How API tricks you into opposing nuclear
With climate change approaching a range of tipping points that will cause climate to shift forever, it is worth pondering the very basic question of who benefits from the world acting on climate and eliminating emissions and who doesn’t. When you think of individuals—people all around the world who are beginning to be impacted by extreme heat, by droughts, by floods, by damaging hurricanes and tornadoes, by loss species and disruption of local habitats, by sea level rise, ocean acidification and by the increasing prevalence and spread of infectious diseases such as the Covid-19 pandemic that we are all suffering from now, it is clear that everyone would benefit if the world’s powers dealt with climate change. We could easily build a unified movement, supported by all people, that reduces global emissions and begins to draw-down the accumulated waste causing the heating from the atmosphere and ocean.
But we are not doing that. Instead, we are mostly making no progress against emissions and, in fact, the use of carbon-emitting fuels continues to grow. So, let’s take a look at who benefits from the lack of action on climate. Well, the answer is pretty clear: only fossil fuel companies and their investors benefit. Pretty much every other industry and sector of the economy—with the exception of those that service and partner with the fossil fuel industry, such at utility companies, pipeline companies, contractors and equipment manufacturers who provides products or services to the fossil fuel industry—every other business will be better off if we shift to clean energy technologies, so we have ample energy but our climate, our economy and our future are not destroyed, disrupted and fatally threatened.
(Click to download the API presentation.)
Given this clarity, it is instructive then to see how the fossil fuel industry tries to gain support. They have a well-oiled process developed to work behind the scenes to disable and disrupt the consensus-building efforts of those who would act on climate to try to build clean energy systems with all of our best carbon-free energy technologies—which includes solar, wind, nuclear and hydro power. Given that nuclear power is the densest and potentially most competitive of the clean energy technologies with dense fossil fuels, the fossil fuel industry has long seen it as its biggest threat.
Now, thanks to Dr. Gene Nelson of Californians for Green Nuclear Power, we have in our possession a copy of the presentation created by Tara Smith Anderson, Director of External Mobilization for the American Petroleum Institute, which explains how they manipulate messaging to various groups to get people—and explicitly the leaders that others will listen to—riled up about trumped up problems. If they get these leaders to act, it is then very easy to dupe others into supporting or opposing policies that are actually in their own best interest. This presentation specifically covers how API works behind the scenes to sneakily oppose nuclear power and manipulate pliable constituencies to work against their own best interest. You can click this image to download the presentation or view the whole thing below.
As a note, here is how Tara Smith Anderson described her work at API on LinkedIn, where she spent an annual operating budget of $16 million. With so much money at her disposal, it is tough not to wonder which of those community partners and leaders might have had their palms greased in this process in order to agree to lead their communities astray: