Tales from the Trail

from Environment Forum:

The Case Of The Forged Letters – a cap-and-trade mystery

A half-dozen fake letters, signed by people who don't seem to exist and who work at made-up jobs, are causing a bit of buzz in the environmental world -- mostly because the letters urged a Virginia congressman to vote against a cap-and-trade system to curb climate change.

The Sierra Club calls it "dirty tricks." The Union of Concerned Scientists points out that the PR firm said to be behind the fake-letter lobbying effort has a history of working against climate legislation. Rep. Ed Markey, who chairs a House committee on energy independence and global warming, said the committee will investigate. The Daily Progress newspaper in Charlottesville published a detailed story.

The congressman, Tom Perriello, voted for the cap-and-trade bill anyway. It passed by a slim margin and the Senate is expected to take up this matter in September.

The alleged forgeries came in letters made to look as if they were sent from two civil rights organizations: the local branch of the NAACP and Creciendo Juntos, a network for Charlottesville's Hispanic community -- neither of which oppose cap-and-trade. The Daily Progress tracked the letters to a Washington lobbying firm, Bonner & Associates. A partner at the Bonner firm apologized to Creciendo Juntos, but that probably won't be the end of the matter.

Jack Bonner, the president of Bonner & Associates, responded to a call for comment by e-mail: "We take our business very seriously. A temporary employee—lied to us—and contrary to our policies sent these letters. We—no one else—we on our own found this out. We immediately fired the person. We then, called those effected, explained what happened and apologized. In the case of the group in the story—we did it in person and by letter. This should not have happened—we had a bad employee—but through our internal checks, we found the problem, and on our own initiative took the step to notify the affected group."

First Draft: Al Gore heads for the Hill

GORE/Al Gore — who sometimes jokes that he “used to be the next president of the United States” — heads for Capitol Hill to testify about the fight against climate change. The former vice president and star of the Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” is slated to go before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he’ll discuss the latest legislation to curb the greenhouse gases that spur global warming.

Gore shares the spotlight with former Senator John Warner, the Virginia Republican who pushed a bill to cut greenhouse gas emissions in 2008, his last year in Congress.

It’s been an environmentally-friendly week in Washington, with Earth Day on Wednesday prompting almost every U.S. agency to go green, starting with the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson headed for the Hill to urge passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the climate bill working its way through the House of Representatives. A similar bill failed last year, but that was then. Supporters hope that with a new administration which has been clear on its commitment to curb climate warming emissions, this kind of law has a better chance.

McCain, liberal groups roll out new TV ads

WASHINGTON — Republican candidate John McCain touts his independence from President George W. Bush and his plan to fight global warming in a new TV ad.

Two liberal groups, meanwhile, are slamming McCain’s support for the Iraq war in an ad of their own.

McCain’s ad, highlighting an issue important to many independent voters, will run on local TV in 11 battleground states, as well as national cable channels like Fox News and CNN. An aide said the ad buy would be “substantial,” but declined to provide a figure.