The energy policy "smoking gun"

Or, to paraphrase David Rees, the disassembled gun that may smoke if put together and fired: is it just me, or has this not gotten the attention it deserves thanks to the whole Downing St. (that's "Street", not "Saint") Memo affair?

In briefing papers given before meetings to the US under-secretary of state, Paula Dobriansky, between 2001 and 2004, the administration is found thanking Exxon executives for the company's "active involvement" in helping to determine climate change policy, and also seeking its advice on what climate change policies the company might find acceptable.

Other papers suggest that Ms Dobriansky should sound out Exxon executives and other anti-Kyoto business groups on potential alternatives to Kyoto.

Until now Exxon has publicly maintained that it had no involvement in the US government's rejection of Kyoto. But the documents, obtained by Greenpeace under US freedom of information legislation, suggest this is not the case.

"Potus [president of the United States] rejected Kyoto in part based on input from you [the Global Climate Coalition]," says one briefing note before Ms Dobriansky's meeting with the GCC, the main anti-Kyoto US industry group, which was dominated by Exxon.

But in evidence to the UK House of Lords science and technology committee in 2003, Exxon's head of public affairs, Nick Thomas, said: "I think we can say categorically we have not campaigned with the United States government or any other government to take any sort of position over Kyoto."

These documents probably represent just a tiny fraction of the volume of corporate dominance of the Cheney energy task-force memos that were "heavily censored" before being released to the public. At the very least, the House of Lords might want to look into perjury proceedings against this Thomas guy and his higher-ups in the Exxon hierarchy.

And I can say that categorically.

Finally, it's always instructive (I'm not sure why exactly, though) to look at how good old Scotty McClellan (and, thus, the Bush administration) deals with these kinds of questions. Happily, for my purposes, Scotty had to confront a press question referring specifically to the Guardian's article:

Q My second question is, The Guardian Newspaper in England has reported FOIA documents released to Greenpeace show that the White House views Exxon Corp. as one of the leading opponents of the Kyoto protocol, leading opponents of binding controls on greenhouse emissions. You now have Philip Cooney going to Exxon, after a period in which he served as Chief of Staff on the Environmental Council here at the White House, in which he edited scientific documents coming out of the administration that appeared to water down conclusions about global warming. Is there any connection here between a guy who worked in the White House editing out conclusions about global warming going to work for a corporation that opposed it?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's a pretty absurd question that you just raised...

It sure was an absurd question - what kind of jackass would dare suggest corporate nepotism between the Bush administration and big business - much less expect an honest answer from a wanker like Scotty?

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