Thursday, January 14, 2010

Saudi Arabian Oil Exporters: "Americans Totally Heart Our Oil!"

Here at R?S?, we've talked extensively about the connections between so-called "grassroots" rallies against clean energy and climate legislation, and how they're really funded by Big Oil companies that stand to continue reaping record profits while American energy independence suffers.

But the picture gets even scarier when you follow the money a little further, as ThinkProgress recently did. In a major exposé on three Astroturf groups attacking clean energy legislation - Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks and Energy Citizens - ThinkProgress shows that many of the major individuals and companies tied to these well-funded efforts are in turn funded by countries that export oil.

We'll repost a few of the most damning paragraphs here, but we suggest you head over to ThinkProgress and read the entire report for yourself:
– The lobbyist-run front group Americans for Prosperity is perhaps the most active anti-clean energy group in the country. In addition to working furiously to orchestrate anti-clean energy themed tea parties, Americans for Prosperity is running anti-clean energy legislation ads, anti-climate change science ads, and is even barnstorming around the country with anti-clean energy “hot air” rallies. The organization was founded and is bankrolled by David Koch of Koch Industries, a major refiner of oil. Through Koch Industry subsidiaries — Koch Supply & Trading and Flint Hills Resources — Koch imports crude oil and unfinished oils from a variety of foreign sources, including from Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

– Currently, FreedomWorks is focusing their energy activism on supporting the status quo reliance on fossil fuels. Throughout 2009, as FreedomWorks leader Dick Armey organized tea party opposition to clean energy reform, he simultaneously worked for the lobbying firm DLA Piper on the account of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. According to disclosure forms filed with the Justice Department, the UAE paid Armey’s lobbying firm at the time to help maintain the “development of UAE energy resources, which represent about 10 percent of global oil reserves.”

– Oil companies have attempted to demonstrate popular support for fossil-fuel dependence by hosting “Energy Citizen” rallies around the country, where employees of oil companies are bused in for large events. The “Energy Citizen” website claims that converting a clean energy economy would mean “less energy independence.” Ironically, the main sponsor of the Energy Citizen effort is the American Petroleum Institute, which is a trade association for companies like Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Sunoco. These companies, in turn, are highly dependent on foreign oil imports — from countries including Algeria, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Venezuela. For perspective, Exxon Mobil imports 27%, Valero 29%, and Chevron 36% of its oil from Persian Gulf countries alone.
Now might also be a great time to remind everyone that America's dependence on oil poses a major national security threat.
The fact is we spend $1 billion a day on foreign oil. With our dependence on oil from hostile nations hurting our economy, helping our enemies and putting our security at risk, it's particularly stomach-turning to see how connected these countries are to so-called "grassroots" efforts to keep us hooked on their oil.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Inhofe on Rolling Stone's "Climate Killers" Article: "I Should Have Been No. 1"

Talk about a man who takes pride in his work.

Rolling Stone recently profiled 17 prominent individuals whom it calls the "Climate Killers" -- people who are working hard to stop any and all meaningful clean energy and climate reform. Big surprise: Oklahoma Sen. and Climate Denierism Grand Poobah James Inhofe makes the list, under the heading "God's Denier." Check it out:

As the former chairman and ranking Republican of the Senate environment committee, Inhofe is one of the GOP's loudest and most influential voices on climate change. The senator from Oklahoma calls global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," insists that carbon dioxide is not "a real pollutant," and doesn't worry about rising sea levels, because, if all else fails, "God's still up there."

Far from being marginalized, Inhofe continues to hold remarkable sway: In November, he organized fellow GOP members to boycott the environment committee's debate on climate legislation. He also marshaled the ranking GOP members of all six committees with jurisdiction over climate change to write Sen. Barbara Boxer, warning her that proceeding without Republicans would "severely damage" prospects for the bill's passage. The move helped cloud the bill's future, diminishing America's bargaining position at the Copenhagen climate negotiations. "We won, you lost," Inhofe gloated to Boxer during a committee hearing. "Get a life."
It would appear that Inhofe is now taking serious issue with Rolling Stone over the article... but not in the way you might think. In an eloquent statement on his Environment and Public Works Committee page, Inhofe writes:
"My first response was I should have been No. 1, not No. 7," said Inhofe, perhaps the most vocal global-warming skeptic in Congress. "I am serious about that. I have spent now literally years on this thing, and it has been a long, involved thing.''
So when it comes to things and stuff about global warming denierism, don't you ever forget it: James Inhofe is your #1 guy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Climate Denier's Coal Company Violated Clean Water Act 12,000 Times (No Exaggeration)

From our friends at the Sierra Club today comes something pretty shocking:

In a mere two years since it was fined more than $20 million for major violations of the Clean Water Act, coal giant Massey Energy - the company run by notorious global warming science denier Don Blankenship - appears to have violated the Act another 12,000 times, according to the Sierra Club. Per the AP news report:
Several environmental groups are threatening to sue coal producer Massey Energy Co. for what they claim are more than 12,000 violations of pollution laws.

