climate change

DUKE: DUMP ALEC!

  • Posted on: 6 September 2012
  • By: Connor Gibson

UPDATE: Student activist Ben Wiley details his question to Duke Energy's Vincent Davis about support for ALEC, which was ignored.

Yesterday, members of Greenpeace, Energy Action Coalition, and other groups sent a message loud and clear to Duke Energy that we want them to dump ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) before the end of the Democratic National Convention.

Group Duke Dump ALEC

ALEC is a rightwing bill mill group that connects corporations with our elected officials to draft model legislation in support of corporate profits over the welfare of people and our planet. ALEC has written legislation including Arizona’s racist immigration law SB1070, Stand Your Ground Laws relating to the murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida, and many voter suppression laws such as Voter ID here in North Carolina. But that’s not all, ALEC also has an Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force which is working on legislation to stop regulation of coal fired power plants and to prevent laws from being passed that support renewable energy.

Dump ALEC

Duke Energy, headquartered in the heart of Charlotte and at the center stage at the 2012 Democratic National Convention this week, is a major contributor to this dirty front group. Last May, Duke Energy spent $50,000 to bring ALEC’s annual meeting to Charlotte.  Especially in South Carolina and Indiana, Duke representatives work very closely with ALEC to draft such legislation.

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This is why yesterday, dozens of activists gathered in Charlotte to ask Duke Energy’s CEO Jim Rogers to make the call and dump ALEC! We gathered in front of the Knight Theater where Rogers was speaking on a panel and urged passersby to make a phone call into the Duke Headquarters. Then we hand delivered 150,000 petition signatures that have been collected in the past week. At the same time in Ohio, local activists gathered to deliver the message to Duke’s Midwest corporate headquarters. And all throughout the day yesterday activists took action online on Facebook and Twitter sending their messages directly to Duke Energy.

We know that it’s working. We ran into Jim Rogers at an event and he said that he’s listening. The question remains, will Duke act?

 

 

Written by Monica Embry, Greenpeace field organizer in Charlotte, NC.

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I spoke with Duke Energy's Jim Rogers at the DNC. He's hearing from us! And 150k people. And Senators.

  • Posted on: 5 September 2012
  • By: Connor Gibson

Written by Whit Jones, Energy Action Coalition Campaign Director, crossposted from We Are Powershift

I'm writing from Charlotte, NC where the Democratic National Convention is in full-swing.
 
You can feel it in the convention hall, in the streets, and on Facebook--the pressure is mounting for Duke Energy to stop playing dirty politics and dump the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for funding voter suppression.
 
Over 150,000 people, and a big coalition of environmental, civil rights and democracy reform groups have called on Duke Energy to Dump ALEC. And later today, we're going to deliver those signatures in a big creative action here in Duke's home city of Charlotte, and in a number of their other service states. 
 
Yesterday, I got a chance to find out if Duke Energy is listening to these demands to dump ALEC. I tracked down Duke Energy's CEO Jim Rogers to ask if he would listen to the over 150,000 people demanding Duke leave ALEC and stop funding voter suppression. Watch the video: 
 
 
In short, I asked Duke's CEO Jim Rogers if he would listen to the over 100,000 people who are calling on him to have Duke Dump ALEC and stop funding voter repression. He responded that "he'd be listening," and when I pressed him for a commitment to drop ALEC he said "I'm not going to give you [a commitment right now] but you can trust that I'm paying attention to what you're saying, and you'll know in due time."
 
If justice came on the heels of "due time", we'd pack up and head home right now. But we refuse to wait around while the country's largest coal utility funnels their profits from polluting our atmosphere into polluting our democracy.  
 
And we're not alone in wanting urgent action from Duke Energy. 
 
Yesterday, Senator Chuck Schumer of NY told us that “Duke should leave ALEC ASAP… if not sooner!” (video)
 
And Senator Durbin gave us his opinion too: "If you're embarrassed by ALEC, then distance yourself." (video)
 
We're not done yet--get ready for street pictures from a creative rally this afternoon at Duke's HQ  in Charlotte as well as petition deliveries in other cities, and more reportbacks from our online storm to demand DUKE dump ALEC
 
Check out the videos of our political and corporate bird-dogging at the DNC at We Are Powershift. We'll be updating the Storify below throughout the day, so be sure to check back.
 
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Science Denial and Andrea Saul – Romney 2012 Campaign Spokesperson

  • Posted on: 6 August 2012
  • By: Connor Gibson

Mitt Romney press secretary Andrea Saul has attacked science through public relations campaigns with DCI Group and Tech Central Station, both financed by ExxonMobil.

 
UPDATE 8/10/2012: see commentary on this briefing in Mother Jones, Buzzfeed and the Guardian.

INTRODUCTION: 

 
Andrea Saul, a prominent Romney 2012 campaign operative and spokesperson, formerly worked for DCI Group, a Washington DC public affairs and lobbying firm. During this period, DCI Group was on contract to ExxonMobil at the height of Exxon’s campaign attacking global warming science and climate change policy. DCI’s efforts included campaigns to undermine climate legislation and to push counter messages and spokespeople to media on the connection between extreme weather and global warming. Saul’s extensive role in these DCI Group climate campaigns can be traced through archived documents and press releases. Her role in shaping Romney’s climate and science policy is not known. 
“Gov. Romney does not think greenhouse gases are pollutants within the meaning of the Clean Air Act, and he does not believe that the EPA should be regulating them,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “CO2 is a naturally occurring gas. Humans emit it every time they exhale.”  Politico, July 2011
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Ms. Saul has also responded to Mitt Romney's contradictory public statements on global warming. NPR reported in October, 2011:
"Romney went from believing that humans contribute to global warming, though he was uncertain how much, to saying he didn't know what contributes to global warming." Andrea Saul denied that Romney had "flip-flopped" on his climate stance, responding:
"This is ridiculous. Governor Romney's view on climate change has not changed. He believes it's occurring, and that human activity contributes to it, but he doesn't know to what extent. He opposes cap and trade, and he refused to sign such a plan when he was governor. Maybe the bigger threat is all the hot air coming from career politicians who are desperate to hold on to power."

