The Guardian Exposes Fossil Funded Groups Coordinating Renewable Energy Attacks

The Guardian Exposes Fossil Funded Groups Coordinating Renewable Energy Attacks
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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

The Guardian Exposes Fossil Funded Groups Coordinating Renewable Energy Attacks
Steve Horn is a former Research Fellow and writer for DeSmog and a freelance investigative journalist based in San Diego, CA. He currently works as a climate reporter and producer for The Real News Network.

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