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Posts Tagged ‘cap and trade’

We were right when we said the Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case was going to have a negative impact on the political system in this country. The ruling has paved the way to make mid-term election campaigns the only growing industry in this economic crisis. The ruling has turned candidates’ focus from the policy to their pockets.

One of the issues that has fallen victim to the mid-term elections is the legislation to address climate change and regulate the energy industry. It was one of Obama’s main objectives on the campaign to cut emissions and provide incentives to renewable energy.  But as election approached, Congress backed out of its commitment to this issue.

A European-based organization, Climate Action Network (CANE) released a report that shows European energy companies are paying contributions to Tea Party Candidates and other Congressional candidates who have denied climate-change is even occuring and have been outspoken against regulating the energy industry.

Remember Oklahoma’s Senator James Inhofe? He thinks Environmentalists are out there to scare people and proclaims that “Global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” and because of this “special” remark, he qualified to be one of the recipients of campaign funds from Europe’s biggest emitters. Inhofe is not the only one, many others in Congress have made some similar funny comments that got them some money. Montana’s Roy Blunt is another skeptic. made a blunt comment discrediting science on climate change, “There isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth.” this is more ridiculous than Montana’s law which makes it illegal to “have a sheep in the cab of your truck without a chaperone” but despite that, Blunts comments has put him as one of the top ten recipients from two of these companies.

Those companies, Such as BP(who is responsible for the US worst Environmental disaster), BASF (which spent $50,500 to block cap-and-trade), and others generally have two objectives: one is to stall and block climate change/energy reform legislation in the United States, second is to use that as an excuse to tell the European countries not to introduce such legislation. The companies who are funding those climate-skeptic candidates are based in countries  such as Germany, France, UK, and Belgium (so much for those candidates’ being anti-socialist).

In a time when the president has gone all the way to teaming up with Mythbusters to encourage American kids about math and science, our representatives are doing their best at discrediting them.  Climate Change is one issue that should cross partisan lines. I think every human being can agree that we need continue our existence on this planet and maintain it for the next generations. Al Gore says that in order for clean-energy advocates to achieve climate-friendly and renewable energy legislation, they need to get into the lobbying business just as the dirty energy lobbyist.

I disagree.

I think we need to reform the relationship between lobbyist and Congress. We shouldn’t need to write serious checks in order to get things done in this country.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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It is frustrating that our local and federal governments are strained from taking action to ameliorate our air and water quality because once they try to do so, the other side recites loss in jobs as the result– but never do they mention any public health concerns and the effect that has on the economy. (more…)

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By Kirsten Bokenkamp

During his campaign, President Obama said “change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” As individuals, we need to internalize this, and act on it. This is the last blog in the Green-up Your Life! series, a series dedicated to the many ways we, as individuals, can reduce climate change.

Unfortunately, the environmentally-friendly changes to our daily lives is just the first step to securing a livable planet for future generations.  In addition, we must demand that our government adopt laws to protect our planet.  While the science behind climate change is well established, our leaders will not act until we make them.  The importance of government action to combat climate change was made clear in a recent Washington Post op-ed by Mike Tidwell titled To really save the planet, stop going green.  In the op-ed, Tidwell argues that “going green” is tricking many people into actually thinking that there is major change happening, when in reality, only a very small percentage of people buy compact florescent light bulbs and fuel efficient cars, have a compost pile, and eat vegetarian diets, etc.  “Going green”, in effect, is creating a false impression of change, which is actually hindering the real process of change.  If we care, we should adopt a “green” lifestyle and incorporate the above activities into our lives – but doing all of these individual things does not dismiss us from taking political action to demand large-scale change.

