Greenwire, the widely read environmental trade publication, is having some stories republished online by The New York Times, and today has a good piece, “Enviro Ad Sparks Debate — Grass Roots or AstroTurf?,” reporting on the Environmental Defense Action Fund hiring activists in North Dakota to promote cap-and-trade. (Original reporting done at the SayAnything blog.) Since Waxman-Markey would hammer a cold-weather, energy-producing state like North Dakota, there aren’t a lot of indigenous, impassioned supporters available. You have to hire them at $90 a day.

The best comment n the story:

“When someone else does it, it’s astroturfing; when you do it, it’s community organizing,” said Kenneth Green, resident scholar at American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. “Both sides do this kind of thing.”

While trade groups and companies tied to oil and coal might be acting on behalf of shareholders when they bus workers to rallies, Green said, “if you look at the size of the environmental industry, it’s a big industry.”

Right. Which is why the gasps of outrage are so phony when the greens, unions and leftwing activists cry about businesses having any organizational role in citizen activism. They don’t want to talk about the substance, the issue, but instead poison the well by saying anything touched by employers is inherently suspect.

As Michael Barone notes in his First Rule of Life: “All process arguments are insincere, including this one.”

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