Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Obama's key climate bill hit by $45m PR campaign

Sometimes you read things which leave you open mouthed. Like this:

America's oil, gas and coal industry has increased its lobbying budget by 50%, with key players spending $44.5m in the first three months of this year in an intense effort to cut off support for Barack Obama's plan to build a clean energy economy.

The spoiler campaign runs to hundreds of millions of dollars and involves industry front groups, lobbying firms, television, print and radio advertising, and donations to pivotal members of Congress. Its intention is to water down or kill off plans by the Democratic leadership to pass "cap and trade" legislation this year, which would place limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

A defeat for the bill would have global consequences.

These guys come across like the bad guys in a Batman movie. And yet, mark my words, we will see Republicans taking to the airwaves and spouting whatever silly talking points these guys come up with. Their aim, as always, will not be to win the argument - which they simply can never win - but it will be to slap the bottom of the pond and, hopefully, to muddy the water enough to give the Republicans cover to vote against such a blatantly sensible policy.

And it's not only the Republicans who threaten Obama's plans, there are a few Democrats who he desperately needs to get on board.

Despite its global significance, the fate of the draft "cap and trade" bill now lies in the hands of just a dozen Democrats, who have yet to back Obama's energy transformation. The Democratic leadership cannot take their support for granted. Seven of those pivotal Democrats received campaign donations in excess of $100,000 from the oil and gas industry, coal producers, and electricity firms during last year's elections, according to an analysis provided to the Guardian by the Centre for Responsive Politics. Another two received more than $90,000 last year.

Environmentalists say those Democrats, who hold the balance of power on the committee, pose a far greater threat to the chances of passing climate change legislation than a full vote in the House of Representatives. "If they can get that bill through the subcommittee what is going to emerge is a piece of legislation," said Tony Kreindler of the Environmental Defence Fund. "So this is ground zero for the vote."

Environmental groups are being vastly outspent in advertising by the major corporations, which is to be expected in such a major battle. But, whilst this might give welcome cover for Republicans to oppose Obama's bill, there is simply no excuse for any Democrat to do the same.

I mean it's not as if Obama kept this intention hidden whilst he was campaigning, he made it perfectly clear that he intended to build a greener energy industry. So, for my money, there's no excuse for anyone who campaigned to have the Democrats elected to now to oppose what was such a major part of the Obama campaign philosophy.

Click title for full article.


daveawayfromhome said...

The only way that the rest of the world is going to get America to implement any kind of real green policies is to go ahead on their own and shame the U.S. through good example (and bragging rights). As long as Big Money is the only voice that Congress hears in Washington, no real steps will ever be taken (voters dont count, because no one listens to them here any more than necessary to get in the door of the Legislature). Shame, and global irrelevance might change things here. If not, then we should probably be sidelined as much as possible until we wise up.

Kel said...

I agree Dave that the rest of the world needs to push on, leaving the US behind of necessary.

But any Democrat who opposes this should be tarred and feathered.