The Guardian Exposes Fossil Funded Groups Coordinating Renewable Energy Attacks

Tue, 2012-05-08 16:06Steve Horn
Steve Horn's picture

The Guardian Exposes Fossil Funded Groups Coordinating Renewable Energy Attacks

Ever wonder why a blooming green energy industry has faced such harsh opposition? Now, as the old adage goes, “the cat's out of the bag.”

The Guardian today revealed the network of fossil-funded groups coordinating the ongoing onslaught of attacks on renewable energy, particularly wind power. A memorandum passed to The Guardian from the Checks and Balances Project details the organizations and personnel acting as ringleaders to build an astroturf echo chamber of clean energy critics.

Guardian reporter Suzanne Goldenberg writes in “Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against Obama's clean energy strategy,” 

“A number of rightwing organisations, including Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, are attacking Obama for his support for solar and wind power. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which also has financial links to the Kochs, has drafted bills to overturn state laws promoting wind energy.”

A confidential memo seen by The Guardian and obtained by DeSmogBlog “advises using 'subversion' to build a national movement of wind farm protesters,” explained Goldenberg.

That memo was crafted by John Droz, a Senior Fellow at the American Tradition Institute (ATI).*(see update below)* ATI was the right-wing think-tank behind the lawsuit to obtain University of Virginia climatologist Michael Mann's “ClimateGate” emails. 

DeSmogBlog has covered ALEC's assault on renewable energy previously.

Other gold in the memo, as relayed by Goldenberg:

  • “[A] national PR campaign aimed at causing 'subversion in message of industry so that it effectively because so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it.'”
  • “[S]etting up 'dummy businesses' to buy anti-wind billboards, and creating a 'counter-intelligence branch' to track the wind energy industry.  
  • “[C]alls for spending $750,000 to create an organisation with paid staff and tax-exempt status dedicated to building public opposition to state and federal government policies encouraging the wind energy industry.”

The memo was authored by John Droz Jr., an ATI Senior Felllow*. Droz runs the website “Wind Power Facts” and is a climate change denier, on the record saying,

Is Global Warming a scientifically resolved matter? No. There is some very convincing evidence (and scientists) that indicate that there is such a thing as Global Warming. But there are some very qualified scientists (with good evidence) that suggest just the opposite. More importantly, statements often appearing in the media like 'the majority of scientists' believe in Global Warming, are meaningless. First of all, no legitimate survey has ever been done, and secondly, science is not about the number of people who advocate a position.

Furthermore, Droz is registered as a speaker at this year's Heartland Institute (of DeSmogBlog's “Heartland Exposed” fame) “Denial-a-Palooza” event.

“These documents show for the first time that local Nimby anti-wind groups are co-ordinating and working with national fossil-fuel funded advocacy groups to wreck the wind industry,” Gabe Elsner, Checks and Balances co-director told The Guardian.

The story as a whole is well worth the read. Stay tuned for more coverage on the topic by DeSmogBlog, as well. 

[UPDATE May 10: The American Tradition Institute contacted DeSmog to distance itself from the memo, stating that ATI Senior Fellow John Droz was not representing the organization officially at the Feb 1-2 meeting. 

David Schnare, Director of ATI's Environmental Law Center, told DeSmog via email:

ATI did not commission the memo at issue.  ATI did not endorse the memo.  ATI did not attend, sponsor or support the meeting at which the memorandum was discussed.  John Droz, acting on his own behalf, is the author of the memo.”]

Image credit: Shutterstock | majeczka

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1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 14, 15, and less meat and dairy.

In fact trying to address specific industries targets and at the same time failing to anything at all is exactly what Stephen Harper is doing in Canada.  He’s clearly demonstrating that this idea doesn’t work.

A proper thinking Right Wing Libertarian Republican would simply apply a carbon tax.

(Hansen discusses exactly this subject.)

Then you would allow capitalist market forces solve the issue.  Period.

I don’t like your communist streak Rosa.  I don’t like it at all.

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 14, 15, and less meat and dairy”

Ok, so if you have enough sense to advocate those measures, why the opposition to wind? Where do you get your hostility towards it from? Ive only seen one link and that was to a PR firm. 

How can you support wind? The evidence of beneficial effect is elusive at best and falls far short from justifying its negative impacts.

“How can you support wind?”