ANDREA SAUL AND DCI GROUP

  • Saul was hired March 2011 as a Romney campaign spokesperson. Today, she regularly appears in the media as the main messenger for the campaign.
  • While employed with the PR firm DCI Group as an account executive between 2004-2007, Ms. Saul helped to orchestrate a multi-faceted, covert operation to undermine science, attack scientists and confuse the public and reporters. 
  • DCI was, at that time, contracted as lobbyists by Exxon and many other corporations.  Exxon remains a DCI client today.
From 2004 to 2007, Ms. Saul worked at the DCI Group, a top lobbying and public relations firm that has represented a range of clients including the Burmese junta and has orchestrated front group campaigns for Microsoft, Verizon and ExxonMobil. More on ExxonMobil's role in climate science denial is outlined in Steve Coll's new book, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power.
 
Two of the DCI Group founders, Tim Hyde and Thomas J. Synhorst, began their careers with the tobacco industry where they worked to undermine the science on the dangers of smoking. For instance, Mr. Synhorst oversaw field operations with the “smokers rights” groups, a phony movement designed to shift the discussion away from the dangers of smoking to the protection of smoking rights.
 
In the early-2000s, DCI picked up ExxonMobil as a client and began operations to create confusion about climate change science. For instance, the Wall Street Journal reported on a purportedly homemade YouTube video portraying Al Gore as a sinister figure who blames several problems on global warming. The video’s maker was listed as “Toutsmith” a 29-year-old who identified himself as living in Beverly Hills, California.
 
However, when Journal reporters contacted “Toutsmith” his return emails originated from a computer registered with the DCI Group. A spokesman from Exxon confirmed that the company was a DCI Group client. DCI declined to admit to the Wall Street Journal if they had made the video. 
 
According to the Wall Street Journal
"Traffic to the penguin video, first posted on YouTube.com in May, got a boost from prominently placed sponsored links that appeared on the Google search engine when users typed in "Al Gore" or "Global Warming." The ads, which didn't indicate who had paid for them, were removed shortly after The Wall Street Journal contacted DCI Group on Tuesday."
As part of this Exxon funded campaign, Andrea Saul was a point person behind an effort to create confusion and advance contrarian viewpoints and corporate-funded pundits. 
 
This briefing illuminates Ms. Saul’s efforts at DCI: 

  • PART 1) Ms. Saul advanced the opinions of contrarian scientists and corporate-funded pundits on the Exxon-funded Tech Central Station, a purported news web site;
  • PART 2) Ms. Saul sought to promote contrarian voices into the debate over hurricanes and climate change in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; 
  • PART 3) Ms. Saul promoted the views of a scientist who had no training in climate change to undermine a study on climate change effects on the Antarctic ice sheet; 
  • PART 4) Ms. Saul led a public relations campaign to undermine scientific consensus on the science of climate change; 
  • PART 5) Ms. Saul pushed out press releases for a front group linked to Grover Norquist designed to undermine pending climate change legislation.

ADDITIONAL CONTENT:

(click links above to jump down to a section of the briefing)

1. Andrea Saul - Contact on Climate Change for Phony News Site, Tech Central Station

Tech Central Station is a free market news site that was established, owned and published by DCI Group until it was sold in September 2006.  According to a story published in 2003 in the Washington Monthly, Tech Central Station appeared to be less about news than lobbying. The story found:
"Tech Central Station looks less like a think-tank-cum-magazine than a kind of lobbying practice. Which makes sense: Four of the five co-owners of TCS are also the co-owners of the DCI Group, the Washington public affairs firm founded by Republican operative Thomas J. Synhorst. TCS's fifth owner is Charles Francis, who is also a senior lobbyist at DCI and is listed on TCS's phone directory. And as it happens, three of TCS's sponsors--AT&T, General Motors, and PhRMA--have also retained DCI for their lobbying needs. (Both DCI's spokeswoman and TCS's chief executive officer declined to be interviewed for this article. However, after I requested comment, the Web site was changed. Where it formerly stated that 'Tech Central Station is published by Tech Central Station, L.L.C.,' it now reads 'Tech Central Station is published by DCI Group, L.L.C.')
 