What does this mean for us?  It means learning the details about climate change legislation, and calling/writing/visiting our state and federal representatives to demand that they take action.  Not sure what to ask for?  Here are a few things to get you started:

•    A bill that achieves emissions cuts of at least 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80-95% by 2050 (right now, the Waxman-Markey Bill cuts emissions by only 4% of 1990 levels.  Unfortunately, the Waxman-Markey Bill deceptively uses 2005 levels, and thus the 17% reduction in emissions seems to be near the scientific requirements.  But, as Congress well understands, the rest of the international community and climate scientists use 1990 levels as their base.  Thus, the 17% emissions cut at 2005 levels turns out to be only 4% of 1990 levels, a number far from minimum 25% necessary to save our planet.)
•    Stopping the construction of new coal plants.
•    Increasing funding for renewable energy and creating green jobs

We all have the tools and knowledge necessary to create change on a personal and political level.  The next steps are advocacy, action, and maintenance. We are facing a huge crisis, and taking only small and popular steps are not enough. Obama said it himself – we are the change that we have been waiting for.  So let’s do it!

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Finally, Global warming is getting some international recognition. Since the Kyoto Protocol is about to expire in 2012,koebenhavn-bellacenter-20080211-dsc-0180-250 the UN, with help of the Danish government, is organizing an international summit about global warming. The summit will be held on December 7th through the 18th at the Bella Center, the largest fair and conference center in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Participants:

The main participants will be the United States, China, India(biggest world polluters) and a bloc of 27 countries of the Europian Union. But overall, there will be more than 190 countries that will be a part of this summit. Many of these countries already have been working on cutting or constraining the grow of ththeir emissions, while some refuse to make any commitments. However, though the summit hasn’t taken place yet, 11 countries that are vulnerable to climate change have dedicated 1.5% of their gross national product for climate change actions. Those countries are Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, the Maldives, Nepal, Rwanda, Tanzania and Vietnam.

“We are not responsible for the hundreds of years of carbon emissions, which are cooking the planet[…]But the dangers climate change poses to our countries means that this crisis can no longer be considered somebody else’s problem.” said Mohamed Nasheed, the President of the Maldives who was a leading voice in the Climate Vulnerable Forum.

The Task:

The general set goal for the summit is to keep the increasing temperature of the globe below 2C (3.6F). That will happen through the many proposals of the participating countries. Cutting Carbon commission is a major one. Some of the European countries have agreed on cutting greenhouse emissions by 20% by 2020, the set date for these commitments. The United State’s climate change plans call for 17 percent less emissions by 2020 and by 83 percent by 2050. Janos Pasztor, climate adviser to U.N, however, told news agencies that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “”has consulted with a number of heads of state and so far the general feeling seems to be that we should try to complete the job earlier than later.” This has been part of what triggered the White House to consider other options (International agreement) that can be more efficient and faster but cover a shorter term, this is also because of the concern that Congress will fail to pass a climate change legislation this year. Unfortunately, world leaders have decided not to agree on ”Global pact” for climate change action in the Copenhagen summit but rather to come up with a “politically binding” agreement that will set the guidelines for a future pact in a possible forthcoming conference in Mexico City. This does nothing but postpone actions to deal with a urgent and a concerning phenomena such as our man-made-climate change. The postponement is due to recent assessment by the participants of the summit “that it is unrealistic to expect a full internationally, legally binding agreement could be negotiated between now and Copenhagen, which starts in 22 days,” said Michael Froman, the deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs.

In the summit, there will be plans for developed countries to help the developing countries to cut on their emissions through renewable energy sources.

The initiatives also include “measures such as building sea defenses, securing fresh water supplies and developing new crop varieties” as BBC reports.

What The People Are Doing

While the world leaders are set to meet to come up with an agreement to deal with climate change, the media reports that the number of people who believe there is a global warming is declining, much less believe it is caused by human activities.

This is the time to be concerned about our health and the environment. Scientist have said that you don’t have to be an environmentalist to care about the issue because global warming will affect a major element of our lives, the economy.

It will be some time until we will see an effective treatment for climate change but YOU can start Now. Some are doing the Climate Justice Fast, a demonstration to the world to show the need for an urgent action and also ” to inspire those who are already aware of climate change to become more politically active.” Others are holding debates about the issues to be discussed in the Summit. Some have come up with twelve-steps programs for America to become green. You don’t have to fast or go win a debate about climate change, you can even by as simple an action as turning off the light you don’t need.

