Lobbying

Public education, brought to you by Big Oil

  • Posted on: 23 September 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

Your Health Just Isn't Worth It...To Us

In response to the American Petroleum Institute's "Energy Tomorrow" advertisements, which push the familiar threats of lost jobs and a dead economy if the government ups accountability measures on Big Oil, NRDC has released their own advertisement in response.

"How are we supposed to pollute the air and water if we're being watched all the time?" complains one mock oil baron.

API has clearly dumped a lot of money into creating and distributing these ads--they've spent millions in the past--and Energy Tomorrow is but one of API's efforts to influence public opinion.  The Institute is also heavily invested in public education, creating energy curricula for teachers that lean heavily on the importance of their own industry, and even sponsoring the Boy Scouts Energy Merit badge

Why spend so much money on such indoctrination?  According to a leaked API memo:

"Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science will begin to erect barriers against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future."

Hey Jack Gerard: you're a lobbyist, not a teacher, and certainly not a scientist.  If you really want to be either, Halloween is next month, and you can probably afford a fancy costume.

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American Petroleum Institute: Who Cares if the Clean Air Act Reduces Death and Illness

  • Posted on: 21 September 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

The American Petroleum Institute is so bent on protecting the pollution industry that it is willing to cast public health aside in favor of saving a buck.

Politico's Morning Energy today reported that API and the Manufacturers Alliance are complaining about EPA moves to strengthen the Clean Air Act's standards, which must be based solely on heath considerations, according to the Supreme Court.  For API to speak out against an improved Clean Air Act shows a callous disregard for those who have been sickened or killed from pollution-induced health problems, such as asthma or heart failure.

Politico's Josh Voorhees wrote,

"The Manufacturers Alliance’s Donald Norman and API’s Howard Feldman will warn that the agency’s regulations would be too expensive for industry and put almost the entire country into nonattainment for federal air quality limits, including rural areas where no one lives. EPA’s rules are due in mid- to late October."

In a blog response, the National Resources Defense Council notes that the industry's typical "economic disaster" prophesy is likely blown out of proportion, as such economic scare-claims [pdf] over environmental regulation have historically been.

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Donohue suggests taxpayers shoulder Gulf cleanup costs

  • Posted on: 16 September 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

"Everybody is going to contribute to this clean up. We are all going to have to do it."

Tom Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has decided that the American people share the responsibility of paying for the massive cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico following the blowout of BP's Deepwater Horizon Macondo well.  As Huffington Post's Jason Linkins points out, apparently Donohue does believe in socialism to the extent that corporate liability can be extended to the public after nationally-recognized disasters.

Donohue stated:

"It is generally not the practice of this country to change the laws after the game," said Tom Donohue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. ". . . Everybody is going to contribute to this clean up. We are all going to have to do it. We are going to have to get the money from the government and from the companies and we will figure out a way to do that."

John Boehner, who affirmatively responded to a journalist asking if he agreed with Donohue, later backtracked and stated that BP should be responsible for the cleanup bill.  Perhaps the $1,000 donation from BP this election cycle wasn't enough to make Boehner hold his ground in defense of the polluter giant; had they spent over $22,000 like American Electric Power, $10,000 like Southern Company, or $7,500 like Koch Industries, perhaps he would have been more adament in his initial position.  Check out Dirty Energy Money to see who else is lining Boehner's political pockets.

The full article and supplemental links can be found on the Huffington Post.

Picture source: Sun-sentinel

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API threatens economic consequences if offshore drillers are held accountable

  • Posted on: 15 September 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

Proposed Energy Legislation Could Hurt the American Economy

In typical form, Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute released a video claiming that holding oil companies accountable during offshore drilling operations and after oil spills will have the usual dire economic consequences: job loss, higher taxes, and "driving small-and mid-sized firms out of business and shutting down access to domestic energy resources."

This follows common scare-talk any time an industry giant faces new regulations in the public interest--ballooning the price tag of improving worker safety conditions or environmental precautions and predicting economic apocalypse.  As if the oil industry isn't making enough money, or spending enough money, buying Congress to prevent ever-dreaded accountability legislation.

