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Tim Phillips on climate policy: “If we win the science argument, its game, set, and match”

By Climate Guest Contributor  

"Tim Phillips on climate policy: “If we win the science argument, its game, set, and match”"


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Americans For Prosperity president: We have to make the EPA “a political albatross for members of Congress.”

At an October blogger briefing at the Heritage Foundation, Americans For Prosperity president Tim Phillips explained his organization’s plans for defending global warming pollution.  Brad Johnson lays out the strategy for the anti-science, anti-EPA, polluter-funded group that is a driving force behind the Tea Party.  This is what climate hawks will be up against the next two years.

A day after his policy director, Phil Kerpen, claimed the organization did not question the science of climate change at a Center for American Progress Action Fund event, Phillips relished in the success of the “UK email scandals” for convincing people of a scientific “conspiracy,” saying “over the last ten years it appears it was cooling and not warming.” “If we win the science argument, I think it’s game, set, and match” for “the left,” he expounded. Phillips also discussed his plans as head of the astroturf group to make the Environmental Protection Agency an “albatross” and to kill “the myth of green jobs.”

Phillips has harnessed right-wing populist anger in the service of pollution giant Koch Industries on several fronts, especially to prevent any limits on greenhouse gas pollution. His organization’s propaganda efforts include attacks on climate legislation, with the “No Climate Tax” pledge signed by a large majority of freshmen Republicans, and the “Hot Air Tour” that has traveled around the country the last few summers. AFP’s “Regulation Reality” campaign attempts to demonize the Environmental Protection Agency. Their campaigns use a mix of false economic arguments, appeals to patriotic freedom, and support of global warming denial.

In 2011, Phillips announced, his organization plans to drive a wedge between Congress and the EPA, to increase attacks on climate science, and to attempt to discredit clean energy jobs, creating the impression that the American people support a pollution agenda (even though polls show the opposite).

Watch it:

“We have to make the Environmental Protection Agency an albatross”

They made it a political liability, guys like Ernie and others, and they pushed back on OSHA. And then there was proof that you could indeed take on a regulatory agency and push it back. We have to make the Environmental Protection Agency an albatross, a political albatross for members of Congress.

We launched a “regulation reality” effort earlier this year, we’re going to continue that “” that goes around the country and lays out how the EPA is costing jobs, how it is driving up the cost of our goods which makes them less competitive, and it works. Members of Congress suddenly began paying attention when they’ve got small business owners and local folks, consumers, in their districts and states who were pounding them, saying “What the heck are you doing to me here?”

The number one thing I hear on the road at our events is the EPA. That’s the number one agency. Now the health care thing is looming on the horizon, but the EPA is what’s killing more jobs and inhibiting more job-creators than anything else out there.

“We started looking now at the scientific impact and the fact that over the last ten years it appears it was cooling and not warming”

We made a decision early on, we launched our effort on cap and trade and global warming about three years ago. We’ve been at it for a while. We made a decision that as a free-market group we would focus on the economic impact. So we’ve focused on job losses, there are some great studies out there. Heritage. We’ve used Heritage for the job-loss studies especially, and the National Association of Manufacturers, groups like that. We started looking now at the scientific impact and the fact that over the last ten years it appears it was cooling and not warming. Hence the name change, you notice how it went from “global warming” to “climate change.” Whenever the left gets in trouble, they change the name! It was liberals, now the public has repudiated liberalism, and now it’s “progressivism.” They did the same thing with “global warming” and switched over to “climate change.”

[JR:  The revisionism about the name change  is so much bullsh!t that I will deal with it in a separate post.  On the science, see NASA: The 12-month running mean global temperature has reached a new record in 2010 "” despite recent minimum of solar irradiance, "We conclude that global temperature continued to rise rapidly in the past decade" and "there has been no reduction in the global warming trend of 0.15-0.20°C/decade that began in the late 1970s"].

“If we win the science argument, I think it’s game, set, and match for them”

The one thing I know from the polling data that the American public knows there’s an economic liability. They clearly agree with us on that. And for the first time, in the last twelve months especially, I’ve seen a dramatic tilt among independents especially with regard to believing the science involved behind global warming. That was in the high seventies, a little as two years ago. High seventies said yeah, there’s scientific evidence for man-made global warming. That’s now dropping, depends on what poll you’re looking at, Gallup and others. That’s down in the low fifties now. That’s precarious for the left. Because they’ve already lost the economic argument. We’ve beaten them there. We’ve just got to keep pounding that argument. If we win the science argument, I think it’s game, set, and match for them.