"Like its publishing arm, DCI's business is to influence elite opinion in Washington. But instead of publishing articles, DCI specializes in what's known as 'corporate-financed grass-roots organizing,' such as setting up front groups to agitate for a client's position, placing letters to the editor with key newspapers, and using phone banks to generate calls to politicians. TCS, for its part, includes a disclaimer on its site noting that 'the opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of the writers and not necessarily those of any corporation or other organization.' But it is startling how often the opinions of TCS's writers and sponsors converge."
In 2006, Andrea Saul was listed as the contact person on Tech Central Station’s webpage on climate change. The site hosted opinions written by many prominent climate change science deniers including Patrick Michaels, Willie Soon, Sallie Baliunas, David Legates, Robert C. Balling, Henry I. Miller, Tim Ball, William Gray, Anthony Lupo, and Roy Spencer
 

2. DCI Tech Central Station - Campaign on Link Between Hurricanes and Climate Change

On the eve of the 2006 hurricane season, after the worst year of hurricane damage in recent history, including the devastating and deadly hurricane Katrina, DCI was deployed to create a counter narrative on the connection between stronger hurricanes and global warming. It is unknown who the DCI client was requesting this work, or what the deliverables were.
 
As part of the DCI efforts, Tech Central Station produced and distributed a Video News Release (VNR) that called into question the science linking hurricanes with climate change. The VNR along with a known newscast that used the piece, is viewable online, preserved by the Center for Investigative Reporting:
 
 
VNRs are produced videos, contracted generally by corporations, edited as news segments and sent out to news stations in small markets in hopes of filling airtime within the actual newscast. 
 
DCI’s hurricane VNR was distributed to TV stations across the Gulf states and was aired on at least one of them. Materials accompanying the video package listed "TCS Daily Science Roundtable" as the producer. The VNR’s announcers said:
 
"There’s a lot of debate as to what’s been causing all of these hurricanes. Some scientists say it’s part of a naturally occurring cycle, while others have made the claim global warming is to blame.
 
"Dr. William Gray and Dr. James O’Brien, two of the nation’s top weather and oceans scientists, point to scientific data for the answer [...].
 
"Gray and many of his colleagues believe it’s not global warming that’s creating these massive hurricanes, but the cycle of nature itself."
Growing Body of Scientific Evidence on Hurricanes and Climate Change:
Around the time that Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in August 2005, several papers were published in the scientific literature that found a potential link between hurricanes and climate change.
 
Two months before Katrina hit, Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research published a 'Perspective' article in Science that examined the published literature for possible evidence linking hurricanes and climate change.  Dr. Trenberth concluded:
"Trends in human-influenced environmental changes are now evident in hurricane regions. These changes are expected to affect hurricane intensity and rainfall, but the effect on hurricane numbers remains unclear. The key scientific question is not whether there is a trend in hurricane numbers and tracks, but rather how hurricanes are changing."
Weeks before Katrina landed, Kerry Emmanuel with the Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published a study in Nature that reviewed the power of roughly 4,800 hurricanes in the prior few decades. His analysis concluded that hurricanes that occurred over this period were increasing in average intensity. 
"My results suggest that future warming may lead to an upward trend in tropical cyclone destructive potential, and—taking into account an increasing coastal population—a substantial increase in hurricane-related losses in the twenty-first century."
Evan Mills of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published a 'Viewpoint' in Science which argued that the insurance industry was vulnerable to the negative financial impact of disasters accentuated by climate change. 
 
The month after Hurricane Katrina hit, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the National Center for Atmospheric Research published a study of tropical cyclones in Science. The data found an increase in the number and proportion of hurricanes reaching the largest categories, which are 4 and 5. 
 
The accumulated evidence of these papers, along with the media reports, had a definitive impact on public opinion. A poll run by Time/ABC News/Stanford University at that time, found that 85 percent of Americans agreed that the Earth was growing warmer. 
 
On the eve of the 2006 hurricane season, DCI responded to growing public recognition of global warming. On March 30, 2006, Andrea Saul sent out a press release alerting reporters to “experts” who could discuss the link between hurricanes and climate change. This press release furtively lists Saul as representing “Technology Commerce Society”, the tag line for TCS Daily, Tech Central Station’s daily blog website…it’s either Tech Central Station or the Technology Commerce Society. Saul’s real employer, DCI Group.
 
Ms. Saul wrote in the release: 
“Coming off one of the most devastating hurricane seasons in recent memory, many are quick to blame the strength and frequency of these storms on global warming. Leading climate scientists, however, say there is no link between increased storm activity and a massive change in global climate.” 
The scientists listed on the press statement included:
  • James J. O’Brien, director of the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies, Florida State University – As an expert in oceanography and weather, Dr. O’Brien appeared to have little to no expertise in climate change according to his CV of published studies. 
  • Patrick Michaels, Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Virginia – A denier of anthropogenic global warming, Dr. Michaels has maintained strong ties to several denialist and front groups for oil and gas interests including the Cato Institute and the Greening Earth Society
  • George Taylor, Manager of the Oregon Climate Service at the University of Oregon – With no training in climate change or hurricanes, Taylor’s job was “to help advise Oregon farmers, fishermen, skiers and motorists about likely weather conditions, both short- and long-term” (Jeff Wright, Eugene Register-Guard, Feb. 22, 2008).
  • Anthony R. Lupo, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Missouri – A global warming denier and conservative activist, Lupo has been affiliated with numerous denialist organizations including the Science and Environmental Policy Project, the Heartland Institute, and the Marshall Institute (see also Dr. Lupo's resume).

