets of Big Oil.

In turn, Big Oil spends millions lobbying the federal government in opposition to clean energy and climate legislation.

Five Big Oil companies spent nearly $27 million lobbying Congress in the third quarter, averaging more than $8 million each month. In keeping with its usual antics, ExxonMobil led the way, dolling out $7.2 million - more than the entire environmental movement. That brings the company, which is responsible for all ten of the highest quarterly corporate profits on record, up to more than $20 million in lobbying expenditures for the year.

The other companies were Chevron (at $6.09 million), BP ($5.115 million), ConocoPhillips ($4 million), Marathon ($2.2 million) and Shell ($1.055 million). These same corporations have also dished out close to half a million dollars in contributions to their favorite members of Congress, which include global warming denier Sen. James Inhofe and clean energy attacker Rep. Roy Blunt.

All of this spending comes during the most significant debate on clean energy and climate legislation ever. And the spending doesn't figure to slow down any time soon, with legislation before the Environment and Public Works committee right now.