Mike Casey

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Mike Casey is the President and founder of Tigercomm, a leading U.S. cleantech PR firm with offices in Arlington, VA and San Francisco, CA. He uses his 28 years of experience in communications to counsel cleantech executives and investors. Tigercomm has helped companies develop and execute community relations plans for clean energy projects; launch products; and generate attention from investors, customers and policy leaders. Mike has trained over 1,700 people on message development, media interviewing and public relations management. He writes frequently at National Geographic’s Great Energy Challenge, Greentech Media, Renewable Energy World, and Scaling Green about removing the barriers to clean energy adoption.

Before founding Tigercomm, Mike served on two presidential campaigns, and as a spokesman for both a U.S. Senator and a U.S. Congressman. He also built and ran the communications operations of two national environmental groups: the National Environmental Trust, which won 22 straight issue campaigns during his tenure; and the Environmental Working Group, which earned the reputation as “dollar for dollar, demonstrably one of the most effective groups in Washington,” according to National Journal magazine.

Growing the Options: Showing the Clean Economy is Good Politics and Policies

There are a lot of venues where clean economy players network and do business. Michael Liebreich’s excellent Bloomberg New Energy Finance summit and Pennwell’s Solar Power-Gen come immediately to mind. But there’s nothing for cleantech like the National Rifle Association (NRA) or NAACP conventions – a place where political candidates and office holders talk to us because it’s a must-attend event.

The fact is that the political aggression aimed at clean economy businesses demands that we grow our leadership options.

We piloted an effort to change that recently with a first-of-its-kind roundtable featuring one U.S. Senate candidate (former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine) and some of the sharpest clean economy minds in the mid-Atlantic region. I don’t know that I’m in the “sharpest clean economy minds” category, so it’s good that I got to play host. Still, something novel happened during this meeting: Leaders from seven clean economy sectors got together with a political candidate who actually wanted to hear from them!

Introducing: Deep Accountability

This is the first in a series of occasional posts I’m writing to grow an idea I’m calling “Deep Accountability.”

Currently, fossil fuel industry lobbyists, flacks, allied pundits, and government officials are far too comfortable dismissing concerns about what their pollution does to other people. In their minds, it’s a big country, there’s plenty to use, and pollution is no big deal as long as it creates problems forother people. Permanently contaminate water tables with gas drilling’s fracking fluids? Just cart in water for those other people.

The problem is, we really don’t have a big enough country to trash it like we’ve been doing. In fact, we can’t afford to trash it much more at all. But fossil guys operating with a time horizon of a quarterly earnings report or an election cycle can still nurse the illusion that the status quo is OK. That’s because the effects are still falling on just a few other people. They think anyone who speaks up about the problem must be silly, wimpy, unpatriotic, or not living in “the real world.”

With global pollutions trend lines escalating in the wrong direction, it’s pretty clear that by the time the fossil guys wake up to the realities of what they’re doing to the rest of us, it will very likely be too late to reverse the damage. According to some experts, it might be already.

Simply put, it’s been too easy for the pro-pollution crowd to ignore the realities of what they are advocating. The accountability-free zone needs to end.

Mr. Morriss Gets Acquainted With Irish Confetti

Originally posted at ScalingGreen.com.

Merriam-Webster: Irish Confetti - “A rock or brick used as a missile.”

We recently wrote about professional clean energy critic Andrew Morriss being schooled by Center for American Progress’s Kate Gordon before a friendly crowd at the fossil industry-funded CATO Institute. Back in April, Mr. Morriss couldn’t answer Ms. Gordon’s inconvenient points about the huge government welfare checks received by the dirty energy industries that fund him while he rails against pro-clean energy policies.

Morriss, you see, is a front man for the front group, the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University; the Koch-funded Property & Environment Research Center (PERC); and the ExxonMobil and Koch-funded Institute for Energy Research. I’m guessing that he, like others in the cottage industry of anti-clean industry front groups, has been trying to raise more dirty energy money by showing he can put an equals sign between the Solyndra bankruptcy and broad pro-clean energy policies.

Clean Energy Advocate Gives a “How to” Clinic on Rebutting Fossil Energy Disinformation

Cross posted from The Great Energy Challenge

Anaheim, CA – Over the past few months, I’ve made the case that the dirty energy lobby plays a full contact game against clean energy, using lobbying and disinformation as business weapons to drive the idea that clean energy is “expensive, unreliable and not ready.” Cleantech, I’ve said, needs to step up its advocacy game dramatically, including driving an honest debate about who is really “expensive.”

At the WINDPOWER International trade show this week, I spoke on a panel that fielded a number of questions about how to do that. It’s hard to find a better place to start than by highlighting the clinic put on by Kate Gordon of the Center for American Progress at a recent “debate” that was hosted by the fossil energy-funded front group, the Cato Institute.

Gordon faced off against a rising star in the dirty energy experts-for-rent stable, Andrew Morris, whose disinformation platform is the Koch-funded (and Koch-founded) “Mercatus Center.”

