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View Diary: NOT BREAKING!!! Think Tanks Climate Change Denial and the Media/Policy Landscape (56 comments)

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  •  Great Diary, NearlySomebody, thanks! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NearlySomebody, Words In Action

    I can provide a bit of input from personal experience on the role think tanks play on the industry side of things.  Most of my career at GM was spent at corporate HQ in the Environmental Regulatory/Legislative Support Group.  A big part of our job was to analyze proposed rules/regulations and prepare comments to submit to the relevant agencies.  This involved understanding and evaluating the validity of the science behind the agency proposals as well as determining the potential financial and operational impacts on the corporation.  Think tanks can sometimes influence these tasks.

    When the news broke a couple of years ago about GM being a financial donor to the Heartland Institute I followed that development with great interest.  For a number of years Heartland position papers and other communications were routinely circulated to everyone in our offices.  In my area of expertise, regulatory reporting and non-hazardous solid waste, I usually treated these communications as FYIs, inasmuch as my areas were relatively non-controversial at the time.  In air quality matters, however, I am sure that these transmittals were looked at more seriously by my colleagues in their comment preparation than they were by me.

    Now, I am not at all saying that my friends down the hall based their analyses and comments on Heartland's positions.  Many of them were and still are committed environmentalists that are doing the best they can working within the system to achieve outcomes that are beneficial to the planet.  However, it is difficult to see how one can write comments without at least partially taking into consideration the not-so-subtle message sitting in your in-box that came down from a high-level manager who just made a big donation to Heartland after liking what propaganda he was plied with at lunch with Joe Bast earlier in the week.  At the very least they serve to influence and sometimes frame the terms of debate as these issues are discussed in the hallways and offices a few floors below the top dogs.

    I could say more about the role of think tanks in industry trade associations, but I think I'll leave my two cents at the above for the time being.

    Once again, great Diary, NS.  I think I would have really benefited from taking your course when I was in Grad School.  As it was I had to learn how the game was played as I went.  It's encouraging to see that this important topic is finally being taught in public education.  Well done, Sir/Ma'am!

    Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

    by lehman scott on Wed Jul 10, 2013 at 07:30:34 PM PDT

    •  Thanks so much! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lehman scott

      For the compliment as well as the great story.  Would you mind telling me more about you, GM, and your experiences in private?  If I could use a real live story from personal experience, it might help me interest my students more!

      •  Absolutely, if you think they'd be helpful. (3+ / 0-)

        On the Fed level i worked in the areas I mentioned and also served on a Federal Advisory Committee for a number of years.  Lots of interesting trips to DC during that time, and very interesting dynamics when you're trying to act in a joint multi-stakeholder proactive fashion to establish voluntary guidelines in lieu of all the complications that an entirely new set of regulations entail.

        I also worked at the State level in those areas, as well as groundwater quality rulemakings (midwest only, IL, IN, MI and OH).  Also had a bit of an unpleasant experience working with a lobbying firm on a piece of legislation in MI.  Very ugly business, that, am glad I had to swim in that muck only one time in 20 years.

        If you think that any of this might be helpful to you feel free to PM me, I'd be more than happy to share whatever I can.

        Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

        by lehman scott on Wed Jul 10, 2013 at 08:32:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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