3. Andrea Saul - Promoting the Views of a Non-expert Expert

In April 2006, Andrea Saul put out a press release to promote the views of weatherman and climate contrarian George Taylor who attempted to rebut a study published in Science which found that the Antarctic ice sheet was melting. Ms. Saul wrote:
"TCSDaily Science Roundtable member and Oregon state climatologist George Taylor, expressed his concern over the legitimacy of recent claims that the Antarctic ice sheet is melting. The Washington Post article titled 'Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Melting Rapidly' (www.washingtonpost.com/wp- dyn/content/article/2006/03/02/AR2006030201712.html) looked to Taylor to provide an expert view on the validity of a recent study published in Science magazine on global warming."
George Taylor was the Manager of the Oregon Climate Service at the University of Oregon and had no training in climate change or its effects on polar regions of the Earth. According to an article about his retirement in 2008, Taylor’s expertise was “ to help advise Oregon farmers, fishermen, skiers and motorists about likely weather conditions, both short- and long-term” (Jeff Wright, Eugene Register-Guard, Feb. 22, 2008).
 

4. Andrea Saul - Led Campaign to Undermine Scientific Consensus on Climate Change Science

In mid 2006, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) sought to draft a consensus statement on the science of climate change. This statement examined the vast body of research on the matter in attempt to better explain the science to both scientists and the American public.
 
In response, several scientists sent a letter to the AMS in an attempt to introduce contrarian views about “natural variability” and “data uncertainty” in the climate.   The lead author of the letter was Joseph D’Aleo a well-known climate change denier who has no training in climate change science. Other signatories include contrarian scientists and corporate funded pundits such as Richard Lindzen, Sallie Baliunas, and Patrick J. Michaels.
 
To advance these views, Ms. Saul led a public relations campaign to “influence the deciding committee on the final statement.” 
 

5. Andrea Saul - Work with Grover Norquist Front Group, United For Jobs

When Congress was considering a tax on oil companies in the mid 2000’s, Andrea Saul leaped to Big Oil’s defense as part of United For Jobs, front group. In a press release by Saul, she wrote:
"Today United for Jobs (UFJ) warned that federal legislation to impose a so-called "windfall profits tax" on U.S. oil companies would have a severe economic impact on public employee trust funds. The Missouri Highway Patrol Retirement System, the Public School Employees' Retirement System of Missouri, the Missouri State Employees' Retirement System, and other public retirement funds could lose as much as $325 million per year in foregone gains, according to a recent study by the Investors Action Foundation (http://www.windfallprofitstax.org/)."
United for Jobs had already led the campaign to kill the McCain-Lieberman climate legislation on a rolling basis beginning in 2004. In 2005, the latest McCain-Lieberman climate bill was gaining slow momentum and Senator McCain pushed for more votes. McCain staff told to us at the time that United for Jobs was the most formidable opponent, with their appearance as a multi-denominational coalition of "labor", black business (National Black Chamber of Commerce), and seniors groups (60 Plus Association). United for Jobs attacked numerous other proposals for greenhouse gas regulations, including a counter offense against Senator Jeff Binghaman’s carbon dioxide regulatory efforts in 2005
 
United for Jobs no longer exists, but an archived website finds that their office was located at 1920 L Street, NW Suite 200 Washington, DC 20036. At the time, this was the exact same address for Americans for Tax Reform, a corporate front group managed by Grover Norquist, an associate of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff
 
DCI Group served as the contact and distribution node for United for Jobs reports and press releases.
 

Leaked Document: DCI, Heartland Institute and Exxon plan attacks on Clean Air Act

An anonymous source sent Greenpeace a copy of an invitation, agenda and attendees list for a May 2006 meeting organized by the Heartland Institute and hosted at the DCI Group offices “to discuss public policy challenges related to the Clean Air Act.” The only corporation represented at the meeting was ExxonMobil. Exxon representatives gave two presentations over the course of the full day meeting. Six ExxonMobil staff are listed as invited guests. Two DCI – Tech Central Station representatives are named on the invitees list, along with a note “plus DCI field officers and staff”. It is unknown whether Andrea Saul attended this meeting.
 
 
 
 
Organizations invited to this session included:

{cke_protected}

DCI Group former staff within Romney 2012 campaign:

(Quotations sourced from Democracy in Action)
 
Matt Rhoades, Campaign Manager:
“(announced Feb. 15, 2010) A vice president with DCI Group, May 2007-Feb. 2010. Communications director on Romney's presidential campaign, Jan. 2007-March 2008. A deputy communications director in charge of research for the RNC during the 2006 election cycle. Research director for the 2004 Bush/Cheney re-election campaign. Deputy research director at the RNC, 2003-04. White House Liaison at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in the Bush Administration, and earlier an Associate Director in the White House Presidential Personnel Office. B.A. from Syracuse University, 1997; and an M.A. from The George Washington University, 1999.”
Andrea Saul, Press Secretary:
“announced March 3, 2011 as communications advisor to Free and Strong America PAC) Press Secretary for Carly Fiorina’s U.S. Senate race in California. Communications director for Gov. Charlie Crist during his recent U.S. Senate run but resigned in April 2010 upon his decision to switch party affiliation. Press secretary to U.S Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) during much of 2009. Director of media affairs for McCain-Palin, responsible for organizing all television, radio and surrogate activity. Director of media affairs at the Republican National Committee, 2007-08. Associate account executive at DCI Group, 2005-07. Graduate of Vanderbilt University, 2004. twitter
Evan Yost, Deputy Communications Director and Research Director:
“(June 2011) M.B.A. in finance, accounting from Rice University, 2011. A director at DCI Group, 2007-09. Deputy director of research on John McCain 2008 in 2007. Special assistant for strategic initiatives in the Office of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, 2005-06. B.A. in English literature from The Johns Hopkins University, 2000.”
 
