Front Porch Blog

How To: get away with it…

To win, you must know your enemy.
We’re LOSING every day to big polluting interests and corrupt people in power because we fail to understand or appreciate their strategies and tactics. How do they keep getting away with it?

There is no simple answer, but one thing that helps is $.They can buy influence where we can’t. BUT, we can WIN if we do a better job of understanding their tactics, strategies, and ability to access the power of the government, even on bills that do the worst things imaginable to our planet.

Reading this, think about how, time and time again, the people who would destroy our mountains for a dollar take their fight to today’s political arena and WIN. Think about how they frame the debate. Think about the way they write bills and propagate their lies.

Lets also consider some ways in which we might begin to WIN (cause that’s funner than losing and having everything you love be destroyed with millions of dollars worth of dynamite.)

This time, their lie is that “people on the Outer Banks want drilling.”But tomorrow, it will deal with mountaintop removal in Virginia, the next day the same arguments will be made dealing with smokestack emissions in Southwest Virginia, the next day it will be the same tactics dealing with logging endangered forests on the Cumberland Plateau, new nuclear plants in the Southeast, you name it…

Away we go…

Example: Lifting the Offshore Drilling Moratorium (focus on NC)

Quick Background on Offshore Drilling Moratorium
– There is a moratorium on drilling for 85% of America’s coastline, including Alaska, and covering the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts. Like most environmental laws, it’s incredibly popular among the general populace, and keeps our coasts free of oil rigs.

– The ban is set to stay in place till 2012.

– Big oil want to see the moratorium lifted sooner…like…NOW, so that they can put up oil rigs in the Outer Banks and elsewhere along the coast.

– The current government will do (almost) anything for big oil.

– Big oil thought that it could lift the ban. So it took the vote to the House of Representatives, the most anti-environmental body of government in the country. Unfortunately for big oil, even the House of Representatives voted to keep oil rigs off of our coast by an overwhelming vote of 279-141

– So, there is now a SECOND bill. We’ll refer to it as the “State’s Choice Bill” The language isn’t that they should “lift” the moratorium, but would return the option to the states. For this simple change in language, several senators and congressmen feel like they can now get away with supporting their friends in big oil.

– When people know you are trying to lift the offshore drilling moratorium, they get pissed! But when you are just “giving states the option,” WEEEEELLLLLLLLL….we’ll just let those government types sort it out After all, who would allow drilling in the Outer Banks?.

And this is where we often get burned…

In an editorial to the Charlotte Observer, some industrial hack leads off by saying…

Along North Carolina’s coastline, a new tone is creeping into conversations about offshore drilling.

Heh…it IS??? I hadn’t noticed anything. Hmm…wonder who this lady has been talking to? (short answer…a few congressional republicans from inland and a businessman who opposed drilling but wanted money.)

Has opposition to drilling been softening since a congressional vote to lift the offshore drilling ban went down in flames in May? Has it softened since every local government in the Outer Banks came out against it? Well, its obvious that opposition to coastal drilling couldn’t get much more universal among people who live and work there.

So, you might find yourself asking the question… what is this person talking about?!?! Lifting the offshore drilling ban is incredibly unpopular here in North Carolina!

But as energy prices rise and talk of energy independence heats up, North Carolina’s rock-solid opposition to drilling is beginning to show cracks.

Really? Woah, sounds serious!
But repeating it doesn’t make it true. Will the writer bother to back it up with quote? Well…sort of. Lets see who she trots out to support this bill…

*Republican members of the state’s House delegation voted for a bill last week that would open the Atlantic to offshore drilling, albeit with state approval required for drilling within 100 miles.

GREAT POINT! Lets take a look at those Republican members in NC and see how Drilling in the Outer Banks effects their districts!

Charles Taylor from NC-11

Mr. Taylor’s opponent this fall, Heath Shuler, opposes drilling in the Outer Banks and will seek solutions through “technology and innovation.” A poll came out yesterday showing Shuler edging ahead of Taylor.

Patrick McHenry from NC-10

Sue Myrick from NC-9

Hey wait! You can’t get away so easy…

Virginia Foxx, NC-5

The League of Conservation Voters puts out a scorecard each year, rating Congressmen and women on their environmental votes. Scores range from 0% (very bad) to 100% (perfect). Taylor, McHenry, Myrick, and Foxx scored a 6%,11%,6%, and 11%.

