BY DINO GRANDONI washingtonpost.com
The oil and gas industry is fighting back: It's throwing in big bucks to counter attacks from Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren that it's contributing to climate change.
The American Petroleum Institute is planning to spend upward of $1 million through 2020 on a new advertising campaign arguing that it's actually part of the solution when it comes to slowing the rise of global temperatures.
The main lobbying arm of the oil and gas industry will pour money into broadcast televisions spots, social media posts, billboards and airport placards promoting natural gas as a reason the United States is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.
The ad blitz comes as Sanders (I-Vt.), Warren (D-Mass.) and a number of other presidential candidate have promised to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, should they win the White House. And API's message runs up against the advice of thousands of scientists who say we must keep the remaining oil and gas in the ground as the only way to forestall dangerous warming of the Earth.
A ban on fracking would be a major blow to the industry — one it is increasingly seeking to avoid amid a presidential campaign where polling shows voters are more concerned than ever about climate change. API warns that banning fracking would constitute economic self-sabotage for the United States.
“Here's a glimpse of that vision... In the short run, a fracking ban would quickly invite a global recession,” API chief Mike Sommers told members of Congress, Trump administration officials, oil executives and labor union leaders gathered for the group's annual January luncheon in Washington on Tuesday. “You don't abolish the most dynamic asset of the world's leading energy producer without severe consequences.”
But outside economists say that and other warnings API made Tuesday are overblown.
"I think is highly unlikely that a fracking ban in the US alone would lead to a global recession, but it could slow economic growth in the short term in the U.S. unless it is accompanied by other policies that spur growth," said Kenneth Gillingham, an economics professor at Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
API points to how the gush of cheap gas from fracking over the past decade has helped shutter hundreds of coal-fired power plants as they are replaced by less-polluting, gas-fired ones. Fracking, along with horizontal drilling, are "as important as the invention the iPhone,” Sommers said.
“We have to serve the vast and growing demand for affordable energy and we have to accelerate progress on the serious challenge of climate change,” added Sommers, who once served as chief of staff for former House speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).
The API ad campaign is running nationwide, with an emphasis on oil- and gas-producing states such as New Mexico and Pennsylvania, and swing congressional districts in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and elsewhere. The lobbying group produced seven videos featuring residents from seven states it is targeting.
And in what is likely a bid to emphasize the low emissions of gas compared to coal, the ads referred to the industry as “gas and oil” rather than oil and gas.
“This is natural gas and oil,” the ads read. “This is energy progress.”
When it comes to the new marketing initiative, longtime environmental critics of the oil and gas industry see it as nothing more than an "embarrassing attempt at rebranding [that] doesn't change anything about the dirty fossil fuels API is pushing," according to Kelly Martin, director of the Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign at the Sierra Club, which promotes renewable energy sources as a solution to climate change.
Speaking to reporters before the luncheon, Sommers demurred when asked whether API would support specific emissions-reduction targets. But API did release a report in conjunction with the luncheon with hard-number claims on the economic effects of a ban on fracking. The group is saying a ban could lead to as many as 7.3 million fewer jobs.
Yet Jason Furman, a professor of economic policy at Harvard, said that although a ban on fracking would hurt economic growth, the hit would not be nearly enough to make that many people lose their jobs.
“It's a ludicrous exaggeration of what would be a meaningful hit to the U.S. economy,” Furman said, noting that the U.S. economy shed nearly 9 million jobs economywide during the Great Recession.
He added that “it would be very hard to go from this to a global recession.”
Gillingham, the Yale economist, agreed by noting that the total employment in oil and gas extraction as of last November was 164,800 — an order of magnitude lower than the job losses API projected.
"I am very skeptical of those jobs numbers," he said for API's claim.
Independent physicist John Droz, Jr. alerted me to the website of Deep Green Resistance (DGR), an international environmental organization that calls for the total destruction of what it refers to as the “global industrial economy,” a.k.a. capitalism. Given the group’s hard-left credentials, its call for dismantling capitalism throughout the world is not surprising.
What is surprising is that in an unusual show of progressive candor, Deep Green Resistance openly acknowledges what skeptical scientists have been saying for more than two decades: that renewable energy is a government-backed hoax that enriches big corporations -- and green energy investors like Al Gore -- at the expense of taxpayers and the environment. If you find that admission hard to believe, please keep reading. The questions and answers below are verbatim from the FAQ page on the organization’s website.
Will green technology save the planet?
No. Wind turbines, solar PV panels, and the grid itself are all manufactured using cheap energy from fossil fuels. When fossil fuel costs begin to rise such highly manufactured items will simply cease to be feasible.
