International Journal of Inactivism (now supplanted by Decoding SwiftHack)


Milloy's brilliant plan to stonewall climate change regulation

cite as: F. Bi. 2008. Milloy’s brilliant plan to stonewall climate change regulation. Intl. J. Inact., 1:10–14

I was originally going to talk about yet another pig-headed article on The Register1, in which Andrew Orlowski praises Freeman Dyson for spewing complete nonsense2. But that’ll be shooting fish in a barrel.

So instead I’ll discuss the talk which Steve Milloy3 gave during the “2008 International Conference on Climate Change” 4. Anyway, the talk is intriguingly titled How to Stop Climate Change Legislation in the US, and is available as a whopping 27MB, 23-minute-long MP3.

Milloy presents the problem

Well, what did Milloy say? Let’s hear him out. During the first five minutes there’s the stuff about how the anthropogenic global warming theory is “utter hogwash”, how Al Gore was wrong, and all that. But after that it starts getting interesting. At 5′ 9″:

So what is it [that has caused the push for global warming mitigation to go so far, to the point of a Lieberman-Warner Bill]? Well, for many people who come from my side of the political spectrum — libertarians, free-market conservatives — it comes as quite a bit of a surprise. … What do you do, when the people that represent business and free enterprise have switched sides? What do you do when these people are no longer fighting for free markets and free enterprise and for limited government regulation and for individual freedom?

Of course, it means that our “free-market conservatives” don’t actually represent the free market at all. But of course, that’s not the answer Milloy wants. Instead, he puts the cart before the horse and, instead of asking why free enterprises don’t like soi-disant “free-market conservatives”, he accuses the free enterprises of being infected with Traitorous Pinkoism:

What do you do when they all start siding with the enemy, and are all working against everything you stood for, stand for, and worked for? … We learnt this the hard way at JunkScience. When I first started out this business, industry was interested in good science.

Milloy tells us why, indeed, it is a problem

At 6′ 22″:

So here we are, 2008, and business is no longer our ally. Business is now pushing for global warming regulation. Why are they [businesses] doing that? Well, it’s a great money-making opportunity for one. … Regardless of what the science is, it doesn’t really make any difference. If you’re a company like General Electric, you can sell windmills. And if you set up a regulatory scheme where people get tax credits or are subsidized or otherwise incentivized to buy windmills, they will, and you make a lot of money.

Hmm, citizens save money, businesses make money. What’s not to like?

At 9′ 7″:

So, they [businesses] are ignoring the fact that this regulation’s making energy more expensive, less available, curtailing economic growth. They don’t really believe that it’s going to hurt them.

Wind energy becomes cheaper, citizens save money, businesses make money. The Green Economy is Doomed!

And now, Milloy presents his solution

At 14′ 30″, Milloy reveals his 12-million-dollar strategy to stonewall carbon regulation:

So, what do we do to our Free Enterprise Action Fund? Well, we try to be a problem for managements and shareholders. … We’re institutional shareholders, we’re kind of a small fund, about 12 million dollars. But we’re very good with the paperwork and kind of a pain in the rear end for these people. We primarily work through shareholder proposals, and we’re trying to get shareholders and CEOs to think about what they’re doing. We have filed numerous shareholder proposals with companies in the US Climate Action Partnership — GE, Dell, Pepsi, …

So that’s the plan — if businesses don’t like you, hijack them! Let’s proceed to 15′ 26″:

And when we approach the companies, we tell them, you know, you’re in a group — the US Climate Action Partnership — where none of you really have the same goal. There are companies like Duke Energy… you know, Duke Energy is an electric utility in Carolinas… most of what they burn to produce electricity is coal. Coal becomes a disfavoured fuel under greenhouse gas regulations.

Which brings us to 17′ 10″, where Milloy discusses the second part of his plan: Divide and Conquer. Except it’s not really his subplan, it’s the Plan of the Invisible Hand of the Free Market:

I personally think that, well, in the end, what’s going to kill climate regulation is not the science, or that the science should be what actually does it in. What’s going to kill it is the fact that these USCAP companies can’t arrive at an agreement on what they want. Because there’s no compromise between carbon tax, cap-and-trade, cap-and-trade auction… I don’t see what the common ground is, for any of those interests, so that may be our saving grace.

At 20′ 40″, Milloy reveals the last part of his plan — the weapon of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD):

None of them [companies] know — none of them know — that the woman who is the head lobbyist of USCAP, she’s married to a founder of the Natural Resources Defence Council, and current board member. Now if I’m a shareholder of — pick a company — Duke Energy, Pepsi, do I really want the value of my company relying on an environmentalist lobbyist? Who’s she going to cut the deal for? Is she going to cut the deal for the environmentalists, not for business?

At 22′ 17″:

We’re in trouble. We have twelve months or so to work on this.


