Opposition to Clean Energy

Given the negative impact of fossil fuels on so many aspects of modern life, who resists a clean energy future?  To paraphrase Upton Sinclair: It is difficult to get a man to support something, when his salary depends upon his not supporting it.

Big industries stand to lose business if clean energy succeeds.  These are stalwart, multinational, trillion dollar businesses, some over a hundred years in the making.  Their desire to maintain the dirty fossil fuel status quo at the expense of the health of people everywhere is never to be underestimated.

Electric utilities, oil, gas, and mining industries spent over $500 million on lobbying between 2009 and 2010.  That is big money but it pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars out there to be made in these industries.  Exxon Mobil alone made over $40 billion in 2010.

With this much at stake these industries will not stop telling us that we must accept their pollution if we want jobs, prosperity, and energy security.

The fossil fuel industry uses any number of methods to keep their world intact including untruths, savvy PR and spin campaigns, paid scientists, generous contributions to elected officials — all intended to cast doubt, raise fear, and when in doubt, obfuscate.

It is an ongoing war with numerous skirmishes and battles.  The oil and gas industry spent $179 million in 2011 to ensure that legislation designed to fight climate change failed.  Koch Industries, one of the largest fossil fuel conglomerates in the world, owned and operated by the Koch brothers, also paid scientists and others $24.9 million from 2005 to 2008 to deny climate change.

Fossil fuel lobbyists and politicians from states with much vested in fossil fuels and who have accepted campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry would have us believe that climate change is some grand conspiracy or that cleaning the dirty smoke from say, a coal plant, costs too much, or that solar power is infeasible.

Front groups, think thanks, and non-profits like the American Legislature Exchange Council and the Americans for Prosperity receive money and support from the Koch brothers and others to spread doubt, fear, and denial in direct opposition to innovation and progress toward a clean energy future.

Many elected officials who receive contributions and support from the fossil fuel industry consistently attempt to dismantle landmark anti-pollution legislation such as the Clean Air Act and undermine the Environmental Protection Agency from doing its job.

Everything is in play, too.  The American Coal Foundation likes to start them young.  The foundation was recently ordered to remove books that it had given to elementary schools across the country.  The books were supposed to tell the story of the coal industry but the story was too good to be true: negative details of the coal industry such as pollution and destructive mining were omitted.

It is tiresome, sometimes, to engage in this kind of nonsense.  It is exasperating.  The tendency is to just leave it be.  That is exactly what the opposition hopes.  Vigilance, awareness, and skepticism with a good dose of determination is unfortunately sometimes necessary.  The stakes are too high.  Healthy oceans and healthy people depend on it.

3 things you can do right now to support clean energy:

1. Resist the fossil fuel industry’s rhetoric
2. Support clean energy businesses
3. Know the facts and issues

Other great ways you can make a difference.



Resistance to Greenhouse Gas Regulations, Environmental Defense Fund
Oil Lobby Spending Outmatches Others,  USA Today

Koch Industries, Greenpeace

Outmatched Spending, Open Secrets

Koch Brothers Funding Denial Machine, Triple Pundit

Scholastic’s Big Coal Mistake, New York Times

Koch Brothers Take Credit for Anti-Climate Change in GOP, Sustainable Business

Fred Upton, Senator (Republican) Michigan Money Contributions, Dirty Energy Money

War on the EPA, Huffington Post