United States - April 16
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Gore to Young Advocates: Battle Industry Lobbyists to Turn the Tide on Climate
Ben Geman, The Hill
Al Gore told young green energy advocates Friday that progress on global warming must come from a strong grassroots movement that can counter the oil and coal lobbies, which he alleged have “paralyzed” governments.
Al Gore told young green energy advocates Friday that progress on global warming must come from a strong grassroots movement that can counter the oil and coal lobbies, which he alleged have “paralyzed” governments. Gore – who compared action on global warming to the Civil Rights movement – was the keynote speaker at Power Shift 2011, a Washington, D.C. conference attended largely by college students.
“It’s true that governments by and large have been politically paralyzed because the energy companies, the coal companies, the oil companies, the coal-burning utilities, they have spent enormous amounts of money and they have succeeded in many countries in paralyzing the political process,” the former vice president said.
“There are four anti-climate lobbyists on Capitol Hill in this city for every single member of the House and every single member of the Senate,” Gore said Friday night at the opening of the April 15-18 conference.
(16 April 2011)
Emails expose BP's attempts to control research into impact of Gulf oil spill
Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian
BP officials tried to take control of a $500m fund pledged by the oil company for independent research into the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, it has emerged.
Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show BP officials openly discussing how to influence the work of scientists supported by the fund, which was created by the oil company in May last year.
... The email was obtained by Greenpeace and shared with the Guardian.
The documents are expected to reinforce fears voiced by scientists that BP has too much leverage over studies into the impact of last year's oil disaster.
... There is no evidence in the emails that BP officials were successful in directing research. The fund has since established procedures to protect its independence.
(15 April 2011)
How Climate Science Was Saved — For Now
Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation
During the recent budget showdown, as House Republicans made their boldest effort yet—and failed, at least for now—to repeal mainstream climate science, Democratic Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts managed to find some dark comedy in the situation. It’s customary during legislative debates for members of Congress to preface their remarks with “I rise” in support of (or opposition to) the bill under consideration. As the GOP majority on the House Energy and Commerce committee prepared to pass a bill prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon pollution, Markey said that although he opposed the bill, “I won’t rise physically, because I’m worried that Republicans will overturn the law of gravity, sending us floating around the room.”
After provoking more chuckles by asking whether Republicans also planned to excommunicate Galileo’s finding that the earth revolves around the sun, Markey predicted that HR 910 would pass the full House but be “dead in the Senate.” And so it was. The House passed what environmentalists dubbed the Dirty Air Act on April 7, 255 to 172, with not a single Republican voting against. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, however, could muster only fifty votes for a similar measure, leaving Republicans ten votes short of a filibuster-proof majority.
The backstory here is almost as important as the two votes themselves—and as revealing about how Republicans, the Obama administration and the environmental movement are approaching the battles that surely lie ahead. By pushing so hard for restrictions on the EPA, Republicans made it clear that they view the climate issue as a political winner—red meat for their right-wing base and corporate donors alike.
(14 April 2011)
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Lobbying Report: Drones Fly Through Congress to Enter US Skies
Nick Mottern, Truthout
Within weeks and possibly days, President Obama is likely to sign into law a bill that will bring unmanned aerial vehicles - drones - into US general airspace, crisscrossing the country in company with passenger planes and other human-carrying aircraft.
The story of how planes without on-board pilots will gain entry into our crowded airspace, where birds are life threatening, possibly within the next three years, is one involving campaign contributions, jobs and fear. As we will see, safety appears not to be the top priority.
... Given the deadly record of drones, I and others in New York State and elsewhere, moved to lobby Senator Schumer to end his support of the drone amendment.
We knew we were starting very late. On February 15, we presented a letter (appearing at the end of this article) at Senator Schumer's Peekskill, New York, office urging him to abandon the drone amendment. He did not respond and his staff did not provide any information to us until well after the FAA reauthorization bill, with the pro-drone language embodied in an omnibus amendment, cleared the Senate on February 17.
According to Open Secrets.org, Senator Schumer received $10,000 for his 2010 re-election campaign from Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin is one of at least 50 companies making drones of various sizes and types and it produces Hellfire missiles, used by drones and other aircraft. Lockheed employs 2,200 in Syracuse.
(16 April 2011)
Submitted by EB reader Luane Todd who writes:
"The point illustrated in this article is the unbelievable reach of campaign money and how it impacts all that we do and care about. So much of the Transition work and other coping alternatives are subject to reversal by power groups with very deep pockets. Let this be a cautionary tale and possibily a guideline for us to use as we try to make a place for our solutions in the broader arena. We need to pay attention long before these things are introduced on the legislative floors for a vote. It is too late to stop them at that point."