You also can participate in:

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Tomorrow – October 24, 2009 – will be the largest day of climate action in the history of the world, and something you don’t want to miss. If you do not yet have anything planned for 350.org’s International Day of Climate Action, please join one of the 4641 events happening around the world. In 171 countries, people will be marching, planting trees, singing, gathering in museums and churches, throwing Frisbees, flying kites, attending black-tie galas, and more, all in the name of bringing awareness to climate change.

There is a lot of talk about the number 350, which is the “number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide—measured in “Parts per Million” in our atmosphere.” On a global level, we have already passed it, but if we work hard we can get back on track. Get out there tomorrow and show Obama that as U.S. citizens, we mean business. The timing could not be more important. With the Climate Change bill being deliberated in Congress and the Copenhagen conference around the corner – now is the time to put pressure on our law makers, and to show the rest of the world that we care.

Checkout the interactive map to find an event near you, and spread the word to all your friends – no matter where they live – there is bound to be an event nearby! Tomorrow, there are almost 50 events taking place in Texas alone, including:

There are just too many events to list here – so you gotta check out that map! And remember, spread the word to all your friends…everywhere.

If you will be in Houston tomorrow, come join Public Citizen’s Andy Wilson and pastor Brian McLaren at Texas Impact’s Advocacy Camp, a day-long workshop about getting involved not only with climate change, but also issues of immigration and healthcare.  (Even though this is sponsored by Texas Impact, Andy promised he won’t preach too much Jesus at you.) We hope to see you there!

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This just in from EPA:

LOS ANGELES – U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will announce today in a keynote address at the California Governor’s Global Climate Summit that the Agency has taken a significant step to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act. The Administrator will announce a proposal requiring large industrial facilities that emit at least 25,000 tons of GHGs a year to obtain construction and operating permits covering these emissions. These permits must demonstrate the use of best available control technologies and energy efficiency measures to minimize GHG emissions when facilities are constructed or significantly modified.

The full text of the Administrators remarks will be posted at www.epa.gov later this afternoon.

UPDATED: that text is now available here.

“Wow” would be an understatement.  This on the heels of the release of Senator Kerry and Boxer and their climate bill.  Here’s my statement on that subject:

Sept. 30, 2009

Reaction to Boxer-Kerry Climate Change Discussion Draft

Statement of Andy Wilson, Global Warming Program Director, Public Citizen’s Texas Office

The Boxer-Kerry draft includes some important measures to address climate change and create new green jobs, but it is simply not sufficient to solve climate change or create the green jobs revolution we need. While an improvement in some ways over Waxman-Markey and its billions in giveaways to polluting special interests, the discussion draft put forth by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) still punts on many of the most contentious issues, such as how and to whom emissions allowances will be allocated or auctioned. Waxman-Markey started off similarly strong and vague but was weakened as it went through the committee hearing process. Sen. Boxer must work to strengthen the bill as she guides it through her Environment and Public Works Committee hearings.

The discussion draft calls for a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas pollution from 2005 levels by 2020. This is a slight improvement over the 17 percent called for by Waxman-Markey, but is far short of the goals our best science tells us we need to make. Specifically, the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us in order to avoid the worst of global climate catastrophe, we need to cut our pollution levels 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels.

Japan will cut its emissions 25 percent by 2020; the EU has signaled it may meet or beat that goal. Why would we set ourselves to lag behind the rest of the world? We must win the technology races in manufacturing advanced energy technology so we do not replace importing oil with importing solar cells.

The draft should be applauded for including strong language to protect consumers and protect the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate emissions in the future.

Among the changes we recommend to the draft are alterations to address these problems:

Allowances should be auctioned 100 percent. President Obama’s budget continues to show revenues from a 100 percent auction and EPA analysis of Waxman-Markey found this to be the least regressive method of implementation.

Subsidies for nuclear should be removed. Despite recent findings by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff that the United States will never need to build another traditional power plant, the bill spends considerable space on (Subtitle C, Sec 131) and would allocate significant resources to nuclear power. Nuclear is neither as carbon-free nor as safe as the draft language claims. Neither is it cost-effective. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated half of all federal loan guarantees for nuclear loan guarantees will fail, meaning any extension of these guarantees is a pre-emptive bailout of the nuclear industry leaving the taxpayers on the hook for up to half a trillion dollars.

