Photo via the Telegraph
If you've turned on a television at any point over the last week or so, it's unlikely you escaped the images of angry protesters shouting down congressmen trying to discuss and explain health care reform. As you've likely seen, it gets pretty ugly. Such tactics prevent open, intelligent debate and obscure a productive exchange of ideas. And oil, coal, and manufacturing lobbying groups have apparently been taking notes: they're about to employ such tactics to oppose the climate bill.The Wall Street Journal reports:
Taking a cue from angry protests against the Obama Administration's health care restructuring, the oil industry is helping organize anti-climate bill rallies around the nation. The American Petroleum Institute, along with other organizations such as the National Association of Manufacturers opposed to the climate legislation Congress will consider again in the fall, is funding rallies across 20 states over the August recess.Oh good. I guess we can expect to be bombarded by more yelling, a cascade of misinformation, and maybe even some more people comparing Obama to the Nazis. If we're lucky. The oil lobby has even funded the creation of its own 'grassroots' group, EnergyCitizen to man the front lines. Keep an eye out for them at these rallies in coming weeks--they may appear to be your average ol' red-blooded Americans, but don't be fooled. They're oil company stooges.
And their line of attack? The now-familiar charge that enacting a climate bill will cripple the economy, cost American families thousands of dollars a year, and result in the loss of millions of jobs. Charges which have been largely proved to be based on faulty information.
Fliers are being distributed with (mis)information about the climate bill, and schedules for rallies in 20 states, apparently to be held when congresspersons are speaking--same strategy as the health care reform opponents. But, according to the WSJ:
"We're not about yelling at your congressman," says Cathy Landry, API spokeswoman. But, she added, "We are about giving citizens a voice to make changes to the bill so that it doesn't affect energy prices."I bet that all those folks yelling at their congressmen about health care would tell you they're "not about yelling" at their congressmen either. Guess we'll see.
Let me be clear: I entirely support climate bill opponents' right to assemble and express their concerns--loudly, if they'd like. What I do not support is the oil lobby paying people to do so, arming them with talking points (which have a good chance of being rife with faulty information--climate action opponents have a track record there), and passing it off as an independently arranged civilian protest. I do not support the rabid, thoughtless interrupting of legislators at town hall meetings who are attempting to inform their constituents about proposed laws and receive their feedback to better service them with a bill that reflects their needs. I do not support the willful proliferation of misinformation.
We're currently seeing such nasty ploys from the opponents of health care reform, and it looks like we need to brace ourselves--we're about to see it all happen again from climate action and clean energy opponents.