By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Pro-LNG forces have insider strength, but in a process requiring approval from local governments and state regulators, and the acquiescence of legislative committees, that’s not enough. So Murphy and company sold their sponsors on a lobbying-and-PR effort "using campaign-style tactics," creating a new coalition to boost support for LNG among state and local officials and the public. "We will make the ‘right’ vote the ‘easy’ vote," vow the consultants. In addition, the new pro-LNG campaign will be designed to "put cross-pressure on liberal and environmental groups" and other opponents.
LNG opponents’ simple and effective messages about safety and the environment are to be countered in equally simple fashion. "There is a critical need for LNG now" with energy supplies in California again growing short. This message is to be pounded home with both an "air war" (through media messages) and a "ground war" (with grassroots organization beyond the big-business community).
Target audiences for the ground war will be "chosen strategically to correspond with the need to influence key regulators and decision makers." (Most regulators are gubernatorial appointees.) The marketing plan will focus on organized labor, business groups, minority organizations, homeowner groups and potential environmental allies.
The pro-LNG coalition "must be bipartisan," insist the consultants, almost all of whom are Republicans, with Murphy’s Navigators firm bringing in as subcontractors a pair of former Pete Wilson operatives, including Wilson’s former chief of opposition research, and two Democrats.
The consultants will educate coalition groups about the connection between "safe, stable and affordable natural gas" and their lives, emphasizing "economics, jobs, energy security and air pollution."
Why bother creating a pro-LNG coalition? "We must change the ‘face’ of LNG for the public. LNG is not just a ‘big energy company.’" (Big energy companies are the ones proposing LNG projects.) "It is local, state and national labor leaders, minority activists, environmentalists, small business owners, etc."
The pro-LNG forces have their first public meeting this week in Sacramento. Joining the California Manufacturers and Technology Association will be the California League of Food Processors, California Retailers Association, California Building Industry Association, Western States Petroleum Association, Agricultural Council of California, Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group, American Electronics Association and whichever labor, minority, homeowner groups and stray enviros the consultants have picked up so far to provide grassroots cover. The big symposium will go off in the spring. In between, the consultants will work on coastal governments, legislators contemplating hearings, state energy and environmental regulators who must approve, and the governor, who appoints many of them and is ever mindful of popular opinion.
It may be that LNG has become a worthwhile option for California. Meanwhile, now you know how LNG will be sold to the state and its governor by the folks who have a vested interest in it.