I have lamented how the editorial board of my hometown Houston Chronicle long ago took a hard left position on the “problem” and “solution” of anthropogenic global climate change. Not even the U.S. House of Representatives’s Waxman-Markey climate bill–labeled a “monstrosity” and “less than worthless” by NASA scientist and Al Gore mentor James Hansen, and “out of control” by UN Foundation head Tim Wirth–has loosened the grip of climate alarmism and policy activism at the Chronicle despite an opposite view by the paper’s popular business editorialist Loren Steffy.
Last week, an estimated 3,500 Houstonians, the large majority working for oil and gas companies, gathered at the Verizon Theater downtown to protest Waxman-Markey’s carbon-dioxide cap (cap-and-trade, correctly identified by Tim Wirth as a carbon tax). The protest was covered nationally by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and reported as a news item in the business section by the Houston Chronicle. Such was expected, as was the Left’s characterization of the event as industry sponsored and largely industry attended. Fair enough.
But why didn’t the editorial board of the Chronicle weigh in on this major event in some way.
The answer is that a favorable piece would have contradicted their Hard Left position, and an unfavorable piece would have further alienated the readership, which is already testy about the hometown paper’s politics. It might have been the proverbial “last straw” for thousands (including the present writer, who is still a subscriber but not by much).
But why couldn’t an editorial have noted the unique event and opine that final legislation should ensure that energy be kept plentiful, affordable, and reliable? … That energy is the master resource for Houston, America, and the world? … That too much regulation and bureaucracy would cancel out the gains sought in the bill? …
Instead, the Chronicle ducked the basic question of acceptable versus unacceptable energy/climate policy. Their silence was deafening.
The rally attracted 1,500 more than expected for a total of around 3,500. Representatives of the black and Hispanic communities spoke, as did Drayton McClain, a very well respected businessman and owner of the Houston Astros. It was a big deal.
The event was attended by a number of libertarians and conservatives who do not work for oil and gas companies. I attended and chatted with folks as we stood in line, and they are mad at the direction that Obama is taking energy–as they are with health care. From ObamaStimulus to ObamaCare and now to ObamaCap–folks do not buy climate alarmism or the solutions to the alleged problem. They were there because they believed in the cause.
I’ll let my colleague David Hutzelman, who kindly gave me a ride to the event, relay his impressions to finish this post.
Civic Event or Protest?
Having received a copy of an email about a political rally addressing the current version on Congress’s cap-and-trade legislation sponsored by Energy Citizens, I headed to downtown Houston to investigate. Being retired, I have time to get involved in these events and expected it to be similar to the downtown Houston Tea Party that I attended earlier this year.
The event was scheduled to be at Main & Texas so I assumed it was a spontaneous outside event like the Tea Party and brought a home-made pro-energy sign with me. When I arrived, I was quite surprised to find that the event was being held indoors (Verizon Theater) and was very structured. While standing in line to enter, the security staff relieved me of my sign which had a wooden pole that evidently posed a “safety” issue. I disagree, however, with the insinuation by some critics that the event was “unpatriotic” because they would not let in people with their American flags. Rules are rules–pro or anti energy tax or America.
I also disagree with Public Citizen‘s take that the industry folks attending were not knowledgeable or motivated about cap-and-tax. They were–and I dare the other side to see how many they can get out to a pro-Waxman-Markey rally. (Can you even imagine chants and signs such as “Raise Taxes” “Higher Energy Prices Now” ….?)
While waiting to get in, someone asked to see my ID, and I showed them a business card for the non-profit organization I work with and was allowed to proceed. I spent the next 20 minutes in a long snake-like line which culminated in a lunch buffet. Since all the seats had already been taken I ate standing up waiting for whatever program was planned.
Eventually a master-of-ceremonies appeared and began introducing a parade of speakers representing various companies and organizations from around Houston. The speakers seemed quite reserved for a rally and one organization (Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) announced they had not yet taken a position on the Waxman-Markey legislation. But they were there which said a lot.
The program proceeded without incident, and I left feeling like I had attended a civic meeting rather than a protest rally. I note that no energy company representatives spoke–and there was no questioning the science behind climate alarmism. It was all about economics.
– David Hutzelman