Gristmill's David Roberts writes in with a must-read dispatch from this past weekend's Eco-nomics conference, a gathering of business leaders sponsored by the Wall Street Journal to talk climate matters. His report notes that the conference highlighted a stark divide between the overwhelming majority of attendees and the more strident, often knee-jerk opponents of capping carbon emissions such as JunkScience's Steven Milloy, several of the Journal's own columnists and editorial board members, and the ever-dogged Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). Both David Sassoon and Adam Siegel react by noting the growing disparity between the Journal's editorial stance and the realities embraced by its news pages and core audience, with the latter putting it thusly:
The Wall Street Journal prides itself as America’s business newspaper of record when, in fact, the editorial board clearly seems to have an anti (sensible) business agenda. Amid the booming “green” business market, they went forward and held what sounds like it was a highly interesting conference last week: Eco:nomics. Amid all of the interesting panels, presentations, and discussions, there is an interesting backstory that the WSJ is unlikely to front page: business leader after business leader rejected the idea that dealing with global warming will have devastating impacts on the economy.
We're similarly drawn to the apparent lack of resonance for CEI's hapless, "expert" efforts to cast warming-related efforts as economically-devastating "policy terrorism." Others have duly noted that this once-powerful repository for polluters' cash has lost much of its luster and funding lately, and thus resorted to using the phrase "Al Gore" in just all of its efforts in order to generate free publicity. Indeed, Warming Law noticed while attending last week's House hearing on Mass. v. EPA, that CEI's omission from formal participation didn't stop them from desperately distributing a Gore-invoking press release to audience members and journalists.
So score a few points for those who base their analysis on sound science and firm legal grounding, not selective readings thereof. Nonetheless, without raining on everyone's parade, it does behoove us to point out that CEI's influence remains somewhat alive in the EPA's roughshod justifications for inaction, as well as the halls of Congress. After all, the same hearing we just mentioned played host to statement by the Select Committee's ranking Member, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), that embraced CEI's portrayal of EPA action as dangerous and avoidable.
This may indeed be the last gasp of CEI and its ilk, as their credibility wanes and both the law and public opinion are simply stacked against them. But they're not going out without making some noise and mucking up the works a bit, not by any stretch of the imagination.