Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) may be grappling with health care, but in Montana a new advocacy group opposed to climate legislation called C02 Is Green is taking aim at the next big battle for Congress.
The group is already running television ads: "This will cost us jobs," one says. "There is no scientific evidence that CO2 is a pollutant. In fact higher CO2 levels than we have today would help the Earth's ecosystems." It urges voters to contact Baucus, who in the past has backed bills to cap emissions and allow companies to trade pollution allowances.
The man behind the latest entry to the climate legislation wars is H. Leighton Steward, a veteran oil industry executive, co-author of the "Sugar Busters!" dieting books, and winner of an Environmental Protection Agency award for a report on damage being done to Mississippi wetlands. Now retired, he says he wants to "get the message out there" that carbon dioxide, which the Supreme Court has ruled a pollutant and which most scientists regard as a dangerous greenhouse gas, "is a net benefit for the planet."
Steward has joined forces with Corbin J. Robertson Jr., chief executive of and leading shareholder in Natural Resource Partners, a Houston-based owner of coal resources that lets other companies mine in return for royalties. Its revenues were $291 million in 2008. They have formed two groups -- CO2 Is Green designated for advocacy and Plants Need CO2 for education -- with about $1 million. Plants Need CO2 has applied for 501(c)(3) tax status, so that contributions would qualify as charitable donations, said Natural Resource Partners general counsel Wyatt L. Hogan, who also serves on the group's board.