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Well, they haven't avoided confrontation in that they are front and center in the debate about emissions and carbon footprints. They have all the money they need to use lobbying as an effective way of defeating legislation or stripping it of anything that would be effective, and their employees are extremely good at their jobs on that score.
They try to avoid being the other side of the debate because of their public face and what they represent: Big Profits and Big Pollution. So they have created "institutes" of "research" and hired scientists to question the validity of Global Warming and Climate Change science.
In the end, they know that humans, Americans especially, do not wantto change the way they live, when doing anything they want vis-a-vis the environment is more convenient and pleasant in the near term. Fossil Fuel lobbies play to our human nature on that score.
Fossil fuel lobbies in the US have managed to skirt confrontation through measures taken on three fronts:
1. Security: As the US economic demand for fossil fuel increases - domestic production is increasingly important for national security purposes. As a nation, paying exorbitant sums of US $$ to unscrupulous foreign characters/dictators is inherantly dangerous. Therefore while it is in the nation's best intrest to decrease our DEMAND for fossil fuels we must also encourage as much domestic PRODUCTION as possible for the sake of national security. This (to the disdain of many) includes allowing for widespread extraction and refinement of fossil fuels on US soil.
2. Theory: The lobbies have funded "independant" research on the subject (in quotes because the bias associated with this form of funding is in question as is the government/"green lobby"'s funding of the counterpoint). This new research has turned a once one way eco-centric form of biased questioning (ie: what is causing global warming and how can we fix it?) to a more scientifically grounded debate on the facts at hand (ie: is there global warming? if so, what is causing it?)
2. Production: In addition to providing research that is contrary to that produced by those opposed to fossil fuel consumption, the fossil fuel lobby has in large part skirted massive increases in government regulation (though it is coming unfortunately), by making attempts at "cleaning up" the production of fossil fuels - adding scrubbers to smoke stacks, widespread use of the Fischer-Tropsch process following coal gasification etc.
This might be a bit much to put in an answer for 9th grader, but it seems you were given a loaded question, and the answer you recieved from brettd, while good, was unfortunately from someone who clearly agrees with the same viewpoint . Don't be a sheep - read both sides of the argument and decide for yourself! (then again at your age i would be more inclined to cut and paste the answer, have a few beers and go for a swim instead :)
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