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David Doniger’s Blog

Does NRDC Operate Like the Oil Industry? Not on Your Life

David Doniger

Posted July 8, 2014 in Curbing Pollution, Solving Global Warming, U.S. Law and Policy

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Click here to take actionThe New York Times ran a very nice article yesterday about NRDC’s part in developing an innovative proposal for curbing carbon pollution from America’s 1600 fossil fuel-fired electric power plants – the nation’s largest source of the pollution that’s driving dangerous climate change. 

We’re proud to have played a role, and we’re glad to have kicked things off with our December 2012 report.  But as it’s often said, success has many parents. 

It turns out that many of the hundreds of stakeholders EPA consulted over the past year have proposed recipes with the same basic ingredients

  • A fair approach that recognizes state-to-state differences in how our power is generated, and
  • A flexible approach that captures all effective ways to cut carbon pollution – e.g., cleaning up existing plants, using cleaner resources first, building out zero-emitting plants, and reducing energy waste.

But (and there’s always a but) I have to take issue with the first half of the headline in the Times story:  “Taking Oil Industry Cue…”   The story goes on to say that we “followed the strategy used by the American Petroleum Institute, the lobbying arm of the oil industry, to write an energy policy for Vice President Dick Cheney during the Bush administration.” 

Sorry, our strategy was entirely different. 

In 2001 API and other big polluters sent secret proposals to the Cheney Task Force, seeking to profit from rolling back public health and environmental protections.  In 2012 we published our carbon-cutting proposal openly and publicly, aiming to protect our children's health and future. 

We didn't hide behind closed doors.  You can see us on YouTube at the National Press Club.

As I told the Times:  ““The goal was to move this idea very quickly into the public conversation and affect as many people’s thinking as possible.”

June, from Charleston, SC, grasped the difference, in a comment posted on the Times story:

If they were following the oil industry practices, they would hold numerous secret meetings with the V.P. whom would have a personal stake in their success; they would never allow opposing voices in their meetings …. The fact that these meetings are already in the news indicates they are not following the oil industry practices.

And Bill, from Charlottesville, summed it up nicely:   

Now the NRDC is following the energy industry's lead - sending in lobbyists to write legislation so as to line their pockets and satiate their own greed.

No, that's not the reason.

Hold on, it'll come to me...

Public service! That's it. The scoundrels!

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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