Friday, March 5, 2010

How Ironic: Murkowski Applauds New Climate Science Center

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is talking out of both sides of her mouth about climate change.

According to a press statement released today, Murkowski was thrilled to welcome a new federally-funded Climate Science Center to her home state of Alaska. In her press statement, Murkowski emphasized the importance of climate research and its significance for Alaska:
"Alaska is ground zero for climate change and natural choice for a Climate Science Center..."

She added that she hoped the center would "add some much needed rigor to the field of climate science while expanding upon the already substantial advances in climate science made by the University system."
We're all pretty surprised to see quotes like these coming from the author of the "Dirty Air Act," a resolution that would overturn an EPA finding that greenhouse gases pose a danger to the public. It's hard to imagine why Murkowski would support a Climate Science Center in her state when she is working so actively to halt action to solve climate change.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Helluva Start: Lincoln Kicks Off Campaign Advertising by Attacking Climate Bill

Nothing says you're ready for a tough Democratic primary like a campaign ad touting yourself as a solo party of no.

And that's just what a bragging Blanche Lincoln did with the first television ad for her re-election bid. In it she lays out her recipe for how she single-handedly has protected Arkansans from all sorts of Washington infighting, with climate legislation rounding out the list.

To be fair, she's been way too busy to help pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation that would help create tens of thousands of new jobs for Arkansas and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil. Senator Lincoln recently co-sponsored Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s resolution, largely written by Washington energy lobbyists, designed to block the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to, you know, do its job and protect Arkansans from harmful carbon pollution that endangers public health and welfare.

And with Lt. Gov. Bill Halter's entrance into the Arkansas Senate Democratic primary this week, Lincoln can't afford to anger some of her most loyal campaign contributors: Big Oil and the electric utilities. She has taken more than $1 million in campaign cash from Big Oil and other energy interests in her career, a whopping $249,150 in the first two months of 2010 alone.

The ad's tagline for Senator Lincoln could not be more accurate: she IS one tough lady. She will do whatever it takes to protect Big Oil's profits, even at the expense of more jobs, less pollution and greater security for Arkansas families.

Watch the ad here:

Lisa "Dirty Air Act" Murkowski's Global Warming Solution: Drill In ANWR!

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been fighting extra hard for lobbyists and special interests lately.

First she allowed two lobbyists for big energy companies to essentially write the "Dirty Air Act" she introduced to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to regulate global warming pollution. Now, via The Hill, it appears that she's named her price for supporting a clean energy and climate bill: drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

You heard right: in order to secure her support for the bipartisan bill being drafted by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to cut global warming pollution, Murkowski would require that we drill for oil in a national wildlife refuge.

A quick rundown of why years of lobbying from Big Oil companies have failed to convince Congress to open ANWR to drilling, even during the GOP-controlled early 2000s:

• There’s so little oil in ANWR that drilling there would only reduce gas prices by a penny or two.
• That wouldn’t even happen until 2025 or 2030, because it takes that long to set up oil facilities all the way up there in the Arctic Circle.
• Drilling in the middle of a wildlife refuge is so unpopular, even the Republican Party’s standard-bearer John McCain opposed ANWR drilling in the 2008 election – the year of “Drill, baby, drill!”

The idea of drilling in ANWR has been effectively dead since Democrats regained control of Congress in 2006 and McCain opposed the idea during his 2008 run. To give an idea of how absurd Murkowski's attempt to revive this fossil of an idea is at this point, it would be like offering to support healthcare reform legislation in exchange for Congress officially recognizing bloodletting and exorcisms as accepted medical procedures.

Which begs the question: where does she get this stuff? Well, given that lobbyists essentially wrote the Dirty Air Act for her, they know where to turn for special interest handouts. Maybe they mentioned it during the recent fundraiser they held for Murkowski at the posh Caucus Room restaurant in downtown DC?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

State Senator Robert Hurt Can See the Future?

A tip on being a sell-out politician: when you erroneously shift blame for higher energy prices on national legislation, make sure the legislation has actually gone into effect.

Apparently, Virginia State Senator Robert Hurt didn't do his homework. When Appalachian Power (an important campaign donor for Hurt) implemented a 12.8-percent rate increase in December, the Senator attempted to blame the hike on a federal law that has still not passed through the Senate. The Danville Register Bee reports:
Sen. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham, said state and federal environmental regulations have played a role in rising energy rates. The federal “cap-and-trade” passed by the House of Representatives last year is an example of the “devastating policies” that affect people’s lives, forcing companies to raise rates to revamp their facilities to follow environmental rules.
The misinformation surrounding clean energy and climate legislation is reaching unprecedented heights as big polluters and their political allies strive to confuse the issues beyond recognition. The fact remains that the pending bill will help move our economy forward and clean up our energy sector; essential steps toward a clean energy future.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

And Another One: Chamber of Commerce Loses Microsoft

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been having some real trouble lately with the forward-thinking corporations it supposedly represents.

Back in October, the Chamber lost Apple as a member over its opposition to clean energy and climate legislation. At the time, Chamber President Tom Donohue criticized Apple – the company that brought you some of the most innovative personal electronics in the last two decades – of not being “forward-thinking enough” to join the Chamber’s “innovative” efforts to bring clean energy to the US economy. In a scolding letter to Steve Jobs (that steadfast opponent of innovation!), Donohue said:
It is unfortunate that your company didn’t take the time to understand the Chamber’s position on climate and forfeited the opportunity to advance a 21st century approach to climate change.


