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The Line for Cap-and-Trade Bandwagons Forms to the Right -- or Left

If you missed the last bandwagon, stick around; there will be another one coming along soon. Not to be outdone by health care reform friends and foes, energy companies and environmentalists are going on the road with the aim of staging as many rallies as possible in Congressional home districts during the August recess, aiming to influence votes in September. It's the populist revolution and everyone's in the game.

The oil and gas industry started its rally in mid-August...where? Houston, of course, mainly preaching to the converted. Several major energy companies sent busloads of employees to the rally hosted by Energy Citizens. Despite the fact that one of the co-sponsors of the almost two-dozen rallies nationwide over the coming weeks is the American Petroleum Institute (API), nary an industry representative was on the program (see related story).

It was all about the high cost to the average American of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, popularly known as cap and trade, which passed the House before the recess and is headed to the Senate. Drayton McLane, owner of the Houston Astros who made his fortune in the trucking business, was keynote speaker. National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) CEO Harry Alford also spoke to the 3,500 who showed up.

Rally attendees heard estimates of increased costs to American families ranging from $150 to $1,000 or more per year if the bill becomes law. It also could result in a net loss of more than two million U.S. jobs each year, speakers said.

It depends on your point of view. Environmentalists allied with labor unions and Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection launched their own "Made in America" tour also in mid-August, trumpeting the millions of jobs to be created by spreading renewable energy use throughout the land. The rally began in Cleveland and includes 50 events in 22 states, targeting key Rust Belt cities.

The group is "crossing the country to show Americans -- through tours of clean energy businesses, conversations with workers making the parts that harness clean energy and rallies with local residents -- that the benefits of transitioning to a clean energy economy are available today through good-paying jobs which are giving new meaning to the term 'Made in America.'"

And as for coal, about 25,000 people have gone online to request the free tickets for a Labor Day rally organized by Friends of America, led by premier coal company Massey Energy. But it's not clear whether they are all coal supporters or they're fans of the headliners, country music legend Hank Williams Jr., hard rocker Ted Nugent, singer-songwriter John Rich, and conservative pundit Sean Hannity.

The rally is designed "to show support for the American worker."

In the words of one anonymous activist, the rally(ies) "will show the groundswell of support for..." (fill in the blank).

Note that the cap-and-trade bill already is increasing jobs and spending among public relations organizers, lobbyists and bus companies. And FYI, the Senate is notorious for taking a long time to get together with the House on energy. Probably should schedule some buses for the next couple of years.

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