The Lobbyists Who Are Killing the Planet Have Names and Addresses
Right now Hurricane Ida is barreling towards the gulf coast and meteorologists are predicting that it will be the worst storm to hit Louisiana since before the civil war. Many communities across Southern Louisiana are under mandatory evacuation orders, but officials in New Orleans determined that there wasn’t enough time to safely evacuate so only the people who can afford to fill up their car and head north for an indeterminate amount of time are able to get to safety. The rest of the city’s predominantly Black population is left stranded, preparing to face winds up to 150 miles per hour and storm surges swelling up more than fifteen feet. Government officials are already telling the people that are being left behind that they shouldn’t expect any assistance for at least 72 hrs after the storm hits.
Hurricanes aren’t new in the Gulf Coast; the region has been battered by storms every year on record. What is new is the strength and severity of these super storms. This is a direct result of rising global temperatures and warming of water in the Gulf of Mexico saturating storm clouds as they move toward land. Last year was the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record with 30 named storms. Two storms — Zeta and Laura — were major hurricanes when they hit the Louisiana coast.
We’ve known for decades that climate change is fueling an increase in extreme weather events like hurricanes. Sixteen years ago we were horrified by images of New Orleans under water, after hurricane Katrina broke through the city’s antiquated levy system. Since Katrina we’ve made big investments in upgrading the city’s levy system and hopefully that will help save lives this week. But in the past decade-and-a-half, we’ve done very little to slow down the worsening climate crisis.
With much of the west coast on fire and the gulf coast bracing for a historic storm, we are running out of time to take the bold action we need to confront the worst impacts of the climate crisis. And while there is a broad consensus that we need to act, the fossil fuel industry and their lobbyists have been incredibly effective in using aggressive lobbying techniques, front groups, strategically placed op-eds, and bad faith arguments to derail action to address climate change.
A week ago we started naming names, publishing research on the lobbying firms that are killing the planet. Now we’re headed to their front doors.
On August 30 at 12 noon — on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we’re taking the fight to four major lobbying firms that represent the fossil fuel industry. We’ll be joined by a New Orleans-style brass band, and we’ll be bringing plywood and sandbags to blockade their doors.
Here’s who we’ll be stopping in on:
Crossroads Strategies — 800 North Capitol Street
Crossroads Strategies, LLC (CRS) is a bipartisan firm with some pretty big names on both sides of the aisle including former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott — a conservative Republican from Mississippi, and former Senator John Breaux, a Democrat from Louisiana. Those deep ties to the gulf coast have led to lucrative lobbying contracts with public sector clients like the Mississippi Levee Board and the city of Baton Rouge.
Some of Crossroads Strategies biggest clients are oil and gas companies that are fueling the climate crisis. Over the past year, Crossroads has represented a myriad of dirty energy companies including Koch Industries, the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, Sempra Energy, and Holly Frontier.
But while Crossroads represents some of the world’s worst polluters and virulently right with companies like Koch Industries, they also take money from progressive organizations like the Brennan Center for Justice and the Vera Institute of Justice. It’s unclear why these two respectable organizations would choose to hire a firm that represents racist companies like Koch Industries to also represent them on Capitol Hill.
The Alpine Group
The Alpine Group is a bipartisan (gun for hire) lobby firm with experience pushing their clients’ priorities through the House and Senate (but less experience moving policy through the executive branch and administrative agencies). The firm is headed by CEO Les Spivey, a former Republican professional staffer and Chairman Rhod Shaw (@rshawreds), another relatively unremarkable former Capitol Hill staffer.
The Alpine Group represents some significant bad-actors in the energy sector including Duke Energy, Shell Oil, the Natural Gas Supply Association, and Vistra Energy Corporation. While one set of clients fuel the climate crisis, another set of clients are dealing with the impacts of extreme weather. The Alpine Group also represents the American Flood Coalition Action, and the Louisiana Flood Risk Coalition.
The hypocrisy here is striking. On one hand, the Alpine Group is helping oil and gas companies block action to address the climate crisis. And at the same time the Alpine Group is getting paid to represent flood risk coalitions. This is the lobbying equivalent of having an arsonist on the fire department.
Owen Evans Ingols
Owen Evans Ingols is a boutique government relations and consulting firm headed by three former high-ranking staffers for Republican lawmakers. These guys are the Line 3 Lobbyists. The firm currently represents Enbridge Corp and Energy Transfer Partners, as well as a number of other energy companies.
One of the firm’s partners, Daryl Owen, was a main mouthpiece for Enbridge and ETP during the campaigns against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In 2016 he co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled, “The Dakota Access debate has been dangerously blown out of proportion,” in which he referred to water protectors as ‘domestic terrorists.’ Later, in 2018, Owen published an article in the LSU Journal of Energy Law and Resources entitled “The Untold Story of the Dakota Access Pipeline: How Politics Almost Undermined the Rule of Law” (although the LSU Journal of Energy and Law Resources is an academic journal it does not appear that he disclosed his relationship with Enbridge to that publication).
The S-3 Group
The S-3 Group is a bipartisan lobbying firm that is staffed by everyone from former Trump administration officials to McCain staffers to Bernie Sanders’ one-time Chief of Staff Michaeleen Earle Crowell. This crew has connections across the political spectrum but it’s clear that ideologically they’ve sold their souls to the highest bidders. And the highest bidders include folks like the American Petroleum Institute, Koch Industries, Duke Industries, the American Chemistry Council, and even the National Rifle Association.
In many ways the formerly progressive sellouts that the S-3 Group has on staff are the most damaging lobbyists on Capitol Hill. While it’s unlikely that the API, Koch Industries or Owen Evans Ingols will make serious inroads with Democrats or even moderates, it’s likely that Michaeleen Earle Crowell still has a direct line to her old boss, Bernie Sanders; and Michael Long still has some influence with his old boss, Nancy Pelosi.
The climate is changing and we are running out of time to take the bold action we need to confront this crisis. For decades the oil industry and their lobby firms have worked hard to block serious action on climate change. We know who these folks are and we know where to find them.
Now it’s time to hold them accountable. Will you join us?