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Grass-Roots Organizer Jumps From Nature Conservancy to American Petroleum Institute – API

Spooner, 42, doesn’t see the move from Nature Conservancy to API as that big of a jump…. “At the end of the day, I don’t necessarily believe that the views of [the Nature Conservancy] and API are incompatible,” Spooner added.

NYTimes
February 26, 2010

Grass-Roots Organizer Jumps From Nature Conservancy to API

By ANNE C. MULKERN of Greenwire

The oil industry’s biggest trade group has nabbed one of the environmental community’s top grass-roots organizers as it ramps up efforts to build a network of citizen lobbyists.

Deryck Spooner, who ran Nature Conservancy’s push to spur legislative action on climate change, will now head American Petroleum Institute’s grass-roots activism arm. The hiring move sends a nervous flutter through environmental groups. By recruiting Spooner, green groups said, API adds someone with both credibility and deep knowledge of grass-roots strategy. Spooner previously ran campaigns for labor group AFL-CIO and abortion rights organization NARAL.

“He’s a big dog,” said Tyson Slocum, energy program director at watchdog group Public Citizen. “It gives API somebody with enormous grass-roots experience running major campaigns. This indicates that API is taking their grass-roots strategy in a very serious direction.”

The move comes two months after the trade group cut 15 percent of its staff and President Jack Gerard said API had “not been as effective as we could be in educating public officials or the public about the critical role of oil and gas in our economy. … You will see us evolve into a more nimble, more aggressive” organization. “We’re going to be aggressive in our outreach to educate the public,” he said (E&ENews PM, Dec. 11, 2009).

Hiring Spooner is part of Gerard’s strategy to expand grass-roots activism, API spokeswoman Cathy Landry said, adding, “Jack’s vision is to mobilize the 9.2 million people whose jobs rely on the oil and gas industry. We do plan to step that up.”

API’s community activism last year sparked controversy, as environmental critics accused the trade group of steering employees to rallies aimed at killing climate legislation. API said the rallies allowed both employees and other citizens to voice concerns that climate legislation would raise energy prices and affect jobs.

Spooner, 42, doesn’t see the move from Nature Conservancy to API as that big of a jump.

“I have worked for vastly different organizations throughout my career,” Spooner said. “The bottom line is it’s all about advocacy, that’s what I’m passionate about. Mobilizing and organizing people to influence the public process and public policy is what I truly love to do.”

“At the end of the day, I don’t necessarily believe that the views of [the Nature Conservancy] and API are incompatible,” Spooner added. API members use technology “to ensure that the places that they drill are not impacted,” Spooner said, while the Nature Conservancy uses a scientific approach in deciding where to protect land and water. API members, he said, “don’t just want to drill anywhere for drilling’s sake. There’s a lot of science going into where they drill.”

The Nature Conservancy’s director of U.S. climate policy, Eric Haxthausen, said in an e-mail that Spooner “left the Nature Conservancy on good terms and we wish him well.” Haxthausen did not respond to a question about whether the goals of the Nature Conservancy conflict with those of API. Nature Conservancy, which in terms of assets is the biggest environmental group in the United States, is considered one of the more politically conservative green groups. It allows corporate sponsorships and has permitted oil and gas drilling on some of the land it holds in trust.

Other environmental activists, however, characterized the missions of API and most green groups as far apart.

“There’s no useful contribution that the American Petroleum Institute is making to forwarding our energy economy,” said Kert Davies, research director for Greenpeace. “They’ve been at the center of campaigns to derail climate progress for 20 years.”

Ramping up grass-roots efforts with Spooner shows API believes that’s what’s necessary to achieve its goals, he said.

“They know that ultimately it’s going to come down to a grass-roots toe-to-toe battle on energy policy,” Davies said. And having Spooner at API gives the oil trade group new advantages, he said, including information about environmental group strategies.

“That’s a little unnerving,” Davis said. “That’s not something that we really want to take place.”

Spooner isn’t saying what he has planned for API just yet, but in an e-mailed biography, he described his role as coordinating API’s “efforts to develop, mobilize and sustain a political infrastructure of individuals, groups, and coalitions to advance API’s priority advocacy issues with elected officials.” He also said he knows “how to build relationships with influential individuals, and what it takes to win the support of policy makers and opinion leaders of public policy goals.”