So, not that impressive a group of folks, environmentally speaking. I don’t find it hard to believe they would be in favor of blowing up the Outer Banks for a Wal-Mart and baby-seal buffet.

North Carolina Republican congressman Walter Jones R-3 strongly opposes lifting the moratorium. I wonder why?…
Lets take a look at his district…


Senator Burr (R-NC) says he opposes offshore drilling. But why then do we hear this…?

*U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, who sits on the Senate Energy Committee, praised the [State’s Choice] bill.

The State’s Choice Bill is allowing Burr to talk out of both sides of his mouth. He can say he opposes lifting the moratorium, vote against lifting it, then vote FOR the second bill which says the same thing in softer language and get away with it!

Meet the Junior Tarheel Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)

Looks like a nice enough guy huh? And he is! We’ve met, and chatted about football and hams and education and Wake Forest and all kinds of meaningful things.
Problem is, big oil has him by the neck.

Burr has a press release still on his website stating his irrefutable hatred of and opposition to offshore drilling in North Carolina.

As a Member of the House of Representatives, Burr voted to honor the moratorium off the state’s coast five times and twice signed onto letters opposing efforts to lift the moratorium. Additionally, in February of this year, Senator Burr joined a bipartisan group of Senators in a letter in support of the moratorium.

So I guess hes just not to be trusted…

The Charlotte Observer editorial, after telling us that a few congressional Republicans (from the mountains) support offshore drilling, continues further to promote that generalization that that means that A LOT of people oppose it.

The House measure would give some control to states and includes financial returns to states that allow drilling within 100 miles of shore. That incentive, for some, changes the argument.

The editorial then gets some Chamber of Commerce guy and another business owner basically saying “if it happens, we’d love to see some benefits personally.” They don’t want it, but if people like Western NC Republicans are going to force it on them, all they ask is a small slice of the short-term economic benefit to make up for the loss in tourism that they will have forever. Its funny though, because they each say that, strangely, they oppose drilling but would just like to see some of the benefits if it happens.

Ralph Buxton, owner of Kitty Hawk Sports, fears the risks are too great. But he said his attitudes are changing a bit.
The bottom line is, I’m opposed to it,” Buxton said. “But I guess I’ll keep an open mind to other arguments. We do have needs here.”

Greg Rudolph, shore protection manager for Carteret County, south of the Outer Banks, says,

“I know the beach communities on the whole were like, ‘Listen, we don’t want to be used as bargaining chips,‘ ” he said. “However, if it’s coming, we want our infrastructure taken care of.”

Who ELSE opposes offshore drilling?

EVERY LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN THE OUTER BANKS passed a resolution in the past six months against offshore drilling.
The region’s tourism director testified against the House bill in Washington last month.
Nags Head Mayor Renee Cahoon who says “I don’t think it’s worth the cost.”
Gov. Mike Easley wrote to members of North Carolina’s House delegation two weeks ago, telling them that giving states their own options wasn’t enough to protect the coast and ocean.
State Senate leader Marc Basnight, who represents much of the Outer Banks, said he wouldn’t support drilling without a national energy conservation program.
U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, a Republican who represents the Outer Banks,

And that’s where it gets interesting. Jones voted for the house bill to allow states to choose whether or not they could drill off their coasts.

Jones said he voted for the House bill because it would protect the state’s independence and offer some financial return. “I see what’s coming,” Jones said. “My preference would be there would not be offshore drilling, but I have to be realistic.”

The Outer Banks are a national treasure, and should remain so

They will try ANYTHING to try and get to our natural treasures. Just because someone like Richard Burr or Walter Jones opposes lifting the drilling moratorium doesnt mean that they won’t go through a backdoor, get a few bucks from big oil, and change their mind. They’re too smart to do something like lift the ban, because they know that would cause a public outcry. So, Jones and Burr let big oil in through that backdoor. Through technicalities. Through semantics. When oil spills from Virginia start washing up on the Outer Banks, Walter Jones and Richard Burr are still going to be to blame!




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