Because it is one of the methods of mitigating CO2. More R&D will mean more and more efficiencies and more power generated. 

“The evidence of beneficial effect is elusive at best”

Like what? What evidence? There are islands around the world that are currently either entirely powered from wind or are on the way. They are still connected to the grid for when when the wind doesn’t blow, but they are pumping back more into the grid than they need, so they end up with a credit.

I could go on.

Sooooooo, in your mind :

a) The stories are made up and they don’t in fact exist? 


b) The residents don’t actually get any benefit from cheaper electricty, getting dividends from being shareholders, or having energy security?


c) You have shares in fossil fuels and don’t want to see them go down?

“and falls far short from justifying its negative impacts.”

Like what? Maybe you could write to the residents of one of these places and find out if the negatives outweigh the positives?


Rosa can not even explain why Wind generates 1/80 or less the CO2 emissions than coal.

Its really simple Rosa.  Explain what the rest of the civilized work does not understand.  To be real clear, I’m saying you can’t offer any evidence because you don’t have any.

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, October 2006, postnote 268, Carbon Footprint of Electricity Generation.

Are you going to argue about dead bats and raptors?  OK…  But please include toxic radioactive tailings ponds for which we have no for seeable cure for as a result of Coal.

Here’s what I found;  Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, October 2006, postnote 268, Carbon Footprint of Electricity Generation.

Source: Desmogblog (

The Tar Sands are killing Humans, pushing caribou to extinction, and for a side show, killing wolves.

How many more humans do we need to poison to death for you to think its bad?

Your citation of a couple of very special cases — small islands with small populations where the government has committed bottomless funds to make them showcases, and which are still connected to the larger grid — rather proves my point. Most people do not live in such places. Where is the evidence of benefit of large wind installations on the general grid? And I don’t mean wind’s generation of a percentage of the electricity, but how much less coal or whatever is burned (since backup of wind means that fossil fuels continue to be burned even when not used to generate electricity or that they are subject extra ramping and are thus used less efficiently than if the wind were not there).

There’s no logic backing you up.

In fact you are changing the subject back to to what I said about you.   You insist that pollution is free then compare one technology that does not pollute to a technology that does, and that leaves toxic tailings ponds.

Do you have links to any credible sources to back what you say?  Anything at all?  Or are you just trying to rely on standard climate change denier tactics and never ever ever prove anything?

And why do you think Britain does not understand electricity?  It has the same population as Canada (more or less).  Its equivalent to the most industrious states in the US.  So why wouldn’t they understand electricity?

Trick question of the day:  What kind of engineer do you think I am that you can some how fool?

Offer facts, figures, links.  I generally do look and try to understand.

“ Your citation of a couple of very special cases”

Which is far more than what you have provided so far. Like I said, i could go on, but lets face it, you have got nothing to argue back with, just vested opinion.

“where the government has committed bottomless funds”

Do you think the original means of energy generation came at a cost of $0?

“which are still connected to the larger grid “

Which i already stated………that it returns a credit.

“rather proves my point.”

To have a point, you would need more than opinion.

“Most people do not live in such places.”

They are in places more like Texas right?

“And I don’t mean wind’s generation of a percentage of the electricity, but how much less coal or whatever is burned”

Those sorts of simpleton statements were probably made a couple years into replacing whale oil with fossil fuel oil. “How many whales have you really saved? Its been a couple of years now and the country is not running on fossil fuels and whales are still being killed”.

Did someone tell you that somwehere there was a wind power switch, where once flicked, it would instantly install millions of wind generators across the globe at no cost and bypass all regulatory processes?

With still no evidence, I really wonder where this savage opposition to wind especially, is coming from? You must have read it somewhere, or someone convinced you,so care to point to what set you on this track of opposition to just wind?


Industrial-scale wind has been around for 30 years. It can certainly withstand a little scrutiny by this time. The test of its success in reducing carbon emissions is simply to compare how much fossil fuel is burned per unit of electricity consumed before and after wind installations.

Even in Denmark, fossil fuel use for electricity can not be shown to have been reduced by wind. That is a hard fact.

Industrial wind development is hardly a benign sideshow. It industrializes rural landscapes and opens up wild habitats. To sit smugly by because you’re too scared to question is not acceptable. The burden of proof is on the wind industry, and they have never been able to show any meaningful benefit. The American Wind Energy Association now only argues for jobs, just like those advocating for the Keystone pipeline.

