Climate

Dirty coal groups 14th forgery impersonated American veterans. Real vets support strong action on climate and clean energy — as does GOP Senator John Warner, former Armed Services Committee chair

American Legion forgeryClimate change is a major threat to U.S. Security.  The clean air, clean water, clean energy jobs bill would enhance our security by reducing oil dependence and environmental harm.  That’s why the conservative Virgina Republican, John Warner, is pushing hard to pass the bill — because he is a former Navy secretary and former Senate Armed Services Committee chair and because he is a former Forest Service firefighter now “just absolutely heartbroken” because “the old forest, the white pine forest in which I worked, was absolutely gone, devastated, standing there dead from the bark beetle” thanks in large part to global warming (see interview below).

So it’s no surprise the deniers and delayers spread disinformation to try to undercut this core message.  As Brad Johnson reports at Think Progress:

Congressional investigators have discovered that the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity’s (ACCCE) astroturfing effort has impersonated American military veterans in a forged letter sent to Congress. Thirteen other forgeries purporting to be from organizations representing blacks, Hispanics, women and senior citizens. This latest letter, sent in June to influence a swing Democratic legislator on his vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act, impersonates a local American Legion official in Rocky Mount, VA:

As the Washington Post reported:

The letter, sent to the office of Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA), asks Perriello to “make sure the Waxman-Markey bill includes provisions to promote American energy independence, while protecting already cash-strapped constituents from increases in electricity prices.” It concludes, “Thank you for listening to concerns of vets in your district.”

Download the forged letter.

Also yesterday, we saw Alstom quit the scandal-ridden coal industry front group, ACCCE, joining Duke and Alcoa.

Real veterans of the  Iraq War explain their support for the American Clean Energy and Security Act in this new advertisement from VoteVets.org:

Yesterday, more than 150 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — real ones — visited the White House and the Congress to argue that “climate change legislation is absolutely critical.”   E&E Daily (subs. req’d) has the full story:

President Obama welcomed to the White House yesterday some 150 veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are lobbying members of Congress for passage of a comprehensive energy and global warming bill.

The former soldiers and officers met with top Obama administration aides in the Old Executive Office Building as part of a broader messaging campaign aimed at taking the climate debate beyond its traditional audience.

“What you bring is what is vitally needed,” former Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) told the group. “I don’t mean to disparage environmentalists who’ve carried the torch on this for so many years.”

But Warner, a former secretary of the Navy, said the war veterans add a human face to the global warming debate as military leaders take into account the increased risks of famine, human migration and water shortages that come with climate change.

Robert Diamond, a Navy lieutenant, urged his fellow former soldiers to write op-eds for their local newspapers and to get on the radio for interviews about energy issues.

“People listen to you,” Diamond said. “People instantly give you credibility. You are the most powerful messenger out there.”

Several veterans now serving in the Obama administration also spoke at the event, including Thomas Paul D’Agostino, the administrator for the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, Joe Riojas of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Mike Parker from the Labor Department.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) also sought to link climate change with national security threats during a speech yesterday at George Washington University.

The former Democratic presidential nominee said there is a connection between the scientific alarms raised about global warming and the intelligence that U.S. officials had warning them in the days leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 people.

“The real lesson of the day before, ladies and gentlemen, is that when we see a threat on the horizon, we can’t afford to wait until it arrives,” Kerry said. “Unless we take dramatic action now to restrain global climate change, we risk unleashing an aggressive new challenge to global stability, to the livelihoods of hundreds of millions, and yes, to America’s national security.”

Warner’s is a remarkable story — a hard-core conservative Republican aggressively supporting the climate and clean energy bill.  He istrying to build grass-roots support for congressional action to limit global warming,” as Politics Daily reports.  “He is traveling the country to discuss military research that shows climate change is a threat to U.S. national security, and this fall he’ll testify to Congress on the issue for the fourth time.”  PD has a long interview with him, which I excerpt below:

PD: How did you get involved in this cause and what are you hoping to accomplish?

