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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.

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.