Who’s behind the anti-sustainability astroturf talking points (aka “Agenda 21”)

ALEC’s “our state legislators” are promoting the anti-sustainability astroturf talking points at the Georgia state capitol. But ALEC doesn’t seem to be the source of those talking points. Who is? Follow the money: who stands to benefit the most by obstructing public transportation, fuel efficiency, and renewable energy? The fossil fuel companies, especially big oil.

Lloyd Alter wrote for Treehugger 29 June 2012, Exposing the Influence Behind the Anti-Agenda 21 Anti-Sustainability Agenda, first pointing out that most people never even heard of Agenda 21:

…a recent survey showed that most people never heard of it and Few have heard of Agenda 21 and only 6% oppose it only 6% say they are against it. so why are politicians from State governments up to the National Republican Party and Presidential candidates like Newt Gingrich make such a big deal of it?

“People don’t wake up in the morning sweating bullets about the United Nations.”-Robin Rather

Robin Rather of Collective Strength, who commissioned the survey, says “I genuinely believe the Agenda 21 phenomenon is highly manufactured. It’s not out there in the mainstream.”

There are a number of leads back to big oil, starting with one of the main conduits of the talking points, the John Birch Society, one of whose founders was Fred Koch, founder of Koch industries, a diversified multinational that has large fossil fuel components. His sons David and Charles founded Americans for Prosperity.

When he is not out on the public speaking circuit, Tom DeWeese is President of the American Policy Center, the loudest mouthpiece of the anti-Agenda 21 crowd.

Alter digs into APC board connects to big oil, leading to Amoco, Chevron, Dow Chemical, Exxon, and General Motors. The one company he found with the most documented dollars going to organizations or people promoting the talking points is ExxonMobil. Well, and the Koch brothers:

As Far as the Koch’s Americans For Prosperity goes, they hand out brochures about Agenda 21 that are almost fair and balanced compared to some of the stuff I have read.

Some conservatives worry that sustainable development is just a disguise for a larger scheme to adopt radical environmentalism, wealth redistribution, or some form of “world government” through local initiatives. But whether this is true is largely irrelevant: regardless of the underlying motives and regardless of the source, the policies themselves prove to be an affront to property rights and harmful to the American economy. To those who favor economic freedom and limited government, this alone is grounds for concern.

AFP branches from Kansas to Oregon appear to have Tom Deweese constantly on the rubber chicken circuit, he is everywhere.

There’s much more in the article.

Why does it matter who’s behind the talking points? Because big oil is not very popular, and revealing it’s behind the talking points can help defeat the talking points.

One of the reasons that California’s Proposition 23, which would have suspended air pollution controls, was defeated was that it became clear that the whole thing was being funded by oil companies and Koch Industries. As the Bay Citizen reported, “Opponents of the measure successfully painted Prop. 23 as the handiwork of out-of-state oil companies bent on messing with California’s laws.”

Bike lanes, transit and higher density are evil because they give people alternatives to cars, and that can never happen in America.

Fundamentally, that is what is happening here. Big Oil is paying for CFACT and either directly or indirectly the fight against Agenda 21; The Kochs are promoting it like mad, right across the country. Same big companies, same reason: to keep America in its happy motoring ways, to make any alternative just about impossible. And that is how we have to paint them: not concerned citizens worried about the United Nations, but representatives of big oil out to preserve their turf.

Which corporations have the biggest fossil-fuel-related monopolies in Georgia? Oh, right: the utility companies, especially Georgia Power and its parent the Southern Company. I haven’t found any direct connection between them and these particular anti-sustainability talking points, but it’s clear who some of the corporations are that benefit from them the most: Southern Company and Georgia Power. And remember Southern Company is apparently a member of ALEC. Are electric utility monopolies and big oil really who you want to be promoting at the expense of your neighbors?

For that matter, instead of playing defense against bogus talking points, how about go on the offense, for example by proposing divestment from fossil fuel companies?