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Happy Holidaze and Farewell for Now December 29, 2009

Posted by Julie in astroturf, bonner and associates, cejapa, chamber of commerce, climate bill, copenhagen, G20, obama to copenhagen, tcktcktck.
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Copenhagen has passed and the Action Factory has packed up, moved out, and dispersed. This just might be the last post on our blog for a while.

In the end, we did not get nearly what we had hoped for — neither a US Senate climate bill, nor a binding international climate treaty.

BUT…

…perhaps we can claim just a little credit for helping push Obama to go to Copenhagen? After all, we did give him a plane ticket for his birthday. And we gave him some flack when he went there to try to get the Olympics.

…Or how about for influencing Arlen Specter’s far-from-certain EPW committee vote after we chased him in a SurvivaBall herd, all the way from the capitol into the Hart Office Building?

…Or for making Jack Bonner of Bonner and Ass. look like a real idiot when we shook his hand while wearing Astroturf suits at a House Commitee hearing, much to the delight of Congressman Ed Markey…

…And there was also that time we crashed a press conference being held by Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravestahl prior to the G20 summit at the National Press Club. Before the G20 summit even began, we dominated the media cycle by asserting our first amendment rights and demanding strong climate action from world leaders. Then we continued to make news once in Pittsburgh with our Global Climate Wake-Up Call (the first link is hilarious, btw)

… And finally, I suppose we can claim credit for the defection of a major paper company from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It happened just 1 day after we successfully pulled off an elaborate spoof press conference with the Yes Men in which we temporarily reversed the Chamber’s backward stance on climate policy. We may have even provoked the Chamber to dig itself into an even deeper hole and sue some of us… gee, that would make them look real bad… hmm…. oh wait, we did. The Chamber also sent a letter to Senators Boxer and Inhofe not long after our stunt, trying to play nice guy and directly assert supposed (feigned?) support for climate legislation, an act which Senator Kerry suggested would be a “Nixon to China” moment, if the Chamber really meant it.

All in all, we had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends. We generated hundreds of media hits highlighting the dire need for climate action, and these were undoubtedly seen by hundreds of thousands. We hope that through our actions, we have inspired and will continue to inspire many, many more actions.

Here are three nuggets of DC action wisdom:

1. Crash other events for media attention

2. Being ridiculous is fun and can actually put pressure on elected officials

3. The bottom of the reflecting pool is slippery – enter boldly, but carefully and everything will work out fine.

The Action Factory may be over, but our work is far from complete. In the final hours of the Copenhagen conference, a handful of countries – including Tuvalu, Bolivia, and Venezuela – made statements strongly opposing the undemocratic accord, which is essentially a death sentence for many low-lying countries. When one nation’s “unprecedented breakthrough” is another’s death sentence, something is clearly not right. That’s why in 2010 many of us will stay engaged with battles and creative actions in the Coal River Valley, within the US Senate, at the US Chamber of Commerce and elsewhere. Avaaz as an organization will take on the Chamber directly. We hope you will join us for the long haul — not just because it matters, or because the future of our planet depends on it, but because it is FUN.

Thanks to all of you who have been along for the ride – it’s been a pretty wild one. See you in the streets.

People vs. Polluters December 22, 2009

Posted by Morgan in astroturf, bonner and associates, chamber of commerce, copenhagen, naked fraud.
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There are more people to blame for failure in Copenhagen than… sensational cliches to start blog posts with.  Obama probably negotiated his ass off during his 9 hours in Denmark, but he didn’t do enough legwork beforehand to set himself up for success.  China blocked any sort of requirement, goal, target or accountability mechanism, even though it is and will remain the largest greenhouse polluter.  The US Senate didn’t pass a climate bill in time.  The list goes on.

Yet some guilty parties are actively trying to mess the process up instead of just not doing enough: powerful fossil fuel and business interests are working against the interests of the people in the struggle for a senate bill and in the negotiations for a treaty. As Ricken Patel from Avaaz said about Copenhagen: “one group was cracking open the champagne – the polluting industry lobbyists.”

Even before the dust had settled or the last negotiations had stopped, the DC Action Factory used its last few hours as a group to deliver Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming to every single senate office and Roland Burris (D-IL) in person. Maybe we didn’t do enough to expose the dirty energy campaign to hijack the senate, but hopefully final hours as an Action Factory are a sign of big things to come.

Mr. Burris probably shouldn’t have stopped to talk to us, because it didn’t make him look good at all. Even without knowing what an astroturf suit with a coal lobby name-tag symbolizes, you would think any senator with an instinct for self preservation (all of them?) would be wary. Instead, Julie said we had a book for him about how dirty industry has spun the science on global warming.Burris  saw the coal lobby name tag on David’s astroturf jacket and said, “You know, we have a lot of coal in Illinois, and we need to burn that coal.” Ouch. (more…)

Monsanto Refuses Angry Mermaid Award December 18, 2009

Posted by sam daly in astroturf, climate bill, copenhagen, oilsands.
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The seas are swirling with mermaids’ fury against Monsanto and the corporate criminals who sabotaged the Copenhagen climate process. Mermaids know no borders. They swam it all the way to DC Wednesday to share their anger with the 3 winners of the “Angry Mermaid Awards“.