Like this?  Selling electricity for profit.

If you want to drop off the energy grid, you use these things called batteries.  Perhaps you’ve heard of them?

The UK has an astounding battery by the way.  (I know.. you think them ignorant…) They hollowed out a mountain to pump it full of water in the non-peak hours, then drain it through some generators in peak hours.  I bet they are really happy that they aren’t burning coal to do that any more.

This hydro battery generates 440MW for 22 hours, and not a heck of a lot of CO2.  I bet its well understood too, being 60 years old and all.

You don’t understand how advanced the electrical grid really is.  Lets pretend that we go with your unsubstantiated ‘theories’ that wind can’t help.  That is based on the conjecture that wind is intermittent and therefore coal\natural gas must remain on all the time. Correct?

Its not true.

If you think the wind grid won’t be utterly plugged into the to weather system, you are wrong.  The power grid has more than a few seconds of knowledge as to what the weather will be and what the grid will produce.  (In Alberta wind is 220MW with 90% availability.)

So… yes they will shut off natural gas and coal plants as necessary.

As more and more wind comes on line in different locations you’ll get more and more stable output.  As one farm goes down and another comes on line.

Lastly you claim that wind needs to be reexamined for some odd reason.  Why?  Do you think that the utilities are investing in technology that doesn’t work?  Few businesses can do that and survive, yet these guys are thriving.

The theory that they are spending money because they got a discount is truly silly.    You are saying that they blew a load of money on wind that doesn’t work simply because it was on sale.  And you base all of that on a simpleton understanding of the power grid.

The question remains: How much less fossil fuel is burned per unit of electricity consumed, due to wind on the grid?

As for spending money on wind, it’s taxpayer money they’re spending, or the government forcing them to buy it, even at an inflated price. And as for understanding the grid, it’s silly indeed to be lectured to by someone who thinks that he’s getting only wind energy and that his neighbor on the same line is getting coal.

“The question remains: How much less fossil fuel is burned per unit of electricity consumed, due to wind on the grid?”

We are up for some evidence anytime you are ready Rosa. So far, its been a one way street.

You are being a bit special if you think that somehow, you can equate the total output of a country like Denmark in wind and therefore argue, why cannot a coal power station or two be shut down that supplies equal megawattage if wind is offsetting this?

It’s spread all over the place, reducing bits here and there. Its not an instant transition.

“As for spending money on wind, it’s taxpayer money”

Ahh gawd spare me, not another contadictory Libertarian rant about tax payers funds. You are probably so well conditioned to what industry wants you to think, that you no doubt have no problem with tax payers funds being used for subsidies for fossil fuel companies, or agrarian socialism, or tax payers paying 1 trillion a year in the US on military when the spending is 6 times greater than its nearest rival. You don’t think just a bit of that money could be better used with renewables or heck i don’t know, kept in the bank?


Pure and simple.  You have no evidence for your strange theories.  Just conjecture and absolutely nothing to back it up.  That is all you have managed to establish for a fact.

Now all of our governments are out to get us…  Time to up you meds dude.  Especially dear old fossil fuel mad driven Canada.  (You are off your f’ing rocker if you think Harper is shoving that down Canada’s throat.)

Time to up your meds.

Here’s a great documentary on Wind discussing everything you are talking about.

10,000 times more birds die from window strikes per year than wind turbines.

What a joke you are!  Next time you show up, bring some evidence or something.

Again Rosa, you give us nothing to go by except for your opinion, which you seem to believe translates into fact, despite again, shock horror……no evidence.

“Even in Denmark, fossil fuel use for electricity can not be shown to have been reduced by wind. That is a hard fact.”

Is there something that prevents you from posting a link with the slightest bit of evidence Rosa? Just a little bit? Wishful thinking and ideology doesn’t count I’m afraid.

All I have to go by is …….facts.

Wind power provided 18.9% of electricity production and 24.1% of generation capacity in Denmark in 2008. L

Lets call it say 20%. Errr, doesn’t that mean they are using 20% less fossil fuels if wind is generating 20% of their power?

