Attacks and Responses

Energy & Environment







ATTACK: "We shouldn't deal with climate change until the economy is stronger."

  • We need to ask ourselves what kind of a country we want to leave to our children and grandchildren and if they're worth it. Scientists are warning us that we can't wait any longer.
  • No one should doubt what America is capable of. Ordinary Americans are already saving money and using amazing technologies in renewable energy and energy efficiency. And ask Europe and China -- they know first-hand that clean energy innovation is a tremendous job-creator.
  • We've already got successful market-based solutions ready to go. Like the one that solved acid rain, these initiatives make big polluters compete so the less they pollute, the less they pay and the more they profit. Competition is what our economy is all about.
  • Our economy is already paying for the costs of disrupting our climate -- like the extreme weather disasters that wipe out homes and businesses, the wildfires that burn up our lands and the heat that dries up our water wells, and the public health costs of heat waves and dirty floodwaters.

ATTACK: "The EPA doesn't have the authority to regulate carbon emissions -- it's a power grab."

  • If Congress fails to do its job and pass new laws to deal with climate change, the federal agencies can use their authority to pick up some of the slack and help protect our families' health.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency is working on safeguards to do just that. The agency is moving to require some of the worst polluters -- coal-fired plants -- to cut the pollution they pump into our air and to make sure existing power plants are also covered.
  • The EPA is simply using its authority under the Clean Air Act to limit pollution like carbon emissions from these power plants and other dirty fuel producers -- authority that the courts, including the Supreme Court, have upheld. 

ATTACK: "The United States shouldn't have to act on climate change until China does."

  • Even China has a modest new carbon tax to combat climate change.
  • America should be leading the world in tackling climate change -- not getting left behind by China.
  • The good news is that we already know what to do and already have tried and tested solutions ready to go, like the one that solved acid rain.
  • But lawmakers in Congress who oppose these energy solutions just to protect their oil and coal industry donors are making America fall behind China. Is that the America we want to leave our children and grandchildren?

ATTACK: "The snowstorms cast doubt on climate change."

[If you are talking to friends & family, relate to past conversations and use validators.]

  • Only a few months ago we were worried about the heat waves, droughts, and hotter weather all year long. Last year was even the hottest year on record ever -- by a lot. 
  • It seems weird we're getting this big snowstorm after all that heat. But the truth is that it fits into what scientists understand about climate science.
  • They're telling us that disrupting our climate is making storms like winter blizzards bigger and heavier. Global warming doesn't mean no more winters or the same weather everywhere, only a little warmer. It's about the kinds of snowstorms we're going to get.
  • If 97 out of 100 engineers warned you not to drive on a crumbling bridge, would you still do it? If 97 out of 100 doctors warned you not to eat tainted food, would you still eat it?

[If you have limited airtime, answer the question you want to answer.]

  • The storm fits into what we know about climate science -- they're not at odds at all. There's no question the weather is getting weirder and more destructive.
  • We know that climate change disrupts weather patterns and puts more moisture in the air. It doesn't mean no more winters or the same weather everywhere, only a little warmer. So the snowstorms we're going to get during winter will be bigger and worse.
  • If we want to protect our kids and grandkids, we have to deal with climate change before it gets out of control.

[If you are up against climate change deniers, discredit them and pivot.]

  • Are you really trying to use a single winter storm to question an entire body of science? That's like trying to defend the entire tobacco industry with a single elderly smoker.
  • The storm fits into what we know about climate science -- they're not at odds at all.
    • Climate change is about the kinds of snowstorms we're more likely to get during winter -- heavier and worse storms. It doesn't mean no more winters.
    • Global warming means all weather events now happen with more moisture and warmer conditions over the oceans. It doesn't mean the same weather, only a little warmer. That's why storms like winter blizzards are bigger and more dangerous.
  • Climate change has been understood for decades and it's backed up by overwhelming research. The reality is that over the decades, weather trends are showing more heat extremes. In fact, the 10 hottest years on record all happened in the past 15 years.
  • All around the world, people are getting hit with worse weather disasters. There is no question that climate change is happening and we have to deal with it.


"Canada's tar sands would contribute little to climate change."

  • You can't be serious about climate change and also be for the Keystone tar sands pipeline. Oil companies have repeatedly admitted that Keystone is critical to fully developing Canada's tar sands oil, which would be "game over" -- we lose on climate change.
  • The fact is that oil from tar sands, like the oil that will be carried on Keystone XL, creates three times more carbon pollution than regular oil. KXL is expected to increase greenhouse gas emissions every year as much as putting 4 million cars on the road.
  • We have a duty to protect our country for our children and grandchildren and deal with climate change now. Helping oil companies transport dirty oil with Keystone isn't the way to do it.

"Keystone could create 20,000 jobs."

  • Those jobs numbers come from TransCanada, and they're wildly inflated. We need to focus on putting more Americans back to work in more long-term and good paying jobs right here in the United States -- like clean energy jobs, which are growing four times faster than other work.
  • Even with contractors hired by the pipeline developer writing it, the State Department report admitted that constructing Keystone would create 35 permanent jobs and 3,900 temporary construction jobs
  • The pipeline also has the potential to kill jobs. A pipeline rupture would devastate farms and ranches along the pipeline, just like the BP Oil spill devastated Gulf fishermen.

