State Policy Network

Fossil Fuel Industry and Koch Network Fighting Pennsylvania's Move to Join Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Read time: 7 mins
coal barge in Pittsburgh

As Pennsylvania took a significant step this week towards joining a regional climate initiative to curb carbon pollution from power plants, newly revealed email records show how fossil fuel interests campaigned to oppose this initiative in a state that has the fifth most polluting electric power sector in the nation.

Koch Academic Influence Returns to Massachusetts With New Tufts University Think Tank

Read time: 3 mins

When a new Massachusetts think tank housed at Tufts University launched earlier this year, Boston-based media described it as a CBO-like center” (referring to the Congressional Budget Office) that would offer an “independent analysis” of proposed state policy and legislation.

But one of the main funders of this think tank, called the Center for State Policy Analysis, is a program tied financially to the petrochemical billionaire Koch family. This apparent Koch-linked funding raises questions about just how independent the center’s policy analyses may be.

COVID-19 'Liberate' Groups Are the Same Ones Pushing Climate Denial

Read time: 13 mins
Ohio statehouse protests against COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders

This story is a part of Covering Climate Now’s week of coverage focused on Climate Solutions, to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Covering Climate Now is a global journalism collaboration committed to strengthening coverage of the climate story.

The response among many American public officials and the public at large to the COVID-19 pandemic has, in many ways, paralleled the response to the climate crisis.

First came a denial that it was a problem at all, then a denial of its depth and gravity. Later came an acceptance of the problem but the stance that responding is too economically costly. And as with the climate crisis, this is no accident. The well-funded machinery that sowed doubt about climate is now sowing seeds of doubt over the economic and public health response to COVID-19. 

Groups Funded by Oil Industry Bash Plan to Reduce Northeast's Dependence on Oil

Read time: 9 mins
traffic on a highway

Last month New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu announced the state would not be participating in the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a regional cap-and-trade program aimed at reducing carbon emissions from vehicles. The program is still in early stages of development, but groups tied to petroleum interests and conservative networks funded by the Koch empire are already fighting it with opposition campaigns.

Bill of Rights Institute

Bill of Rights Institute (BRI)

Background

The Bill of Rights Institute is a non-profit educational organization describes itself as working “to engage, educate, and empower individuals with a passion for the freedom and opportunity that exist in a free society,” according to its website. The organization says it provides educational resources and programs for a “network of more than 50,000 educators and 70,000 students nationwide.” [1]

Read time: 7 mins

Talent Market

Talent Market

Background

Read time: 12 mins

Trump Officials, Energy Execs Speak Together at Conference Sponsored by Climate Denier Groups

Read time: 6 mins
Sign at Climate March: 'Denied facts are still facts'

Last December groups promoting climate change denial sponsored a two-day conference which brought together energy executives and lobbyists with Trump administration officials.

According to the conference’s agenda, which DeSmog has obtained exclusively, the participating energy and utility companies included Dominion Energy, General Electric, and Georgia Power. Officials from the Departments of Energy and the Interior were among the panelists.

7 Reasons Why Jeff Flake Is Awful on Climate Change and Energy Justice

Read time: 12 mins
Jeff Flake

This week, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) made national headlines by dramatically announcing his retirement on the U.S. Senate floor. Flake focused his speech on the erratic behavior of President Donald Trump and the nationalistic, anti-immigration turn taken by some Republican Party politicians in recent years. 

“I have decided that I will be better able to represent the people of Arizona and to better serve my country and my conscience by freeing myself from the political considerations that consume far too much bandwidth and would cause me to compromise far too many principles,” said Flake. “To that end, I am announcing today that my service in the Senate will conclude at the end of my term in early January 2019.”

Beyond taking a stance in favor of corporate-backed free trade and “limited government and free markets,” Flake's speech mostly stayed away from policy. But it did include the word “behavior” eight times, pointing to that of President Trump without explicitly mentioning the president by name.

Former Head of Energy, Environment at ALEC, Todd Wynn, Hired by Trump Interior Department

Read time: 9 mins
Todd Wynn

Todd Wynn, former Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)'s Energy Environmental and Agriculture Task Force, was recently hired by President Donald Trump to work as a senior-ranking official in the U.S. Department of the Interior. 

DeSmog discovered the hire via LinkedIn, and Wynn says on his profile page that he began at Interior in October.

Wynn worked at ALEC from 2011 to 2013 and then became Director of External Affairs for Edison Electric Institute (EEI), a trade association representing electric utility companies nationwide. Prior to his position at ALEC, Wynn served as Vice President of the Cascade Policy Institute, a part of the State Policy Network (SPN), a national chain of state-level conservative and corporate-funded think-tanks which was started as an ALEC offshoot.

ALEC's critics have described the organization, a national consortium of mostly Republican Party state legislators and corporate lobbyists, as a “corporate bill mill.” That's because its lobbyist members convene several times a year with legislators to produce what it calls “model bills” which have ended up as actual legislation thousands of times since the organization's founding in 1973.

Emails Show Iraq War PR Alums Led Attempt to Discredit Dakota Access Protesters

Read time: 13 mins
militarized police presence lined up in North Dakota against Dakota Access pipeline protesters

By Steve Horn and Curtis Waltman, MuckRock

Behind the scenes, as law enforcement officials tried to stem protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, alumni from the George W. Bush White House were leading a crisis communications effort to discredit pipeline protesters.

Emails show that the firms Delve and Off the Record Strategies, apparently working on contract with the National Sheriffs’ Association, worked in secret on talking points, media outreach, and communications training for law enforcement dealing with Dakota Access opponents mobilized at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. This revelation comes from documents obtained via an open records request from the Laramie County Sheriff's Department in Wyoming.

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