“There is a conspiracy going on, there are people fixing the data”

I think the UK email scandals was probably the tipping point. I think that’s for the first time “” you’d always had some outliers, I say that in a good way, not in a bad way, who were saying, hey wait a minute, there is a conspiracy going on, there are people fixing the data. I think that when those emails became public, the public looked at it and said wait a minute, here’s this supposedly UN, these UN scientists, and we’ve always “” I think we hold scientists in high regard, and that’s a good thing, science is, uh, a good thing “” but when it was clear from those email exchanges that they were manipulating data, and even hiding data that was not of advantage to them, that was a crucial tipping point on the science side.

I think the economic tipping point was $3 and $4 a gallon gas. When $4 a gallon gas happened two summers ago, remember when that kicked in? We noticed a dramatic uptick in turnout for our rallies, events, the pressure on the legislators, being willing to call and email. And the polling data confirmed that, saying that it was $4 a gallon gas. And then I think that the UK email scandal was the science side.

“How sad for the polar bears, right?”

And the other thing that we’re really pushing with allies is the myth of green jobs. I know many of you have been on this issue as well. What a great balloon to puncture. Because that’s the last leg they have to stand on. You noticed what the president, what the left talks about on this? It used to be the science. Then they began tilting away from the science and saving the polar bears to it’s the right thing to do, you know. And now it’s job creation. They’re literally reduced to a job creation argument. They don’t even talk about the polar bears any more. How sad for the polar bears, right? It’s wrong. But, now it’s job creation argument. That’s the last thing they’ve had. And it’s not a legitimate argument. I think the public is getting that.

– Brad Johnson, in a WonkRoom cross-post.

JR:  For the record, the polling makes clear that climate hawks have won the economic argument with the public — as well as the argument that we should take action on global warming and that the EPA should regulate emissions.  It is only our feckless leaders in Washington that haven’t gotten the message.

‹ The ‘terrific climate cartoonist’ strikes again

Energy and Global Warming News for November 29th: Japan to help India build 24 green cities; The electric Fiat 500 with a Prius price tag ›

21 Responses to Tim Phillips on climate policy: “If we win the science argument, its game, set, and match”

  1. toby says:

    This cretin thinks science is settled by opinion poll.

    Cretinous, but cunning.

  2. Dave says:

    So a bunch of corporate hacks that cannot begin to understand the science claim to have “won the science argument” because the conservatives that serve as their target audience are scientifically illiterate. What a wonderful world.

  3. Dickensian American says:

    Cretinous and criminal. Like defending the “known health benefits” of cigarette smoke. Or arsenic in drinking water. Or cars with exploding gas tanks.

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    When you listen to the tape, the striking thing about Phillips is what a jerk he is. I can’t imagine him winning support even in a roomful of Republican suits, never mind a mainstream audience. Apparently AFP hires people like Beck and Limbaugh to do their work for them, and get people into a lather over EPA with road tested buzzwords.
    They know their beliefs about global warming and EPA are too ignorant, and too weird, to ever move past the low 40′s in public opinion polls. AFP and “Heritage” hope that since these are secondary issues in most people’s minds, 40% support is enough to provide cover for the Congressmen they have bought off.

    I’m amazed that more people aren’t enraged against these kinds of people, who would pump poison into your home and alter the earth’s climate for a twenty dollar bill. We need the Democrats and the media to call them on it. Uhh… oopsie.

  5. Jeffrey Davis says:

    There’s a wonderful poem by Stevie Smith titled “Was It Not Curious?” which is about our habit of hedging about people who do terrible things. It ends with the lines:

    It was not curious so much
    As it was wicked of them.

    We cut people like Philipps slack when we assume they just don’t “understand.” They understand. They just get paid to do terrible things, and they do them with gusto.

    Was It Not Curious? by Stevie Smith. (scroll down a screen or 2)

  6. Let him talk all he wants. At least he is an enemy to the planet that we can see. Then follow the money. These people and those who fund them are as immoral as it gets. They are rooting for a fascist plutocracy. They are the worst sort of traitors to democracy and our country.

  7. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Phillips and friends are not going to make a scientific argument. That would require research, which is hard work. What he means is “If our propaganda convinces enough people to stall stall stall the money keeps on coming.”

  8. DavidCOG says:

    I find it morbidly fascinating watch people like Phillips. What has made him so pathologically dishonest? I presume it is a real mental pathology – devoid of all empathy, filled only with self-interest and greed.

