Richard Reavey says climate denial is eerily parallel to the tobacco industry’s old tactics, which hurt that business long-term
By Benjamin Hulac, ClimateWire on August 25, 2016 in Scientific American
It’s one thing when environmentalists say that fossil fuel companies’ positions on climate change are similar to Big Tobacco’s past deflections about the hazards of smoking. It’s another entirely when it’s done by a coal official, who says his industry should heed tobacco’s costly lessons.
That’s what Richard Reavey, vice president of public affairs of Cloud Peak Energy Inc., a major coal miner in the western United States, appears to have done on June 29, 2015, when he presented a 24-page slideshow at an industry conference organized by the Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Institute in Snowmass, Colo. Reavey said one of his goals for the presentation, titled “SURVIVAL IS VICTORY: LESSONS FROM THE TOBACCO WARS,” was to encourage the industry to move past debating climate change and talk to critics of the industry about addressing greenhouse gas emissions and energy use.
“The tobacco industry spent a lot of time in the bunker not listening to its critics, denying that there was any legitimate concern about smoking and health, and effectively trying to parse hairs and debate science,” Reavey said in an interview, “instead of trying to get to where they finally got to, which was that recognition that regulation was a legitimate goal of the public health community and something that the industry could live with.” Coal companies should take a proactive strategy and talk about solutions, such as carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) technology, Reavey said….