Keep in mind, Jack, that history shows how frequently cost estimates of environmental regulations are blown way out of proportion beforehand, while it is actually cleanup costs that are grossly underestimated.  Kindly send a memo to BP, Halliburton, and your other members as well on that one.

While Gerard will never admit it, an Energy [R]evolution is possible, and calling out those who value green paper over a green planet is a vital part of getting the public behind real solutions: energy conservation and efficiency, a decentralized renewable energy economy, and a phase-out of the dirty fossil fuels that have led to global warming. 

Stalling and obstructing are not coveted American values, but innovation is.  It's time to go beyond oil, where the fortune of dirty influence peddlars like Jack will just be a stain on history.

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Oil Lobbyists Ecstatic Over Supreme Court's Corporate Giveaway of Our Democracy

  • Posted on: 5 February 2010
  • By: admin

This week the inimitable Raw Story released some terrific investigative reporting about how big corporations have spent the past several years funneling money to their trade associations so they can dump their corporate profits into influencing our elections:

The Supreme Court’s seismic January ruling that corporations are free to spend unlimited amounts of their profits to advertise for or against candidates may have been the latest shakeup of campaign finance – but gaping holes already allow corporations to spend enormous sums without leaving a paper trail, a Raw Story investigation has found.

Campaign finance experts confirmed that though disclosure rules remained intact in the new Supreme Court decision, there are effective methods to circumvent them.

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, an attorney and campaign finance expert at New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, said corporations already effectively end-run campaign finance law by shuffling money through trade associations.

“One of their favorites right now is spending through trade associations,” Torres-Spelliscy said.

Trade associations are considered tax-exempt non-profit organizations under US law. While they must report contributions received from other corporations to the Internal Revenue Service, the document itself remains confidential and is not made available to the public.

Of course, now that the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are people too, Big Oil companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron can use their foreign oil proceeds to run unlimited TV advertising against pro-clean energy legislators.

And as if campaign propaganda wasn't enough to influence the debate, this report from Anne Mulkern of Greenwire breaks the news that the oil and gas industry, led by top climate denier, propagandist and influence peddler Jack Gerard, spent $154 million on lobbying Congress last year, setting a new record:

Oil and gas companies spent at least $154 million on lobbying last year, potentially besting a field of rivals battling to shape climate and energy policies and setting a new record for the industry.

Influence efforts by the oil and gas sector grew at least 16 percent in 2009 from the $132 million spent in 2008, according to an early analysis of new lobbying disclosures by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The total reflects spending for the first nine months of 2009 plus 80 percent of reports filed for the past three months.

The electric utility industry, meanwhile, spent at least $134.7 million on lobbying last year. Combined, the two traditional energy sectors paid out nearly 10 times the $29 million that alternative energy companies allocated for lobbying efforts. Environmental organizations spent at least $21.3 million last year on lobbying.

ExxonMobil and Chevron spent a combined $12 million on lobbying last year, leading the pack of terror-funding oil multinationals in gutting clean energy legislation as it limps through the Senate.

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PolluterWatch 'Dirty Air Act' Ads Coming to a Google Search Near You

  • Posted on: 21 January 2010
  • By: admin

This morning PolluterWatch launched two new Google ads aimed at educating Americans about the Lisa Murkowki's relationship with Bush cronies and polluter lobbyists Jeffrey Holmstead and Roger Martella. The ads highlight Holmstead and Martella's near-admission that they wrote the legislation for Murkowski (before they backpedaled) and the curiously timed donations made by two of Holmstead's polluter clients to Murkowski's campaign fund in the midst of the amendment's preparation.

PolluterWatch was founded to shed light on the dirty industry propagandists and influence peddlers who are using every trick in the book to stand in the way of efforts to fight global warming, develop new clean energy technologies and create sustainable American jobs. As long as Murkowski, Holmstead, Martella, and other polluter hacks continue to endanger our clean energy future we will continue to educate Americans about their methods and their "corporate sponsored" motivations.

