The Dernogalizer

June 16, 2009

Peterson Bought Out

What Could be Inside?

What Could be Inside?

A month ago, I wrote about the staggering amount of money energy lobbyists had given to members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and how coincidentally those who had received the most money were causing the most trouble.  Ever since the bill passed out of that committee, its main obstacle has been the Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson.  Peterson has sought to change something that isn’t even in the bill, which is the EPA seeking to take into account the full life cycle of biofuels so that we’re only using biofuels to replace conventional ones when there aren’t adverse effects like tropical deforestation.  This threatens much of the current ethanol industry, so Peterson has build up a voting block of 30-40 rural farm state Democrats, and is threatening to derail the climate bill unless he gets what he wants.  He also wants farmers to be able to sell billions of dollars worth of offsets on the offset market for farming practices trap which more carbon in the soil and plants.

Now I actually think it’s okay for there to be provisions in the bill where farmers can sell real and verifiable offsets on the domestic offset market we’re going to inevitably have if this bill passes.  See 8 reasons why farmers should support Waxman-Markey.  However right now the bill allows for that even though agriculture is exempt from the cap on greenhouse gas emissions.  The issue Peterson has is he wants the process by which offsets are verified to be adjusted in the bill so that the new process is tilted in favor the benefiting the big agricultural industries.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise then to find that Peterson, like his Energy and Commerce Counterparts, has been bought out by big Ag.  A table says a thousand words.

Agribusiness $1,597,823 $1,342,814 $255,009
Communications/Electronics $76,820 $64,700 $12,120
Construction $97,085 $74,000 $23,085
Defense $10,400 $10,400 $0
Energy & Natural Resources $145,335 $138,585 $6,750
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate $617,164 $579,774 $37,390
Health $232,870 $222,200 $10,670
Lawyers & Lobbyists $181,785 $92,753 $89,032
Transportation $136,750 $132,500 $4,250
Misc Business $277,896 $238,231 $39,665
Labor $1,064,494 $1,063,794 $700
Ideological/Single-Issue $228,351 $208,251 $20,100
Other $32,305 $7,000 $25,305

May 14, 2009

Bought Out

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:57 am
Tags: , ,

What could be inside?

I made a post a few weeks ago about how anti-global warming lobbyists from big industry were corrupting capitol hill in 2008 in order to block legislation.  There are already indicators that with the stakes so high this year, last year will look pretty.  

According to Kate Sheppard of Grist, dirty energy interests have spent 79 million dollars in the first quarter of 2009 lobbying Congress.  That’s not all…

“According to the latest lobbying data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, the oil and gas industry spent nearly $44.6 million lobbying Congress in just the first three months of this year, and ranked second only to the health care and pharmaceutical industries in total spending. Electric utilities spent $34.4 million, and businesses in the energy and natural resources sector as a whole spent $102.7 million.  To find out how much clean-energy businesses spent, you have to search down into the “miscellaneous energy” category, which includes wind, solar, biofuels, hydro, and other industries—and even then their combined spending only totaled $14.4 million. The American Wind Energy Association was the biggest renewable spender in that category, at $1.2 million. No other organization or company in the category topped $1 million.  Environmental groups have spent even less—just $4.7 million so far in 2009. The biggest spender among green groups was the Environmental Defense Action Fund, which laid out $300,000.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a staunch opponent of climate action, tops the list of individual spenders on all issues, at $15.5 million. Also on that list:  ExxonMobil at $9.3 million, Chevron at $6.8 million, ConocoPhillips at $6 million, and General Electric at $4.8 million.”

According to Brad Johnson of Wonk Room, the Democratic members of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee that have received the most money from dirty energy interests coincidentally are opposed to climate legisltion…

“Members of Markey’s energy and environment subcommittee with strong ties to those sectors include Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA: $50,942 from steel), Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN: $113,033 from auto), Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT: $177,946 from coal), and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX: $330,613 from oil). The trade publication E&E News has identified 13 members of the 34-member subcommittee as swing votes. These “maybe” officials have received an average of $678,570 in lifetime contributions from those sectors, as opposed to $149,397 for the nine “yes” votes:”              

Here is a great graph which illustrates the problem quite well

and another one on lifetime contributions…the color code tells the story, and I can’t help but notice the strongest opponent, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas has taken nearly $3.5 million.