He jumped to API in part, Spooner said, because Gerard is committed to political advocacy. Because Nature Conservancy is a nonprofit organization, Spooner said, he was limited in how much he could engage political activism. He worked mostly with local chapters and guided trustees to seek legislative action. At API, he said, he can create a grass-roots network of employees, contractors and the public.

With his campaign experience, Slocum said, Spooner is likely to help API prioritize members of Congress the group wants to influence, and then mobilize activism in those lawmakers’ districts and states.

“I would imagine with everything that’s at stake, they’re going to have a multiyear strategy,” Slocum said. “It’s a much more surgical strike than just running ads on TV.”

Oil worker’s son

Spooner learned activism early, growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, where as a child he attended many rallies with his parents and grandfather.

“It takes the process of voting and engagement to another level,” Spooner said. “That’s where I got a lot of my passion.”

He’s also the son of an engineer who worked for Amoco, an oil company that later became part of BP PLC. Spooner went out to oil rigs with his father.

“It’s part of who I am, too,” Spooner said.

Spooner worked for NARAL and then AFL-CIO, where he ran the campaigns for candidates the groups had decided to back, as well as helped mobilize voters who would support those candidates. While in his role at NARAL in 2002, Spooner made $500 in campaign contributions to the Friends of Al Gore’s political action committee.

He moved to Nature Conservancy in 2007 and focused on global warming, which Spooner described as “one of the most important issues of our time.”

He doesn’t see his position at API as abandoning that principle.

“Engaging many voices in the solution to climate change is the only way to guarantee success,” Spooner said. “Coming to API gives me the opportunity to further that conversation.”

Spooner pointed to U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition pushing for congressional action on climate change, as an example of a group that united environmental groups and oil companies including BP and ConocoPhillips. BP and ConocoPhillips left U.S. CAP last week, however, saying that climate legislation has failed to recognize the importance of natural gas and disadvantaged oil and gas companies compared with coal interests.

“What you had was a really good conversation there because you had both businesses and environmental groups working together,” Spooner said. “What happened is that the issue got politicized. But I think again once you bring as many voices into the solution and everyone has opportunity to be equal in the discussion … then you’ll have the opportunity to take the issue to another level.”

While Davies with Greenpeace called API a roadblock to good climate policy, Spooner rejected that the trade group worked to keep climate legislation from moving forward.

“How is that possible when you have members of API being on U.S. CAP?” Spooner said. “The principles U.S. CAP came up with [were] the principles that were adopted by Congress at some level.” (The House-passed climate bill largely used a blueprint from U.S. CAP.)

When asked about API’s opposition to major elements of climate legislation, Spooner said that “what you have is a very diverse organization here with multiple different issues. API is an association that … sort of helps wade through those multiple different issues. What API wants is a really good climate bill at the end of the day,” Spooner added.

More ‘Energy Citizens’?

While Spooner is still evaluating the best ways to motivate grass-roots action on API’s goals, he said that his central principle is education.

“You’ve got to make people feel they are part of something,” Spooner said. “When you look at what’s going on right now in America, energy security is one of the biggest things.” He cited API’s statistics that oil and gas companies are tied to 7.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and 9.2 million American jobs.

“It’s a real good opportunity to have a conversation, a dialogue with Americans and move them to the next level to decide to put pressure on public policy,” Spooner said, adding “How do I do it? Have a conversation.”

API last summer belonged to a coalition that organized and ran a grass-roots effort called Energy Citizens. It followed passage of the House climate bill and featured those rallies where oil company workers and other people came to talk about their concerns. FreedomWorks, the American Conservative Union and Americans for Tax Reform also belonged to the coalition behind the campaign.

“That will be something Deryck will be looking at in the future,” Landry said, adding, “that will be one of the things in his portfolio.”

Environmental groups criticized Energy Citizens as fake grass roots, or “AstroTurf.” Most of the rallies were organized by registered lobbyists working on behalf of API and other energy interests (E&ENews PM, Aug. 21, 2009). API has said that the rallies represented the views of much of the public regardless of who served as organizers.

