Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Do Oil Companies Agree with Rep. Barton?

I recently wrote a post on the $100 million campaign the oil companies are launching to improve their image. Is it possible for the oil companies to improve their image without dealing with pollution and Global Warming? I doubt it. There are plenty of signs that the American people have had enough and it's not just about the price of gasoline (though there are a few holdouts, most Democrats in Congress get it).

If the oil companies want to improve their image, they need to explain themselves if they still agree with Texas repesentative Joe Barton who calls Global Warming science nonsense; here's the story from Think Progress:
For six years, Congress has done nothing to address the climate crisis, thanks in no small part to the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, “Smokey” Joe Barton (R-TX). The 110th Congress will have new leadership, but Barton has pledged to continue fighting against legislation intended to address the problem.

(snip)

Barton says his action is justified because global warming science is “pretty weak stuff.” Barton added, “But for us to try to step in and say we have got to do all these global things to prevent the Earth from getting any warmer in my opinion is absolute nonsense. It’s not going to happen.”
For a little more background on Barton, here's this from SourceWatch:
Barton, a former consultant for Atlantic Richfied Co., serves as the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He was the primary House author of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. A number of his former staffers are now lobbyists for the energy industry. The Washington Post reported that, "In his quest for the chairmanship... A network of former Barton staff members-turned-lobbyists-including Jeffery M. MacKinnon (clients: Reliant Energy, Philip Morris, MCI and at least 36 others), Stephen Sayle (American Chemical Council, AT&T and 19 others) and Stephen Waguespack (Duke Energy, Ford Motor Co. and eight others)-worked the crucial corporate and trade association community on Barton's behalf." [Washington Post, 4/14/05]

"Since 1997, oil, gas, electricity, nuclear, coal and chemical companies have contributed $1.84 million to Barton, more than to any other House member." [Washington Post, 4/14/05]

There are Republican conservatives and Republican ultraconservatives (sometimes we just call them right wingers). When it comes to energy, the environment and Global Warming, Barton is the kind of ultraconservative who subscribes to the Republican blowhard style of making his case: if he says something loudly and repeatedly, it must be so even if any evidence he offers is largely worthless. A blowhard can be a blowhard based on principles, whatever they may be, or he can be motivated by his connections to those with a vested interest in his position. Readers can make their own judgment.

But let's go back to the oil companies. What's it to be? A $100 million campaign to continue business as usual while painting a pretty picture? Or a $100 million campaign with some reality to it? Democrats are committed to jobs, good business and a strong economic future (though a few Democrats with vested interests will require close monitoring). No matter what policies come out of Washington, the oil companies will continue to produce oil and they will continue to make money. Will the oil companies join together in protecting the environment and limiting CO2 emissions and cooperating on alternative energy or will they continue their foot-dragging on these issues? The times are changing. It may be time for the oil companies to part company with people like Rep. Joe Barton.

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