The draft still relies on more than two billion tons in offsets – actually expanding permitted offsets from the Waxman-Markey language. This has huge potential consequences. It means that despite the intent of the draft, we could conceivably end up having failed to reduce emissions at all – and with major questions about whether alleged offsets were even achieved. While the offset oversight language is considerably better than in Waxman-Markey, it still is troubling that we are relying on offsets rather than actually decreasing our pollution.

The draft does nothing to improve vague language in Waxman-Markey, which could effectively grandfather more than 40 proposed coal-fired power plants, including up to a dozen in Texas alone. These proposed plants would be exempted from new performance standards in the bill, while a plant built just three years from now will have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by half.

With Kerry-Boxer maintaining EPA’s right to regulate CO2 as a pollutant, this sets the table nicely to try to get a bill passed which will both solve climate change and create the new energy economy we need.  We just need to improve the ground of the special-interest-riddled Congress.  Tip of my hat to Paul Krugman and Tom Friedman for their articles on this earlier this week about the severity of the problem that faces us and the relatively lame responses by our government.  As a palate cleanser, please to enjoy this 15 second video from [adult swim] about what the REAL problem may be:

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Dallas Morning News journalist Elizabeth Souder shares the Six things economists wish journalists knew about greenhouse gas reduction on the DMN’ Energy and Environment Blog.  They sound a lot like the 6 things EVERYONE should know about greenhouse gas reduction, so I thought I’d share them.  Kudos to Elizabeth Souder, and be sure to keep up with her work on the Energy and Environment Blog.

I’m attending the McCormick Energy Solutions Conference for journalists this week at Ohio State University. Andy Keeler, an economist with the John Glenn School of Public Affairs here at the university, offered six things journalist should know about greenhouse gas reduction.

1. It makes economic sense to reduce greenhouse gases. Even though doing so costs money, it will end up costing us even more if we do nothing. Dealing with the effects of global warming, of seeing Texas and the Southwest become a dustbowl, could be financially devastating.

2. Cap and trade, which is the method Congess is considering to regulate greenhouse gases, does two distinct things. By issuing tradable allowances for greenhouse gas emissions, the system raises the price of energy produced from greenhouse gas-heavy fossil fuels. It also generates revenue for the government by selling those allowances, and the money can be used for anything.

“Criticism of cap and trade which mixes these two together is deliberately misleading,” Keeler said.

3. Cap and trade creates broad and efficient incentives. Using market signals as part of our response to climate change risk is good public policy.

4. Who gets the money the government makes by selling allowances is a public expenditures question, not an environmental question.

5. A carbon tax and a cap and trade program have strong similarities. But the details of the program are more important than the choice between the two.

Keeler concludes that, even though economists tend to agree that a tax is cleaner and more elegant than a system of trading allowances, the current bill includes reasonable goals. Therefore, rather than starting from scratch and renegotiating the cap, which leads to a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and an 80 percent cut by 2050, Keeler prefers to stick with the current bill.

6. Trade and competitiveness concerns exist, but are neither broad nor large. The bill could have significant effects on the iron, steel, aluminum, cement and paper industries, but those problems could be solved with targeted rules, rather than broad regulations.

“It’s not to belittle the problem for people in these industries, but it’s misleading to cast it as an overall disaster from a trade point of view,” he said.

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Check out our editorial in the Round Rock Leader, in response to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s piece “Cap and Trade is No Good For Texas”:

A rebuttal to Sen. Hutchison’s piece concerning Cap and Trade policies

By ANDY WILSON

Special to the Leader

United States Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison takes a head-in-the-hot-sand approach to climate change that will get Texas burned and drive tens of thousands of new jobs elsewhere (“Cap and Trade is No Good For Texas,” Aug. 27 Leader).

She misses the mark on energy policy, using discredited industry statistics to drum up fear about a Cap and Trade policy that represents just a small portion of the initiatives proposed in the energy bill that passed the House of Representatives in July.

She fails to acknowledge that the bill includes provisions for renewable energy and energy efficiency – the real solutions to climate change.