The mission of Energy Citizens last summer was to stop momentum on the climate bill that passed the House in June, Greenpeace’s Davies said.

Spooner sees the goal of such rallies differently.

“When you look at Energy Citizens, it’s a coalition of Americans. We have real voices that really care about the energy issue,” Spooner said. “To call it AstroTurf, that’s again, politicizing it. These are real people; these are real Americans who really care about the issue.”

Copyright 2010 E&E Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

For more news on energy and the environment, visit www.greenwire.com .

http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/02/26/26greenwire-grass-roots-organizer-jumps-from-nature-conser-65511.html

Our Response to TckTckTck (Now Known as GCCA) & all Partners – March 1st, 2010

Update – Shortly after we sent this out to the GCCA list (on March 1st, 2010) – the  partner link to ”The Corporate Leader Group on Climate Change’ was removed from the www.tcktcktck.org website.  The screenshot, showing the partner listed in the site can be found below.  This does not mean that the partnership no longer exists – simply that the partnership is no longer shown on the website.

As of March 14th, 2010 – we have received no correspondence that would indicate this partnership between ‘The Corporate Leader Group on Climate Change’ and www.tcktcktck.org has been terminated.

From: Canadians for Action on Climate Change [mailto:canadiansforactiononclimatechange@bell.net]
Sent: March-01-10 9:29 AM
To: ‘gccaall@googlegroups.com’; ‘Ben Margolis’; ‘Kelly Rigg’
Cc: ‘Global Compliance’
Subject:RE: Response; relevant information for partners of tcktcktck

Dear Ben,

Given that you have indicated in your message received this morning that you will not be fulfilling the previous commitment to share our response with partners, as indicated in to your letter written to us on February 25th, 2010; “We will also send this note to our partners and may wish to share with them any response you send to us.”, we have undertaken to share our response with your partners.  Our response will be sent in its original form (found below your response from this morning – sent to you on the 26th).

Regards,

Cory Morningstar

Joan Russow

globalcomplianceresearch@gmail.com

—–Original Message—–
From: Ben Margolis [mailto:bengcca@googlemail.com]
Sent: March-01-10 6:20 AM
To: Canadians for Action on Climate Change
Cc: Kelly Rigg
Subject: Re: Response

Dear Cory Morningstar,

Thank you for your comments. Every GCCA partner was provided with information when they asked to join the coalition including our call to action and campaign asks, and were asked to provide us with a logo

and URL to be listed on our web site. Over 250 organizations have chosen to do this, and currently many more are looking to join.

We are in regular contact with all of our partners, and if any of them raises concerns about our policy demands, or other aspects of our collaborative work, we will discuss this with them directly.

Yours

Ben Margolis


From: Canadians for Action on Climate Change [mailto:canadiansforactiononclimatechange@bell.net]
Sent: February-26-10 9:01 PM
To: ‘Ben Margolis’
Cc: ‘GlobalComplianceResearch@gmail.com’
Subject:Response

Dear tcktcktck.org – GCCA,

We appreciate your agreeing to circulate our response. We reply as follows;

Tcktcktck monopolizing the dialogue at COP15 and undermining COP15

At COP15 the tcktcktck.org campaign monopolized the NGO response to climate change, and either intentionally or unintentionally, undermined other NGOs, and the developing countries that were demanding more.  Tcktcktck.org, through its listing of NGOs as partners, some of which now claim they had never agreed to be listed as partners, gave a skewed sense of support for the weak demands of the tcktcktck.org campaign. The tcktcktck.org dominance, either intentionally or unintentionally, eviscerated NGO activism and consequently influenced the weak outcome of COP15. Whether it was intentional or unintentional, the organizers of the tcktcktck.org campaign were grossly negligent.

Targets

AT COP15, one of the major demands of the developing states was to call upon the developed states to both commit to strong reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, and to stabilize the rise in temperature. Many developing states called for the rise in temperature to be well below 1.5°C, and a number of developing states were calling for the temperature to not exceed 1°C from pre-industrial levels. Furthermore, most developing states called for the ppm to return to below 350ppm, and a number of developing states called for ppm to 300ppm. The tcktcktck.org campaign that dominated the discussion was completely out of sync with the strong demands of most developing states.

