Friday, February 15, 2013

The Secretive Climate Denial Campaign in Our Backyard

This week, we've finally had an actual discussion on climate change and what to do about it. It helped that President Obama talked about it in his State of the Union Address. And it helps that even some conservative Republicans have recently begun speaking on the need to prevent a total climate crisis.

However, we're already seeing renewed resistance to action on Capitol Hill. Why is that? It certainly doesn't help that Tea Party, Inc., has been spending recklessly to block any significant action on climate change. Earlier this week, The Guardian uncovered a secret network of wealthy conservative donors dedicated to thwarting any & all action on climate change.

Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (£77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, the Guardian has learned.

The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising "wedge issue" for hardcore conservatives.

The millions were routed through two trusts, Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund, operating out of a generic town house in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. Donors Capital caters to those making donations of $1m or more. [...]

Those same groups are now mobilising against Obama's efforts to act on climate change in his second term. A top recipient of the secret funds on Wednesday put out a point-by-point critique of the climate content in the president's state of the union address.

And it was all done with a guarantee of complete anonymity for the donors who wished to remain hidden.

"The funding of the denial machine is becoming increasingly invisible to public scrutiny. It's also growing. Budgets for all these different groups are growing," said Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace, which compiled the data on funding of the anti-climate groups using tax records.

"These groups are increasingly getting money from sources that are anonymous or untraceable. There is no transparency, no accountability for the money. There is no way to tell who is funding them," Davies said.

For years, progressives have been investigating the frightening level of influence that Koch Industries has in Washington. But now, there's evidence that the Kochs may not be the only source of secret cash for "Tea Party, Inc." And this radical right octopus of anonymous dirty money has tentacles potentially reaching deep into Nevada.

Many readers here are quite familiar with the dastardly deeds of NPRI, the "tea party" crusaders posing as a "serious" policy think tank. However, what we didn't realize before was NPRI playing an active role in launching what may now be the new "Tea Party, Inc." climate denial campaign.

In 2010, Washington Monthly investigated the roots of the burgeoning pseudo-journalism institutions of the radical right, and they traced the origins back to NPRI hiring an investigative journalist in 2008 to sniff for waste in LVCVA. That, in turn, inspired NPRI and other radical right organizations to create the Franklin Center, a central conservative-flavored hub for supporting right-leaning journalism projects. So what does this have to do with the new climate denial campaign? Today, The Guardian published more of its investigation of Donors Trust and revealed this.

The campaign against wind and solar power was led by a relatively new entity, the Franklin Centre for Government and Public Integrity. The Franklin Centre did not exist before 2009, but it has quickly become a protege of Donors Trust.

The Franklin Centre, headquarters barely one-tenth of a mile away from the nondescript Alexandria, Virginia town home of its funders, received $6.3m from the two funds in 2011. It was the second largest disbursement to any entity by the Donors that year, according to tax records. [...]

In 2011, Donors Trust helped the Franklin Centre expand its media operations to Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, the Centre for Public Integrity [CPI] reported in an investigation on conservative funding networks. [...]

CPI found multiple ties between the Franklin Centre and groups such as Americans for Prosperity, which has been funded by Donors Trust as well as the conservative oil billionaire Koch brothers. Some of the Franklin Centre's blogs have received funds from AFP. There was also cross-over of board members in the two groups.

This explains why AFP Nevada prodded Joe Heck to oppose the wind energy tax credit, despite the mounting evidence of Nevada's economy benefitting from wind energy! This also explains why AFP Nevada did that ridiculous gas stunt. It turns out that AFP is also part of the Donors Trust/Franklin Center effort to promote climate denial and stop action on climate change.

And that likely isn't the last we hear from them. Rather, expect even more howling from "Tea Party, Inc." as the new Boxer-Sanders climate bill is introduced in the Senate and "green-roots" activists push President Obama to direct the EPA to regulate carbon emissions if Congress can't. And with renewable energy investment continuing to be debated in Congress, expect another fight on that.

Against this backdrop, as well as the broad public support for climate action, we can see why the fossil fuel industry and "Tea Party, Inc." are funneling dirty money to shadowy groups out to promote climate denial. They want to make it hard to achieve anything. That's why the "green-roots" must be prepared to fight back. With human survival in the balance, environmentalists must find a way to break past this secret money and get the ball rolling on climate action.

No comments:

Post a Comment