Lessons from PFC Restrepo’s Mother

Cross-posted from The Great Energy Challenge.

The incredibly brave work of the U.S. Special Forces team that killed Osama bin Laden brought some badly needed, uplifting news. It gave Americans welcome, if temporary, relief from steady news of American lives lost in the Middle East.

You can really feel that weight of the sacrifice our people are making to defend America watching Sebastian Junger’s moving film, “Restrepo.” The film documents the service and sacrifice of the U.S Army’s Second Platoon, Battle Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The film is named after Private First Class (PFC) Juan Sebastián Restrepo, one of the first in the unit killed after arriving in Afghanistan.

National Coal Expert: “Mining is a Loser” in Practically Every Way

Originally posted at The Great Energy Challenge blog

Anytime coal’s cost to America is discussed, the coal industry reflexively talks about what an economic lifeline it is for the states in which it operates. Headwaters Economics, a Bozeman-based think tank focusing on natural resource issues, has a solid new study that’s getting national attention for undercutting those claims. For instance, the Headwaters study finds that “[f]ossil fuel production has not insulated energy-producing states from fiscal crisis,” that “[f]ossil fuel extraction has a limited influence at the state level on economic indicators such as GDP by state, personal income, and employment,” and that “[t]he volatility of fossil fuel markets poses obstacles to the stability and long-term security of economic growth in energy-producing regions.”

This is a problem for the coal industry, which spends heavily to construct a fantasy world in which it’s a “clean” industry to which we should feel grateful, a vital supplier of our power, and an economic lifeline to host communities.

But in the real world, coal’s case is even weaker than the Headwaters study shows. The work of Professor Michael Hendryx of West Virginia University goes even further. His work has looked at the costs of coal mining to the Appalachian communities that host it.

Gambling when we don’t have to

Two weeks ago, I visited the office of a friend of mine, a partner at a top cleantech Silicon Valley law firm. He and I shared a concern about the increasingly hostile, anti-clean energy propaganda from dirty energy-funded critics who are trying to position clean energy as expensive, subsidy-dependent, and “not ready.” The good news, my friend said, was that he’s increasingly hearing from cleantech executives and investors concerned about these growing attacks on their investments. The bad news was that many of those concerned don’t connect the attacks with the dirty energy money that’s funding them.

Now what cleantech needs to hear is, ‘No more Mr. Nice Guy’,” he told me. “These [dirty energy] guys are out to kick our butts, and they will if we let them.”

I think my friend is right. However, after attending last week’s Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit, I think there’s a ways to go before enough cleantech players see that dirty energy is using media and government to protect its capital investments and decades-long feeding at the public trough.

Top EIA Energy Trends Watcher Agrees: We Do Not Count Damage to Public Property in Price of Fossil Fuels

Scaling Green recently wrote about the insights shared by energy trends analyst Chris Namovicz of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), who spoke at our “Communicating Energy” lecture series recently, and his comments regarding the lack of a definitive count on fossil fuel subsidies in this country. Today, we return to Namovicz’s lecture, this time to ask him about the economics of fossil fuel companies’ exploitation of resources on public property.

Here’s our question:

Their price drops in part because we’re not charging them to ruin public property. I mean, we basically are letting them contaminate water, we don’t charge them for that, and they don’t have to pay it. Your assumptions don’t include any price we would impose on them for hurting public waterways, is that accurate?

Top EIA Energy Trends Watcher: No Definitive Count on Dirty Energy Welfare

The national conversation about wasteful welfare for highly profitable dirty energy corporations has gone from the dramatic statement by the Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency that fossil fuel subsidies are one of the biggest impediments to global economic recovery (“the appendicitis of the global energy system which needs to be removed for a healthy, sustainable development future”), to a speech by Solar Energy Industries Association President Rhone Resch (in which he called the fossil fuel industry “grotesquely oversubsidized”), to a call by President Obama to cut oil company welfare by $4 billion. Not to be outdone, House Democrats are now calling for a $40 billion cut.

Dirty energy welfare defenders have, predictably, responded with ridiculous, Palin-esque denials of reality, but the voter demands that wasteful spending be cut begs the question: just how much of our tax money is going to ExxonMobil, Massey, etc.? With the new deficit hawks in Congress going after insignificant items like bottled water expenses, you’d think they’d want to know the size of the really wasteful stuff, right?

How the Other Guys Play

Americans want deficits cut , and there is a new set of leaders in Congress who committed themselves last year to cutting wasteful government spending. And, while over 70 percent of Americans are unaware how much of their money is given in welfare checks to highly profitable dirty energy companies, when they find out, only 8 percent want it to stay that way.

After President Obama’s State of the Union address calling for a modest cut of just $4 billion in welfare for oil companies, the focus on this insanely wasteful spending has intensified. It’s the right proposal, but one that will encounter very stiff resistance for entrenched interests that still very much enjoy their century-long stay in the government incubator of tax breaks, subsidies, cheap access to public property, forgiveness for wrecking that property, and little meaningful oversight.