Kochs Respond: President Obama's 'Radical International Energy Agenda' Is 'Harmful,' 'Destructive', 'Needless'

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 23 Sep 2014 20:20:00 GMT

Koch at the Met
David Koch at the Met’s Koch Plaza
The political arm of the Koch brothers’ petrochemical empire excoriated President Barack Obama’s address at the UN climate summit today, challenging the science of climate change and the economics of climate policy as “radical,” “ideological,” “destructive,” and “needless.” David Koch, one of the two brothers who run Koch Industries, is the richest man in New York City, with his home and offices a few blocks from the United Nations headquarters.

In an email to supporters, Tim Phillips, the president of the Koch political advocacy organization Americans for Prosperity, decried the president’s “radical international energy agenda for “what used to be called global warming, then climate change, then extreme weather, and now finally climate disruption.” (The idea that the left changes the name of global warming as a propagandistic fiction is a conservative meme.) Phillips then blamed the Republican filibuster of climate legislation on Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
The worst part is, President Obama knows that his energy agenda is harmful and will not help our country get back on the path to prosperity. In fact the President’s proposal is so unpopular and destructive, even Harry Reid’s Senate wouldn’t dream of passing it, which is why he has bypassed Congress and taken his short-sighted, destructive energy policies to an international body.

In an accompanying video entitled “Obama’s UN Speech Promises to Kill Jobs and Raise Energy Prices,” Phillips rejects the science of man-made climate change, and falsely claims that reductions in carbon pollution would be economically harmful and environmentally meaningless.

“If all the numbers, facts, and figures that the left claims are true, their own numbers say this will make really no difference in saving the planet. We think they’re wrong on the merits, but even if you accept their numbers, this will be nothing but a lose-lose situation for the American public.”

The email links to a letter campaign in opposition to “the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations calling for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030,” calling on U.S. Senators to “stop the EPA from forcing more burdensome regulations on our families.”

Text of supporter email:

President Barack Obama's Remarks at the UN Climate Summit: 'Our Citizens Keep Marching'

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 23 Sep 2014 19:27:00 GMT

President ObamaAddressing the United Nations climate summit in New York City, President Barack Obama called climate change a ‘global threat’ that has ‘moved firmly into the present.’ Hobbled by a deadlocked Congress, the president offered no new major policy initiatives.

“Our citizens keep marching,” Obama said in reference to Sunday’s historic People’s Climate March. “We cannot pretend we do not hear them. We have to answer the call.”

He also commented on the rise of extreme weather disasters around the globe, including flooding in Miami, drought and floods in the heartland, the West’s year-long wildfire season, and the catastrophic damage of Superstorm Sandy. “No nation is immune,” he said, recognizing that “some nations already live with far worse.”

Obama did not directly mention fossil fuel production or his “all-of-the-above” approach to energy policy, unlike recent speeches on climate change to domestic audiences, in which he has celebrated the rise in domestic production of oil and natural gas. In fact, the speech did not include the words “coal,” “oil,” “fossil fuels,” or “natural gas.”

Hobbled by a legislative branch stymied by Republican opposition to climate action or international climate funding, Obama made no new grand pledges on behalf of the United States, instead highlighting the coming EPA regulation of carbon pollution from power plants, voluntary actions by corporate America, and a reduction in HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.

“I believe, in the words of Dr. King, that there is such a thing as being too late,” Obama said near the end of his speech. As the United States is not currently leading the way in rapidly decarbonizing the global economy, that statement may serve to summarize his presidential legacy.

Watch:

Google Drops American Legislative Exchange Council Over Climate Denial: 'They're Literally Lying'

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 23 Sep 2014 06:24:00 GMT

On Monday, Google chairman Eric Schmidt announced that his company has ended its support for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) because of its persistent climate-change denial. The decision came after a Schmidt made the announcement in response to a listener question on the Diane Rehm radio show.

“I think the consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake,” Schmidt said of Google’s support for ALEC, “and so we’re trying to not do that in the future.”

Pressed to explain further, Schmidt harshly described the conservative lobbying organization’s opposition to climate action as “really hurting our children” and “making the world a much worse place” by “literally lying.”

Well, the company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts — what a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people — they’re just, they’re just literally lying.
Listen here:

ALEC president Lisa B. Nelson issued an angry press release following Schmidt’s announcement, blaming the decision on “public pressure from left-leaning individuals and organizations who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial.”

Disclosure: As the campaign manager for Forecast the Facts, I founded the “Don’t Fund Evil” campaign in June 2013 challenging Google to stop funding climate-denial groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and ALEC, and climate-denial politicians such as Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

For over a year, Google representatives stonewalled over the company’s conflicting stand on climate change and its political support for climate deniers. Google’s clean-energy lead Gray Demasi had no answer for why his company supported ALEC, when I asked him at a November 2013 Greenpeace green tech event.

