They're pulling out all the stops to undermine the upcoming debate in the US Senate over legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
America's fossil fuel industry knows that the key to disrupting international action to tackle global warming lies in Washington. America is the key to global consensus. Around the world, all eyes are on the US. The Copenhagen climate summit, which some believe is our last best chance to avert truly calamitous climate change, is barely a few months away.
Climate change is a top priority for the Obama administration. The problem is the Obama administration is awash in top priorities and he's running into determined, ultra-partisan opposition on everything from economic recovery to health care reform. In the process of these battles he's shown himself all too willing to water down his wine for compromise.
What it all boils down to is that the climate change issue may be Obama's and the American Congress' "bridge too far." Big Oil and Big Coal sense their opportunity and, according to the Washington Post, they're striking back hard:
The oil lobby was sponsoring rallies with free lunches, free concerts and speeches warning that a climate-change bill could ravage the U.S. economy.
Professional "campaigners" hired by the coal industry were giving away T-shirts praising coal-fired power.
But when environmentalists showed up in this college town -- closer than ever to congressional passage of a climate-change bill, in the middle of the green movement's biggest political test in a generation -- they provided . . . a sedate panel discussion.
And they gave away stickers.
...It seems that environmentalists are struggling in a fight they have spent years setting up. They are making slow progress adapting a movement built for other goals -- building alarm over climate change, encouraging people to "green" their lives -- into a political hammer, pushing a complex proposal the last mile through a skeptical Senate.
Even now, these groups differ on whether to scare the public with predictions of heat waves or woo it with promises of green jobs. And they are facing an opposition with tycoon money and a gift for political stagecraft.
Of course, who are we to criticize? Here in Canada the leaders of both major parties are unrepentant Tar Sands boosters. Even Jack Layton dummies up when it comes to climate change lest he be seen as supporting even a small tax on SUV juice. Self-serving cowards, the lot of them. Harper has EnviroCan's top climate scientists gagged and locked away in a closet and that's just fine with Ignatieff and Layton. Ignatieff even proclaims the Athabasca bitumen a "key to national unity."