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Monday, June 29, 2009

Joseph Romm: George Will and WattsUpWithThat embrace a proud former shill for Ken Lay of Enron, a man convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges

George Will and WattsUpWithThat embrace a proud former shill for a man convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges

by Joseph Romm, Climate Progress, June 28th, 2009

Denial makes strange bedfellows.

Two of the leading sources of anti-scientific disinformation on global warming — George Will and Anthony Watts’ blog WattsUpWithThat — have embraced a man, Robert Bradley, who proudly shilled for Enron CEO Ken Lay, who was convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges in 2006.

Watts and I, you may recall, got into a tiny dustup a couple weeks ago (see Exclusive: New NSIDC director Serreze explains the “death spiral” of Arctic ice, brushes off the “breathtaking ignorance” of blogs like WattsUpWithThat and here). Since then, Watts has been throwing everything at me including the kitchen stink, with four full posts attacking me this month. I was planning to ignore him, until two things happened.

First, Watts ran a truly nonsensical piece (here) by Bradley, who is now President of the Institute for Energy Research, which “has received $307,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.” Bradley is one of the Denier-Industrial-Complex Kooks (DICKs) — see, for instance, “Mysterious industry front-group affiliated with Ken Lay’s former speechwriter launches anti-Waxman-Markey ads with phony MIT cost figures.”

Second, George Will published a piece, “Tilting at Green Windmills” in which he uses a discredited Spanish “study” to claim clean energy investments don’t create jobs (for debunking by CP and the Regional Minister of Innovation, Enterprise and Employment for the Government of Navarre, see here and here and here). Will’s piece is noteworthy for this remarkable admission:

[This] study was supported by a like-minded U.S. think tank (the Institute for Energy Research, for which this columnist has given a paid speech.

That’s right, George Will published an entire piece based on disinformation bought and paid for by a think tank that is bought and paid for by ExxonMobil and run by Ken Lay’s former top shill — and Will also took money from that think tank. At least editorial page editor Fred Hiatt required that much in return for letting Will publish his umpteenth article full of misleading and inaccurate statements.

Now you may say, wait a minute, Joe, sure Bradley served as Director of Public Policy Analysis at Enron, where he was a speechwriter for CEO Kenneth Lay,” who was “convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges on May 25, 2006″ — but how can you say he proudly shilled for Lay when he has wiped any trace of his connection to Enron from his IER bio here?

Well, I have had the misfortune of knowing Bradley for a long time, since Enron Energy Services (EES) reached out to many leading experts on energy efficiency, and they really liked by book, Cool Companies. Certainly none of the energy efficiency folks were aware of what Enron was doing or they would have quit immediately. I don’t even know if anyone in EES management knew what Ken Lay and his buddies in top management were doing to fraudulently rip-off the public.

And I have no idea whether Bradley knew of the fraudulent activity, but he certainly knew what kind of company he was working for. Over the past several months, Bradley has bombarded me with requests to publish articles about the disinformation he and his IER buddies have written. Just last month he wrote to me and James Hansen:

I wish you (and him) could have been in the Enron government affairs meetings on CO2 trading–we were going to game it to death and make money coming and going. And no one was quaking about the future of global climate.

and before that he wrote to us:

We were going to laugh all the way to the bank with our CO2 trading until the banks said no more laughing–you’re broke. Keep trying Joe–Enron Lives!

As the Biblical Proverb says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Enron does live in on the likes of people like Bradley. That’s why Waxman-Markey has put in many safeguards to protect the public from fraud in the CO2 trading.

Does that mean the system will be free from fraud? Of course not. You can write all the laws you want against fraud and robbery and other crimes, and greedy people who think they are smarter than everyone else will still break the law. The same is true of the tax code — people try to cheat it all the time and some succeed.

But one thing you can certainly say about CO2 trading: The overwhelming majority of CO2 emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels, and flows of natural gas, oil, and coal are very closely tracked in this country, both sales and purchases. So it would be quite hard to engage in significant fraud of the kind that would lead to, say, much higher actual emissions than were being measured and regulated. And as for cornering the market and running up the price of a tradable commodity, an Enron specialty, again, W-M has multiple safeguards to prevent that outcome.

I am not going to waste time here debunking the latest Bradley-Watts attack on me since I have dealt with almost every point in previous posts. It is 100% nonsense, which is it no surprise since it is largely an excerpt from something Roger Pielke, Jr. wrote. But it does contain one unintentionally humorous attack I will address in a later post.

The point is that one shouldn’t have to debunk anything Bradley writes — or anything the Institute for Energy Research has published or supported, including George Will. You just need to consider the source.


34 Responses to “George Will and WattsUpWithThat embrace a proud former shill for a man convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges”

  1. ken levenson Says:

    the right-wingers self-delusion is mercifully loosening its grip on the wider public. how nice to see the climate bill pass -- hopefully we can now ramp-up action fast enough to actually avoid catastrophic climate change.

    I’m beginning to think that the deniers are becoming more irrelevant -- like when all the tabacco executives testified/lied to congress…the game was over.

    Now the issue is that people don’t understand that the horrible effects are not going to wait for generations down the line but are happening here and now and by 2050 we are in for a world of pain.

    And on this point, the paper we love to hate has done it again!!!!!
    With an article on forest fires and beetle destruction…It even had this money quote:

    “But scientists say that recent winters have also lacked the stretches of deep cold — 20 to 40 degrees below zero — that can check the insects’ spread.”

    YET the article never mentions climate change!!!!!! I’m not a conspiracy theorist but I’m starting to wonder…. 2009/ 06/ 28/ us/ 28wildfires.html?_r=1&ref=us

    [JR: Good catch. I'll blog on this Monday.]

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