Hutchison’s solution is no solution at all: more oil, more coal and more nuclear, with absolutely no coherent policy on how to lower energy costs and find alternatives to dwindling resources.

While America is faced with the worst economic crisis in generations, Sen. Hutchison is turning away opportunities to create new jobs while slavishly clinging to the talking points of the oil industry.

Families are hurting from high energy prices.

The answer lies in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, which have proven to save Texans money.

Even The Wall Street Journal reports that “Wind Power Makes Electricity Cheaper in Texas,” and families that have received energy efficiency retrofits from their electric utility save money every month.

In the dieting world, low-calorie treats never taste as good as their fatty counterparts, but in the energy efficiency world, both light bulbs burn just as brightly. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

If Sen. Hutchison is as worried about job loss as she professes, she should work to improve the anemic renewable energy and efficiency goals in the bill.

Texas, as the leader in wind power and home to a burgeoning solar industry, would stand to gain 153,000 of new green jobs by passing a strengthened and stream-lined bill.

Texas already has employed more than 9,000 individuals to build our current crop of wind turbines, representing just a drop in the bucket in terms of the green jobs that national clean energy policies could bring to our state.

Big polluters are trying to scare people with exaggerated costs of addressing climate change.

Independent analyses from the EPA and CBO show the actual price to Americans to be less than a postage stamp a day.

The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that strong action on climate change, including Cap and Trade, would save Texas families an average of $980 a year.

Opponents are concerned that Texas refineries are going to be hurt by this bill, but the House-passed bill provides more than $2 billion in free carbon credits to refiners.

How is about $2 billion in handouts to corporations not enough?

The oil industry is floating a red herring argument about sending competition overseas.

The U.S. Department of Energy projects that gasoline imports will decrease under the climate bill due to slowing demand and fuel economy improvements.

Sen. Hutchison has received more than $2.1 million in campaign contributions from the oil industry during her Senate career, so her remarks may have more to do with giving back to an industry that, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, has been the largest single source of financing for her Senate campaigns.

If Sen. Hutchison really wants to do what’s right for Texas, she should strengthen the climate bill, rather than shoot it down.

If she is worried about price impacts on Texas families, she should strengthen consumer protections and strip out the billion-dollar in-dustry giveaways.

And if she’s concerned about Texas’ financial well being, she should remember that Texas above all else is an energy state – which means that we must have a future in clean, renewable energy as well.

But just saying “no” to a new energy bill, “no” to new jobs and “no” to new industries is “no good for Texas.”

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While at Netroots Nation a few weeks back, I had the opportunity to listen in on a panel discussing climate change, Texas’ energy future, and energy security featuring Houston Mayor Bill White (you might have also heard he is running for US Senate).

Mayor White gave very measured, political answers. Throughout the panel, never did the words “Cap and Trade” leave his lips, but he did remain skeptical of anyone who claimed to have it all figured out and that their answer would be easy and painless. He also showed legitimate concerns about the impacts of renewable energy mandates done wrong on low-income consumers. As a representative from a consumer advocacy organization, it is refreshing to hear White’s commitment to protecting our most vulnerable even as we chart a new energy future.

Mayor White’s stated goals are to become more energy independent for basic security reasons and to be in control of our energy future. To do so, he maintains that we must reduce our pollution based on sound science, and do so in a way which does not burden low-income households. He proposes three main mechanisms to meet these goals:

  1. Cut the amount of fuel we use in vehicle travel without impinging on people’s ability to travel freely– specifically by increasing our efficiency per mile traveled.
  2. Cut the amount of energy consumed in buildings. Why drive up the cost of business by paying for electricity?
  3. Decrease the amount of power we get from coal and substitute that power with cleaner sources

Despite some skepticism, Mayor White certainly showed that our energy future could have our cake and eat it too, namely through increased efficiency in building codes, fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, and use of cost-effective renewables. See the edited video here:

Public Citizen does not and would never endorse candidates. Even if we could, it’s hard to get an exact read on Mayor White and how he would act as the next Senator from Texas on the issue of federal climate policy — so even so we could offer little endorsement other than a candid analysis of his words and his record.

