Green Flack Joins the Oil Companies

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In the department of dramatic lobbying defections, a Nature Conservancy bigwig has fled into the arms of the American Petroleum Institute. Deryck Spooner, who had led the Nature Conservancy's lobbying for climate legislation since 2007, is now spearheading API's grassroots outreach program.


Spooner's move has sparked fears that, double-agent-style, he will use his inside knowledge of the environmental lobby to hobble its push for a climate bill. But in a rhetorical feat that may or may not have been featured in Thank You For Smoking, Spooner explained away any cognitive dissonance: "The bottom line is it's all about advocacy, that's what I'm passionate about. Mobilizing and organizing people to influence the public process and public policy is what I truly love to do." Finding a solution to climate change involves "engaging many voices," he told Greenwire, and moving to API gives him "the opportunity to further that conversation."

This "conversation," however, has not lately been much of a conversation at all. Spooner cited the presence of BP and ConocoPhillips in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a lobbying consortium composed of both environmental advocacy groups and large corporations. The two oil giants, however, dropped out of USCAP a few weeks ago, once it had become apparent that a strong-handed climate bill was much less of an immediate threat than they'd thought. A Senate in partisan lockdown and a growing challenge to climate science are only further eroding what fragile common ground once existed between business and environmental lobbies.   

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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