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The Persistent Power of Polluter Propaganda

Tracking methane pollution, fighting SoCalGas and Southern Company lies


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GETTING UNFRACKED: This morning, the House Science chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) is holding a hearing on tracking oil and gas methane pollution. The official pretense that the fracking boom has not led to a rise in methane pollution is one of the greatest scams pulled by the criminal fossil-fuel industry in recent decades.

Also this morning, Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chair Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is holding a hearing on improving road safety—notably including bicycle advocate Ludwig Gaines among the witnesses. Drivers killing pedestrians in droves is an intentional feature, brought to us by the automobile industry for the past 100 years.

Let’s not ignore our military-industrial-complex lobbyists: The subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee are beginning their markup of the National Defense Authorization Act today. The White House budget request includes a little over $3 billion in climate-related activities, like electrifying tanks and restoring wetlands around naval bases. That’s not quite half the $6.1 billion earmarked to prepare for war with China. House Foreign Affairs is holding hearings on U.S. priorities in the Indo-Pacific (aka War With China) and international organization budgets, which include a bit less than the War With China money for climate action.

THE PAST IS PRESENT: Warned in 1980 that global warming caused by “fossil-fuel combustion” would lead to “massive extinction of plant and animal species,” the coal-powered utility Southern Company took decisive action: funding decades of climate denial. The Guardian’s Geoff Dembicki has more. The Guardian is the only reliable mainstream news organization on the fossil-fuel propaganda beat—not coincidentally, it’s the only mainstream news organization that doesn’t take fossil-fuel advertising.

Part of the 1990s ICE ad campaign sponsored by utilities such as Southern Company.

BULGOGI BULLSHIT: The fossil-fuel propaganda campaigns are not part of our dirty past, sadly. Los Angeles Times food writer Jenn Harris is responsible for the fearmongering “The end of Korean BBQ in L.A.?” In a lovely tweetstorm, Adam Conover breaks down this wildly terrible piece attacking recently passed legislation in Los Angeles that bans new natural-gas hookups (but not existing ones) in favor of electric appliances.

Harris quotes a representative from the California Restaurant Association who is fighting electrification, but fails to mention—as previously reported by Times reporter Sammy “Van Halen” Roth—that CRA is heavily financed by SoCalGas and other fossil-fuel companies. Conover links to more Roth reporting in the Times outlining the broad campaign SoCalGas waged by SoCalGas and others have paid front groups to claim falsely that electrification will harm communities of color.

It’s really too bad that Harris and her editors was snookered by the fossil-fuel lies—I sincerely hope there will be a collaborative follow-up that corrects the record.

CLIMATE (OR NOT) NOMINEES: Senate Commerce has the nomination hearing for Dr. Michael C. Morgan to be the Assistant Secretary at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association in charge of our nation’s climate and weather monitoring and prediction systems, from stream gauges to satellites.

After performatively genuflecting to the fossil-fuel industry by tanking the nomination of climate hawk Sarah Bloom Raskin to the Federal Reserve and complaining about the SEC’s proposed climate rules, Senate Banking is voting on Raskin’s replacement pick Michael Barr and SEC nominees Jaime Lizarraga and Mark Toshiro Uyeda this afternoon.

And Senate EPW is holding its hearing for Nuclear Regulatory Commission nominees Annie Caputo, a former advisor to climate denier John Barrasso (R-N.D.) and Bradley Crowell, a Nevadan and former advisor to climate hawk Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). It is safe to assume that the problem of where to put all our nuclear waste will not be resolved by the NRC any time soon. (By soon, I mean “ever.”)

Hearings on the Hill:

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