The National Clean Energy Summit, held yesterday at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, attracted about 50 local right-wing protesters who argued that President Barack Obama’s clean energy agenda is intended to destroy capitalism. Significantly outnumbered by supporters of energy reform, the protesters argued that global warming is a “hoax,” worried that limits on carbon pollution will “dismantle capitalism” and lead to “socialism,” and questioned both Obama’s loyalties and citizenship. Watch a compilation:
The teabagger arguments mirrored those by elected conservative politicians and right-wing media. One interviewee accepted that global warming pollution should be limited, but believed a cap-and-trade system would be an economy-crippling energy tax. On the farthest extreme, some believed that President Obama is an “Anti-American Arab” who “is not a natural-born citizen.” Most people the Wonk Room interviewed, however, said that global warming is a hoax for Al Gore’s profit, that Obama is a man of divided loyalties and questionable associations, and that the country is headed toward socialist decline. Most of the protesters were motivated by a strong animus toward the president. Dozens of the teabaggers displayed the “Obama Joker” poster with the headline “Fascism.”
Meanwhile, inside the Cox Pavilion, America’s political and economic leaders made the case that economic recovery for the nation lies in clean energy. The second annual National Clean Energy Summit, organized by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, convened Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Obama cabinet secretaries Steven Chu and Hilda Solis, and numerous other influential politicians and energy executives. They agreed that the federal government needs to establish a regulatory framework for energy — including a mandatory limit on carbon pollution and standards for energy efficiency — to end our dependence on fossil fuels, tackle the threat of global warming, and unlock the potential of a green economy.
The conspiracy-minded protesters — organized by the Nevada Patriots activist group and promoted by the Clark County Republican Party — are understandably fearful of change in these harsh economic times. However, instead of joining most Americans in recognizing that our economic ills are tied to our dependence on polluting energy, they have found a home in the conspiracies pumped by the oil-backed right-wing machine.