Now, Schmidt’s words echo an opinion piece I wrote in December 2013 on the eve of ALEC’s annual DC conference, which featured a keynote by Cruz:
Unlike ALEC and Cruz, Google employees support scientific facts. Unlike ALEC and Cruz, Google employees are investing in a future powered by 100 percent renewable energy.

The “Don’t Fund Evil” call to drop ALEC was joined in December 2013 by the Sierra Club, SumOfUs, RootsAction and the Center for Media and Democracy. The coalition of climate, corporate, and good-government organizations mobilized over 230,000 citizens to petition the search giant. In addition, Google was the target of a shareholder resolution brought by Walden Asset Management challenging Google’s support for the anti-climate group.

Added pressure came in August when Google competitor Microsoft left ALEC. At the beginning of September, over 50 organizations, including several labor unions, environmental organizations, racial justice groups, and other progressive organizations signed on to a public letter asking Google to follow suit.

Google’s decision to drop ALEC is an important first step in restoring the integrity of its ‘don’t be evil’ motto. Unfortunately, the company is still financing extremist groups like the ‘CO2 Is Life’ Competitive Enterprise Institute and dozens of denier politicians. If Eric Schmidt wants to be taken seriously, he has to do a lot more cleaning up. It’s time for Susan Molinari, who pushed Google into this situation, to go.

Forecast the Facts and SumOfUs have since expanded the Don’t Fund Evil campaign into the Disrupt Denial campaign, which calls on all corporations to stop financing climate-denial politicians.

Transcript of the Diane Rehm Show:

Livestreams of the People's Climate March

Posted by Brad Johnson Sun, 21 Sep 2014 05:48:00 GMT

The following are the planned livestreams for viewing the People’s Climate March in New York City:

The march is scheduled to begin at 11:30 am. Pre-march rallies begin at 9 am.

Hillary Clinton's Schedule at the Clinton Global Initiative 2014

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 20 Sep 2014 16:22:00 GMT

Hillary ClintonPresidential spouse and contender Hillary Clinton has a busy agenda at the Clinton Global Initiative this year. She will open the conference on Monday and close it on Wednesday, with several appearances in between. Below is her public agenda:

Sunday, September 21
  • 6-8 PM Clinton Global Citizen Awards
Monday, September 22
  • 12 PM Opening Plenary: opening conversation with Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group and Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President, and CEO, IBM
Tuesday, September 23
  • 5 PM Plenary on job training: remarks on the commitment announcements
Wednesday, September 24
  • 8:45 AM Plenary on equality for girls on women: opening conversation with Bill Gates’ wife Melinda Gates
  • 1:30 PM Breakout session: Filmed conversation with Sanjay Gupta on “investing in babies’ minds” with John McCain’s wife Cindy McCain, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, Children Television Workshop’s Rosemarie T. Truglio, Harlem Children’s Zone’s Geoffrey Canada
  • 3:30 PM Closing Plenary: with Bill Clinton, astronauts Cady Coleman and Reid Wiseman, X PRIZE billionaire Peter H. Diamandis, Nelson Mandela widow Graça Machel

(President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver brief remarks at approximately 2 PM on Tuesday, the day of the UN Climate Summit.)

Protesters Prepare to 'Occupy The UN' During Climate Summit

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 20 Sep 2014 00:21:00 GMT

UNOccupy Wall Street activists are planning to “occupy” the United Nations Climate Summit.

According to Popular Resistance, a website associated with some members of the Occupy Wall Street collective in New York City, activists meeting in Zucotti Park agreed to attempt an occupation of the Dag Hammerskold Plaza in front of UN headquarters.

The civil disobedience assembly is scheduled to begin during the People’s Climate March taking place several blocks west on Sunday, September 21, and continue until the conclusion of the UN Climate Summit on Wednesday.

The text of the press release is below:

People's Climate March Blocs

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 18 Sep 2014 18:22:00 GMT

March lineup Below is a partial list of People’s Climate March blocs meeting before the march begins Sunday.

Indigenous People’s Gathering In Central Park next to Heckscher Playground, starting at 6:30 am

Labor Rally On Broadway, sound system at 57th Street Begins at 11 am.

Interfaith Religious Service On 58th Street, between 8th and 9th Ave. Begins at 11 am.