All of this is an example of why there needs to be serious campaign finance reform.  

May 9, 2009

Great Story

I came across a post on Grist by Ted Glick a man I’ve met a few times.  He’s incredibly dedicated to pushing for action on climate change.  Ted talks about a great story on how he read a line by a Congressman that irritated him, so he went to their office and refused to leave until he got to talk to him.  He got what appeared to be a productive 30 minute conversation.  The link for the original post is here.

I’m also pasting it below.  Enjoy!

“This is 2009. We’ve got 41 years in this deal, and we shouldn’t be so worried about the first 10 years.”

—Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), Environment and Energy Daily, May 7, 2009

 I had no plans yesterday morning as I woke up and turned on my computer to spend the afternoon in the D.C. office of Congressman Mike Doyle. But then I read this line in an article on the status of efforts to cobble together a piece of climate legislation in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

I remember my physical reaction as I read these words, my head shaking back and forth, some trembling and an upwelling of deep, livid anger. “This is the last straw,” I remember thinking.

And involuntarily in my head, I began singing the words to the Bob Dylan song, Masters of War.

I discovered Bob Dylan and Masters of War in the summer of 1968. I was 18 years old, home from college after my freshman year at Grinnell College. I was working on the Presidential campaign of Bobby Kennedy. I had begun doing so after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4th. Then on June 6th, Kennedy was assassinated. All summer, as I worked on the maintenance staff of a local college, the words to Masters of War kept going through my head over and over as I despaired over the state of the world, the state of my country.

“You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins.”

And that’s why I went to Mike Doyle’s office at 2 pm yesterday and told Pat Cavanaugh, his energy staff person, that I was a long-time climate activist on the 18th day of a hunger strike ( for strong climate legislation and that I wasn’t leaving until I met with Doyle.

I’ve done sit-ins before. I and two other people did one in 2002 in New Jersey when I was a Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate. We sat in the offices of one of my opponents, Frank Lautenberg, to protest his refusal to allow myself and other “third party” candidates to be part of any debates. After nine hours, we won, and about a week later a nationally-televised C-Span debate was held that included all six candidates who had qualified for this particular race.

And in December of 2007, at the tail end of the long climate emergency fast I did that fall, 20 of us occupied the Capitol Hill office of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) after he led the Senate Republicans in their stripping out of anything and everything having to do with renewable energy from a House-passed energy bill. Two of us, my wife Jane Califf and I, were arrested after spending the day in McConnell’s office because we refused to willingly leave at 6 pm when the office was closed.

But as I sat in Doyle’s office, no one with me, none of the press people who I called showing up to find out what was happening, thinking about what was going to happen at 6 pm, wondering if I had been too impulsive, wondering what would happen if I was arrested—because I was very clear that it was either talk with Doyle or that—wondering, wondering … after two hours of sitting, into the office comes Mike Doyle.

I’d never met the guy, so at first I didn’t know it had happened when he arrived. But when he sat down across from me and said something like, “I’m Mike Doyle, what’s up,” I knew it was game time. And for the next half hour I had the most intense, in-your-face, no-holds-barred discussion with an elected official I have ever had.

Doyle’s no dummy, and I have to acknowledge that he’s a strong debater. I didn’t get him to change his mind about the efforts that he and Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) have been leading to weaken the “discussion draft” of climate legislation Henry Waxman introduced on March 31st. The way Doyle described it, he was doing the bidding of Waxman, carrying water for him by going to the Blue Dog Democrats to find out what was necessary in order to get a bill out of committee. He also said his main thing was the 15% free emissions permits for steel, cement, aluminum and other energy-intensive industries during a 10-15 year transition period. But when I asked him why he was then supporting the idea that 40% of the permits would be given free to coal companies/utilities (local distribution companies), the best answer he could give was something like this, a very revealing answer:

“If you return money directly to the American people for them to use to pay for higher energy costs in the transition period, they’ll spend it on things like flat screen TV’s. By giving free emissions permits to utilities they can then pass on the savings directly to consumers.”

I wasn’t and am not convinced. Giving money to profit-making coal companies like Duke Power and Peabody is going to end up helping consumers? Please. All it will do is delay the urgently needed shift from fossil fuels to renewables and efficiency.