    In a sane world, he would be safely ensconced in an institution that could provide the assistance he needs….

  9. Mimikatz says:

    This argument stops working when enough people are experiencing serious climate-related discomfort. Unfortunately this means that low-information people will not reject the denialists until we see some more serious impacts here in the US. If it happens in Pakistan or Vietnam it might as well not have happened at all. But people on the coasts, the southwest this summer and the upper midwest, with their frequent flooding, are becoming more receptive.

    I suppose the Koch Brothers’ end game is just dying rich before the sh*t hits the fan, but Phillips is a pretty ypung guy. He is a real true believer and very slick, speaks with total conviction. Saw him on Rachel Maddow once.

  10. Andy says:


    “This argument stops working when enough people are experiencing serious climate-related discomfort”

    When are we going to experience this ‘climate-related discomfort’you talk of? Right now I’m freezing my butt off here in London and some global warming would be more than comfortable right now.

    Stop worrying about ‘Global Warming’. Instead, shun the frost-bite and instead embrace the life-giving warmth (if it happens)

  11. Jim Eager says:

    “If we win the science argument, it’s game, set, and match”

    Wrong sport. He’s forgetting that nature always bats last.

  12. Sasparilla says:

    When he’s saying “win the science argument”, I think he’s actually talking about winning the PR campaign that has nothing to do with science and at this point – they’re succeeding brilliantly – we’re now in a siege hoping we can keep the Republicans and a bunch of Democrats from gutting the EPA’s authority for CO2 emission regulation, with a President who’s already said he’d be open to working with these traitors regarding the EPA. We are going to be really lucky to keep EPA authority intact on CO2 emissions.

  13. David Smith says:

    Andy @ #10 – You realize that warming to date is 3/4+ of a degree centigrade, average. That’s hardly enough to take the chill out of winter. On this side of the debate your comment looks silly and demonstrates no actual concern or knowledge.

  14. Esop says:

    #10 Andy:
    Ask the Russians how they enjoyed the summer warmth, or ask the Pakistani or Vietnamese how they enjoyed the rain.

  15. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Seems Tim Philips has not heard of the Frank Luntz 2003 memo detailing the Bush admin strategy to deal with global warming by calling it climate change instead. This indicates a serious knowledge gap on his part so why trust what he says? It may also indicate he’s being deceptive so again, why trust him?

    Looking forward to your post on this, Dr. Romm, so I can have a one-click link next time someone uses this debunked talking point for the umpteenth time in, what, seven years? Sheesh, how many times does this meme have to be slain?

    [JR: Yes, this is a tiresome one.]

  16. riverat says:

    Jim Eager says: November 29, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    “If we win the science argument, it’s game, set, and match”

    Wrong sport. He’s forgetting that nature always bats last.

    I think is this case you can say nature always serves last and can serve aces at any time.

  17. Edward says:

    Tim Phillips’ head bounces around a lot. Could we have some psychologists watch the movie?

  18. John Mason says:

    Phillips needs to consider one thing:

    Man lives on Planet Earth by environmental consent. This may at any time be withdrawn.

    Cheers – John

  19. AndrewW says:

    I think the “public” (at least those that care about the issue) have become disenchanted with the incredible amount of money being wasted on non-solutions. People are becoming more aware of the billions of dollars being wasted on wind and solar farms that are not economically viable.

    The whole “climate” conversation is beginning to look like a manufactured scheme. We need a breakthrough that creates clean, affordable electricity sufficient to beat coal power on price. Until then, people simply see the government and the climate-pimps wasting money we don’t have.

    If we really want a SOLUTION, the government should offer PRIZE MONEY for RESULTS instead of having Dr. Chu award grants to politically connected friends. Solar and Wind energy are NOT “alternatives,” they are expensive (and unreliable) supplements.

  20. Doug Grandt says:

    Initial “gut” impression. No heavy thinking in this:
    Has he no conscience, no morals, no soul, no heart?
    Give him enough rope and he will surely hang himself.

  21. Kermit says:

    #10: This is why it’s called “global warming”, and not “Andy’s room in the winter warming”.

    The American midwest record rainstorms (three 1000-year storms in seven years), Russian summer (record heat and toxic smoke from forest fires), Pakistani record floods, Amazonian rain forest droughts, Colorado forests dying, Mexican lizards starving to death (too hot to hunt) don’t convince you, and the science doesn’t convince you. Huh.

    What gets my goat is, when it becomes undeniable even to you, people like Phillips will blame liberals and scientists.