Food Justice On CPW at 71 St., north side of the intersection

Nuclear Free, Carbon Free On CPW at 73rd St., north side of the intersection

Sierra Club Solutions Rally On CPW at 75th St., north side of the intersection

Peace and Justice On CPW at 77 St., north side of the intersection

Anti-Fracking On CPW at 80th St., north side of the intersection

Science Stands At Hayden Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History (CPW & 81st)

Bike Bloc On CPW at 74th St, 10:30 am

For more information:

media@peoplesclimate.org (914) 719-6672

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) Questions Manmade Global Warming

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 08 Sep 2014 22:44:00 GMT

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) rejects the scientific fact of anthropogenic global warming. In an October 2012 interview with Arizona Public Radio, Flake questioned whether global warming is manmade:
“Certainly, nobody can deny that we’ve had several years of warmer temperatures. If that signals just a routine change that is manmade or not, I don’t think anybody can say definitely.”

Listen:

In reality, the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is a physical fact known since the 1800s. The only scientifically plausible systematic explanation for the rapid and continuing warming of the planetary climate since 1950 is industrial greenhouse pollution. WIthout global policy to end the combustion of fossil fuels, concentrations are expected to double from current levels within decades.

Flake’s position on global warming and climate policy represents a retreat for the conservative politician and former mining lobbyist, who co-sponsored a bipartisan carbon-tax legislative proposal as a member of the House of Representatives in 2009. He disavowed the plan immediately upon election to the U.S. Senate in November 2012. In March 2013, Flake voted for an amendment introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) prohibiting further greenhouse gas regulations for the purposes of addressing climate change, and voted for Sen. Roy Blunt’s amendment to create a point of order against legislation that would create a federal tax or fee on carbon emissions.

Pressed by Climate Activists, Microsoft Leaves American Legislative Exchange Council

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 19 Aug 2014 21:06:00 GMT

Computing giant Microsoft has left the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative lobbying group that promotes climate change denial and opposes renewable energy, a coalition of climate-activist investors announced today. The Sustainability Group and Walden Asset Management released a press release announcing that Microsoft left ALEC in July 2014:

Last year, The Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott and Coolidge and Walden Asset Management engaged Microsoft over its affiliation with the controversial model legislation group American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Microsoft is a leader on carbon issues – in 2012, it committed to becoming carbon neutral, and is one of the largest corporate purchasers of renewable energy. Thus, we believe that its affiliation with ALEC, which is actively fighting policies that promote renewable energy, was incongruous. In addition, there were numerous other ALEC actions that conflicted directly with Microsoft’s values.

We are pleased to report Microsoft is no longer a member of ALEC and is not financially supporting the organization in any way.

In emails dated June 30 and July 14 2014, Microsoft confirmed this decision:

“As we discussed, in 2014 Microsoft decided to no longer participate in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Communications and Technology Task Force, which had been our only previous involvement with ALEC. With this decision, we no longer contribute any dues to ALEC.

“we are no longer members of ALEC and do not provide the organization with financial support of any kind.”

We commend Microsoft on its commitment to open dialogue with shareholders, and for making this important decision.

Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist, Rob Bernard, defended his company’s membership in ALEC less than a year ago.

Technology companies that are members of ALEC include Google, Yelp, Yahoo, Uber, AT&T, eBay, and Lyft.

Text of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's Speech on the Clean Power Plan

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 03 Jun 2014 16:15:00 GMT

The full text of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s speech introducing the draft rule for greenhouse pollution from existing power plants, June 2, 2014.

Gina McCarthyAbout a month ago, I took a trip to the Cleveland Clinic. I met a lot of great people, but one stood out—even if he needed to stand on a chair to do it. Parker Frey is 10 years old. He’s struggled with severe asthma all his life. His mom said despite his challenges, Parker’s a tough, active kid—and a stellar hockey player.

But sometimes, she says, the air is too dangerous for him to play outside. In the United States of America, no parent should ever have that worry.

That’s why EPA exists. Our job, directed by our laws, reaffirmed by our courts, is to protect public health and the environment. Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks not just to our health, but to our communities, our economy, and our way of life. That’s why EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

I want to thank Janet McCabe, our Acting Assistant Administrator at the Office of Air and Radiation, and the entire EPA team who worked so hard to deliver this proposal. They should be very proud of their work; I know I am.

Today, EPA is proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut carbon pollution from our power sector, by using cleaner energy sources, and cutting energy waste.

Although we limit pollutants like mercury, sulfur, and arsenic, currently, there are no limits on carbon pollution from power plants, our nation’s largest source. For the sake of our families’ health and our kids’ future, we have a moral obligation to act on climate. When we do, we’ll turn climate risk into business opportunity, we’ll spur innovation and investment, and we’ll build a world-leading clean energy economy.

The science is clear. The risks are clear. And the high costs of climate inaction keep piling up.

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