Friday, November 20, 2009

Fiorina a Convert to Inhofe School of Denierism?

Carly Fiorina, the failed former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and now candidate for Senate in California, has been dancing furiously around the issue of climate change science in recent days.

On Wednesday, Fiorina accepted the endorsement of fellow Republican Sen. James "Global Warming Is A Hoax" Inhofe of Oklahoma. Inhofe, who plans to lead a "truth squad" of Senators who deny the validity of peer-reviewed global warming science to the Copenhagen Climate Conference this December, has also led this year's fight in the Senate to kill clean energy and climate legislation.

So after an initial round of press coverage focusing on Fiorina's endorsement by the science-denying Inhofe, Fiorina's press staff sought to publicly distance their candidate from Inhofe's abysmal global warming stance.

Yet in a sit-down interview with the Oakland Tribune the same day, Fiorina left reporters with the distinct impression that she found the science surrounding global warming "less than conclusive." And even in her own press statement distancing herself from Inhofe, Fiorina's spokeswoman echoed Big Oil's talking points in attacking current clean energy legislation, saying it would "kill jobs." The truth is a comprehensive approach to energy - including limits on carbon pollution - will create the necessary market stability to allow clean energy industries to invest in their businesses and create new jobs. In California, clean energy job growth has boomed at nearly 8 percent above the overall economy over the last decade, creating more than 125,000 clean energy jobs.

As Fiorina must be learning very quickly at this point, it's hard to have it both ways when it comes to climate policy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Throwback: Humble Oil Makes Big Boasts!

Back in the day (the 1960s), a company called Humble Oil was a major player in the U.S. petroleum market. These were the heady days when terms like "polar ice caps," "climate change" and "carbon pollution" weren't yet on anybody's radar.

So you'll excuse Humble if this boastful newspaper ad seems a little insensitive today. (Though, we can't let this pass without giving a shout out to one of our favorite TV shows...Mad Men. Looking at this ad, we can easily picture Don Draper and Roger Sterling -- with drinks in hand, of course -- kicking around copy for it.)

At the very least, now we know that one of today's biggest climate change villains comes by its dastardly ways honestly. Formed in 1911, Humble eventually consolidated with Standard Oil of New Jersey to become (drumroll)... Exxon!

Cheers to the good folks at Grist for brightening all of our days with this morbid throwback.

Hey Big Spenders...

The IRS just disclosed that the biggest advocate groups for Big Oil and Dirty Coal, the American Petroleum Institute and the ACCCE, spent over $115,000,000 on federal lobbying and communications in 2008. We can only imagine, with the escalating efforts to pass a clean energy legislation, what these groups will have spent by the time 2009 is over. (Not to mention forging letters to members of the House of Representatives or directly lying to Congress).

Contributions from groups like Association of American Railroads ($6 million) and Arch Coal Inc. ($5 million) helped push the API and ACCCE totals so astronomically high.

Duke Energy Corp., an original member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, left ACCCE in August in part because of the lobbying group's aggressive efforts to kill the House clean energy bill. PNM made a similar move when it left the Chamber of Commerce, and spurred a whole slew of forward-thinking companies like Nike to do the same.

Massey Energy CEO: Coal Will Prevent Next Ice Age


Don Blankenship, CEO of coal extractor Massey Energy, recently had a sit-down with Energy & Environment News in which he waxed (in)eloquently about his science-denying approach to global warming. Among the gems from his interview was a discussion of one of his recent Twitter proclamations:
"Some fear that we are entering a new Ice Age. We must demand that more coal be burned to save the Earth from global cooling."
We'll let that one sink in for a minute.

Now that the hand print on your forehead is fading, here's another great exchange between Blankenship and E&E News' Monica Trauzzi:
Trauzzi: Are you being socially irresponsible by denying the science behind global warming to benefit your company's bottom line?

Blankenship: Absolutely not. I really believe that the climate is changing naturally, and that the temperature for the last eight or nine years has been cooling, and that the Arctic ice has been increasing, and that there's a great deal of misunderstanding out there about climate change.
And just for good measure:

Trauzzi: You're on the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has taken a lot of heat recently for its stance on global warming and climate legislation. And the board of directors has particularly come under scrutiny. Is it a result of board members like yourself who deny the science of global warming for why we've seen several companies remove themselves from U.S. Chamber membership?

Blankenship: Well let me correct you for a minute. I don't deny the science behind global warming, I deny that there is any science that supports global warming, which is a different thing entirely.

The whole interview is worth a look, so be sure to check it out here (subscription required).

National Journal: Meet the Climate Change Roadblocks

In between committee hearings and rubbing elbows with energy lobbyists, a group of lawmakers is rallying a more public fight to kill Congress' clean energy and climate bill, the National Journal reports.

Not surprisingly, Senator James Inhofe is identified as a key leader of the group. The Oklahoma Senator has long been an outspoken opponent of proactive environmental legislation and has vowed to take his anti science views to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

At the very least, you can bet Mr. Inhofe -- who last election cycle alone took nearly $450,000 in campaign money from big oil and energy interests -- won't be buying carbon offsets for his plane trip to Denmark.

Representative Joe Barton is another climate skeptic who's number one donor is Big Oil. If you visit the Texas Representative's Web site you find an entire policy page refuting the man made causes of climate change.

But Smokey Joe's contributions to the climate debate haven't stopped there: in 2005, he was bold enough to send letters to the Universities of Massachusetts, Virginia and Arizona accusing them of "methodological flaws and data errors" in their climate change studies.

Next on the list of climate change atheists is Inhofe's protege, Senator John Barrosso. The freshman Wyoming Senator has only been in office for 11 months but is already guilty of accepting $169,250 from Big Oil and Dirty Coal, and has called repeatedly for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off the Alaska coast.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

That's a good teabagger: Tim Pawlenty flops

The 180 is complete.