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Duke Energy Uses ALEC to Attack Climate and Clean Energy Laws in Pay-to-Play Politics

  • Posted on: 17 July 2012
  • By: Connor Gibson

In the lead up to this fall's Democratic National Convention, polluter giant Duke Energy has offered a $10 million loan. Good thing, since Duke CEO Jim Rogers has taken the lead on the remaining fundraising for the DNC and is now being criticized for doing a shoddy job of it amid his controversial takeover as CEO following a big merger with Progress Energy.

Lost amid this dramatic transition is Duke's ironic role in the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. ALEC is the infamous corporate bill mill that connects notably-conservative state lawmakers with lobbyists, PR agents and other representatives of companies ranging from Koch Industries to Phillip Morris to Pfizer. ALEC's agenda spans across Big Business priorities, creating template state laws that serve to deny climate change science, privatize schools, protect killers (as with the Trayvon Martin "castle doctrine" legislation) and disenfranchise voters through Voter ID laws.

Voter ID laws that Democrats call "suppressive," an ironic contrast to Duke's $10 million line of credit to the DNC.

Duke Energy is heavily invested in ALEC in several ways. Duke sponsors ALEC's meetings, dedicates its staff to help oversee ALEC's state operations, and consistently operates in ALEC's anti-environmental task force, a who's-who of polluters and apologists attacking clean energy legislation that Duke purportedly supports. Here's an overview of Duke's notable role in ALEC:

  • Duke pays heavily for ALEC's operations--they have spent $116,000 on ALEC meetings since 2009, including $50,000 for ALEC's May 2012 meeting in Charlotte, NC where Duke is headquartered (Charlotte Business Journal). This well exceeds the top annual ALEC membership fee of $25,000.
  • Duke representatives Chuck Claunch and Bonnie Loomis are liaisons to ALEC's Energy, Environment & Agriculture (EEA) task force, which ghostwrites state laws attacking regional climate programs, controls for hazardous coal ash storage, renewable energy standards, EPA enforcement of clean air and water laws, and numerous other polluter handouts written and approved by the oil, coal and public relations companies in the EEA task force's filthy roster.
  • Progress Energy's Kathy Hawkins and Jeanelle McCain are also involved in ALEC's EEA task force, further bloating Duke's influence within ALEC now that Progress is part of Duke Energy.

Duke has told the press that it doesn't agree with all of the EEA model bills, specifically attacks on renewable energy and reductions in greenhouse gases. This is deceitful, since such laws are at the core of ALEC's anti-environmental task force and have constantly evolved to match changes in political trends. If Duke doesn't support the purpose of this task force, then why is it offering up Duke stafff and money beyond its ALEC membership dues?

Beyond Duke's active participation within ALEC's anti-environmental task force, Duke has also positioned its operatives in two states to help oversee further fundraising and recruitment for ALEC.

Duke and ALEC in South Carolina

Duke's South Carolina Regional Director Chuck Claunch was handpicked by ALEC's State Chairmen in South Carolina to help fulfill their obligations to recruit new ALEC members, raise money, and other responsibilities detailed in ALEC's own IRS tax filings [PDF p.36]. Since Mr. Claunch is also part of ALEC's anti-environment task force, it's possible he helped create model bills that became South Carolina law. Also acting as a private sector co-chair in South Carolina is Progress Energy's Jeanelle McCain, another member of ALEC's anti-environmental task force. With the Duke-Progress merger now made official, it is unclear how Mr. Claunch and Ms. McCain may shift roles, or if Duke's influence in South Carolina is expanding through ALEC.

Known ALEC South Carolina legislators who work with Duke and other polluters in ALEC's EEA task force:
  • Rep. Dwight Loftis
  • Rep. Nelson Hardwick
  • Rep. Bill Sandifer
  • Rep. Jeffrey Duncan

Working alongside ALEC's State Chairmen in Indiana (Rep. David Wolkins and Sen. Jim Buck) is Duke's Vice President of Government Affairs, Julie Griffith. Beyond the numerous contradictions detailed in this blog, perhaps Ms. Griffith would like to explain her role in ALEC, a notable front for the tobacco industry, and her position as chair of the executive leadership team of the American Lung Association. That and her political work for a company that causes lung damage from coal pollution. Just as in South Carolina, Rep. Wolkins and Sen. Buck chose Duke's Julie Griffith to help them oversee ALEC's operations in Indiana, primarily fundraising. Known ALEC legislators in Indiana who have been part of ALEC's EEA (Energy/Env/Ag) task force:
  • Rep. David Wolkins (EEA task force chair, 2011 ALEC legislator of the year, ALEC State Chairman in IN)
  • Rep. Wesley Culver
  • Rep. Brian Bosma
  • Rep. Heath Van Natte

ALEC: Duke Energy partners with Koch Industries, Exxon, Peabody, Heartland, ACCCE, Art Pope...

While over 25 companies have dropped ALEC, including Walmart, Best Buy, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, John Deere, Dell and numerous others, Duke continues to staff and fund ALEC alongside ExxonMobil, BP, Koch Industries, Peabody Energy, and other major polluters to dismantle state environmental protections across the country. 

So even though Jim Rogers says we should wean off of foreign oil, Duke conspires with multinational oil companies to attack climate solutions.

Typical.

The oil majors are only one example of Duke's secretive partnerships that contradict its statements on climate change and sustainability. ALEC's EEA task force includes operatives from climate science denying groups like the Heartland Institute, Americans for Prosperity, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Goldwater Institute, and the John Locke Foundation, all of which have enjoyed support from the billionaire Koch brothers and North Carolina political overlord Art Pope.

