Dirty Energy Lobby Looking To NRA For Guidance

Mon, 2013-03-25 12:50Farron Cousins
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Dirty Energy Lobby Looking To NRA For Guidance

The Wall Street Journal recently opened up their editorial pages for noted climate change denier David Deming, allowing him to publish a “call to action” for the dirty energy industry.

In his op-ed, Deming says that the fossil fuel industry could learn a thing or two from the NRA about how to become an effective, powerful lobbying force.  Deming believes that the effectiveness of the NRA is due to their ability to stand in solidarity with one another, whereas the fossil fuel industry is operating under a “every man for himself” mentality.

It is worth noting that the Wall Street Journal did not disclose the fact that Deming is a member of conservative think tanks that receive significant funding from the dirty energy industry, including Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil. 

From Deming’s op-ed:

Fossil-energy companies could learn a thing or two from the gun lobby. The gun industry is tiny compared with theirs, yet it is among the most respected and powerful groups that lobby Congress.

After the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, didn't budge an inch. He never agreed to the premise that firearms were inherently evil. Instead, he went on television and suggested that putting armed guards in schools might be an effective way of stopping evil. In other words, he refused to cede the moral high ground.

Deming, who in the past has claimed that the science behind climate change is “pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo,” has presented an argument that is a clear fallacy.  Not only is he misrepresenting the facts, but he has made conclusions that cannot be proven.

First, Deming starts with the fact that NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre refused to back down on the issue of gun control, even after a year of horrific massacres on U.S. soil.  While Deming paints this as a positive trait of LaPierre, he completely ignores the reality of the situation.  In the wake of LaPierre’s statements on the need for more guns, the approval rating of the NRA dropped to its lowest point in U.S. history, for the first time showing higher unfavorable ratings than favorable ratings.  LaPierre might have stayed steady on his talking points, but it severely damaged his industry in the process.

Second, Deming grossly overestimates the power of the NRA in his article.  When it comes to being politically impotent, few groups have less power and influence than the NRA.  According to an analysis from The Sunlight Foundation, the NRA’s political spending is a waste of their resources, with the group claiming a victory in only .83% of the political races that they poured money into.  The NRA’s lobbying arm fared slightly better, with a success rate of a little over 10%.  Those aren’t exactly numbers that should inspire Deming.

Of course, the gun industry has successfully managed to get favorable legislation passed from the state to the federal level, but the NRA is not the responsible party in those instances.  Those victories are the direct result of the gun industry’s alliance with another powerful group: The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC.)

The NRA and the gun industry have poured money into ALEC for years, in exchange for ALEC drafting legislation that loosens gun laws.  Thanks to ALEC’s influence over American politics, these legislative drafts are able to be passed.  These actions could not be successful without ALEC pulling the strings for the weak NRA.

The third major problem with Deming’s pep talk for the dirty energy industry is that his financiers have no defense.  The NRA is able to wrap itself in the 2nd Amendment, effectively labeling anyone in favor of tighter gun laws as “unconstitutional.”  The energy industry doesn’t have that benefit.

The NRA has also argued that guns aren’t causing mass shootings; these actions are the result of disturbed individuals.  The dirty energy industry has no argument.  They can’t blame the 4.6 million air pollution related deaths globally each year (roughly 500,000 a year in the U.S. alone) on “disturbed individuals.”  Science tells us that it is chemicals in the industry’s emissions that play a role in these pollution-related deaths. 

Deming’s entire argument is riddled with inaccuracies, and it provides no usable advice for his industry.  When it comes to political effectiveness and public opinion, the fossil fuel industry, just like the NRA that Deming would like to emulate, is losing credibility faster than Congress. 

And as long as people like Deming continue to offer such horrid advice, these trends will continue until both groups hit rock bottom.

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This is a guest post by Tara Lohan that originally appeared on Faces Of Fracking, a project of the CEL Climate Lab in partnership with Grist that was launched to capture the stories of concerned residents who live on the front lines of fracking.

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