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In Politics, Go for the Cheap Punch

Producers hoping to get their message across with the press and the general public are failing because they are trying to use reason and logic. They need to take the gloves off and craft more emotional and personal messages, according to an advocate for land access in the West.

Jim Sims, executive director of Partnership for the West, told a GasMart audience Thursday it's the art of message framing and use of vocabulary that's important. Producers tend to offer detailed explanations of the reasons for opening up access for domestic energy production, when what they need to use to counter the anti-growth forces is more like a "cheap punch."

For instance, they should use slogans such as "Who profits from America's oil addiction?" superimposed on a picture of Osama bin Laden, or "Stop sending money to support foreign terrorists!" or "More American energy, less foreign energy!"

"Wrap yourself around the flag," Sims said. Create a personification of the problem and then keep repeating it. "You can't play nice, and you shouldn't be afraid of angering some members of Congress. You have to be more aggressive."

Besides message framing, Sims said you have to sustain your message, continuously and nonstop, year after year, and also to focus on using grass roots campaigns. Rallying grass roots support to deluge politicians with messages works, Sims, who has been a congressional staffer, said.

Sims expects debate in the Congress on reform of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) this year, but he says the atmosphere in the Senate for legislation is not good. Next year there are prospects for streamlining under the National Environmental Policy Act. Both actions are expected to bring out heavy opposition from environmentalists or those determined to stop any kind of growth.

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