In the 1950s, when the tobacco industry realized that the link between tobacco use and serious illness was a threat to their profits, it embarked on a campaign of using disinformation, astroturfing (the practice of hiding the sponsors or funders of messaging by making it appear that the messaging was originated by grassroots groups), intensive lobbying and an emphasis on personal choice. Later, this same strategy was used by the fossil fuel industry to hide the effects of fossil fuels on the climate. Does this all sound familiar?
NW Natural, heedless of the proven harm to human health and the environment, is using the same strategy to protect and enhance their profits. They are funding a “grassroots” organization and a PR firm to push the idea of “choice” to overturn the Eugene City Council’s decision aimed at protecting our people and our planet. They are betting that they can outspend supporters of cleaner air and healthier children. Let’s hope that Eugeneans are not so easily fooled.