Lying Media Bastards

September 7, 2009

Astroturf is Made from Petroleum

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Stopping at one of my local gas stations today, I noticed that they were selling advertising space on top of the pumps. As if that was not irritating enough, the ad slot nearest me had a big picture of Uncle Sam warning me that “Proposed ‘Cap and Trade’ Legislation WILL COST YOU MONEY!”

It went on to claim that if this enviornmental legislation is passed, it will cost me an extra 77 cents per galon, $7.70 for 10 gallons, and $15.40 for 20 gallons. It then advised me to take action by visiting It even had little flyers I could take home with me (I am now slightly kicking myself for not taking them all and throwing them away).

So, first off, “cap and trade” is a bad idea. The concept is that government regulations come up with a maximum amount of pollutants that each company can pump into the air (the “cap”). Then, your company can make deals with other companies that are polluting less than their maximum to allow your company to continue pumping out as much crap as you ever did (the “trade”). So the total amount of pollution doesn’t decrease, small companies get cash bonuses, and the big companies continue making robber baron profits, minus a small amount they’ll pay for their pollution credits. Why actually pass laws that will, y’know, regulate pollution, when you can pass half-assed shit like this?

Anyhow, I guess even the small amounts that big polluters will have to pay for their pollution credits is too much for these guys (gold-plated lobster forks don’t grow on trees, you know), so they have started the propaganda already. To their very small credit, the fake citizen outrage group promoted at my Valero gas station actually has the Valero name and logo at the top (mixed in with their astroturf org logo), which is ten times more honest than most corporate propagada. Kudos to you, corporate slime lords.

Their website continues to throw out scare figures, and has a simple form for you to fill out to send to your Congressvermin, with a single link “to learn more about federal climate legislation.” Now, the area of energy economics is not my field of expertise, so I jumped down to the footnotes on this page o’ facts.

Source #1: American Petroleum Institute. Says their website, “we are the only national trade association that represents all aspects of America‚Äôs oil and natural gas industry.” Clearly, we can take their word at face value, as they have no conflict of interest in this fight.

Source #2: a study by Garbriel Calzada Alvarez PH.D. A quick googling of this name found an article claiming that Alvarez is a member of the Prague Network “which, according to Radio Prague, is ‘an international grouping of institutions aimed at countering panic connected with global warming.’” Okay, so a global warming denier. Excellent. Next.

Source #3: the Cato Institute. A well-known and powerful conservative/evil think-tank. The mantra on their website is “individual liberty, free markets, and peace.” Presumably, not in that order…

Source #4: MasterResource. The site bills itself as “a free-market energy blog”. The group of bloggers who write for the site include former Enron staffers (including a former speech-writer for Ken Lay), a member of the ultra-conservative American Enterprise Institute, members of the Cato Institute, and several global warming deniers.

Source #5: The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Well, not exactly. This “proof” is actually a press release from Republican Senator James Inhofe (who receives a sizable amount of campaign contributions from energy industries [but honestly, which Senators dont?]), which tries to spin a hearing with EPA officials to mean “if China and India don’t reduce their greenhouse gases too, there’s no point in us decreasing ours”.

Of course, I haven’t debunked a single argument made by these folks, but as it’s a corporate-fronted activist site, with information provided by players with vested interests, spin doctors, and ideologues, I’d at least say “look somewhere else for facts”. And maybe “don’t buy gas from Valero”.

Honestly, without massively cutting our greenhouse gases, we’re probably going to get most of the painful consequences that Al Gore and sci-fi movies warn us about. It’s not going to kill off mankind, but we’re going to get the floods and the droughts and the mass immigration of refugees and some of the disease. And we’re probably not going to massively cut our greenhouse gases, because, as the late great Kurt Vonnegut put it, “we were too damn cheap and lazy.”

Posted by Jake on September 7, 2009 9:38 pm


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