When asked off-camera about how he would vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), the climate bill which passed in the House in June and due up for debate in the Senate over the next 2-3 months, he remained committed to energy efficiency but overall rather vague. White showed skepticism as to large long term goals rather than smaller but gradually increasing cuts in emissions. His version of the bill, he said, would have strong building code mandates, a renewable energy efficiency standard (which is it, Bill?) with a price cap on renewables to protect consumers, and change dispatch priorities to wean the nation off of coal fired power. He did not, however, indicate whether or not he would support implementing a federal cap on carbon dioxide emissions or the cap and trade mechanism.

This is a question likely to come up in the next few months when ACES comes to a Senate vote, and hopefully Mayor White will have a clearer answer prepared when that time comes. But if the final answer is no on ACES, would he have some specific policy solutions about how to improve the bill, or would he just cast the same “no way, never” vote that we’ll likely get from John Cornyn or Kay Bailey Hutchison?

That being said, it is refreshing to hear a candidate speak so fluently about energy policy. Mayor White’s record on energy as Deputy Secretary of Energy stands on its own, as does his impressive work on making Houston a national leader on energy efficiency. We may still be uncertain as to where he stands on ACES, but we certainly know his feelings on energy efficiency both in word and deed – which is nothing to sneeze at.

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Kudos to the North Carolina Conservation Network for rallying the troops for a real grassroots protest outside of today’s Energy Citizen company picnic in Greensboro. Fifty protesters turned out to show their support for clean energy and green jobs development, NCCN reports:

Local folks gathered on the sidewalks surrounding the coliseum to make sure that voices in support of federal action on energy were heard. While a drum corps provided the entertainment, the citizen-activists held signs and banners calling on Senator Kay Hagan (North Carolina) to support efforts in the US Senate to pass strong clean energy and climate legislation this year.

State Representative Pricey Harrison (from Greensboro) was there as well as representatives from clean energy businesses, labor and faith communities. State Representative Harrison along with U.S. Representative Howard Coble attempted to enter the event. While Representative Coble was allowed entry, Representative Harrison (who represents the district in which the event was held) was denied access. Also allowed into the event were activists from FreedomWorks, a right-wing group that has ties to big business and the oil industry.

Rep. Coble was invited inside because he voted against the American Clean Energy and Security Act, but Rep. Harrison (who voted for it) was denied entry.  How completely ridiculous.  At least the “Energy Citizens” American Petroleum Institute has wised up enough to let their supporters from FreedomWorks inside — looks like they learned their lesson from the Houston rally, where anti-cap and trade activists were rudely turned from the door for trying to bring in American flags.

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Even though we were denied access, our intrepid Citizen Sarah was able to blend in with a crowd walking in and starting talking to energy company employees about climate change legislation.  You know, Energy Company Employees Can Say the Darndest Things:

Look for:

  • Global Warming Deniers!
  • People Who Have NO IDEA What is actually in the American Clean Energy & Security Act!
  • Misrepresentations about the bill–and our energy policy and energy sector– all spouted back like they got the memo of Big Oil’s talking points!
  • And…. a guy from a natural gas company who really understands what made the climate bill bad: too much special interest influence and lobbying! (irony, much?  But he does have a point….)

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The Energy Citizens’ rallies company picnics, such as the one we crashed yesterday in Houston, have been getting a lot of attention through the Netroots, in national publications, and even last night on Rachel Maddow (where one of our videos was featured, even if credit was not given — no worries this time Rach, we love you anyway).

Though the Netroots has gotten the message loud and clear: these are really just company picnics, not uprisings of real grassroots support, there has still been some hedging on the part of the traditional media — who is still reporting that “many of the people attending the demonstration were employees of oil companies who work in Houston and were bused from their workplaces.

But the truth is that the Houston rally was attended ONLY by energy company employees and retirees (at least that’s the way they wanted it).  It’s no big surprise that a few rabble-rousing enviros were kicked out, but when even those that oppose cap and trade were turned away– that should raise major red flags about the true nature of these events.  This isn’t even Astroturf anymore, this is asphalt.

