A tale of two Guardian stories

An interesting juxtaposition of two energy stories occurred in the United Kingdom newspaper The Guardian today, both involving the number 70.

The first concerned the finding that the U.S. oil and coal industries have spent $70 (OK, $69.5) million this election cycle specifically attacking clean-energy policies. The article adds that fossil fuels groups outspent clean-energy groups by a margin of 10 to 1.

The second article focused on an announcement by Scotland’s first minister that Scotland is launching a 70-million pounds sterling wind energy fund to help its ports and shipyards upgrade their capabilities to serve the new offshore wind power industry.

First minister Alex Salmond was quoted as saying, "We are a nation with considerable natural and human resources and the political will needed to deliver a green energy revolution that can build sustainable economic recovery and reduce Europe’s carbon emissions.”

That’s a nice, concise summary of the type of vision we here in the U.S. need a lot more of, to harness our nation’s truly massive wind resources, both land-based and offshore. Can it happen despite the flood of fossil fuel money aimed at derailing a rational energy policy process? Stay tuned.


Big Oil spends $69.5m on ads to get the Congress it wants

It’s worth a lot to the oil and coal lobbies to get the Congress they want and the investment seems to be paying off

The next Congress is expected to throw up a whole new set of roadblocks to Barack Obama’s environmental agenda – from time-consuming investigations to budget cuts.

So how much was the fossil fuel industries willing to pay to help cast out White House allies on energy and climate change?

A lot, it turns out. Oil and coal lobby groups have spent $69.5 million on television ads specifically targetted against Obama clean energy policies in these mid-term elections, according to data compiled by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

That’s a 10-to-1 advantage over clean energy groups. Opinion polls are all predicting big wins in tomorrow’s elections for Republicans, especially Tea Party candidates.

Most of the Tea Party favourites deny the existence of man-made climate change, and some Democrats, like Joe Manchin who is running for the Senate from West Virginia, are doing all they can to distance themselves from Democratic environmental policies. Manchin, in his television ads, fired a round into a target labelled cap-and-trade.

The only bright spot could be California, where a coalition led by the outgoing Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Silicon Valley and Venture Capital, have raised $30 million to defend the state’s climate law from Texas oil refiners.

Two Texas oil refiners, Valero and Tesoro, as well as a subsidiary owned by the billionaire Koch brothers mustered $10 million to block California’s milestone climate change law, which mandates 25% cuts in emissions by 2020.

The mid-term election ad buys were an expensive finish to what has been a big PR year overall for oil and coal.

The energy industry spent $247.5 million on advertising this year, according to data compiled by the Alliance for Climate Protection, the campaigning group started by Al Gore.

Much of that was dedicated to damage control. BP spent $125 million on its "We’ll make this right" television ads after the catastrophic spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Massey Energy, owner of a West Virginia mine where 29 were killed in an explosion last April, spent $965,000 on advertising.

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, www.guardian.co.uk

By Tom Gray, www.awea.org/blog/