Denmarks problem is their existing grid isn’t currently geared to make use of much more than 20%. Its a similar story here in Australia with the massive solar uptake by houses and commercial properties. The grid here is like the water grid. Large pipes bring water from the dams which progressively get smaller until a normal residential neighborhood might have 100mm ( 4 Inch ) pipes and households having 15mm ( 1/2 Inch pipes). Solar power is being pushed back into the grid with all the excess that the grid is not designed to take large amounts being pushed back the other way.

Consequently, in Denmark, they are looking at exporting their excess that they currently cannot consume to the U.K.

They plan to have 50% usage in 8 years time.

“To sit smugly by because you’re too scared to question is not acceptable. “

Rosa, Oilman & myself are providing evidence. You have provided nothing but opinion. Libertarian opinion no doubt. To shut your eyes to the facts & selectively seek out political opinion based on confirmation bias.


“ ‘Wind power provided 18.9% of electricity production and 24.1% of generation capacity in Denmark in 2008.’

“Lets call it say 20%. Errr, doesn’t that mean they are using 20% less fossil fuels if wind is generating 20% of their power?”

No, it doesn’t. Because fossil fuel plants continue to burn fuel while not generating electricity, and they burn it less efficiently when ramping to balance the variable wind generation. Denmark has to export most of its wind-generated electricity because the backup and balancing requirements are too great. They are now looking to the UK because the Scandinavian and especially the German grids can’t take more, either.

So the question remains to compare fossil fuel use per unit of electricity consumed before and after wind on the grid.

I found some attempts to do this:

P.S. I mentioned taxpayer funds because “anoilman” pointed to utilities and energy companies’ readiness to spend on wind. Please put aside your caricatures and read what I write.

P.P.S. This will probably be my last post, since we’re going in circles with your refusal to look beyond the hype and assumptions about big wind.

(Assuming logic is involved.)

Here’s two blogs that support your claim;

Check out the rebuttal from Michael Goggin of the American Wind Energy Association, on the JoeWheatley page;

“This appears to be a classic case of a lurking (or confounding) variable being used to misleadingly present correlation as causality; a comparable example is arguing that cigarette lighters cause lung disease since people who buy them tend to develop lung disease. In this case, the lurking variable that is the actual causal factor appears to be cold weather and its impact on heating demand, data that is available but that (for reasons we can only speculate) was not used in these correlational analyses.

“Cold temperatures drive heating demand, forcing Ireland’s numerous fossil-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plants to fire up and run at a high level of heat production (and subsequently more emissions per megawatt-hour, MWh, of electricity, since CHP plants relative to the rest of the fleet are not optimized for electricity production, and CHP plants being run to produce maximum heat are not being operated in a way that is optimized for electricity production; moreover, it appears that the emissions associated with heat production are rolled into the data…”

So, what is happening is coal heating plants that are not used for electricity are firing up in cold weather and their emmissions are being included with electricity generation power plants.  (Wind = cold if you live near cold water)

If you disconnect wind power from that grid, the emissions would of course increase dramatically, hugely immensely.

This also shows that you should not blindly look at numbers but actually study the factors involved in what is being looked at.

Since Vermont has a civil union law, it’s possible that “Rosa” is a she. 

My guess is “Rosa” is a he who has lots of alter-egos and I wouldn’t bet against he gets paid for posting.


Vermont allows marriage for all.

Wow, come in this morning and all the denier posts have high votes and pro side have minus.

There, bumped you all back up. Except for fossil fuel PR spokeswoman Rosa ( its probably a guy, who knows). Wow, this post certainly raised the denial level to defcon 4 didn’t it Rosa?

Nice hijacking attempt deniers!

Although it is obviously futile to try to reintroduce reason here, it nonetheless needs to be repeated that opposition to industrial wind power does not equal denial of climate science. Nor does it equal support of fossil and/or nuclear fuels.

Shouting down a caricature may be self-gratifying, but it belies a sore lack of persuasive argument.


Rosa complains:

“Although it is obviously futile to try to reintroduce reason here, it nonetheless needs to be repeated that opposition to industrial wind power does not equal denial of climate science. Nor does it equal support of fossil and/or nuclear fuels”.

Only in the world of AGW deniers. We all know who is telling you to spread your disinformation. Are you really that stupid that you would think that we believe one word of what you write?

What a load of misinformation about wind turbines and integrating the resulting intermittently available power on the grid!