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Live from the Sewer: Maisano Smells the Roses

  • Posted on: 21 January 2010
  • By: admin

If you don’t have the pleasure of reading the periodical missives from Bracewell & Giuliani polluter hack Frank Maisano, you are really missing something. This week’s installment contained the usual spin and terrible jokes but also a special defense of his friend and colleague Jeffrey Holmstead. What for, you ask? Well if you listen to Maisano explain it, Holmstead was simply offering “legislative support activities,” including “writing an amendment to prevent funding,” which he says, is “not rocket science.”

Maisano's full explanation follows:

As well, for those of you still paying attention to the legislative support activities of my friend Jeff Holmstead, let me just suggest that we put this to rest. For one, writing an amendment to prevent funding is not rocket science and it has been done a million times. Secondly, understanding the implications on the CAA of such a move is something you probably ought to ask – oh, I don't know – clean air act experts. And finally, does anybody really believe the enviro community wasn't consulted by Sens. Kerry and Boxer as they wrote their 900-plus page LEGISLATION. As for the calls for ethics investigations and donation returns, it is just a political "talking point" for enviros attempting to rally against Murkowski's reasonably popular idea to limit the regulation of CO2 by EPA. By the way as my colleague Scott Segal points out below, enviros donate 94% to Democrats, while utilities are pretty much split (51R-49 D).

A few interesting things from Maisano's take on this issue:

  • Is Maisano admitting what Murkowski, Holmstead and Martella have repeatedly denied, that the lobbyists wrote the legislation themselves, as has been done "a million times?" And if it isn't rocket science, why wasn't Murkowski capable of doing it herself? Do Alaskans even need a Senator if any coal lobbyist off the street can walk in and write legislation?
  • Calling Holmstead and Martella "Clean Air Act experts" is like praising demolition men for their understanding of building architecture. Sure they understand the Clean Air Act, but only because they have spent years helping Bush and now coal and oil tycoons undermine and circumvent that law. The larger question of course is did Murkowski ask them, or did they ask her to submit the legislation on behalf of her largest contributors?
  • Finally, equating Murkowski, Holmstead and Martella's actions with those of the environmental community or any other ethical lobbyists is disingenuous to say the least. Advising a member of Congress of your constituency's opinion on a particular piece of legislation is an act far apart from writing the legislation yourself, hosting conference calls at a Senator's invitation to solicit support for the legislation and directing your clients to donate to that Senator's campaign as the legislation is being finalized. Frank Maisano makes an admirable attempt to make up for his friends' actions on the Murkowski amendment but his spin simply falls short.

The truth in Maisano's missive is that this activity is very likely commonplace. It is not difficult to believe that this is the first time that Holmstead and Martella have crafted legislation on behalf of a polluting client to be introduced by a cooperative member of Congress. Such is life in the sewer of American politics that dirty industry lobbyists can push legislation through a friendly Senator by simply contributing to her campaign. Unfortunately for Maisano, he's been swimming in that sewer for so long he doesn't seem to know how badly it stinks.

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Lisa Murkowski and the Holmstead-Martella Dirty Air Act

  • Posted on: 20 January 2010
  • By: admin

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has received a lot of negative attention recently for her plans to introduce an amendment written by two lobbyists for the polluter industry and former Bush administration officials to benefit their clients and block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gasses from coal plants and other dirty sources.

Several organizations, including PolluterWatch, Greenpeace and the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, exposed Murkowski's relationship with these polluter lobbyists and unveiled a history of corporate campaign cash being steered from Holmstead's and Martella's client pool Murkowski and several other Senators who are either supporting the legislation or considering jumping on board soon. PolluterWatch is still awaiting a response to our request that the Senate Ethics Committee open an investigation into the inappropriate role that these lobbyists played in drafting this legislation.

Murkowski is expected to announce today whether to go full steam ahead with her lobbyist-written Dirty Air Act or swap it out for some other way of expressing her gratitude to coal and oil companies for helping her do her job and of course for the campaign cash. Please call Lisa Murkowski today at 202-224-6665, and tell her to dump the Dirty Air Act and get to work on legislation that will create new, clean energy jobs for Americans who want to secure our nation and get our economy back on track.

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