By the end of our half-hour discussion, the decibel level had been dialed down several notches, we were agreeing that we wished President Obama was giving much stronger leadership on this issue, and he was telling me that there was some interest among Energy and Commerce committee members in what was being discussed within Ways and Means (carbon tax and/or cap and dividend approaches). As we shook hands and parted company, I thanked him for being willing to talk and he commended me for being a gentleman.

Sometimes you just have to act upon what you feel is right. And it is right to feel outrage over the power that corporate polluters in both parties have over our political process. It’s time to blow the whistle and shine the spotlight on those liars and deceivers.

April 22, 2009

Action Alert: Over 2,000 in DC Tmo and Friday

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 9:20 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Lobbyists trying to stop the climate bill that is.

$450 million: Amount spent on lobbying and political contributions by
opponents of global warming action in 2008.

52: public spokespersons engaged by polluters and the ideological
right to spread disinformation about global warming online and in the

2,340: Number of paid lobbyists working in Washington on climate
change in 2008.

7 in 8: Proportion of climate lobbyists advocating against climate

$45 million: Amount spent on global warming denial advertising by the
coal industry in 2008.


As I’ve said before, there is a climate bill being considered in Congress right now, which you can read more about here.  I think the people should have a say too.  Google your Congressman’s name, and give their office a call saying you want them to support the Waxman-Markey climate bill.  Write a letter to the editor supporting Congress to cap carbon and help spark the shift to a clean energy economy.  The best thing though, is to just show up.  Below is an opportunity for people to have their voice heard inside the halls of Congress.  These kinds of activities are also going on Friday in the same place, although the big push is Thursday.  If the above numbers indicate anything, it’s that we all need to find a way to have our voice heard on this one.  2 million votes beats 2,000 lobbyists.  


RSVP to or the Facebook event

What: This Thursday’s Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Capitol Hill

Who: The representatives debating the specifics to include in the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, Lobbyists for the utility companies and some of the biggest polluters, testifying before the committee and asking that the permits to pollute be given away to them for free, and hundreds of young people like us reminding the representatives that this is not an option and it is not what we voted them into office to do.

When: Thursday, April 23rd @ 8AM – The hearings are happening all week, but we want to focus our energy when the oil/coal lobbies are presenting. I know 8am is early but if we want to get into the actual hearing room we need to arrive early because the corporate lobbyists paid “supporters” will be sure to get there early to receive the cash.

Where: Rayburn House Office building, Room 2123 (Click here for a map)

Why: At Power Shift, we flooded the halls of congress for the biggest clean energy lobby day in history to demand bold climate legislation for a more sustainable future.  We told our representatives what we wanted and they heard us, but will they follow through?  This is a chance to show congress that we mean business – our mere presence on the Hill will speak volumes. Come get in the hearing, call constituents in the home districts of those members on committee, pay a visit to their offices, and be outside the office building to rally.

RSVP to or the Facebook event

Questions?  Contact Ethan:, 202-631-1992

February 11, 2009

Students Lobbying Annapolis

So I’m cross-posting this from a blog post I made on the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s blog site:

So this post is a little overdue, I organized a couple of lobby meetings with Delegate Michael Vaughn, and after many attempts to reach him, State Senator Nathaniel Exum. The meeting with Delegate Vaughn went well, we talked with him about the Greenhouse Gas Reductions Act which he hadn’t seen yet, gave him a copy, and told him what was different about the bill this year, and how we thought he could help sheppard it through the Economic Matters Committee. In the end, he ended up becoming a co-sponsor.

The meeting with State Senator Exum was not successful, although we did talk with him for about 45 minutes about the bill, and the issues surrounding it. Exum’s main issue was that Maryland Dept. of Env. had taken longer than it should have to get him a permit for his business, and he felt that they were too incompetent to administer a greenhouse gas reductions plan. The one thing we did learn that was useful was that he planned to introduce an amendment similar to the one he introduced last year, where MDE has to report its plan and proposed programs back to the legislature every year. He said he might “compromise” on 2 years. Obviously this wasn’t acceptable to us, and we do not see eye to eye with Exum. Despite our differences, he was very respectful, and we’re thankful he was kind enough to sit down with us for so long considering we weren’t his constituents and his relationship with the environmental community hasn’t been all flowers and sunshine.

Pictures below

Environmentalists Within 3 feet of Exum!  and hes smiling!

Environmentalists Within 3 feet of Exum! and hes smiling!

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