U.S. public debate surrounding Climate Change heats up a notch
Public debate in the United Sates surrounding proposed Climate Change legislation just heated up a notch (pun intended) as a result of rallies planned by a "Grass Roots" group in about 20 states to express concerns about proposed federal clean air legislation before the U.S. Congress. The rallies are planned prior to Congress' return from its August recess.
The group, called Energy Citizens, is a coalition of more than 100 organizations, including some 15 oil and gas groups. Energy Citizens' plans have gained significant notoriety of late as a result of showing up in an e-mail message from the American Petroleum Institute (API)'s President Jack N. Gerard to chief executives of API's member companies.
As for Gerard's e-mail, it provoked a strong response from Greenpeace USA's Executive Director Phil Radford, who pointed out in a written response that the API's endorsement of Energy Citizen's objective to defeat Climate Change legislation would be contrary to several prominent API members public support for climate action and the Waxman-Markey bill. Such prominent API members notably include Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC and ConocoPhillips, which are also members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP).
In reaction to the controversy, API claims that the organization is not sponsoring Energy Citizens, which would however appear to contradict the e-mail itself, where the API states that the objective of the rallies is to "put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policy [...]" and that the API will "call on the Senate to oppose unsound energy policy [...]"
In the closing paragraphs of his e-mail, Gerard asks the API members to "please treat this information as sensitive [...] we don't want critics to know our game plan." To this, Radford simply responds "Game plan known."
As is to be expected, the debate surrounding the proposed legislation will only continue to increase, with groups on each side ramping up their efforts to vilify the other. It will certainly be interesting to see how key players such as the Oil & Gas industry will position themselves, as the more polarized viewpoint holders will most likely not allow them to stay on middle ground.