The Western Business Roundtable (WBR) is run by energy lobbyists with a history of using astroturf organizations as a means of advancing their client's interests.
There's been extensive research done on the Western Business Roundtable, as well as the PR/Lobby firm that concocted the WCB, a company called Policy Communications Inc. I wanted to share this research with Huffpo readers as a means of illustrating (again) the public relations tactics that are being deployed by the energy lobby to delay government action on climate change.
The rumor is that the WCB will be releasing an "economic impact study" on the Western Climate Initiative during the week of February 16th, 2009.
The WCB has been providing their energy industry clients the ability to make life very difficult for the Western Climate Initiative for a while now. Considering the history and past strategies employed by Policy Communications Inc., it won't be much of a shocker if their soon-to-be-released report will attempt to paint an extreme view of economic doom and gloom. And watch them then flog the report hard with key reporters.
(If anyone gets a hold of an advance copy I would love to get my hands on it, anonymity guaranteed of course.)
The CEO of both the WBR and Policy Communications Inc. is Jim Sims, and his lobby firm and the groups they have created have long been part of the energy-industry backed movement to promote the appearance of a "debate" around the role human activity is playing in climate change. For example, on the subject of climate change Sims stated in 2007 that:
"It is fashionable these days to say that the "debate is over" on the science underlying climate change. But in the arena of science, a debate continues to rage on many aspects of this issue."
Continuing the appearance of a "debate" is one of the oldest PR tricks used by the energy lobby to delay action and sow public doubt around the issue of climate change. For example, a 1998 memo produced by another energy industry lobby for the American Petroleum Institute recommends that:
Victory Will Be Achieved When
- Average citizens "understand" (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the "conventional wisdom"
- Media "understands" (recognizes) uncertainties in climate science
- Media coverage reflects balance on climate science and recognition of the validity of viewpoints that challenge the current "conventional wisdom"
- Industry senior leadership understands uncertainties in climate science, making them stronger ambassadors to those who shape climate policy
- Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extent science appears to be out of touch with reality.
Given the acceptance by the vast majority of the world's leaders that human activity is playing a significant role in global warming, government lobbyists trying to impede progress are using the global warming "debate" tactic less often.
Many groups like the WBR are reverting to the economic frame, claiming that global warming might be a reality, but it's too expensive to do anything about it and then backing their claims with worst-case-scenario reports that have the appearance of third-party unbiased opinion. No doubt, this message will resonate given the tough economic times we're in.
Hopefully mainstream media covering the release of the WBR's report will provide the necessary context that will make it clear to the general public that the report is coming from an organization that was manufactured by an energy lobbyist firm on behalf of their clients. We've run across many of WBR's backers in other work we've done, including: Peabody Energy, the American Petroleum Association, Center for Energy and Economic Development (CEED) and the Inter mountain Rural Electrical Association.
According to their website, most of the Executive members and employees of the Western Business Roundtable are staff of Policy Communications Inc. They are:
Jim Sims, President and CEO of the Western Business Roundtable
Britt Weygandt, Executive Director
Holly Propst, Director of Policy
Cody Stewart, Washington, D.C., Representative
I would encourage Huffpo readers to contact the media most likely to cover the WBR's report. It just so happens that I have a list of such media if anyone is interested in helping out. If you are, send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read all the rest of the information about Jim Sims and the other organizations he has created in our research piece here: The Policy Communications Inc. Astroturf Shell Game.