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Left-Wing Billionaires Have A New Plan Up Their Sleeves In War On Fossil Fuels


A few days ago I wrote on Substack about my set of nine energy-related predictions for 2024. Those predictions touched on various parts of the energy space, including coal, electric vehicles, renewable energy and oil and gas. I didn’t touch on nuclear energy, mainly because I really don’t expect the industry to gain much traction with policymakers during the coming 12 months. That may be a missed opportunity to get one prediction right, but it is what it is at this point.

Now, it has become apparent that I may well have missed another bit of low-hanging fruit where making easy predictions are concerned. Evidence of that landed in my email inbox in the form of a link to the website of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ), notifying its members of an upcoming opportunity to spend three days in Port Arthur, Texas. Readers may be wondering why anyone would want to spend three days in Port Arthur, which is reasonable given that it is not exactly one of Texas’s tourist meccas.

However, Port Arthur has long served as home to an array of oil refining, plastics and petrochemical operations, which makes sense given its location and status as a major port on the Texas Gulf coast. As it turns out, that is why SEJ is notifying its members about their chance to be in Port Arthur from Jan. 24-26 as part of an event being organized by the Michael Bloomberg-funded Beyond Plastics activist organization, along with a local group called the Port Arthur Community Action Network.

Even better, journalists whose personal or company ethics guidelines are loose enough to allow them to accept the invitation to the event will get to travel on the Bloomberg expense account.

“There is no registration fee,” the invitation says. “We will provide lodging and meals free of charge. However, you will be responsible for making and paying for your own travel arrangements to and from Houston.” More details about the provision of free bus transportation from Houston to Port Arther and back are also provided.

For those who are unaware, Beyond Plastics and a sister group called Beyond Petrochemicals are funded by the billionaire Michael Bloomberg who funnels money via a complex network of environmental activists and dark-money organizations. According to Bloomberg Philanthropies, Beyond Petrochemicals builds on the work of Beyond Plastics to “scale the work being done by frontline communities.” With Bloomberg’s funding, these groups distribute millions of dollars to local front groups that are closer to communities and can appear to outside media as grassroots, organic efforts.

No doubt the event will be well attended by journalists willing to write the stories these billionaires and their front groups want to see. And no doubt the publications for which they write will give little or no coverage at all to the troubling conflicts of interest in how the event is being organized and funded. Now, imagine how those same media outlets would react if it were revealed that the plastics and petrochemicals companies themselves invited the same journalists for a fun-filled, expense-paid seminar to learn the other side of the story. Holy smokes.

These same players held a similar expense-paid seminar for willing journalists around the same time last year in New Orleans so they could spend three days being propagandized about what the activists refer to as “cancer alley.” Again, not the most attractive spot for a tour, but no doubt the food back in the city was yummy.

Like the 2023 event, the agenda for this year’s confab is stacked with presentations from various anti-fossil fuel advocates, including Dr. Robert Bullard, an urban planning and environmental policy professor known as the “father of environmental justice,” and Jen Powis, managing attorney for the Gulf at Earthjustice. The objective is obvious: to promote national media stories that are negative about the petrochemicals and plastics industries that can serve as germination points and free publicity for future litigation.

Thus, my missed opportunity here becomes clear: I should have added a 10th prediction forecasting that the American plastics and petrochemicals industries – which provide thousands of products that are absolutely essential to our modern way of life – will be targeted by left-wing billionaires and the front groups they fund for a major new media and litigation campaign.

Talk about low-hanging fruit.

David Blackmon is an energy writer and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.


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