JW: There are two events. In 1943 I was 16 years old. . . . I got a job with the U.S. Forest Service as a firefighter on the border of Montana and Idaho. I worked that summer for three months in the most beautiful, pristine forest you’ve ever seen in your life. Five or six years ago I went to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, to give a speech. I asked the Forest Service to take me back to those camps. I was just absolutely heartbroken. The old forest, the white pine forest in which I worked, was absolutely gone, devastated, standing there dead from the bark beetle. I said to the forest ranger, “This is such an emotional, distressing trip for me — what is the problem?” He said, “Our climate has changed so much out here. We don’t have the cold winters which used to curtail the level of the bark beetle. So it’s decimating the white pine and many valuable species.” That sparked my interest.
PD: Does the responsibility fall to us to respond to the consequences of climate change?
JW: Not exclusively, but we’re often in the forefront of response to these things. We’re the nation with the most sealift. The most airlift. We have more medical teams which are mobile, more storehouses of food and supplies to meet emergencies. And throughout our history, from the beginning of the republic, America’s always had to respond to certain humanitarian disasters.
PD: What are some examples of destabilization due to climate?
JW: One clear case of it is Somalia. [In the early 1990s] the prolonged drought began to tie up the economy, the food supplies. There was a certain amount of political and economic instability. Where you have fragile nations . . . a serious climactic problem will come along, with a shortage of food or water, and often those governments are toppled. And then they fall to the evils of . . . terrorism or others who try to exploit these fallen governments. You saw it in Darfur. You saw it in Somalia. This political instability and weakness is given the final tilt by a problem associated with climactic change.
PD: Is your purpose to get national security into the forefront of the debate on climate change?
JW: Two years ago I teamed up with Joe Lieberman. The Lieberman-Warner bill was the only climate-energy bill that got out of a committee and actually got to the floor of the Senate. We debated it for three or four days. It had a cap-and-trade system [to limit carbon pollution]. . . . It was a very broad-based bill, a 500-page bill. The Bush administration felt they did not want to support it on their watch and it collapsed.
PD: What is your sense of the Senate at this point?
JW: The leadership of the Senate, primarily [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid, made a very wise decision at this time. All the committees that have a part of the jurisdiction are putting in their own recommendations for legislation. Therefore six committees are now preparing a bill to be submitted to Senator Reid the last week or so in September.
PD: Will senators give this issue the level of attention that you think is warranted?
JW: We just got back from Florida. They are very responsive there for two reasons. They have so many military bases. The men and women on those bases are affected by the additional missions they could be called on. . . . Public awareness should be raised. This is not just a private debate among environmentalists. The Department of Defense is really beginning to shoulder a good deal of the responsibility.
Here’s the second thing that got Florida’s attention, and that is sea rise. You raise the mean level of the oceans about two to three inches and it has a profound multiplying effect on hurricanes and other violent storms, and Florida is in the path of these storms. Also you’ve got so many military bases in South Carolina and Virginia. If there’s a significant rise of the sea, you put military installations at risk.
PD: Are senators paying attention to you?
JW: I think so. Very much so. Certain chairpersons [John Kerry of Foreign Relations and Barbara Boxer of Environment and Public Works] are very interested. I haven’t been as successful as I had hoped to engender the military committees to get involved. I have no means whatsoever under the ethics law to even call a senator or staffer. There is an Iron Curtain. But I can testify.
PD: With environmentalists already on board, are you trying to interest other types of people?
JW: That’s quite true. People think climate change is solely an environmental campaign. And I . . . consider myself strongly in support of the environmental goals of this country. But a lot of people look with a different view on that. This says, “Hey, wait a minute, irrespective of your feeling about environmental concerns, here’s a practical effect. Your sons or daughters or next door neighbor might be sent out on a military mission.”
PD: Are you trying to reach out to conservatives?
JW: I’m not trying to identify them as conservatives, liberals or independents. I’m basically trying to tell the American public that if we’re going to make progress with regard to climate change, it’s got to start at the grass-roots level. President Obama is quite committed. Certain elements of Congress are quite committed. But it’s going to take a significant grass-roots education program so the American public can decide: Is this something we should do for our nation? And I think there’s going to be a price tag. There’s going to be some cost, and I want to make sure people understand what’s behind the need for it.
At the same time I was chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. More and more [retired military] people would say to me, “We’ve got to take a look at this climate change. If it continues as it is and worsens, we’re going to be called on in more incidents to provide troops for humanitarian causes . . . or where governments are toppled as a consequence of lack of food or water or energy or all the other things associated with natural disasters.” I said all right. I studied it.
It’s knowledge of the facts that makes people climate science realists.

7 Responses to Dirty coal groups 14th forgery impersonated American veterans. Real vets support strong action on climate and clean energy — as does GOP Senator John Warner, former Armed Services Committee chair

  1. Leif says:

    “It is knowledge of the facts that makes people climate science realists.” That is a statement that the news media should print up on there doors. Come on journalists, get your act together…

  2. Lou Grinzo says:

    Reading about the latest details of dirty coal’s dirty tricks, I have one observation and one question:

    First, no one should be the least bit surprised by this, just as none of us should expect anything less than a considerable escalation of these filthy tactics.

    Second, what does anyone here think the right-wing gasbagosphere would sound like if the Democrats (or left or progressives or reality enhanced or whatever you want to call them) forged letters to elected representatives under the names of such groups? It would be wall-to-wall rage, pumped up to bone-shattering volume, for months on end, or until they manufactured some other cause.

  3. paulm says:

    Good to see this.

  4. aljay says:

    Joe-

    I’d love to see a post on this:

    Groups Launch Polluter Fraud Citizen Tip Line
    Published September 3, 2009

    Today the AAUW, National Wildlife Federation, NAACP, Center for American Progress Action Fund and Sierra Club urged citizens to blow the whistle on deceptive, fraudulent, or illegal tactics being perpetrated by big polluters and their lobbyists to strike down clean energy innovation.

