Gas-Guzzler Lobby strikes back
WW4 REPORT has received the following letter from David Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research (link added):
You may wish to remove the article, "The Gas-Guzzling Lobby Stops Time" from your site, as it is riddled with errors—including about my organization.
1. Let's begin with the title of the section dealing with my group, The National Center for Public Policy Research, "What $335K Buys." The implication is that the NCPPR was paid to oppose higher fuel economy standards by the Exxon Mobil Corporation.
This is false on so many different levels. First, we do not accept contract work of any kind. Second, we've never received a grant from Exxon Mobil in support of our work on CAFE standards. Third, we aren't receiving funding from anyone to work on CAFE standards—oil, auto or otherwise.
Fourth, our total corporate funding year-to-date is 0 and last year our corporate funding represented less than 1% of our total revenue.
2. The article states that we have received "a bundle more from various auto and oil industry execs." Okay, then. From whom? This was simply made up from whole cloth.
3. The article says that NCPPR has been "led over the years" by notable figures, including a former lobbyist. NCPPR has been led since it opened its doors in 1982 by precisely one person, Amy Ridenour, and she's never been a lobbyist.
4. The article counters our statement that a 52 mile per gallon standard may be unobtainable by citing the popularity of the Volkswagon Jetta TDI, which it says gets "55+ miles per gallon." A couple problems:
First, this vehicle only boasts 42 mpg on the highway and 33 mpg in the city. Test drives have indicated an overall average of 36 mpg — substantially below 55 mpg. Second, it is called a Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standard for a reason. The 52 mpg figure would have to be the average for all cars AND light trucks. The most fuel efficient vehicles—such as the Prius—are not suitable for all situations (larger families, hauling, etc)—so one can not simply assume no one will drive anything else.
5. The article asserts that we rely heavily on the "pro-corporate and neo-conservative echo chamber" for our science and notes our statement regarding traffic deaths resulting from higher CAFE standards. The original source for these statistics was the National Academy of Sciences—which can be classified as neither neo-conservative nor pro-corporate.
I've only fact-checked a few paragraphs from the article. One assumes that the attention to detail for the rest of the article was no better.
If, as you claim, you are committed to "real journalism (as opposed to mere opinion-spewing and bloggery)," you will take the article down and send it back to the author for substantial revision.
Thank you, in advance, for your assistance.
The article's author, Dr. Michael Niman, responds:
According to Source Watch, a project of the non-profit Center for Media and Democracy, Exxon/Mobil donated money to Mr. Ridenour's organization specifically earmarked to support it's "educational activities" and its "Global Climate Change / Envirotruth Website." NCPPR's so-called educational activities and its oxymoronically named "Envirotruth" site have been actively lobbying against action on global warming, which it argues is a myth, while claiming that environmentalists are waging a "Jihad" against corporations. Exxon/Mobil Foundation Annual Reports and Exxon/Mobil's Corporate Giving reports document $335,000 in donations to the NCPPR from 1997 to 2006. NCPPR also received major funding from the Olin Foundation, the Sarah Scaif Foundation (funded by Mellon family [oil] money), The Carthage Foundation (also a Mellon-supported project), and Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation (Gorden was a director of Texas Petrochemicals and a vice president of Conoco), to name a few organizations with oil industry ties. Most of NCPPR's funding, however, comes from thousands of individuals who support their work, but whose names NCPPR doesn't release—hence it is difficult to name the specific industry officials who finance NCPPR's activities.
Jack Abramoff served as a Director of NCPPR from 1998 to 2003, channeling his lobbying clients funds' into NCPPR coffers. Ridenour, who served with him as Vice President and Secretary of the Board should remember sitting at the table with Abramoff. And he should remember the controversy concerning his wife, NCPPR president Amy Ridenour, who wrote a poison pen editorial tarring an opponent of Abramoff client Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohammad as an Islamic radical. Bin Mohammad claims to have paid Abramoff $2.2 million for services rendered.
Regarding the forthcoming Jetta TDI's fuel mileage, Ridenour gives the EPA rating for the 2006 TDI. I specifically cite "next year's" 2008 TDI which the auto industry press expects to earn a 60 mpg ration. To err on the conservative side, I wrote "55+" mpg. As for my assertion that NCPPR relies heavily on the neo-con echo chamber, just go to their website and read it for yourselves. I never stated that they cite neo-con sources to the exclusion of all other sources. Yes, reputable sources document that passengers in small cars are more likely to be hurt when colliding with larger vehicles —that was one of the points of my column.