Policy: Environment & Energy

Obama group disavows former official's climate change talking points

BY: Susan Ferrechio June 25, 2013 | 12:00 am

An environmental official suggesting he worked for Organizing for Action, the Obama administration’s advocacy group, sent a memo to supporters and pro-Obama pundits, warning them to avoid using “economic arguments” to defend the president’s new climate change, which could put a damper on coal plants and the Keystone Pipeline project.

Ken Berlin, general counsel to the Coalition for a Green Capital and a former chairman of the Obama campaign's Energy and Environment Team, also warned people to not "over promise on the impacts taking action will have."

But officials from Organizing for Action immediately distanced themselves from Berlin and his talking points, saying he was no longer officially affiliated with Obama though he issued the talking points through an email address connecting him to the group and referred to himself as an officer of its Energy and Environmental Team.

Berlin later acknowledged that he wasn't still affiliated with the Obama organization. Asked about his use of an "OFAeteam" email address, Berlin said, "We have to change that."

The "Do and Don't" list Berlin sent out in a email blast was intended to combat criticism of the climate-change speech Obama delivered Tuesday at Georgetown University.

The 14-page memo outlines Obama's plan and includes a form press release and a form letter to the editor "that you can use to inform your own statements on the speech."

Berlin's "message guidance" talked about a moral obligation to act on climate change to protect future generations and to be good stewards of the Earth.

Berlin lists weather conditions that could be blamed on climate change, including drought, flooding, wildfires, heat waves and the recent string of deadly tornadoes in the Midwest. The cost of "climate disruption," Berlin writes, is $100 billion.

Berlin said that a policy limiting carbon pollution from power plants "seems so reasonable that 57 percent of voters believe that there are already significant limits on the greenhouse gases that have been linked to global warming that power plants are allowed to emit."

Opponents of Obama's plan "are anti-science" and protecting profits and political careers, he said.

Among the "Don'ts" on the list: Talking about cost of Obama's policies.

"Don't debate the increase in electricity rates," Berlin writes. "Instead, pivot to health and clean air message."

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Susan Ferrechio

Chief Congressional Correspondent



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