(1) Wind turbine genrators are induction machines, rather similar in design to the induction motor which runs your refrigerator compressor.  Because of variable speed, between the induction generator and the transmission lines there is power electronics so that the resulting electricity is an constant frequency, either 50 Hz or 60 Hz depending upon the grid standard. [For example, Japan has both, Europe uses 50 Hz, North America uses 60 Hz.]  The power electronics makes wind generators highly controlable; enough wind generators operating enhances gride stability at around the 1 second range when properly controlled as in Spain.  Sourcer for some of this is in an IEA Wind Power Study

over 100 pages long.

(2) Since wind is variable the wind turbines absolutely require a balancing agent so that the total power provided by all the generators on the grid match, rather precisely, the instantaneous demand.  When hydro is available the hydro resouce provides the best balancing agent.  Otherwise, natgas burners are adequate while coal burners are terrible in that those units cannot ramp adequately except for certain placements of sufficient wind generators, a situation rarely met as it depends upon the geography.  Even when natgas burners are used the extra ramping caused by the wind generators results in burning more natgas, indeed failing to completely burn the methane so releasing some to the atmosphere when ramping up quickly.

(3) In the USA from 2001 to 2011 the power produced by all sources of fossil fuel burners, including natgas burners, feel by close to 3.5%.  In 2011 wind generators provided 3% of the power so there is a correlation between wind genration and declining fossil fuel usage.  However, at the same time manufacturing declined in the USA and that may explain much of the drop as heavy industry, such as aluminum smelting and electric arc iron operations consume vast amounts of power.

(4) The amount of steel and concrete needed per unit of power for wind generators is many times greater than that required for nuclear power plants (NPPs).  However, with the current production tax incentive, the LCOE for wind is less than the LCOE for NPPs.

(5) Direct environmental impacts of wind farms include stirring down warm air during inversions, heating the ground and promoting evaporation, raptor displacement and bat kills.  Raptors avoid wind farms and fields a long way down wind as it is impossible to fly in the turbulent air; raptors often don’t turn up even when the wind isn’t blowing.  With no predators the rodent population explodes with deleterious effects on the ecology of the avoided areas.  [This from a anacdotal report; I have yet to see a proper scientific study.]  Bats have no means of avoiding the turbines and worse, the turbulent air downwind can have sufficient pressure differences to rip the lungs out of the bats.

[Disclosure: I have three degrees in engineering.]

I only have one engineering degree. 

I always wonder about losses through the power electronics.  Switching power supplies aren’t exactly efficient. 90% on a good day?

Anyways, what you are saying is that they don’t need to fire up an extra coal plant and throw out the excess energy when they have a wind source that can take up the peak demand.  Literally switch it in and out as needed.

Its a rectifier and an inverter, either bipolar or thyristor.  If thyristor then about 97% efficient.

One could switch wind turbines ‘in and out’ but ordinarily the power from wind is treated as must take or nearly so.  In Germany, at least, there is an exception when it is necessary to fire up a thermal source with 4–7 hour startup time.  That thermal generator then runs for at least its minimum economic time even if the wind has begun to pick up.  In that case the wind turbines are curtained until the thermal source has run long enough.

Among the groups that have been supported by the Koch brothers are the National Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy, both of them unquestioning supporters of industrial wind.

“Among the groups that have been supported by the Koch brothers are the National Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy, both of them unquestioning supporters of industrial wind.”

Ahh I see they have learned greenwashing techniques from Exxon and BP. Throw a few bucks the way of green groups or cleantech programs and then imply you are all supportive of cleantech, or that green groups are corrupt because they accept money from fossil fuel companies.

The difference you don’t seem to understand is, while they attempt to appear as though they are supportive of green programs or alternate sources of energy, they invest millions in lobbying and propaganda to have them shut down.

At least they have millions of easily conned libertarians and right wing conservatives that lack the ability to see through the charade to ply their snake oil on. The rest of the progressives and conservatives seem to see through the lie Rosa.


Actually, it was Enron who pioneered buying environmental groups to further their industrial aims, particularly the expansion of industrial wind power.


Bjorn Lomborg

In early 2012, it seemed like the future of Bjørn Lomborg’s influential think tank was in serious doubt.

The Danish Government had changed its political stripes and the millions in public funds that had poured into his Copenhagen Consensus Center had come to an abrupt halt.

Lomborg told The Ecologist...

read more