On the www.tcktcktck.org/partners website, there was a list of over 200 NGOs who were described as partners. A survey was initiated (ANNEX-attached in word) and sent to some of the NGO partners. The purpose of the survey was to determine whether the partners were aware of the tcktcktck.org campaign’s corporate connections, and whether the partners were also aware of the inadequate targets advanced by the tcktcktck.org campaign. In the survey, it was pointed out that tcktcktck.org had failed to use a baseline when they called for developed states to reduce emissions by 40% by 2020. The spokesperson for tcktcktck.org, Ben Margolis, Campaign Director for ‘Global Campaign for Climate Action’ wrote a letter to the authors of the survey and acknowledged the following;

“You also note that the policy positions stated on the www.tcktcktck.org web site failed to mention a baseline year for emissions reductions. We would like to thank you for pointing out this omission. There has always been an implicit recognition that we were referring to 1990 levels (as can be seen in the more detailed publications of our partner organizations). We have now amended the clause explicitly to read reduce developed country emissions by at least 40% on 1990 levels by 2020.”

The spokesperson for tcktcktck.org now intimates that the listed partner NGOs and the global community should have been able to understand that, even though 1990 was left out, it was meant to be included. However, the question remains, how could over 200 NGOs listed on the tcktcktck.org website have agreed to exclude the 1990 baseline, because everyone was supposed to know that it was understood [even though the US was using 2005, and Canada was using 2006 as baselines].  Or, was a baseline excluded without the knowledge and consent of the partners, and thus, were they unaware of the absence of a baseline? Even worse, were the partners aware and complicit in omitting the baseline?  Were the partners involved in building a consensus of necessary targets based on the current science, or was the omission of the baseline decided on their behalf?  It seems unbelievable that all NGOs partners listed on the tcktcktck.org website would have been supportive of such weak demands.

Furthermore, on the tcktcktck.org site it states;

“TckTckTck is an unprecedented global alliance, representing hundreds of millions of people from all walks of life, who are united by a desire to see a strong global deal on climate change.”

 

Surely the leaders of a campaign which presents itself as representing hundreds of millions of people, and which thereby also sees itself as speaking for hundreds of millions of people must recognize the incredible responsibility such a statement implies. In assuming their self-appointed role, the leaders of tcktcktck.org demonstrated dereliction of duty in not advancing the targets necessary to ensure survival; the moral imperative to demand that the temperature not exceed 1°C.

Corporate Ties

In your response, you did not indicate whether the NGO partners of tcktcktck.org were made aware that they would be promoting a logo which was copywritten by PR firms Havas and Euro and, if the NGOs were made aware of the implications of being associated with PR firm clients such as those in the nuclear, biotech, biofuel, oil, etc. industries.

 

We still have grave concerns about the tcktcktck.org campaign / campaigns, as now being presented under the parent coalition name, the GCCA, and the Global Humanitarian Forum.  We would like to, at this time, direct your attention to the following items below. The items refer to The Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change – presently listed on your website as a partner. http://tcktcktck.org/partners/our-partners/more-partners

 

The attachments are as follows; if you open them in the order as they appear below, you can follow the links as they appear on the tcktcktck.org website;

 

http://tcktcktck.org/partners/our-partners/more-partners

A way forward

To rectify the irreversible damage caused by the undermining of the strong resolve of many NGOs and developing states to seriously maintain the rise in temperature below 1°C and the ppm to return to 300 ppm, the tcktcktck.org campaign must apologize to the partner NGOs that may not have wished to be listed as partners, or may not have wished to be associated with weak demands.

Regards,

Cory Morningstar | Canadians for Action on Climate Change
Joan Russow – PhD | | Global Compliance Research Project

“Our objective is to save humanity and not just half of humanity. We are here to save mother earth. Our objective is to reduce climate change to [under] 1°C. [above this] many islands will disappear and Africa will suffer a holocaust. The real cause of climate change is the capitalist system. If we want to save the earth then we must end that economic model. Capitalism wants to address climate change with carbon markets. We denounce those markets and the countries which [promote them]. It’s time to stop making money from the disgrace that they have perpetrated.”

