On the heels of three short-sighted pieces of legislation in the US Senate aiming to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPAs) authority over global warming pollution (from Senators Barrasso, Rockefeller and Inhofe), last Thursday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) delivered his first attempt to end the EPA’s general oversight capacity with the “EPA Fair Play Act.”
Today, Canada’s House of Commons approved a motion calling for a permanent ban on oil tankers off British Columbia’s coast. The passed NDP motion introduced by MP Nathan Cullen urges the government to immediately propose legislation to “ban bulk oil tanker traffic” through the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, off the north coast of B.C. The bill received Parliamentary support in a tight a vote of 143-138, with all opposition parties supporting it and Conservatives opposed.
British Columbia is now one step closer to having a full legislated ban on supertankers off its north and central coasts. The opposition is sending a clear message to the Conservatives to legislate a formal moratorium.
Today’s ban could seriously impact Enbridge, who has plans to develop a $5.5 billion 1,170-kilometre pipeline to carry dirty tar sands bitumen to Kitimat, B.C., where it would be loaded onto supertankers bound for growing energy markets in Asia.
The oil and gas industries unleashed a massive $175 million lobbying spree last year to derail U.S. efforts to address climate change, according to a new series of reports by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).
OpenSecrets.org blogger Evan Mackinder reveals just how badly oil and gas interests pummeled the environmental community, which spent its own record $22.4 million trying to convince Washington to get its act together to fight global warming.
As CRP notes, “Goliath whipped David.”
CRP’s new series, titled “Fueling Washington: How Oil Money Drives Politics,” details the oil and gas industries’ outsized influence in Washington.
The American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for the oil and natural gas industry, is trying to re-write history by claiming that it has remained “neutral” about U.S. climate legislation.
Nothing could be further from the truth, actually.
API orchestrated the entire “Energy Citizens” astroturf campaign last year precisely to fight against climate legislation. Greenpeace USA obtained an internal memo[PDF] from the desk of API president Jack Gerard detailing polluting interests’ plans to launch the nationwide astroturf campaign attacking climate legislation as “tax increases on our industry.”
The API memo requested API’s member companies to recruit employees, retirees, vendors and contractors to attend the “Energy Citizen” rallies in key Congressional districts nationwide during the August recess last year, no doubt hoping to be confused with a genuine grassroots uprising, much like the tea parties.
In fact, the API memo confirms that it would be funding and staffing the whole highly-orchestrated campaign:
To be clear, API will provide the up-front resources to ensure logistical issues do not become a problem. This includes contracting with a highly experienced events management company that has produced successful rallies for presidential campaigns, corporations and interest groups. It also includes coordination with the other interests who share our views on the issues, providing a field coordinator in each state, conducting a comprehensive communications and advocacy activation plan for each state, and serving as central manager for all events.
Fast-forward to yesterday, when Anne Mulkern of E&E’s Greenwire (syndicated by the New York Times) reported on comments made by API spokeswoman Cathy Landry:
Landry said API has not been among those calling climate legislation a national energy tax. API has not come out in opposition to any of the Senate climate bills, saying that it is “neutral.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has told reporters that he will vote against the climate bill that he helped to craft along with remaining co-sponsors Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). According to CongressDaily (sub. req’d), Graham says he doesn’t like “new changes [to the bill] that further restrict offshore oil and gas drilling and the bill’s impact on the transportation sector.”
As David Roberts at Grist writes:
“Yes, you read that right: He says he’s bailing from the bill because, in the wake of one of the greatest offshore oil drilling disasters of all time, a bill devoted to reducing climate pollution does not expand offshore oil drilling enough. Such is the Bizarro World of the U.S. Senate.”
Graham previously yanked his name off the bill out of anger surrounding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) decision to prioritize immigration reform over climate and energy. While some still hoped that Graham would suck it up and vote for whatever eventually became of the bill he helped create, he dashed all hopes of that happening today.
Exelon CEO John Rowe announced today that his company will let its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lapse, citing the Chamber’s efforts to fight against efforts to curb global warming.
Exelon - the largest electric utility company in the United States - is the third energy company to sever ties with the Chamber of Commerce in the past week, joining Pacific Gas & Electric and PNM Resources.
Rowe announced Exelon’s departure from the Chamber during his keynote address to the annual conference of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Rowe explained to the nation’s largest association of energy efficiency experts that the Chamber’s multi-million-dollar campaign against clean energy legislation is incompatible with Exelon’s commitment to climate change leadership.
“Inaction on climate is not an option,” said Rowe.
UPDATE: PNM Resources announced today that they are leaving the Chamber of Commerce entirely, not just the board position. See Pete Altman’s report on this explosive news at NRDC’s Switchboard blog.
Here is the new statement from PNM Resources announcing the departure:
At PNM Resources, we see climate change as the most pressing environmental and economic issue of our time. Given that view, and a natural limit on both company time and resources, we have decided that we can be most productive by working with organizations that share our view on the need for thoughtful, reasonable climate change legislation and want to push that agenda forward in Congress. These organizations include the Edison Electric Institute, the association of shareholder-owned electric companies, and the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a group of businesses and environmental organizations of which we are a founding member.
As a result, we have decided to let our membership in the U.S. Chamber lapse when it expires at the end of this year.
New Mexico-based utility holding company PNM Resources announced this week that the company’s chief executive, Jeff Sterba, has given up his seat on the US Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The Chamber has attracted severe criticism lately from some of its member companies due to its backwards stance on global warming.
PNM issued a statement lambasting the Chamber for its recent antics:
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced today that the utility giant is dumping its membership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, citing the business group’s “extreme position on climate change.”
Announcing the pull-out in a company blog titled “Irreconcilable Differences,” PG&E says that its Chairman and Chief Executive Peter Darbee told the Chamber in a letter today that:
“We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored. In our opinion, an intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges are quite another.”
Bravo to PG&E for taking a stand.
Operation Free, a coalition of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and national security organizations, today slammed the ‘Energy Citizens’ Astroturf campaign orchestrated by the American Petroleum Institute and other Big Oil interests as a detriment to America’s energy security.
“Veterans understand the connection between energy security, climate change and national security,” said Jon Powers, Chief Operating Officer of the Truman National Security Project and an Iraq war vet.
Describing climate change as a “threat multiplier” for the armed forces, Powers denounced the ‘Energy Citizens’ campaign, stating that Big Oil does not have America’s best interests at heart. “Veterans do not want to see America’s national security in the hands of Big Oil,” said Powers during the press teleconference today.