By participating in ALEC's anti-environmental task force, Duke continues to partner with representatives of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a front group that Duke abandoned in 2009 when ACCCE's aggressive lobbying against national climate legislation became an obvious conflict of interest (and when ACCCE was caught up in a scandal involving fraudulent letters to Congress opposing climate legislation). Let us not forget that national climate legislation in 2009 essentially became a handout for major polluters like Duke who helped write the legislation.

Greenpeace recently released a new report detailing a Clean Energy Roadmap for Apple, highlighting progress Apple has made in using clean energy sources for its Cloud data centers while stressing that Apple is still far too dependent on coal-burning utilities like Duke Energy for its energy. While Greenpeace calls upon Apple to help shift the energy market in a cleaner direction, we are also asking Duke Energy to make a dramatic shift away from dirty coal, especially from destructive mountain top removal mining. Responding to Greenpeace, Duke Energy told CBS, "In North Carolina, we are allowed to buy non-mountaintop coal as long as the cost is not higher than conventional coal supply. Even if we wanted to pay more, we couldn't because the state mandates it."

Come on, Duke--you gave money to 115 of the 170 North Carolina legislators elected in 2010 and spent $19 million on federal and state political contributions during that election cycle alone. You are wrapping up your scandalous merger into the nation's largest utility company. If Duke wanted to strike down a mandate to use coal from the most destructive sources available, they could do it. Instead, Duke plays to its major strength: using clean PR to hide the dirty money it spends to hold our air, water and climate hostage with outdated, 20th Century energy.

Amid the sudden ouster of former Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson and conflicts with ratepayers in multiple states, Duke already has plenty to be embarrassed about. Using ALEC to partner with the world's worst corporate citizens and climate science deniers gives Duke's other shames a run for their money.

In the name of transparent democracy, Greenpeace challenges Duke to disclose which ALEC model bills they have supported at ALEC meetings, whether by vote or through Duke sponsorship. Better yet, Duke should join the 30 companies and organizations who have cut ties with ALEC and its poisonous role in American politics.

Known Associates: 

Nucor CEO Dan DiMicco, Heartland Stooge or Calculated Climate Denier?

  • Posted on: 20 June 2012
  • By: JesseColeman

Dan DiMicco (picture right), CEO of Nucor, recently sent a letter to a concerned shareholder defending Nucor's support of the Heartland Institute. The letter contained numerous talking points commonly used by Heartland's campaign of climate science denial, and revealed DiMicco to be either pitifully ignorant of the state of climate change science, or a calculating executive willing to misinform his own shareholders.

From the letter:

"As you can see from Nucor’s website, We take environmental issues very seriously, including the debate surrounding “climate change.” (See http://www.nucor.com/responsibility/environment/issues/Warming/)"

 

Nucor doesn't take the realities of global climate change seriously if it's PowerPoint presentations on climate cite the Heartland Institute. Heartland is well known as a corporate front group that specializes in attacking science and confusing consumers, teachers and policymakers. Not long ago Heartland was denying the health effects of tobacco and opposing tobacco regulations, while being funded by the biggest tobacco corporations. As of last week, Heartland still claimed that the proven risks of smoking tobacco products are based on "junk science"....sound familiar? Now, Heartland denies the ill effects of carbon pollution, while on the payroll of major carbon polluters like Nucor. Note that the same PowerPoint also references the Institute for Energy Research, a group run by former Koch Industries lobbyist Tom Pyle with notable support from the Kochs and other vested interests (see Politico).

It is most likely that the information that formed the basis of your inquiry concerning the Heartland Institute (“Heartland”) had its genesis with a group entitled “Forecast the Facts,” whose activities are chronicled at http://fakegate.org/the-heartland-institute-replies-to-forecast-the-facts/.

 

 

Why would DiMicco cite "Fakegate," a website created by Heartland rather than a legitimate news source? The "fakegate" website was originally created to assault scientist Peter Gleick, who duped Heartland into releasing damaging internal funding and strategy documents. As Heartland's credibility slid from poor to nonexistent once their internal operations became transparent, they were desperate to shift focus away from the contents of the leaked information. Fakegate was the result.

As you can read from the webpage, much of the uproar is a result of stolen and fabricated documentation.

In this line, DiMicco is referring to a document leaked by scientist/activist Peter Gleick that Heartland claims is fabricated. There is no reason to believe the document in question is not genuine, and everything in the document is verifiable by Heartland's 2012 budget and 2012 fundraising plan, which Heartland does not dispute. In these documents, Nucor was outed as a direct supporter of Heartland's climate science denial program and the outrageous tactics associated with that campaign. Tactics paid for in part by Nucor include billboards asserting that only terrorists recognize climate science and an effort to teach climate science denial in K-12 school programs (Washington Post).

Heartland “does not ‘deny the existence of climate change.’”

Actually, Heartland's position on climate change is even less consistent than Nucor's. Consider the following statements by Heartland president Joe Bast, which all link to Heartland sources through PolluterWatch.

