Special to Climate Depot. Reprinted with Permission.
Written by Italia Federici
Al Gore is back.
Fresh from his recent flurry of climate-gate-related mea culpas and bitter explanations about the scientific fraud that underpinned his Nobel Prize winning work, Al Gore is turning his attention to Capitol Hill.
Gore’s new effort, Repower America, is gearing up for a grassroots nationwide effort to influence lawmakers about energy policy. Tonight, via their first nationwide conference call, Gore will rally the Repower America troops.
But what are they gearing up to do? Most emails from Repower America state nonsensical things like “Mother Nature doesn’t do bailouts. Our leaders can’t delay.” They take silly shots at “lobbyists” — as if the good folks at Repower America aren’t lobbyists — and they are loaded with filler sentences like “It’s going to take all of us working together,” and “The fight is just beginning.”
At first glance, the missives look like classic Al Gore.
Al Gore is famous for his non-statements. Any fan of the television show The Simpsons will recall the episode in which a child purchases a talking Al Gore doll. When the string is pulled, the Gore doll drones “You are hearing me talk.” There is no specificity.
Details are not Al Gore’s friend. Climate data specifics are only the latest hard-data to bite the former Vice President and his allies. That’s because Gore and his buddies are much less pro-environment then they are anti-Republican. For groups like Repower America and the Sierra Club, it’s imperative that wiggle room to be built into their eco-rantings — their survival depends on it.
The Repower America website does have lots of space-filling photography and verbiage about what they do support. Apparently, they support the idea of concepts.
For example, Repower America is all for mandating that a “certain percentage of all electricity sold in the U.S. to be derived from renewable resources, such as wind and solar.” Certain percentage? Wiggle, wiggle. Here they are on energy efficiency: “The federal government can promote energy efficiency through various policies, such as energy efficiency standards for new and renovated buildings, and increased efficiency standards for appliances and consumer products.” Wow – “various policies” and “increased standards” for un-named “consumer products” and “buildings!” How do I make out my check?
Oh, and of course, they support cap-and-trade which would presumably be predicated on more fraudulent climate science.
Here is their problem: Repower America can’t advocate for achievable energy policies without supporting clean coal, nuclear power and new domestic exploration as part of the mix. Yet, supporting any of those three things would so fracture their base they’d never raise a dime or generate a single comment from their own supporters.
In fact, Repower America makes it clear through their lack of specificity that they aren’t actually gearing up to support anything that is 1) necessary for the health of America’s economy, or 2) necessary for America’s security. Plain and simple, they are gearing up to obstruct. And that’s a problem for Obama and everyone else.
Obama got it right.
In his first State of the Union address, President Obama said three crucial things about energy policy and he was specific about what he wanted to support. He called for the use of clean coal, called for more nuclear power, and called for drilling. Yes, President Obama called for drilling (and he didn’t even attempt to cloak his statement by calling it exploration – he used the D-word). The nation watched as the entire Republican side of the aisle stood and cheered the President. They were absolutely right to do so.
This is not a partisan issue. The 2001 National Energy Policy Development Group Report (the product of the Cheney Energy Task Force) called for the same things Obama did. President Obama has clearly drawn the same conclusion as the previous administration: America needs to access energy resources right here at home for both economic and security reasons. Obama and the NEPD Report both called for development of new energy technologies, investment in research, and investment in renewables.
The big difference? Hypocritical groups like the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters slammed Cheney and the NEPD Report as dirty and anti-environment. No such allegations were lobbed at Obama after his address. White House politicos know these groups will fall into lock step with the Democrat in power and they aren’t worried about them bucking Obama’s agenda.
Hope for change.
For advocates of clean coal, nuclear energy and domestic exploration, it’s tempting to hope for change, to think that with the Sierra Club and LCV contained, maybe Obama will succeed where others were thwarted. At this point, every American tired of paying $3.00 a gallon at the gas pump and worrying about the next jobless report should champion the Sierra Club’s blatant hypocrisy so long as it means that Obama and Congress can realize new domestic exploration and new nuclear energy development.
It used to be that the Sierra Club and the LCV (and maybe one or two other national groups) were the only environmental shows in town. Not so today. Repower America may well have the same number of donors/members as the Sierra Club even though the Sierra Club is a 100 year old organization. That means that perennial groups like the Sierra Club can sell off their “credibility” (although many of us already knew they were frauds – recent events have simply exposed their behavior to a wider audience) while other grassroots organizations – ones that may shut down after the next election cycle – become very vocal and very obstructionist.
Unlike the perennial groups, Gore doesn’t have any incentive to cede to Obama on energy policy. Like a diva who doesn’t want to leave the limelight, Gore won’t allow Obama to take point on Gore’s own Nobel-Oscar-Emmy-Winning issue. And when Obama says drill or use clean coal, Gore will continue to strike his one, albeit discredited, note about global warming.
The United States has a three hundred year supply of coal, vast untapped oil and natural gas reserves, and hasn’t built a new nuclear power plant or refinery in thirty years. In a world where Barak Obama and Dick Cheney agree that we need coal, drilling and nuclear energy, Congress should listen.
Even if Republicans and blue-dog Democrats in Congress want to do what the president laid out in the State of the Union address, it is still imperative to have leadership from the White House.
And in order for President Obama to succeed, he’s going to have to overcome his impending Al Gore and Repower America problem.
Italia Federici was a member of the Cheney Energy Task force and is the former president of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.