We at the DC Climate Action Factory teamed up with a delegation of irate Danish anthrofishies and hit the frozen streets of K and I: global corporate lobby ground zero. It’s from here that climate criminals and climate profiteers staged their war to infiltrate and cripple the climate legislation that so many saw as the lynchpin for progress towards a real deal at the COP. Naturally, this place is home to the Angry Mermaid Award winners.

First stop we hit it was API, the American Petroleum Institute. API came in at 3rd place in global interweb polling of over 10,000 homo sapiens sapiens and mermaids. API’s lobbying war chest weighed in at $4.1 million this year. Beyond the beltway, they fielded a mercenary astroturf army, lobbing lies at congresspeople and directing climate coverage in corporate media. All to perpetuate the fossil fuel economy that’s devastating the planet and threatening mermaids, humans, and everyone else who depends on natural temperatures and stable ecosystems.

Apparently someone tipped them off, because we arrived to find the API entrance caution-taped. But nay, no length of ribbon could thwart our MERMAID FUNK ARMADA. We triumphed in delivering a 5ft. Angry Mermaid award inside the building despite heavy resistance from the astroturf army sentinels who tried in vain to blockade the entrance.

But that’s all for another video. And so is our daring ascent up the highest steeple in the Church of Shell Oil, Jorma Ollila’s sustainable tar sands spa. Yes, we bested them too, the 2nd place winners. But that is also for another video. This is a 3-part series.

What we can share is this: Exclusive footage of a daring fin and foot dance attack on Monsanto castle, 1st prize winners. We were victorious in our goal of decorating Monsanto’s terrific genetically modified Christmas tree with a life-size Mermaid trophy. But, alas, there were casualties on our side. Chalk another up for the murderous behemoth that is Monsanto.

Monsanto is at the head of the corporate climate profiteers‘ counter-evolution, undermining sustainable technology by lobbying for false solutions to the CO2 emissions crisis. Monsanto’s prime false solution is leading the proprietary GMO biofuel monoculture empire. Similarly, Shell and API champion Carbon Capture technology and unconventional extraction like the Alberta Tar Sands project.

Alongside the false solutions scam, the Angry Mermaid winners feed from another common trough: government subsidies for carbon-intensive economic sectors. All three winners benefit from fossil fuel, factory-farming, and military-industrial subsidies. The related industrial sectors, transport, industrial agriculture, dirty energy, manufacturing, and war, comprise the greatest emitters in the second-worse emitting country in the world.

As people who depend on the land and water ecosystems in the United States and depend on the same oceans and atmosphere, we share in the rage of the angry mermaids. Thus the uncompromising beat of our global MERMAID FUNK ARMADA. We are unstoppable. And as with all things unstoppable, more action is on the way.

The Angry Mermaid Award is organised by ATTAC Denmark, Corporate Europe Observatory, Focus on the Global South, Friends of the Earth International, Oilchange International and Spinwatch.

Here’s another DC Delivery by the Organic Consumers Association

The Same Tired Talking Points Brought To You This Time by Senator Baucus and Dirty Energy Lobbyists November 10, 2009

Posted by skolmk in astroturf, cejapa.
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Today, the Senate Finance Committee held its first hearing for the Boxer-Kerry bill. News such as this would typically be welcomed as necessary progress, as we are pushing for strong climate legislation to pass through the Senate before Copenhagen. However, one must take into consideration ulterior motives when Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) is chairing the committee in question.

As the only Democratic Senator to vote “no” on the bill as it was marked up in the Environment and Public Works Committee, Baucus continues to mire progress in hearings that are antithetical to the success of the bill. Today featured industry and conservative lobbyists testifying before the Finance Committee on “Climate Change Legislation: Considerations for Future Jobs”. Included amongst the pro-nuclear and coal representatives was our friend Kenneth Green from AEI (side note: he remembered us interrupting him at the adaptation hearing. Success?)

Brad Johnson with Wonk Room called out Baucus on his indefensible submission to the “polluter lobbyists”, sharing the same sentiments as us that this hearing was supporting nothing more than the same empty rhetoric that has been spewed “time and time again for the past 10 years”.

The action factory shifted into high gear, deciding that we had to bring Finance Committee Senator’s attention to youth demands and constituent calls for global climate action.

Julie + Kerry

John Kerry accepts our 350 tie

We arrived shortly before the hearing began, with some of us dressed in our now infamous Astroturf suits and others as real people demanding bold action on climate change from our leaders. As Senators approached the Finance Committee hearing room, our real people for global climate action approached the Senators, handing them a 350 tie and a glossy photo from a 350 international day of action in their respective home state.

We were lucky enough to have constituents in our group for conversations with Senator Cantwell (D-WA) and Kerry (D-MA), who both gladly accepted our pictures and ties. Kerry even scolded our Astroturfers, saying that there is already $10 million worth of provisions for the coal industry in the bill (yeah…great).

