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Using Woody Guthrie's folk song "This Land Is Your Land" as the tune, the CEI's Marlo Lewis Jr. created a political satire video titled "This Gas is Dow's Gas" to lampoon the many arguments Dow makes against allowing unlimited natural gas exports. Lewis wrote the lyrics, sang the song, and played the mandolin and guitar for the performance, while the CEI's communications team searched the public domain for video clips that would represent the words. The CEI promotes free markets and limited government.
"Each paragraph hit one main theme: that it is corporate welfare and rent-seeking, that it's confiscatory, and it's a form of cutting off your nose to spite your face. Dow has to know, they have to be sophisticated enough to realize, that you can't massively affect the economics of an industry like the natural gas industry and expect nothing else to change," Lewis said in a Sept. 5 interview. "I wanted to continue to bring attention to the issue because, even though there hasn't been much public discussion of it recently, Dow Chemical and its coalition are still around. Dow is a huge campaign contributor and also spends a lot of money on lobbying. I figure that their influence probably continues, although less visibly than it did a couple of months ago."
Dow has fought against unlimited LNG exports through its own communications efforts, through lobbyists and through the group America's Energy Advantage. It also commissioned a study to show what significant exports could do to natural gas prices.
Lewis chose the Guthrie song because of its socialistic views, echoes of which Lewis heard in public statements from Dow's CEO, Andrew Liveris. During testimony in front of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in February, Liveris referred to the shale revolution as a "natural bounty." That phrase, Lewis said, implies that shale gas is common property, akin to "manna from heaven."
Lewis also attacked the idea that the U.S. could hold on to its competitive advantage with natural gas for generations to come. The very fact that the shale revolution happened so fast proves how dynamic energy markets are, he said. And thinking that producers will continue to produce at high levels if the U.S. restricts exports is "preposterous," Lewis said.
"You expect people who are not business-savvy or haven't been educated in formal economics not to understand these unintended consequences. But a major U.S. company like Dow, how could they not get this?" he asked. "This is all based on … what will promote Dow's short-term interest. I wanted to expose the fact that they don't even believe their own logic."
Otherwise, Lewis said, Dow would be fine with limiting its own exports of chemicals and other feedstocks that are used by other U.S. manufacturers.
The song is Lewis' second political satire for the CEI. The first, "How I Was Not Al Gored Into Submission," dealt with global warming and used an old Simon and Garfunkel tune. Lewis said several economists and analysts have responded positively to his latest work and he plans to eventually find another subject for his alternative communication efforts. "I hope to do more of these. I get annoyed at someone's pretensions or hypocrisy, and then a suitable song from the folk genre pops in my head as the melody, and then I'm off to the races," Lewis said.