Notable also are interviews with Joe Bast this year where he contradicts his own position from one day to the next:

  • Feb 22, 2012: "We believe that climate has warmed in the second half of the 20th Century, we believe that there is probably a measurable human impact on climate but it's probably very small, we think that natural forces probably overwhelm any impact that human activity can have, that computer models are too unreliable to forecast what the future might hold for climate and finally that a modest amount of warming is probably going to be, on net, beneficial both to human beings and the ecosystem. We think that that's pretty much actually the consensus of working scientists in this area." (Wall Street Journal Digital Network interview)
  • Feb 23, 2012: "I'm confident that the scientific basis behind the threat has pretty much melted away. So I talk about the global warming ... delusion and how it's gradually unwinding." (ClimateWire interview)

None of this is new. Back in 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol sparked massive oil and coal interest in financing climate denial groups like Heartland, the Heartland Institute claimed "Satellite Temperature Records Show No Global Warming" in a headline of its June edition of Environment News. 

Joseph Bast, Heartland's president, frequently contradicts or denies his own outrageous commentary, as demonstrated by his recent response to Forecast the Facts' aggregation of Bast's quotes in defense of the tobacco industry. (UPDATE: Popular Science notes that Joe Bast says he has a raspy voice "from years of smoking.") Bast claimed that Forecast had no citations for his own quotes (a lie, check the linked dates for yourself on Forecast the Facts' page) but admits he's not keen on finding the truth: "I have not tried to confirm the authenticity of the quotations attributed to me, and won’t."

Nucor and Pfizer continue to fund Heartland in the company of Altria and Reynolds American, major tobacco companies that are forced to turn to extreme groups like the Heartland Institute for their public relations campaigns.

The issues surrounding the “climate” debate are real and difficult questions to answer, but Nucor has been consistent in its support for scientific answers instead of political consensus. Heartland is just such an institution, “bringing together the world’s leading scientists and economists to study the issue.” It is entirely appropriate for Nucor and other like-minded companies and groups to fund The Heartland Institute. Working together we will find solutions, so that our best days are still ahead of us.

 

Perhaps if DiMicco recognized the contemporary scientific conclusions of 97% of working climate researchers around the world, NASA, NOAA, the American Geophysical Union, other major US scientific institutions and all of the National Academies of Sciences for every industrialized country on the planet, he wouldn't think that these are "difficult questions to answer."

However, it is important to realize that DiMicco stands to profit substantially as long as carbon emissions are not regulated and not addressed. Nucor makes and recycles steel, which requires tremendous amounts of electricity and releases substantial amounts of CO2. If people doubt the science of climate change and ignore scientists' pleas to reduce carbon emissions, DiMicco can continue to externalize the cost of CO2 pollution, which raises Nucor's profit margins.

In addition, Dan DiMicco sits on the Board of Directors for Duke Energy, a major coal-burning utility known for its repeated doublespeak on issues of pollution and  climate change. By delaying meaningful cuts in carbon emissions, Duke and DiMicco can continue to burn coal, spew greenhouse gas pollution, and reap large profits.

Full text of the letter is available here.

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Nucor’s Hypocrisy: Funding The Heartland Institute's Attacks on Climate Change Science

  • Posted on: 29 May 2012
  • By: JesseColeman

Nucor's logo

Nucor, the largest producer of steel in the U.S., takes great pains to present a “green” image.  Nucor's website is full of oak trees and pastoral scenes next to the tag line “Nucor: It’s Our Nature.”

However, since 2010, Nucor has given at least $500,000 to the Heartland Institute, a right wing corporate front group that attacks climate change science and scientists.  According to Heartland’s own fundraising documents, Nucor’s contributions were earmarked specifically for attacking climate science and environmental regulations.  Heartland has recently made headlines for a billboard campaign featuring a picture of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, next to the words “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”

The billboard campaign is the latest in Heartland’s continuing battle against the scientific evidence of climate change. Heartland has also sponsored and organized six conferences on climate denial in the past 5 years, and they recently held a seventh that took place May 21-23 in Chicago. The “International Conferences on Climate Change,” as Heartland calls them, provide a platform and meeting space for the small cadre of professional climate science deniers that have derailed meaningful solutions to the threats of global warming in the U.S.

This year’s conference featured the usual self-contradictory climate denier arguments, which includes everything from outright denial that the earth temperature is going up, to admitting the globe is warming but denying that humans and CO2 are involved, to admitting the earth is warming, humans and CO2 are involved, but the warming will be beneficial.  However, this year’s meeting also delved in to other fanatical conspiracy theories, like the belief that President Barack Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate is not real.

Because of their outrageous attacks on climate science, 15 corporations have dropped the Heartland InstituteSend Nucor's CEO Dan Dimicco an email telling him to stop funding the Heartland Institute and climate denial.

The truth is, if Heartland’s deceptive and dishonest talk about climate science was aimed at the few aging contrarians that attended the latest meeting, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  However, Heartland doesn’t get paid by Nucor and other big carbon emitting corporations to mislead a fringe tribe of retired old white men (picture of conference at right).  Heartland gets paid to derail solutions to climate change.  This has meant creating anti-science curriculum for grade schools, paying spokespeople to deny climate science, and attacking the scientists that do real work on climate change.  

Given that the $500,000 Nucor has given Heartland in the last 3 years was specifically for attacking climate science and environmental regulations, Nucor must be held accountable for Heartland's climate science denial.

Send Nucor CEO Dan Dimicco an email telling him to stop funding attacks on climate science and the Heartland Institute.

For updates on the Heartland Institute, see PolluterWatch's ongoing investigation.