The Sierra Club and several West Virginia groups said Monday they've given Massey a notice that gives the company 60 days to reach a settlement or face a lawsuit.

The groups claim Massey has continued with the same pattern of violations covered by a $20 million settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency two years ago.
The company's response? In a well honed strategy displayed just last week when scientists issued a report on the human health risks of mountaintop mining, Massey issued a combative, campaign-style statement attacking the groups and questioning their motives:
"On first review, the data and conclusions in the notice appear to be significantly incorrect," Massey said, adding that the company's rate of compliance with environmental laws is above 99 percent. "The threatened suit is but another attempt by out-of-state extremists to attack the coal industry."
It would appear, however, that the pesky 1 percent of the time the company was not in compliance with environmental laws was more than enough to leave a wide trail of destruction in its wake. In addition to the $20 million EPA fine, a quick review shows:

• Over 700 miles of rivers and streams have been buried by waste rock left over from mountaintop removal practices in which Massey Energy has participated.

• In Oct. 2000, a Massey subsidiary spilled 306 million gallons of coal slurry (mmm… slurry) into Coldwater Creek and Wolf Creek in Martin County, Kentucky. The EPA has called the accident the worst environmental disaster in the Southeastern United States, with a cleanup bill of $50 million.

• Numerous safety laws have been violated at Massey mines with deadly consequences. In 2008, Massey paid $4.2 million – the largest settlement in coal industry history – to the families of workers killed in a West Virginia mine fire worsened by inadequate safety equipment.

We'll file this one together with our Peabody Energy post under "Big Coal Behaving Badly." What a Monday!

Release the Hounds! Chamber of Commerce to Ratchet Up Anti-Climate Bill Spending for 2010 Elections

At the risk of giving you a case of the Mondays, here's some super cheerful news to start the week.

According to the New York Times, Tom Donohue and the rest of the climate science denier gang at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are planning to double down on their heavy advertising strategy for the 2010 election cycle -- a plan which presumably includes ratcheting up their smear campaign against supporters of a clean energy and climate bill:
The United States Chamber of Commerce, the goliath of the lobbying world, is expected to outline its battle plan next week for the midterms. It spent $25 million on advertisements and get-out-the-vote efforts in the 2006 elections and $36 million in 2008, and will spend far more this year, chamber officials say.
While the U.S. Chamber may run issue-related ads (however misleading those ads may be), it's not allowed to run ads for or against candidates for elected office. However, that may change if the Supreme Court strikes down a number of campaign finance restrictions this week in an expected decision, which would allow the U.S. Chamber to be much more explicit (and assumedly still misleading) in the ads that they run in the 2010 elections.

Need a quick refresher on why more ads from the U.S. Chamber might be less than helpful for the quality of our national dialogue on climate policy? Let's see...

• In August, the Chamber’s Bill Kovacs called for a “Scopes monkey trial” of global warming research, in which a judge would hear arguments from a rogue’s gallery of science deniers that the life’s work of thousands of climate scientists is a complete fabrication.

• Over the course of ensuing month, the Chamber suffered an exodus of major corporate members from its board of directors and, in some cases, its membership rolls altogether who didn’t want to be associated with any such circus. The casualty list included: Apple, Nike, PG & E, Exelon, PNM Resources and a number of smaller companies. Chamber President Tom Donohue’s response? “Bring ‘em on!”

• In October, the Chamber was forced to walk back its repeated claims to represent more than 3 million U.S. businesses. Turns out that’s about a tenfold increase from the true number, 300,000.

• An elite group of only 19 deep-pocketed donors contributed more than one-third of the Chamber’s funding in 2008 (per Greenwire). And when it comes to formulating the Chamber’s policy positions, size matters: an anonymous Chamber member told E&E News in October that “companies with the largest contributions tend to hold more sway with Chamber staff on setting final policy positions.” Any guesses how much ExxonMobil gives to the Chamber? The company sits on the Chamber’s “President’s Advisory Group,” whose members in 2005 gave the Chamber more than $90 million.

• According to an extensive Wonk Room review, the Chamber has spent the last 17 years fighting climate science tooth and nail.

Still unconvinced as to what the Chamber’s coming barrage of climate ads might look like? Take a gander at this throwback gem from the 2007 debate over the Lieberman-Warner clean energy bill:


So, to sum up: be afraid. Be VERY afraid.