    Adam Kolton, senior director, congressional and federal affairs at the National Wildlife Federation, said:

    “The hotline we have launched will help people fight back against big polluters and their lobbyists.

    “As we know all too well by now, a contractor for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity sent more than a dozen forged and fraudulent letters to members of Congress in opposition to the American Clean Energy and Security Act. ACCCE and its contractor, Bonner and Associates, are now under investigation by the House Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence.

    “We hope this investigation uncovers the full extent of the wrong doing but we fear we may only have seen the tip of the iceberg.

    “Between the fake letters to Congress and a recently leaked American Petroleum Institute memo urging its member companies to have their employees masquerade as concerned “energy citizens” at events closed to actual citizens it’s becoming increasingly clear that additional steps need to be taken to ensure that a fair, open and honest debate takes place on the clean energy jobs bill.

    “That’s why today National Wildlife Federation, Center for American Progress Action Fund and the NAACP are launching the Polluter Fraud Hotline – a toll free line where citizens can blow the whistle on fake letters or other fraudulent or deceptive tactics being perpetrated by those seeking to defeat clean energy legislation.”

    MORE INFORMATION

    Citizens calling 866-363-4648 will have the option of reporting if they themselves were a victim of a forged letter or have knowledge of one; if they have knowledge of or witnessed an event staged by the American Petroleum Institute or oil and coal interests under the guise of being a true citizen-grassroots event; if they were coerced to attend such an event or denied access to one; if they are energy company employees or contractors and want to leave a tip about unethical or possible illegal activity or
    if they want to report other instances of fraud or deceptive tactics including misleading ads, mailing, or calls they may have received.

    Citizens can also e-mail tips@polluterfraud.com.
    Staff from NWF, NAACP or Center for American Progress Action Fund will review all tips that come in and take appropriate follow-up action.

    The groups launched the tip line at a telephone press conference today. An audio recording of that event is available for reporters by contacting NWF.

    National Wildlife Federation is America’s conservation organization, inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.

  5. ecostew says:

    More on dirty coal: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    September 11, 2009

    EPA Releases Preliminary Results for Surface Coal Mining Permit Reviews

    WASHINGTON –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has identified 79 proposed surface coal-mining projects in Appalachian states for further, detailed reviews of their pending permits. The extended reviews will be carried out under an enhanced coordination process between EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers developed under an interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on surface coal mining facilitated by the Council on Environmental Quality and signed by the EPA, the Corps, and the Department of Interior. The Corps and EPA will work together during this review process to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act and the protection of this nation’s public health and environment.

    “The administration pledged earlier this year to improve review of mining projects that risked harming water quality. Release of this preliminary list is the first step in a process to assure that the environmental concerns raised by the 79 permit applications are addressed and that permits issued are protective of water quality and affected ecosystems,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We look forward to working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers, with the involvement of the mining companies, to achieve a resolution of EPA’s concerns that avoids harmful environmental impacts and meets our energy and economic needs.”

    In the next 15 days, EPA will be further evaluating the preliminary list of projects slated for further review and transmit a final list to the Corps. After that, issues of concern regarding particular permit applications will be addressed during a 60-day review process triggered when the Corps informs EPA that a particular permit is ready for discussion.

    “This administration made a commitment to be more collaborative, transparent, and efficient in how it executes its responsibilities. The enhanced coordination procedures in the MOU provide a path forward and certainty regarding how the projects will move through the process,” said Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. “I am confident that this collaborative effort will strengthen our environmental reviews while allowing sustainable economic development to proceed.”

    The enhanced coordination process, announced in June 2009, was created to strengthen the environmental review of pending mining applications and to address the backlog of permit decisions that occurred as a result of various challenges, including litigation. This process is one element of the Obama Administration’s commitment to improve the environmental review of permits for surface coal mining projects in Appalachia and look for ways to reduce adverse environmental impacts. The process will also allow for greater public participation and transparency. Since June, 29 projects have been removed from the list for various reasons, including circumstances where permit applicants have requested that their applications be withdrawn.

    The 79 pending permit applications on which EPA focused are for proposed surface coal mining operations in 4 Appalachian states. EPA’s initial review concluded that all of the projects would likely cause water quality impacts requiring additional review under the Clean Water Act. The initial reviews were conducted in light of available project-specific information, the existing environmental condition of the watershed in which the project is proposed to be located, and the nature of environmental impacts predicted to result from construction and operation of the proposed mine.

    The list of 79 permits is being made available today on EPA’s Web site at the address below along with additional information about the nature and outcome of the EPA review process. As noted, the list will be available for public review for the next two weeks and then a final list will be published and provided to the Corps of Engineers to begin the next phase of review.

    More information on the list of 79 permits:
    http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/guidance/mining-screening.html