Tom, Julie, Oscar + Roberts

Action Factory takes on Senator Roberts

Not all Senators were as receptive, though. Senator Roberts (R-KS) took a tie but argued against wind turbines in defense of migratory birds (yes, we also thought we would never hear that misnomer of an argument again). We also caught Senator Baucus on his way out of the hearing, and while he gladly accepts money from dirty energy lobbyists would not take a 350 tie from us. After saying he “supported climate change”, we challenged him, asking if he supported bold action against climate change. His response is best summarized by the title of this post- a lot of talk behind inconsistent action.

Blowing the Whistle on Astroturfing October 29, 2009

Posted by skolmk in astroturf, bonner and associates.
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Hey Bonner & Associates- here’s what astroturf looks like!

Today’s Congressional hearing shone light on the fraudulent letters sent to three congressmen on behalf of Bonner & Associates just days before the vote on the House energy bill (ACES) this past summer.  In short, we investigated astroturfing. The unfortunate tactics employed by the opponents of clean energy to blatantly co-opt and misrepresent members of already marginalized communities- the NAACP, seniors, and women, amongst others – and undermined genuine grassroots efforts.

In the same way that big tobacco once masqueraded the toxicity of cigarettes, Bonner & Associates led elected officials to believe that the groups most effected by the unjust realities of climate change and dirty energy were against passing provisions in the House to stop climate change and create clean energy jobs.

While politics have never been pretty, there are certain lines you just don’t cross. Until today.

Three action factory fellows showed what today was really about: the coal lobby and their astroturf operation.  The few supporters of Bonner and Coal were sitting just to our right, undoubtedly sweating as Jack Bonner and Steve Miller (President of American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity) were tirelessly grilled by Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Jay Inslee.

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Coal Lobby Poisons Democracy

We couldn’t help but smile every time Rep. Inslee interrupted Jack Bonner, requesting for the umpteenth time that he simply answer the question about whether he told his employees to lie. Steve Miller was similarly full of hot air as he stumbled between “ums” and “uhs”, attempting to dig himself, and the coalition he represents, out of a significantly deep pit of lies.

It was suggested to Mr. Miller that in retribution for his company’s deceitful actions (and equally as harmful inaction) that he make an office visit to Senator Inhofe-a climate legislation obstructionist-lobbying for progressive climate legislation in the Senate. Or perhaps run a full page advertisement in a political publication supporting energy independence instead of clean coal technologies that don’t even exist. Hilarity ensued as both Bonner and Miller were left speechless by these suggestions, and the coal lobbyists to our right looked nervously at their feet.

While the legal penance of the Bonner & Associates “hoax” has yet to be determined, the action factory fellows visibly exposed the astroturf efforts of these companies, complete with signs reading “Coal Lobby Poisons Democracy”.

Until we can actually keep CO2 safely sequestered, we should keep the same big coal lobbying efforts underground- and nonexistent.

Astroturf in Congress October 29, 2009

Posted by Morgan in astroturf, bonner and associates.
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Congressional Hearing on Bonner Letter Fraud

WHAT: Select Committee hearing: “Fraudulent Letters Opposing Clean Energy Legislation.”

WHEN: Thursday, October 29, 2009, 9:30 AM

WHERE: 1100 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC and online at globalwarming.house.gov

WHO:

  • Mr. Jack Bonner, Bonner & Associates
  • Mr. Steve Miller, President and CEO, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity
  • Ms. Lisa M. Maatz, Director of Public Policy and Government Relations, American Association of University Women
  • Mr. Hilary O. Shelton, Director and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy, NAACP Washington Bureau


Climate Activists with the Avaaz Action Factory will wear astroturf suits to protest the fake grassroots support for coal industry.  In June, Bonner and Associates, on behalf of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), was responsible for 14 forged letters sent to 3 representatives urging them to vote no on the climate bill.  This extreme example of fake citizen support for big-industry policies, is part of a larger issue with corporations pretending to be real people.

The coal industry has spent millions to try and generate ‘grassroots’ support for its policies, spending that is not reported as lobbying.  The hearing is expected to examine both specific instances of letter forgery, but also the larger issue of undisclosed industry lobbying efforts.

Current lobbying rules do not require firms to disclose clients for ‘public outreach’ work, even though it can translate into direct lobbying.  Closing this loophole would effectively limit astroturf lobbying operations and bring democracy back to the people.  It would also presumably limit opportunities for fraud, such as the fake letters sent by Jack Bonner’s company.

According to E&E news, ACCCE spent $302,700 on lobbying in the third quarter.  This number admittedly excludes “grass-roots activity, and leaves out most advertising spending and does not show money spent on state and local lobbying.”

Fake citizen opinion on legislation is dangerous for democracy, especially when companies stand to reap huge profits from the outcome.  Furthermore, when companies can hide their funders, public accountability for these actions becomes difficult to enforce.

Congressmen receiving forged letters: Rep Perriello, (D-VA) voted for the ACES legislation.  Reps. Dahlkemper (D-PA) and Carney (D-PA) voted against it.