The Skywriter

Weekly roundup 3/25/11: The U.S. Chamber's dirty deeds

25
Mar

Weekly roundup 3/25/11: The U.S. Chamber's dirty deeds

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Just how low can the U.S. Chamber go? Pretty low, according to former Bush cyber security czar and counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke. As part of its ongoing investigation into allegations that the U.S. Chamber engaged "private security firms" to sabotage progressive groups, Think Progress interviewed Clarke during a cyber security conference in Washington DC. Clarke concluded that, if the allegations are true, the U.S. Chamber committed a felony:

CLARKE: I think it’s a violation of 10USC. I think it’s a felony, and I think they should go to jail. You call them a large trade association, I call them a large political action group that took foreign money in the last election. But be that as it may, if you in the United States, if any American citizen anywhere in the world, because this is an extraterritorial law, so don’t think you can go to Bermuda and do it, if any American citizen anywhere in the world engages in unauthorized penetration, or identity theft, accessing a number through identity theft purposes, that’s a felony and if the Chamber of Commerce wants to try that, that’s fine with me because the FBI will be on their doorstep in a matter of hours.

 

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We're heavily involved in 350.org's new "The Chamber Doesn't Speak for Me" campaign. The aim is to blow up the myth that the Chamber speaks for thousands on mom-and-pop stores when in reality it's a front group for mega-corporations, including big polluters trying to destroy the Clean Air Act. If you haven't already, speak up against the Chamber and join the campaign today!

Clean energy is one of the few economic sectors that is growing at a rapid rate and creating jobs. So what's a deeply unpopular, union-busting governor of a state with 8.2% percent unemployment to do? Drive clean energy businesses away from his state, of course:

Wind energy developer Invenergy pulled the plug on a planned wind farm in Wisconsin last week, in the first of what may be a slew of such money-losing exits for the state.

The Chicago-based firm cited the state's "regulatory uncertainty" in its decision to cancel plans for the 150-megawatt Ledge Wind Energy Center in southern Brown County.

Invenergy said that the abrupt suspension of state wind siting rules and an "unstable climate" — namely Gov. Scott Walker's bill to establish the nation's most stringent wind standards — had forced the firm to think twice about building its 100-turbine project in Wisconsin.

Of course, when you know who butters Scott Walker's bread, this all makes perfect sense.

Some good news on the clean energy front: According to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, clean energy is becoming increasingly cheaper and more competitive:

Clean sources of energy such as wind and solar will be no more expensive than oil and gas projects by the end of the decade, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Wednesday.

President Barack Obama's administration has been encouraging companies to invest in green growth, calling it a new source of jobs and fearing that other nations -- led by China -- are stealing the march.

"Before maybe the end of this decade, I see wind and solar being cost-competitive without subsidy with new fossil fuel," Chu told an event at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

. . .

The US Congress has rejected attempts to mandate curbs on carbon emissions blamed for climate change, with many members of the Republican Party arguing that reducing dependence on fossil fuels would be too expensive.

Hopefully as clean energy becomes more and more competitive, opponents will be forced to drop the price tag boogeyman as an excuse to keep propping up dirty energy -- but don't count on it.

Polluters' friends in Congress have also been harping about the rising price of gas and offering their old stand-by, simplistic non-solution: drill, baby, drill! Never mind that gas prices have almost nothing to do with domestic oil production and everything to do with the inherent instability of global oil markets. Thankfully, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) stepped into the breach to provide some much-needed perspective to the debate (such as it is). Dave Roberts approves:

Apparently, [Bingaman] finally had enough of the overheated, unmoored ideological fantasies that pass for public discussion of gas prices. So he dropped some knowledge.

First, he explained that the price of gas follows the price of oil. Then he explained that the price of oil is set on the global market. It is largely unaffected by domestic policies like EPA carbon restrictions and Gulf oil permitting. It is only barely affected, and only at the margins, by U.S. supply, which flows from just 2 percent of the world's reserves. (After all, U.S. production has been rising even as oil prices rise too.) The price of oil is shaped by supply constraints in petrostates, demand growth in developing countries, OPEC policy, and unrest in the Middle East. None of those, you'll note, take place in America.

What follows is an inescapable conclusion (my emphasis):

But what can Congress do to help ease the burden of high prices for U.S. consumers, when oil prices are determined mostly outside our borders? I think a realistic, responsible answer has to be focused on becoming less vulnerable to oil price changes over the medium- and long-term. And we become less vulnerable by using less oil.

Finally, have you registered for Power Shift 2011 yet? General registration ends on March 27 -- your last chance to get a good rate before late registration kicks in. Check out this inspiring post from the Power Shift blog and then register today!

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