Media Disclosure Guide: Here Are The Industry-Funded Groups Attacking The EPA's Climate Plan
Research ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER & DENISE ROBBINS
With the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set to finalize the Clean Power Plan, dozens of fossil fuel-funded organizations are poised to revive their attacks on this landmark climate change policy, which will place the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Here's a comprehensive guide that reporters can use to properly disclose these organizations' industry ties, many of which were recently documented in an Energy & Policy Institute report detailing the fossil fuel industry's "artificial chorus of voices" against clean energy.
60 Plus Association
The 60 Plus Association, which calls itself a "non-partisan seniors advocacy group," receives significant funding from groups connected to the oil billionaire Koch brothers, including over $20 million in the 2012 election cycle alone. The group has also received funding from the American Petroleum Institute, and was created by Sean Noble, a consultant for the Arizona Public Service utility company. The 60 Plus Association claims that the Clean Power Plan will harm seniors, often calling it the "Cruel Power Plan."
American Encore, a conservative group formerly known as The Center to Protect Patient Rights, is used by the oil billionaire Koch brothers as an intermediary group to funnel money to various other front groups. The organization is run by utility consultant Sean Noble, who has channeled over a hundred million dollars to the Koch network's advocacy efforts, largely through The Center to Protect Patient Rights. American Encore is part of a coalition of groups urging states to "actively resist EPA's coercive power plan" and calling it an "illegitimate ... affront to both federalism and the separation of powers."
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate front group that connects fossil fuel industry executives with legislators to push model bills that serve industry interests. ALEC's "Private Enterprise Advisory Council" includes fossil energy powerhouses Koch Companies Public Sector, Energy Future Holdings, and ExxonMobil, and many other oil and coal companies also sponsor ALEC events. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, ExxonMobil and Koch-related companies and foundations have each contributed over $1 million to ALEC. ALEC has produced model legislation that could give states the ability to impede the Clean Power Plan, and some states have already enacted these laws. At its most recent meeting, ALEC discussed even more ways to undermine the Clean Power Plan.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) portrays itself as a grassroots organization representing millions of "engaged citizens" who care about "economic freedom." But the group has rightly been described by Politico as the "Koch brothers' main political arm." The oil billionaire Koch brothers co-founded the (ExxonMobil-funded) group that later became the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, and Koch foundations have given more than $5 million to AFP since 2005. AFP has coordinated a misleading nationwide op-ed campaign against the Clean Power Plan, which has involved the group's state directors calling for states to fight the plan in at least 16 newspapers.
Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), an anti-tax group, has received funding from the American Petroleum Institute, along with Koch-related groups like the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation and the Center to Protect Patient Rights, as well as DonorsTrust, which receives large donations from groups connected to the oil billionaire Koch brothers. ATR has supported states trying to stop the Clean Power Plan, claimed that the plan will harm seniors, and published a NewsMax op-ed calling it "irresponsible."
The Beacon Hill Institute (BHI), which is based in Boston's Suffolk University Department of Economics, is an associate member of the State Policy Network, and both organizations have received donations from foundations funded by the oil billionaire Koch brothers. Recently, BHI produced a series of state-based "studies" that dramatically inflate the Clean Power Plan's projected costs without having even analyzed the EPA's actual proposal. Nonetheless, these deceptive studies have made their way into op-eds in newspapers across the country.
The Cato Institute, which says it is "dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace," was co-founded by the oil billionaire Koch brothers and has received millions of dollars from the Koch family. Cato has also received funding from ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute, and the director of Cato's Center for the Study of Science, Patrick Michaels, is a longtime denier of climate science who has estimated that 40 percent of his funding comes from the oil industry. Cato has focused its anti-Clean Power Plan efforts on deceptively downplaying the impact of the EPA proposal.
Charles Steele Jr. is the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, but he also has deep fossil fuel industry ties. According to a special report by the Institute for Southern Studies, Steele previously made pro-coal claims at an EPA hearing while representing Working People for Fair Energy, an organization with "close ties to industry interests with a financial stake in fighting coal ash regulation." During the hearing, Steele also cited research linked to organization that has "supported anti-environmental initiatives such as expanded oil drilling while accepting money from Exxon Mobil and other corporations." The Institute for Southern Studies concluded that "Steele's perspective is shaped by the close personal ties to energy interests forged during his decade in the Alabama senate." Steele has published cookie-cutter op-eds in newspapers ranging from Colorado to Iowa to Florida, attacking the Clean Power Plan as "unfair" to the "poor and elderly."
Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE) is a New Mexico-based fossil fuel advocacy group whose funders include oil and gas producers. CARE's president, Marita Noon, has testified against the Clean Power Plan and published op-eds opposing it, calling it an "extraordinary and unprecedented government overreach."
The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) is a climate-denying think tank that has received funding from oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron, as well as DonorsTrust, a dark money group backed by the oil billionaire Koch brothers. CFACT, which sponsors the climate science denial blog Climate Depot run by "Merchant of Doubt" Marc Morano, claims that "there is no need whatever to reduce CO2 emissions" and the Clean Power Plan is "an obscene attack on our economy." CFACT has claimed that the Clean Power Plan has "no basis in fact or science" and only serves to "threaten the economy."
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative advocacy group dedicated to "economic freedom," has received funding over the years from ExxonMobil, Texaco, and the family foundations of the oil billionaire Koch brothers, and past sponsors of its annual fundraising dinners include Murray Energy, Arch Coal Marathon Petroleum, Devon Energy, Phillips 66, the American Petroleum Institute, and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. CEI has repeatedly cast doubt on the scientific consensus around global warming, including through paid ads that misrepresent scientific research. The group actively opposes the Clean Power Plan, with senior fellow Marlo Lewis alleging that it is "breathtakingly lawless."
The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), an energy industry front group that claims to be "the voice of the energy consumer," has received over $400,000 from the American Petroleum Institute and has been affiliated with fossil fuel giants including BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil, Shell, Peabody Energy, and more. CEA has held multiple press conferences opposing the Clean Power Plan, and generated public comments against the plan.
The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (EELI), an organization focused on "strategic litigation" around energy and environmental issues, has received over $400,000 from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund, two dark money groups tied to the oil billionaire Koch brothers. Formerly the American Tradition Institute (ATI), it was launched by the American Tradition Partnership (ATP), an energy industry-backed advocacy group. ATI is funded primarily by ATP and other individuals and foundations with ties to the oil, gas and coal industries. Tom Tanton, director of EELI's Science and Technology Assessment, has recently written a large number of nearly identical op-eds decrying the Clean Power Plan in newspapers across the country, warning states not to become "accomplices" to the EPA's plan. EELI also recently released a report accusing the EPA of engaging in "unlawful collusion with green pressure groups" when crafting the plan.
The Heartland Institute, which is known for its annual climate denial conferences, received over $700,000 from ExxonMobil between 1998 and 2006. Heartland has also received significant funding from organizations with ties to the oil billionaire Koch Brothers, including the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and Koch-backed DonorsTrust. When the Clean Power Plan was first proposed, Heartland Institute "experts" trashed the rule as "wrongheaded" and "based on junk science," among other things. Heartland policy advisor Steve Goreham recently urged states to "refuse to comply with the proposed EPA Clean Power Plan."
The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank that has received almost $800,000 from ExxonMobil and millions from the family foundations of the oil billionaire Koch brothers. Heritage claims that the impacts of man-made climate change are a matter of "personal opinions" and the Clean Power Plan poses serious "threats." Like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Heritage released a highly misleading study about the Clean Power Plan before it was even announced.
The Independent Women's Forum (IWF) has received funding from ExxonMobil, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, and the Koch-backed DonorsTrust, and was formally affiliated with the oil billionaire Koch brothers' front group, Americans for Prosperity, for several years. IWF, which aims to increase "the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty," has signed on to a letter opposing the Clean Power Plan and promoted a study accusing the EPA of "low-ball[ing]" its costs.
The Institute for Energy Research (IER) and its advocacy arm, the American Energy Alliance (AEA), both list former Koch Industries lobbyist Thomas Pyle as president, and both are partly funded by the oil billionaire Koch brothers and their political network. IER has received funding from Exxon Mobil, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Koch-backed DonorsTrust and Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation. Pyle joined a press call with six governors who "threaten to defy" the Clean Power Plan, and has urged other governors to do the same. AEA has also circulated a highly misleading poll to wrongly allege that Americans don't approve of the plan.