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, long rumored as a GOP Presidential contender in 2012, has moved from staunch supporter of clean energy and cap and trade, to James Inhofe. Well, maybe not quite Senator Inhofe, but Mitt Romney at least.

Take a look at the timeline, provided by Think Progress:
  • Dec. 2006: Pawlenty lays out an ambitious clean energy program for Minnesotans to reduce their use of fossil fuels 15 percent by 2015. Cutting greenhouse gases, Pawlenty said, would “be good for the environment, good for rural economies, good for national security and good for consumers.” He also calls for a regional cap and trade program.
  • May 2007: Pawlenty signs the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007, requiring the state to reduce its emissions 15 percent by 2015 and 80 percent in 2050. At the signing ceremony, Pawlenty said Minnesota was “kicking-starting the future” by “tackling greenhouse gas emissions.”
  • Oct. 2007: Pawlenty declares that the climate change issue is “one of the most important of our time.” He also brushes off “some flak” from right-wingers who doubt climate change science.
  • Sept. 2008: During the election, Pawlenty backs away from his own cap and trade program, says such a system would “wreck the economy.” He then tells Glenn Beck (a climate change denier) that human activity only contributes “half a percent” to climate change.
  • Nov. 2009: Pawlenty backs away from acknowledging that any human activity is the cause of climate change.
In three years, Pawlenty has gone from full support for what in many ways looks just like the legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is currently in the Senate, to the claim that global warming is not caused by human activity. Which poses the question: is Tim Pawlenty now a bona fide teabagger?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sarah Palin goes rogue on clean energy facts

Former Alaska Governor and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin (or, more accurately, her ghost writer) uses some questionable logic, to say the least, in her assessment of the current climate legislation in her hotly debated debut book, Going Rogue. Luckily, MediaMatters has completed an extensive fact check of her absurd claims and set the record straight:

Sarah Palin has claimed that clean energy legislation would kill jobs. Really? Did she forget about the UC Berkeley study, which found that the current climate legislation would create up to 1.9 million jobs? Surely she must remember the Center for American Progress report that highlighted the 1.7 million jobs created by investment in clean energy technology.

As for her claims that
The costs of manufacturing, warehousing, and transportation will also rise. We'll all feel the effects of this misguided plan to buy and sell pollution...Sadly, those hit hardest will be those who are already struggling to make ends meet.
MediaMatters nips that one in the bud too. The overall impact on the average household would be about $83 dollars a day. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) even adds that "households in the lowest income quintile would see an average net benefit of about $40 in 2020."

If Palin's "going rogue," then it's just on the facts. Her tired rhetoric is just more of the same pandering to clean energy foes to us.

Chevron, dirtier than their own oil

What happens when you're a Big Oil corporation and you pump toxic waste into an entire region causing cancer, birth defects and miscarriages?

Obviously you create a multimillion dollar spin campaign, pour money into lobbying Congress and hope it takes care of the problem for you.

And that is where Chevron has been spending it's "Human Energy." At the cost of human lives.

For years, Chevron has been ignoring complaints against its practices around the world, despite lawsuits, media coverage and the existence of a website that explains them in great detail, the True Cost of Chevron. The specific story being played out right now has its own site as well, ChevronToxico, dedicated to the egregious pollution in the Amazon rain forest that has devastated Ecuador.

According the site, Texaco, which was bought by Chevron in 2001...
"Deliberately dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater, spilled roughly 17 million gallons of crude oil, and left hazardous waste in hundreds of open pits dug out of the forest floor. To save money, Texaco chose to use environmental practices that were obsolete, did not meet industry standards, and were illegal in Ecuador and the United States."
For the last 16 years a group of U.S. trial lawyers has been fighting to hold Chevron accountable for $27 billion in damages. A lawsuit that was originally filed in 1993 in the U.S. was refiled in Ecuador in 2003 and was expected to conclude next spring. What does that mean here in the U.S.? The lobbying has begun.

And no one lobbies like Big Oil.

According to Politico, Chevron has been lobbying Congress since President Barack Obama's Senate days, trying to convince the U.S. Government to end preferential treatment Ecuador gets on its imports if it refuses to drop the lawsuit. In other words, Chevron wants to the U.S. to be heavy-handed against another country because it refuses to clean up its own mess.

Said a Chevron spokesperson: "If we were able to call a timeout and make the lawsuit disappear, then this entire issue disappears."

Really? Seriously? Unfortunately, yes: this is how Big Oil looks at the world. When a major corporation shows extreme negligence in destroying a region and causing major health issues, the U.S. government should just make the issue disappear.

Not so fast, Chevron.

Rep. Linda Sanchez of California has led the charge against allowing Chevron to drill a hole through ethics and international relations (via Politico):
"Trying to leverage our trade policy in order to get a lawsuit dismissed that is currently pending before the Ecuadorean court. It is a way of trying to undermine the rule of law, and I just find that completely abhorrent. It’s shocking."
But, considering we are talking about Big Oil, not altogether surprising.

Chevron has spent more than $1.6 million in lobbying fees this year alone on this issue, but also an unknown amount on some downright James Bond-like tactics in Ecuador.

According to Politico, Chevron paid a convicted drug trafficker and one of its own contractors to secretly tape meetings between Ecuadorian officials and the judge in the case. That tactic backfired when the judge simply recused himself and the credibility of the two “whistleblowers” came into question. It also responded to a "60 Minutes" report by creating a "news" video blaming Ecuador for its problems. But, the Columbia Journalism Review called the report "deceptive," saying that it, "might be unprecedented for how it blurred the line between public relations and journalism."