So, ladies and gentlemen, we can now summarize Milloy’s science-filled plan to stop US climate change legislation:

  • Hijack USCAP companies with $12 million;
  • Divide and conquer by invoking the Invisible Hand;
  • Bring on the Divine Sword of FUD;
  • ???
  • Profit!

Will it work? Well, in order to find out I’ll probably need to build some sort of model of how the business world works, but I’m too lazy to do that, so I’ll just say, “I don’t know.” 🙂 What do you think, dear readers?


  1. Perhaps it should call itself The Ostricher, with a tagline “Hiding in the sand that eats IT”.
  2. Dyson wants us to believe that James Hansen travelled from 2006 to 1998 using Satanic time travel technology, in order to adjust his 1998 climate model predictions so that they work all the way to 2006. Or something.
  3. For the uninitiated, Steve Milloy is the Fred Mbogo of all things science: he’s the founder of the Advancement for Sound Science Coalition (TASSC, or the ASS Coalition), where “Sound Science” refers to “Science” that e.g. tobacco and oil companies like. He’s also a (failed) portfolio manager of the Free Enterprise Action Fund, which doesn’t have much to do with free enterprise in general.
  4. Also known as the New York denial-a-palooza, or the “John Coleman is going to sue Al Gore!” conference.

Update 2008-09-19: I’ve updated the link to the MP3 of the talk, and also uploaded a segment of it from 14′ to 16′. Also, some errors in the above transcripts have been corrected.



  1. (To Harold Pierce Jr.: if you want to troll, please troll more creatively, and preferably in an on-topic fashion. Regurgitating the good old talking points is just boring, and totally pointless, ya know? Thank you.)

    Comment by frankbi — 2008/04/24 @ 11:11 | Reply

  2. […] ExxonMobil’s shareholders defeated a couple of shareholder proposals aimed at making the company go green… but not before defeating Milloy’s Shareholder Proposal to End All Shareholder Proposals. Things aren’t exactly looking up for Milloy’s Grand Stonewalling Plan… […]

    Pingback by I just got blog-mined « International Journal of Inactivism — 2008/05/29 @ 18:42 | Reply

  3. (BillBodell: nice try at dressing up a pig / libertarian troll, but no. Well, yes, those who benefit from “free markets” as defined idiosyncratically by libertarians will include “small businesses which have no power”, if you consider ExxonMobil as a small business with no power.)

    Comment by frankbi — 2008/05/30 @ 02:20 | Reply

  4. Milloy’s plan is analogous to the Wedge strategy of the Intelligent Design crowd. Will it work? Probably (and hopefully) not. A clean, green image is worth more than the hemorrhoid that Milloy claims he is. Milloy can be assuaged by a cheap topical ointment. The public, on the other hand, is a much bigger pain in the arse if your company is doing the wrong thing.

    Nevertheless, your bullet point synopsis of Milloy’s strategy should 1) be given a catchy name, and 2) be reiterated at every point of action by the do-nothing denialists and attributed directly to Milloy. While it might give him more publicity, it also helps to put a face on denialism.

    Comment by The skepTick — 2008/06/09 @ 02:47 | Reply

  5. The skepTick:

    “Milloy can be assuaged by a cheap topical ointment.”

    Haha. 🙂

    “your bullet point synopsis of Milloy’s strategy should 1) be given a catchy name”

    That’s a nice idea. I’ve been referring to it as “Milloy’s Grand Plan” or similar, but maybe it’s not catchy enough.

    Also, for some reason the phrase “Milloy’s Pills” has been playing in my head recently — maybe it was some sort of unconscious play on “Beecham’s Pills“, in which case, the phrase will give Milloy too much credit.

    Comment by frankbi — 2008/06/09 @ 04:08 | Reply

  6. Re: “Milloy’s Pills”.
    With all due respect to Matt Groening:

    Milloy’s Powder: apply directly to the buttocks!
    Milloy’s Powder: apply directly to the buttocks!
    Milloy’s Powder: apply directly to the buttocks!

    Again, likely too much credit, but perhaps catchier. Repeat it as often as, say, “Clinton did it!” and you’ll see what I mean.

    Comment by Brian D — 2008/06/09 @ 14:44 | Reply

  7. Brian D:

    Tee-hee. Personally I still think “Milloy’s Pills” is catchier, but I don’t want to insult Beecham.

    Or, in keeping with the “divide and conquer” and “sword” metaphor, another possibility is “Milloy’s Papercut” (or “-cuts”)………

    Comment by frankbi — 2008/06/09 @ 16:37 | Reply

  8. Frank, thanks for bringing up Milloy.

    His last point won’t be persuasive to USCAP members, since they know very well that the evil enviros are in fact supported by non-fossil fuel businesses.

    Comment by TokyoTom — 2008/08/26 @ 12:39 | Reply

  9. TokyoTom:

    Thanks! Indeed, that’s a good point.

    Comment by frankbi — 2008/08/26 @ 13:30 | Reply

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