Solar panels and wind turbines aren’t made out of nothing. They are made out of metals, plastics, and chemicals. These products have been mined out of the ground, transported, processed, manufactured. Each stage leaves behind a trail of devastation: habitat destruction, water contamination, colonization, toxic waste, slave labor, greenhouse gas emissions, wars, and corporate profits.
The basic ingredients for renewables are the same materials that are ubiquitous in industrial products, like cement and aluminum. No one is going to make cement in any quantity without using the energy of fossil fuels. And aluminum? The mining itself is a destructive and toxic nightmare from which riparian communities will not awaken in anything but geologic time.
From beginning to end, so called “renewable energy” and other “green technologies” lead to the destruction of the planet. These technologies are rooted in the same industrial extraction and production processes that have rampaged across the world for the last 150 years.
We are not concerned with slightly reducing the harm caused by industrial civilization; we are interested in stopping that harm completely. Doing so will require dismantling the global industrial economy, which will render impossible the creation of these technologies.
Will renewable energy save the economy?
Renewable energy technologies rely heavily on government subsidies, taken from taxpayers and given directly to large corporations like General Electric, BP, Samsung, and Mitsubishi. While the scheme pads their bottom lines, it doesn't help the rest of us.
Further, this is the wrong question to ask. The industrial capitalist economy is dispossessing and impoverishing billions of humans and killing the living world. Renewable energy depends on centralized capital and power imbalance. We don't benefit from saving that system.
Instead of advocating for more industrial technology, we need to move to local economies based on community decision-making and what our local landbases can provide sustainably. And we need to stop the global economy on which renewable energy depends.
“Stopping the global economy” means destroying the capitalist system that created here in America the most widespread prosperity the world has ever known. That a progressive eco-group would admit that the true agenda behind the push for renewable energy has nothing to do with “saving the planet” and everything to do with destroying capitalism is quite remarkable. To reinforce its position that renewable energy is a hoax, DGR’s website has a cartoon that shows dollar bills being sucked from a wind turbine directly into the pocket of a fat cat investor in subsidized green energy projects.
The Elmer Gantry of renewable energy
Few insiders have profited more from taxpayer-backed renewable energy projects than Al Gore. When he left the vice presidency in 2001, his net worth was estimated at $1 million to $2 million. Since then, his wealth has skyrocketed to $300 million, and if the climate change legislation he advocates is enacted, the former vice president stands to become a billionaire. Much of his enviable fortune has come from being an inside investor in government-backed renewable energy projects, many of which went belly up after the insiders made off with millions, leaving hard-working U.S. taxpayers stuck with the bill.
Like all wealthy eco-preachers, the Elmer Gantry of renewable energy uses his immense wealth to indulge in lavish living. When asked by Rep. Marsha Blackburn during his 2009 testimony before Congress whether he personally profits from his advocacy of global warming, Pastor Al professed a vow of poverty, and if you’ve never seen video of the tense encounter, you don’t want to miss it: “Every penny I have made I have put into a non-profit deal, the Alliance for Climate Protection, to spread awareness of why we have to take on this challenge. And Congresswoman, if you believe the reason I have been working on this issue for 30 years is out of greed, you do not know me.”
Turned out Rep. Blackburn knows him quite well. As greedy owner of a gargantuan green energy fortune, Pastor Al looked her squarely in the eye and denied making even a penny of profit. If every penny he makes goes into a non-profit deal, how did he end up with $300 million? The same way his alter ego pilfered money from the Lord: by concealing his true stripes.
As the social Utopians at Deep Green Resistance openly acknowledge, the push for a “green economy” is a scam that enriches big corporations and fat-cat investors like Al Gore. Shortly after teen climate activist Greta Thunberg gave an emotion-charged speech at the UN last September, I wrote about the renewable energy hoax in The Cynical Plot behind Global Warming Hysteria. If not for a totally corrupt western media, two things would have happened years ago: man-made global warming theory would have been blown out of the water, and Pastor Al would have been called out as the self-righteous hypocrite he is.
An electrical engineering graduate of Georgia Tech and now retired, John Eidson is a freelance writer in Atlanta.
It is always a good idea when posting an article to provide attribution.
Skip, like your frequent sources such as the New York Times, Time Magazine, CNN and Washington Post aren't biased.
John Stossel you tube
The reason I always include attribution is so that members know the source of the article. I leave it up to them to decide for themselves whether the source is trustworthy. IMO, the ones you list and the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal for example are reputable sources. All traditional media companies include opinion pieces that take opposing sides of issues they feel are important. When they do they make a point to make it plain that the author does not speak for the publication. Traditional media outlets are not perfect and occasionally make mistakes. Where the difference comes in between them and far right outrage/falsehood sites is their commitment to admit those mistakes and publish corrections.