Evo Morales, December 16th, 2010, Copenhagen Climate Summit

See all signatories here:

tcktcktck-current-copenhagen-communique-signatories-clg

The survey we sent to many TckTckTck partners:

To partners and allies of the TckTckTck Campaign

Our Response from TckTckTck (GCCA) Received March 1st, 2010

—–Original Message—–
From: Ben Margolis [mailto:bengcca@googlemail.com]
Sent: March-01-10 6:20 AM
To: Canadians for Action on Climate Change
Cc: Kelly Rigg
Subject: Re: Response

Dear Cory Morningstar,

Thank you for your comments. Every GCCA partner was provided with

information when they asked to join the coalition including our call

to action and campaign asks, and were asked to provide us with a logo

and URL to be listed on our web site. Over 250 organizations have

chosen to do this, and currently many more are looking to join.

We are in regular contact with all of our partners, and if any of them

raises concerns about our policy demands, or other aspects of our

collaborative work, we will discuss this with them directly.

Yours

Ben Margolis

Campaigns Director

Global Campaign for Climate Action

Ben Margolis

Global Campaign for Climate Action

Campaigns Director

UK: +44 (0) 7786 660 406

Skype: benmargolis

E-mail: ben.margolis@tcktcktck.org

Our Response to TckTckTck (GCCA) – February 26th, 2010


From: Canadians for Action on Climate Change [mailto:canadiansforactiononclimatechange@bell.net]
Sent: February-26-10 9:01 PM
To: ‘Ben Margolis’
Cc: ‘GlobalComplianceResearch@gmail.com’
Subject: Response

Dear tcktcktck.org – GCCA,

We appreciate your agreeing to circulate our response. We reply as follows;

Tcktcktck monopolizing the dialogue at COP15 and undermining COP15

At COP15 the tcktcktck.org campaign monopolized the NGO response to climate change, and either intentionally or unintentionally, undermined other NGOs, and the developing countries that were demanding more.  Tcktcktck.org, through its listing of NGOs as partners, some of which now claim they had never agreed to be listed as partners, gave a skewed sense of support for the weak demands of the tcktcktck.org campaign. The tcktcktck.org dominance, either intentionally or unintentionally, eviscerated NGO activism and consequently influenced the weak outcome of COP15. Whether it was intentional or unintentional, the organizers of the tcktcktck.org campaign were grossly negligent.

Targets

AT COP15, one of the major demands of the developing states was to call upon the developed states to both commit to strong reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, and to stabilize the rise in temperature. Many developing states called for the rise in temperature to be well below 1.5°C, and a number of developing states were calling for the temperature to not exceed 1°C from pre-industrial levels. Furthermore, most developing states called for the ppm to return to below 350ppm, and a number of developing states called for ppm to 300ppm. The tcktcktck.org campaign that dominated the discussion was completely out of sync with the strong demands of most developing states.

On the www.tcktcktck.org/partners website, there was a list of over 200 NGOs who were described as partners. A survey was initiated (ANNEX-attached in word) and sent to some of the NGO partners. The purpose of the survey was to determine whether the partners were aware of the tcktcktck.org campaign’s corporate connections, and whether the partners were also aware of the inadequate targets advanced by the tcktcktck.org campaign. In the survey, it was pointed out that tcktcktck.org had failed to use a baseline when they called for developed states to reduce emissions by 40% by 2020. The spokesperson for tcktcktck.org, Ben Margolis, Campaign Director for ‘Global Campaign for Climate Action’ wrote a letter to the authors of the survey and acknowledged the following;

“You also note that the policy positions stated on the www.tcktcktck.org web site failed to mention a baseline year for emissions reductions. We would like to thank you for pointing out this omission. There has always been an implicit recognition that we were referring to 1990 levels (as can be seen in the more detailed publications of our partner organizations). We have now amended the clause explicitly to read reduce developed country emissions by at least 40% on 1990 levels by 2020.”

