The Give and Take of Washington: If You Can’t Take It, Then Don’t Give It…
In a press release last week, Greenpeace announced the launch of PolluterHarmony. The parody website, created through Greenpeace’s PolluterWatch, seeks to match “lobbyists. CEO’s, and propagandists” with easy and willing public officials to help ease the path to buying and selling influence and “sabotage our clean energy future without ever leaving the house.” The site is a spoof on the popular matchmaking site eHarmony.
The parody site claims (in jest) it is “the #1 matchmaking site for polluters, industry lobbyists, & politicians!” with a video of man explaining how he is a corporate lobbyist in the throws of new love with a woman named “Lisa” (read Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski). The man, at one point almost in tears because the new relationship makes him so emotional, tells the viewers that his time with Lisa has “…been just magical.” The video shows scenes of romantic nights gutting clean energy bills, juxtaposed with the man and “Lisa” strolling hand-in-hand through the damp streets of Washington.
Murkowski is seeking to stop the EPA’s endangerment finding that CO2 emissions pose a threat to human health and welfare. It has been widely reported that Murkowski’s proposed amendment to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act had a lot of help from energy lobbyists.
Last week it was also reported by Greenwire and the New York Times that oil and gas lobbyists spent a record $154 million (at least) in 2009 to shape and influence climate and energy policy, up 16 percent from the $132 million spent in 2008. The electric utility industry spent $134.7 million in 2009, for a combined total of $288.7 million – more than a quarter-billion dollars – to peddle influence. That’s almost ten times the $29 million alternative energy interests spend on their lobbying efforts (not including the $21.3 million spend on lobbying by environmental organizations).
In addition to the PolluterHarmony website, faith-based and environmental activists last week launched a series of radio ads targeting eight key senators when Murkowski’s amendment, characterized as “The Dirty Air Act”, comes to a vote. Other environmental advocacy groups said last week they plan on putting up billboards critical of Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, one of the three moderate Democrats that have signaled support for Murkowski’s proposal.
Murkowski spokesman Robert Dillon “condemned” the opposition to his boss, saying that “This type of personal attack is highly offensive and clearly crosses the line.”
This is a perfect example of what’s wrong with Washington,” Dillon said. “Too often outside groups go for the personal attack when they can’t win on the merits. Rather than have a legitimate debate about the policy, they launch a smear campaign.”
One might wonder where Dillon has been up until now in this debate, with the constant barrage of mocking and character assassination against proponents of clean energy and climate action the rule of the day for years, on full display last week during the harsh winter weather in, well, winter, and practically a matter of executive fiat under the Bush administration.
What crosses the line is Senator Murkowski’s blatant attempt to gut the Clean Air Act in order to satisfy her dirty industry lobbyist backers,” said PolluterWatch director Kert Davies. “If she objects to the scrutiny her conduct has received, she should consider putting her constituents ahead of Washington lobbyists,” Davies said. “Until then, we will continue to hold her accountable for her close ties to influence peddlers like Jeffrey Holmstead.”