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Howard Fineman Defends Newsweek/API Policy Briefing

12:43 pm in Uncategorized by Josh Nelson

About a month ago, a strange email hit the inboxes of many congressional staffers. It was an invitation to an ‘Executive Forum’ on climate and energy policy hosted by the American Petroleum Institute. What was strange about this invitation was the sender of the email and the co-host of the policy forum: Newsweek magazine. The event is scheduled for today at 4pm.

Greenpeace’s Executive Director Phil Radford, understandably, took issue with this when the event was announced:

At present, the panel’s only member is American Petroleum Institute (API) President Jack Gerard.As you know, Mr. Gerard is the nation’s top registered lobbyist for Big Oil. API and its biggest member, ExxonMobil, have aggressively lobbied against global warming policy solutions that will inevitably limit global consumption of oil. API and its members have spent tens of millions of dollars over the past decade alone on propaganda efforts and front groups to undercut public confidence in the wide and deep global scientific consensus that global warming is real, that human consumption of fossil fuels is driving it, and that the problem is a serious threat to America and the rest of the world.

Greenpeace was not alone in its concerns:

"You’re selling access," said Edward Wasserman, Knight professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. "Newsweek is using its reputation as a great news organization to convene these officeholders to talk about public policy. Then it’s renting out a space at the table for one of its customers who would not be at the table if not for giving money to Newsweek."

Upping the ante before today’s big event, Greenpeace called for the event to be canceled and issued the following statement:

“Big Oil is buying access to our elected leaders by paying Newsweek to host this forum, and it must be called off,” Radford said. “Gerard and API will stop at nothing to stall progress on clean energy and climate solutions. I’m amazed Newsweek is endangering its reputation by renting its banner and top pundit to Big Oil. This forum is pay-to-play propaganda.”

In response to this, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman provided EnviroKnow with the following statement via email:

Rep. Ed Markey, the chief sponsor of the House cap-and-trade bill and a leading environmental advocate, is a full participant in the open, on-the-record discussion with no control by API over the questions or flow. Dem Sen Byron Dorgan is also participating and will reflect various views in Dem caucus. Rep Fred Upton, who opposed the House bill, will also participate. I see nothing wrong with an open, on-the-record balanced discussion like this. Newsweek has a long tradition of enviro reporting, including our annual green issue.

We’ll have more on this after tonight’s event.

Update: Talking Points Memo has now picked up this story.

Turning Up the Pressure on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

2:39 pm in Uncategorized by Josh Nelson

The hits keep coming for the embattled United States Chamber of Commerce. On Saturday, I wrote about the Chamber’s overwhelming hypocrisy on climate legislation:

While the Chamber claims it “continues to support Federal climate legislation”, it is actually continuing its 17-year old campaign against it. Representative Ed Markey on Thursday issued a point-by-point explanation of how his legislation, which the House passed in June, meets all of the Chamber’s criteria for successful legislation. Energy Secretary Chu even took a few shots on Thursday as well, but the ever-defiant chamber remains unrepentant.

This follows an unprecedented string of public relations disasters that have left the Chamber grasping for straws.

Pete Altman at NRDC is keeping track of the fallout over the last few weeks regarding the Chamber’s climate change extremism:

Quit US Chamber over climate: Apple, Exelon, PNM Resources, PG&E, PSEG, Levi Strauss & Co.

Quit US Chamber Board over climate: Nike.

Say Chamber doesn’t represent their views on climate: Johnson&Johnson, General Electric, San Jose Chamber of Commerce, Alcoa, Duke, Entergy, Microsoft.

It is starting to look like the only actor in the debate over clean energy legislation less credible than the Chamber of Commerce is the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which is currently facing investigations for sending 14 fraudulent letters opposing the bill to members of Congress.

In the last few weeks a diverse group of activist, NGO and labor campaigns have launched to escalate the pressure on the Chamber and its member companies. Here is a brief summary of current efforts:

The Natural Resources Defense Council has been leading the fight. In addition to Pete Altman’s prolific coverage of the story as it develops, they have launched a website — whodoesthechamberrepresent.org — to ask the question: “Who Does the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Really Represent?” Read the rest of this entry →

20 GOP Politicians Repeat $1,761 Clean Energy Bill Lie

4:35 pm in Uncategorized by Josh Nelson

I’ve written several times in the past few weeks about the $1,761 energy tax lie Republicans have latched onto to oppose clean energy legislation. For those who haven’t been following, here is how this went down:

STEP ONE: "News" generated by right-wing think tank.

STEP TWO: Right-wing print journalists write "breaking news" story.

STEP THREE: Promoted by Drudge, story repeated endlessly on right-wing blogs, Twitter, and talk radio.

STEP FOUR: Republican politicians, right-wing think tanks, and polluter front groups release statements of shock and outrage.

STEP FIVE: On Fox News, Glenn Beck calls President Obama a liar/socialist/Marxist/communist/fascist/racist.

Here is how I characterized the willingness of Republican politicians to latch onto this lie at the time:

Despite immediate and forceful pushback from the Treasury Department, the Congressional Budget Office and environmental groups, solid reporting by the Wonk Room and the Washington Post, and thorough debunkings by Media Matters and Politifact, several leading GOP elected officials have begun citing the highly misleading figure.

Since I wrote that a few weeks ago, several Republican politicians have continued repeating the lie.

Read the rest of this entry →

The Waxman-Markey Green Jobs Bill Isn’t Perfect, But it is Absolutely Necessary

7:50 pm in Uncategorized by Josh Nelson

markey-ed.thumbnail.jpgRepresentatives Henry Waxman and Ed Markey Tuesday at long last made public a discussion draft of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES). Some are calling this the opening shot in the battle over what the United States will do about global warming. Rep. Markey, not one who is prone to understatement, told a conference call for environmental bloggers Tuesday that this is "the beginning of an incredibly intense period of political debate in our country." Speaker Pelosi amplified this sentiment, explaining that "there’s an inevitability to this that everyone has to understand."

Chairman Markey emphasized that "we must have something on the president’s desk for Copenhagen." By Copenhagen Markey is referring to the United Nations Climate Change Conference slated to take place this December in the Danish capitol. The annual meeting, which seeks to generate an agreement on reducing emissions among as many countries as possible, takes on added significance this year since it is considered by many to be the last chance to reach a major international climate agreement before the 2012 expiration of the Kyoto Protocol. Appropriately, Democrats in Congress are planning an aggressive schedule, to be wrapped up in "no longer than six months."

– March 31, 2009: Discussion draft
– April 6 – 17: Representatives return home for spring district work period
– Week of April 20: Hearings
– Week of April 27: Energy and Environment subcommittee mark up
– Week of May 4: Full committee hearing
– May 11: Full committee mark up begins

Read the rest of this entry →