The Libre Initiative promotes itself as a "grassroots" Hispanic advocacy organization, but it promotes right-wing issues and has accepted over $10 million in funding from groups tied to the oil billionaire Koch brothers, including Freedom Partners and TC4 Trust. Libre's executive director Daniel Garza has said he "fully embrace[s]" Libre's association with the Koch brothers, and that Libre "do[es] align very much with the principles and ideas of Charles and David Koch." The Libre Initiative has attacked the Clean Power Plan as harmful to Hispanics -- but the plan is expected to bring economic benefits to Hispanic communities and has widespread support among the Latino community.
The Manhattan Institute has received millions of dollars from oil interests over the years, including $800,000 from ExxonMobil and $1.9 million from the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which was one of the family foundations of the oil billionaire Koch brothers. Senior fellows at the Manhattan Institute have been quoted attacking the Clean Power Plan in mainstream media, and one fellow authored a National Review op-ed calling on Americans to "elect candidates who will repeal this monstrosity."
The National Black Chamber of Commerce, which says it is dedicated to "the economic empowerment of African American communities," has received funding from the ExxonMobil Foundation every year for over a decade, adding up to a total of $1 million since 2003. NBCC has run a deceptive op-ed campaign against the Clean Power Plan in which NBCC president Harry Alford has relied on climate science denial and thoroughly debunked industry-linked studies in an attempt to dismiss the financial and health benefits the plan will provide to black and Hispanic communities.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), which says it represents hundreds of thousands of "small and independent business owners," has received millions of dollars from Koch-backed groups. CNN reported that Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which has "deep ties to the Koch empire," gave $2.5 million to NFIB and its affiliated groups in 2012, the most NFIB received from any single source. NFIB also received $500,000 from the Koch-linked organization Free Enterprise America in 2011. NFIB's misleading attacks on the Clean Power Plan have received media attention, and its Alabama state director recently authored an op-ed urging Congress to "push back" against the carbon pollution standards.
The Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) claims to oppose the Clean Power Plan out of concern for "ordinary consumers," but it actually represents the interests of fossil fuel and utility companies. PACE was incorporated by an attorney from a firm that has lobbied on behalf of Southern Company and Alabama Power, and the group has also received funding from a dark money group tied to Alabama Power. PACE's official partners include various fossil fuel interests, including the Consumer Energy Alliance, the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives, and the Tennessee Mining Association.
The State Policy Network (SPN) is a network of conservative think tanks across the country that are largely funded by Koch-backed dark money groups DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund. Members of SPN have teamed up with the Beacon Hill Institute -- another think tank funded by the oil billionaire Koch brothers -- to run a misleading op-ed campaign against the Clean Power Plan. SPN affiliates attacking the Clean Power Plan include: Public Interest Institute (Iowa), Pelican Institute for Public Policy (Louisiana), The Rio Grande Foundation (New Mexico), The Civitas Institute (North Carolina), Palmetto Promise Institute (South Carolina), Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy (Virginia), MacIver Institute for Public Policy (Wisconsin), and The Texas Public Policy Foundation.
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), which claims its mission is to educate the public about "the government's effects on the economy," is part of the network of front groups funded by the oil billionaire Koch brothers and their political network. TPA has signed on to a letter urging states to actively resist the EPA's "coercive" Clean Power Plan, and has championed state officials who are "acting to reclaim authority" from the EPA.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which describes itself as "the world's largest business organization," has a board of directors that includes officials from ConocoPhillips, Alliance Resource Partners, CONSOL Energy, and Southern Company. Many of the Chamber's largest donors are also fossil fuel companies. The Chamber published a study attacking the Clean Power Plan before it was even released, leading media fact-checkers to deem the study "false" and worthy of "four Pinocchios." But that hasn't stopped the Chamber from continuing to try to undermine the EPA's climate plan.
This post has been updated to include the National Federation of Independent Business and the Manhattan Institute.
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