If you’re like me, the title of this post alone got your blood at least a degree closer to the boiling point. Unfortunately, the story only gets worse. The ambiguously titled “American Energy Alliance,” one of numerous anti-energy reform groups cropping up lately, is the brainchild of ex-Enron speechwriter Robert Bradley. I guess there is life after Enron…. Yet I hope, for the well-being of the sustainable business movement, that Bradley’s newfound hobby is short-lived, or at least unsuccessful.
According to Treehugger, the Alliance was founded by the Institute for Energy Research, a think tank which Bradley runs. Alliance describes its mission as follows: to “enlist and empower energy consumers to encourage policymakers to support policies that lead to abundant, affordable and reliable energy for all Americans….” However, a closer look reveals the organization’s unsavory features. Reportedly, Alliance hasn’t publicized these origins; it has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Exxon alone; its claims to nonpartisanship are contradicted by its own membership (every Alliance employee is a former House Republican staffer), and, from the hindsight files, its founder has expressed no qualms with his work for Enron. Not to mention Alliance’s message – that passing the climate bill will cripple the economy – and its tactic of touring of the country in a red-white-and-blue bus while not providing citizens the complete picture of its operations.
Alliance’s formation, and its place within the bigger picture of anti-climate legislation lobbying, say quite a bit about our country’s current state of affairs – particularly regarding the interplay between the American public, big oil corporations, and the media. In a sense, these organizations are using the media as an alternative to paying off voters, using rhetoric instead of (?) outright bribes to turn voters against climate change legislation. In another sense, these groups’ antics highlight some of the very things they’re trying to downplay: the role of dominating energy politics and manipulating uninformed consumers in an oil firm’s success.
I also find it ironic and sad that, if a sustainability group toured the country promoting anti-pollution information, that group would likely be branded as kooky and anti-patriotic at best. Yet many Americans seem to be buying astroturfers’ messages hook line and sinker, despite those messages’ obvious holes. (One green organization’s attempt to counter such messages caught my attention because of its reasonableness – perhaps the most potent antidote to anti-climate change lobbying. Check out Triple Pundit’s article on The National Climate Seminar for more information.)
What do you think – are there ways sustainability proponents can counteract anti-climate change lobbyists’ efforts?