Western Governors Enraged by False Attacks on WCI

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The Western Governors Association (WGA) is hopping mad over misinformation being spread by the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) about their climate efforts.

The WGA is demanding the NTU cease and desist, and issue a retraction and apology for falsely claiming the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) is funded by tax dollars from non-WCI states.

This is spite of the fact that the WGA provided NTU detailed accounting information showing exactly the opposite. 

We are writing to correct your repeated false characterizations of Western Governors’ Association practice and integrity with regard to work on the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) and to insist that you cease such characterizations and insinuations immediately.”

The NTU appears to have been hijacked on climate issues by the Paul Chesser of Climate Strategies Watch – an apparent Astroturf group that was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute’s climate deniers conference this year.

According to the leadership of WGA, Chesser knowingly lied publicly about the funding of the WCI, after being provided documentation that showed these accusations were false. Neither Chesser, nor the NTU asked for clarification before this whole mess hit the press.

WGA provided this documentation to Mr. Chesser many months ago, yet you and Mr. Chesser chose to publicly spread accusations you knew to be false. It is particularly disturbing that you were provided with this extensive documentation and then you chose to release only selected parts of it with your letter. Even more irresponsibly, upon receiving the information, neither you nor Mr. Chesser followed up to discuss any questions or concerns.”

As the Waxman Markey bill moves through Washington, the anti-cap and trade efforts from the fossil fuel lobby are hitting the pitch of a dentist’s drill. This erroneous attack on WCI’s funding seems to be part of that campaign and may have been seeking to turn western states not yet involved in WCI against it.

If that was the idea, it sure backfired badly. Not only were the public statements about WCI funding wrong, this colossal bungle appears to have galvanized the membership of the WGA behind the Western Climate Initiative. Oops.

There is good reason why the fossil fuel lobby is worried about WCI.

During the dark ages of the Bush Administration, a series of western states lead by California decided to lead their own effort on progressive energy policy. By passing ambitious renewable energy standards and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they began to turn around energy policy for the whole nation. The WCI now includes California, Arizona, New Mexico, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Utah, as well as British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec.

The NTU must be smarting after having their credibility dragged through the mud after pairing up with the likes of Chesser. Clearly it is not in the best interests of the NTU to enrage an organization that represents 19 US states but that is exactly what they did:

Your false accusations are offensive to Western Governors. In our many years of combined experience with WGA, we have known the organization to operate in an exemplary professional manner to represent the interests of its member states. WGA maintains the highest integrity and strict financial accounting of its projects, whether in support of the entire membership or on behalf of a subset of Governors. We are members of WGA because WGA assists in furthering the interests of our states and our citizens. Your false accusations and innuendo recklessly defame the reputation of WGA and, by impugning the reputation of WGA, you impugn our names and that of our citizens.”

Ouch. Maybe the NTU will think twice before being talked into another boondoggle by Big Oil.

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