As the world’s largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, the Chamber is leading the way to support the innovation needed to transition to a lower carbon future, including the elimination of barriers to the deployment of clean energy technologies. Supporting innovation and technology is at the very heart of our efforts to combat climate change, and we will continue to fight for an approach that embraces their merits.
What, pray tell, does the Chamber's innovative approach to climate change entail? Among other things, a "Scopes monkey trial" of climate science. No, really.

So it should come as no surprise that another innovative and forward-thinking tech giant, Microsoft, is also not quite innovative enough to understand the Chamber’s grand strategy for America’s clean energy future. Politico's Ben Smith directs us to a statement on Microsoft's Web site:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has never spoken for nor done work on behalf of Microsoft regarding climate change legislation, and we have not participated in the Chamber’s climate initiatives. Microsoft has stated that climate change is a serious issue that demands immediate, worldwide attention and we are acting accordingly.
Microsoft: impeding innovators like Tom Donohue and the Chamber of Commerce since 1975!

Lincoln & Murkowski: In Big Oil's Pocket

Why is Senator Blanche Lincoln co-sponsoring a measure to block the EPA's ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions? It could have something to do with the nearly quarter-million dollars she received from oil and gas industries this year.

In response to accusations that Lincoln is acting in the interests of energy companies and other big polluting industries, her spokesperson told Greenwire: "Senator Lincoln is accountable to Arkansas voters alone."

But in Lincoln's case, the numbers speak for themselves. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Arkansas Senator tops the list of donation recipients from the Oil & Gas industry, bringing in a whopping $249,150 in the first two months of 2010 alone. This figure outstrips the next highest recipient - David Vitter (R-LA) - by almost $70,000.

Meanwhile, Dirty Air Act author Lisa Murkowski (R-Big Oil) is huddling again with dirty energy lobbyists to raise money for her re-election campaign. The Alaskan Senator ranks third in contributions from oil & gas, bringing in $173,876 so far this year. Murkowski also tops the list for contributions from electric utilities.

Plenty of industries are willing to pay a high price for a license to pollute, and they seem to have found some reliable allies in their campaign to defeat key environmental initiatives proposed by the EPA.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dirty Coal Lobby ACCCE Loses Another Member

R?S? has reported in depth on the ongoing loss of members by the beleagured coal lobbying group ACCCE, which opposes efforts to cap carbon pollution and enact comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. Now, according to Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones, it looks as though the group has lost yet another member:
Progress Energy, a North Carolina-based utility, decided late last year to not renew its membership in the multi-million dollar group that promotes so-called "clean coal," a spokesman confirmed. The departure was not made public, but the group recently disappeared from the list of ACCCE members.
For anyone who's just tuning in to the ACCCE soap opera, Sheppard provides a bit of background on what might have made the lobby group less and less appealing to Progress:
2009 was not a great PR year for ACCCE. It came to light that the group had paid a shady subcontractor to send forged letters to members of Congress lobbying against the cap and trade bill. Then, one of the organization's vice presidents may have lied under oath about the group's position on climate legislation. The group was also busted for misrepresenting a veterans group in an email. ACCCE came in at No. 3 on our Dirty Dozen of climate change denial in December, winning third place for its efforts to curry support for the as-yet non-existent technology of "clean coal" while their VP of communications refuses to say whether coal contributes to global warming.

There were several high-profile departures from ACCCE last fall over its discordant climate policy. Electric utility giant Duke Energy and Alstom, a French company that makes components for power plants, left in September.
ACCCE is not alone among dirty energy lobby groups in shedding members over opposition to clean energy and climate legislation: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has lost corporate mainstays like Nike and Johnson & Johnson, and the National Association of Manufacturers saw Duke Energy quit as well.

South Dakota: Climate Change is "Cosmological"

The South Dakota Legislature recently chose to mandate the way climate change is taught in schools: that is, to teach it wrong.

A draft of the Concurrent Resolution which passed last month, with its poetic references to carbon dioxide and utter fabrication of scientific data, reads more like a fairy tale than policy. Some highlights include:
WHEREAS, historical climatological data shows without question the earth has gone through trends where the climate was much warmer than in our present age. The Climatic Optimum and Little Climatic Optimum are two examples. During the Little Climatic Optimum, Erik the Red settled Greenland where they farmed and raised dairy cattle....

WHEREAS, carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but rather a highly beneficial ingredient for all plant life on earth. Many scientists refer to carbon dioxide as "the gas of life"
BE IT RESOLVED That there are a variety of climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect world weather phenomena and that the significance and interrelativity of these factors is largely speculative
Thankfully most of these sections were cut from the final draft of the bill, but it's very unsettling that they were there in the first place. Also disturbing is are the parallels with the Scopes Monkey Trial - which a number of special interests are trying to recreate with climate change.

When the U.S. Chamber of Commerce put climate science on trial, the EPA dismissed the endeavor as a "waste of time" and said that a threatened lawsuit by the Chamber would be "frivolous." The LA Times reported:
Environmentalists say the chamber's strategy is an attempt to sow political discord by challenging settled science -- and note that in the famed 1925 Scopes trial, which pitted lawyers Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan in a courtroom battle over a Tennessee science teacher accused of teaching evolution illegally, the scientists won in the end.
And yet, a similar battle may now have to be waged in South Dakota. Didn't we learn our lesson about reckless science-denying politicians meddling in the teaching of sound science?