"Keystone will allow us to get more oil from Canada and less from the Middle East."

"Trust us, Keystone XL will be safe."

  • Another pipeline transporting Canadian oil spilled in Arkansas just recently. TransCanada had 12 toxic spills in one year of operating another pipeline, and their pipelines are prone to safety failures and spills -- including the one that flooded North Dakota with 20,000 gallons of toxic oil.
  • If we're going to risk building this pipeline to carry toxic, pipe-corroding toxic oil through two thousand miles of American farmland and our country's largest water aquifer, Americans should get the benefits. Instead, America will get the risks while foreign nations get the oil.
  • If we learned anything from the Exxon and BP disasters, it's that spills are catastrophically costly. A spill would devastate farmers and ranchers along the Keystone route -- and could leave their kids and grandkids with contaminated drinking water for decades.
  • Keystone is all risk and no reward for America. The fact that Canadians don't want Keystone built across their own country tells us everything we need to know about the risks.

"Keystone will lower gas prices."

  • Nonpartisan economists have found that the Keystone XL pipeline will do nothing to reduce gas prices.
  • In fact, gas prices could actually increase as oil currently going to the Midwest gets diverted to the Gulf Coast for export.
  • To save money at the gas pump and secure our energy future, let's do what is already working -- make our cars go more miles on the same amount of gas, rein in the Wall Street speculators who abuse the oil markets, and invest in homegrown clean energy that won't ever run out, like solar.

"Obama is putting politics before jobs -- he's just trying to please environmentalists."

  • Keystone is about Washington Republicans protecting the profits of Big Oil while trying to hurt the President politically -- not about jobs.
  • As one Washington Republican put it, "the fact that the president doesn't like it makes me like it even more." That's the very picture of putting politics first.


"Obama is driving up gas prices."

"More domestic drilling would immediately lower gas prices."

  • Politicians claiming we can solve this problem with their drill-only plan aren't being honest - expanding domestic drilling would do nothing to reduce the pain Americans are feeling at the pump.
  • The best way to create good American jobs, cut our energy costs, and protect our national security isn't to increase our reliance on oil - it's to decrease it. We're not going to do that by turning to more dangerous, costly, and destructive ways to drill for oil.

"Cutting oil subsidies will raise gas prices."

  • Giving tax breaks to oil companies to drill is like paying the sun to rise every morning, but politicians are protecting them for their oil company CEO donors.
  • The truth is that these giveaways have no effect on gas prices -- but they do waste taxpayer dollars.
  • The best way to end our oil dependence is by investing in cleaner, safer sources of energy that will create millions of new jobs and never run out.

"Cutting oil subsidies will kill jobs."

"Big Oil profits actually help the middle class, especially retirees."

  • Oil profits are soaring this year because oil prices are higher and Americans are paying more at the pump - and because Big Oil is still getting billions in subsidies funded by American taxpayers.
  • They're actually saying with a straight face that when Big Oil profits skyrocket, Americans whose retirement funds are tied up in their companies should be happy with a few crumbs from the table.
  • Big Oil thinks it's fine to rip off taxpayers and drivers as long as their stock does well - and Washington Republicans seem to agree.

"Cutting oil subsidies will hinder domestic oil exploration."

  • Giving tax breaks to oil companies to drill is like paying the sun to go down each night, but politicians are protecting them anyway for their oil company CEO donors.
  • Instead of protecting Big Oil at the expense of taxpayers, we should invest in cleaner, safer sources of energy that will put millions of Americans back to work and won't ever run out.


"Solyndra is what happens when politicians hand out taxpayer funding to their friends."

  • Let's get the facts straight: Solyndra went bankrupt because it was beat out by Chinese companies that benefit from China out-investing America in clean energy. The loan guarantee was started by the Bush Administration and the program it was part of has a 99% success rate.
  • Americans are pioneers, and that means taking risks. Investing in the technology that will create jobs and power our future is the right risk to take. We can't watch the rest of the world pass us by.

"Renewable energy projects are a waste of taxpayer money."

"Government funding for clean energy destroys jobs."

"Subsidies for wind and solar energy have resulted in virtually nothing."

  • Wind power has been the fastest-growing source of new electric power for years, and the solar industry grew by almost 70% last year alone and put the U.S. back in the forefront of the global energy industry.
  • The best way to bring jobs and prosperity back to this country is also the best way to end our dependence on foreign oil - by harnessing our limitless supply of clean energy and building wind turbines, solar panels, and energy-efficient products that say "Made in America." 
  • America has led every technological revolution of the last two centuries, from electricity to telephone to automobiles, and we can lead this one too.

"EPA regulations are strangling job creation."

  • Safeguards create jobs and protect businesses that play by the rules - in fact, updated EPA clean air rules are expected to create new jobs and save billions in health care costs.
  • Politicians who are demanding we get rid of oversight must have short memories. Only a year after the Gulf oil spill, they want Americans to trust Big Oil to do the right thing - but time after time, we've seen that they'll put profits before people.
We develop messaging by aggregating, analyzing and distilling polling, tested messaging, and expert recommendations, and monitoring the media to identify what is and isn't working. See here for some of the experts and organizations we draw on.


Posted in - Energy - Oil - Clean Energy - Keystone - Gas Prices - Oil Subsidies

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