The spokesperson for tcktcktck.org now intimates that the listed partner NGOs and the global community should have been able to understand that, even though 1990 was left out, it was meant to be included. However, the question remains, how could over 200 NGOs listed on the tcktcktck.org website have agreed to exclude the 1990 baseline, because everyone was supposed to know that it was understood [even though the US was using 2005, and Canada was using 2006 as baselines].  Or, was a baseline excluded without the knowledge and consent of the partners, and thus, were they unaware of the absence of a baseline? Even worse, were the partners aware and complicit in omitting the baseline?  Were the partners involved in building a consensus of necessary targets based on the current science, or was the omission of the baseline decided on their behalf?  It seems unbelievable that all NGOs partners listed on the tcktcktck.org website would have been supportive of such weak demands.

Furthermore, on the tcktcktck.org site it states;

“TckTckTck is an unprecedented global alliance, representing hundreds of millions of people from all walks of life, who are united by a desire to see a strong global deal on climate change.”

Surely the leaders of a campaign which presents itself as representing hundreds of millions of people, and which thereby also sees itself as speaking for hundreds of millions of people must recognize the incredible responsibility such a statement implies. In assuming their self-appointed role, the leaders of tcktcktck.org demonstrated dereliction of duty in not advancing the targets necessary to ensure survival; the moral imperative to demand that the temperature not exceed 1°C.

Corporate Ties

In your response, you did not indicate whether the NGO partners of tcktcktck.org were made aware that they would be promoting a logo which was copywritten by PR firms Havas and Euro and, if the NGOs were made aware of the implications of being associated with PR firm clients such as those in the nuclear, biotech, biofuel, oil, etc. industries.

We still have grave concerns about the tcktcktck.org campaign / campaigns, as now being presented under the parent coalition name, the GCCA, and the Global Humanitarian Forum.  We would like to, at this time, direct your attention to the following items below. The items refer to The Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change – presently listed on your website as a partner. http://tcktcktck.org/partners/our-partners/more-partners

The attachments are as follows; if you open them in the order as they appear below, you can follow the links as they appear on the tcktcktck.org website;

http://tcktcktck.org/partners/our-partners/more-partners

A way forward

To rectify the irreversible damage caused by the undermining of the strong resolve of many NGOs and developing states to seriously maintain the rise in temperature below 1°C and the ppm to return to 300 ppm, the tcktcktck.org campaign must apologize to the partner NGOs that may not have wished to be listed as partners, or may not have wished to be associated with weak demands.

Regards,

Cory Morningstar | Canadians for Action on Climate Change
Joan Russow – PhD | | Global Compliance Research Project

“Our objective is to save humanity and not just half of humanity. We are here to save mother earth. Our objective is to reduce climate change to [under] 1°C. [above this] many islands will disappear and Africa will suffer a holocaust. The real cause of climate change is the capitalist system. If we want to save the earth then we must end that economic model. Capitalism wants to address climate change with carbon markets. We denounce those markets and the countries which [promote them]. It’s time to stop making money from the disgrace that they have perpetrated.”

Evo Morales, December 16th, 2010, Copenhagen Climate Summit

tcktcktck-current-copenhagen-communique-signatories-clg

To partners and allies of the TckTckTck Campaign

Letter from TckTckTck (GCCA) to GCCA Partners – February 25th, 2010

Letter from TckTckTck

—–Original Message—–
From: gccaall@googlegroups.com [mailto:gccaall@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Ben Margolis
Sent: February-25-10 2:58 AM
To: gccaall@googlegroups.com
Subject: [gccaall] Response to TckTckTck survey

Dear GCCA partner,

Many of you have recently received a survey that raises concerns about

the GCCA and the TckTckTck campaign, particularly with regard to

corporate support, backing and control. As you are aware, the GCCA has

a strict policy to not accept any corporate partners, although we do

recognize the vital role that some corporations have to play in

preventing catastrophic climate change.

In response to this survey, and to recent blog posts by the same

author, the GCCA secretariat has written to the author this morning

with a letter to clarify the situation. The letter is attached here

for your information. We would ask that you do not circulate this

letter widely.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any further

questions.

Yours,

Ben Margolis