But don’t take my word for it, listen to the anti-cap and trade folks from Freedom Works that were  from yesterday’s rally:

Or watch the higher quality version on Vimeo:

Here is another guy we caught up with outside who was also barred from entering– he called it “a circus” and “a county fair”.

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As you may have read elsewhere on our blog, we tried to attend the “Energy Citizens” rally in Houston yesterday but were turned away.

Even far-right teabaggers, brought out to the event by FreedomWorks and a promise of a free meal, weren’t allowed in, despite actually being sympatico with Big Oil’s agenda.

The offending item that got one kicked out?  An American flag.  Why does Big Oil hate our freedom?


This is just the 30 second trailer– a longer, more in-depth interview with people who were not allowed in the rally will be posted in the next 24 hours.

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energycitizenYesterday the Public Citizen Texas team drove down to Houston to crash the American Petroleum Institute’s Energy Citizen event.  Billed as a “grassroots” rally against the cap and trade bill currently before Congress, this event was nothing more than a company picnic.

About 2500 energy employees were brought by charter bus to the Verizon Wireless Theater, a private location that could be easily secured to keep undesirables out.  David, Ryan, and Andy were all denied access, but stealthily dressed in Banana Republic and spectator pumps, I was able to blend in with the crowd and slip into the hot dog line.

Inside the theater it became evident quickly what a polished, professional event this was.  Right at the door you could pick up a bright yellow t-shirt with a clever slogan on it like “I’ll pass on $4 gas”, “I’m an Energy Citizen!”, and “Congress, Don’t Take Away My Job!”  The same lines could also be found on bumper stickers and the same kinds of cardboard signs you would wave at a football game.

donttakemyjob

In the middle of the arena was a giant action center where employees could voice their disapproval of climate change legislation through a variety of mechanisms.  Six or seven computers were cued up with petitions to Sens. Hutchison and Cornyn, and attendees were invited to text JOBS to 363749(ENERGY) to get involved.  Drop boxes for postcards were also positioned in the corners of the room, and “activists” could sharpie their signatures to 8 foot tall “shame on you” or “thank you” letters to Congressmen that voted for or against the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

My favorite aspect of the rally by far, however, was the high school marching band and star spangled dance team.  When I asked one of the teenage dancers what she thought the rally was about, she told me she thought that it was about conserving energy.

I was able to interview several rally attendees, but the majority of folks regarded me with suspicion or didn’t want to talk to me.  Others clearly didn’t have much of an opinion on the bill other than what they’d been told, but one gentleman I spoke to was actually concerned about the special interest carve-outs in the bill for dirty coal.  Stay posted for the video of these interviews later today, with the working title “Energy Workers Say the Darndest Things.” Teaser:

After about an hour I started to run out out of room on my camera, so I moved toward the front doors to see if I could trade off cameras with Andy, who was still stationed outside.  Big mistake.  Once the chief security guard saw me make eye contact with a marked man, I was out of there.  He grabbed my shoulder and asked “what energy company do you work for?”  When I said I wasn’t with an energy company but was a member of the media, he said I was misrepresenting myself and summarily kicked me out.

I was a little disappointed to miss out on the great list of speakers, especially rodeo man Bill Bailey, who was master of ceremonies (irony, irony, irony, seeing as this rally was all hat and no cattle).  But speaking to other individuals who had been denied access was even more enlightening than listening to Big Oil preach their sermon.

This was such a fake, Astroturf event that they didn’t know how to handle legitimate grassroots support. A couple of women who had been to some of the teabagger events and townhalls came down, armed with American flags and excited to protest “crap and tax” — but even THEY weren’t allowed in.  Several others who had heard about the rally through Freedom Works, on right wing radio, or in the paper were also locked out.

Yesterday’s rally was the first of about twenty rallies that will be staged nationwide over the next few weeks.  Thanks to Greenpeace, we already knew Big Oil’s game plan: rally up a bunch of Astroturf support to kill cap and trade.  But now we know the full story — they don’t even want to hear the voices of their real grassroots.  These events are by invitation only, and all other members of the public — for or against climate legislation — will be shut out.  If you don’t work for the company, you’re not invited to the picnic.

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