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The Heartland Institute’s 7th Climate denial-palooza, fewer attendees, more fringe conspiracy theories

  • Posted on: 23 May 2012
  • By: JesseColeman

The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute, a corporate funded anti-environmental front group, just wrapped up their 7th climate denial meeting, aka denial-palooza. This year saw a much smaller turnout of climate science denialists than previous years, but more fringe conspiracy theories than ever. The drop in attendance comes after the Heartland Institute’s failed billboard campaign comparing advocates of climate science to terrorists, murderers, and madmen.

 

The billboard, combined with Heartland’s illogical stance on climate science, has forced 11 corporate sponsors to drop financial support of the organization.  Heartland had hoped to receive over $825,000 in funding from these corporations in 2012 and their departure has left Heartland's CEO Joe Bast desperate for funding. During his closing remarks, Bast said:

I'm not a good fundraiser and as a result I don't raise enough money to cover [the climate conference]...if you can afford to make a contribution please do, if you know someone, if you have a rich uncle... please ask him to contribute.

This year’s conference featured the usual self-contradictory climate denier arguments, which includes everything from outright denial that the earth temperature is going up, to admitting the globe is warming but denying that humans and CO2 are involved, to admitting the earth is warming, humans and CO2 are involved, but the warming will be beneficial.  However, this year’s meeting also delved in to other fanatical conspiracy theories, like the belief that President Barack Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate is not real

The truth is, if Heartland’s deceptive and dishonest talk about climate science was aimed at the few old contrarians that attended the latest meeting, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  However, Heartland doesn’t get paid by Nucor and other big carbon emitting corporations to mislead a fringe tribe of retired old white men. Heartland gets paid to derail solutions to climate change.  This has meant creating anti-science curriculum for grade schools, paying spokespeople to deny climate science, and attacking the scientists that do real work on climate change.  

And who pays for Heartland disinformation? Leaked internal fundraising and budget documents have revealed that major corporations like Nucor and Pfizer, as well as the coal industry, are substantial contributors to Heartland’s annual budget.  As for the denial conference itself, it has recently been revealed that the organizations that co-sponsored this year’s event have taken $67 million from ExxonMobil, Koch and Scaife foundations.

Currently a coalition of groups including Greenpeace, Forecast the Facts, Sierra Club, SumofUs, and 350.org are gathering petitions from people concerned about the corporate funding of climate denial, and demanding that Heartland’s remaining corporate funders stop their support of the Heartland Institute.  Sign the petition and tell these corporations to stop funding attacks on climate change science.

 

For more information, check out these recent articles on the Heartland Institute:

Heartland reflects on its beating,” Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian

Heartland Institute facing uncertain future as staff depart and cash dries up”, Suzanne Goldenberg, the Guardian

For Heartland board, failed climate attack was a surprise” Evan Lehmann, Climatewire

Heartland faces a mutiny amid furor over billboard campaign” Evan Lehmann, Climatewire

"Heartland Institute conference attendees try for a subtler skepticism, but group's leader sometimes strays off message" Evan Lehmann, Climatewire

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Heartland Institute’s Achy Breaky Climate Denial Machine

  • Posted on: 21 May 2012
  • By: admin

Logic at it's most...illogical.

Written by Greenpeace Research Director Kert Davies, crossposted from Greenpeace Blogs.

No one would argue that Heartland Institute is in turmoil. The Guardian summed it up pretty well last night . The historic Joe Bast backfiring blunder of a billboard campaign featuring Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, the non-apology that followed, corporate funders running for the exits, the collapse of the Heartland DC office, former friends and colleagues jumping Bast's ship in his "hour of need"...

Desperate times indeed for climate denial central....

Before the billboard debacle, after their documents were leaked, they called another meeting - to challenge the prevailing consensus science on global warming (again...). It looked to us a lot like a circling of wagons. The co-sponsor organizations and speakers at the Heartland meeting this week in Chicago are the last remaining army bent on stalling action on global warming. The cosponsor orgs along with Heartland itself, received grants totaling almost $5.5 Million from ExxonMobil and $13.8 Million from the Koch brothers foundations since the late 1990s. Their work together goes way back. The interlaced connections between these groups and people is best illustrated by this ExxonSecrets.org map showing the meeting cosponsors down the left and some key speakers down the middle and all their other connections on the right. (Move them around on the map and explore their connections.) Marc Morano, Patrick Michaels, Myron Ebell, Fred Singer, Craig Idso, Willie Soon, Bob Carter and other speakers have long associations with multiple denial front groups The crowd assembled in Chicago this week at the 7th (not annual, but randomly occurring) Heartland Denial-Palooza meeting is a who's who of individuals and organizations that have actively conspired to derail global warming policy and science for the last two decades. Ever since the world woke up to the climate crisis, this mob has been working to delay action by distracting the public and policy arena with misinformation. Steve Coll's new book, Private Empire, gives an in depth account of Exxon's front group climate denial funding effort that accelerated after the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. These people and groups at Heartland's meeting are the very groups Exxon was funding to do their scut work a few short years ago.. Exxon Dumped Heartland The corporations fleeing Heartland now are slow learners. Exxon dumped Heartland years ago when it shed multiple front groups who they admitted "could divert attention" on climate change. Alas, Heartland is still diverting attention, Exxon money or not. Exxon did give Heartland a total of $676,500 from 1998 until 2007 they severed ties.

"In 2008, we will discontinue contributions to several public policy groups, whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure energy required for economic growth in a responsible manner." --2007 ExxonMobil Corporate Citizenship Report, published in May 2008

NOTE: Shareholder activists continue to try to hold Exxon accountable on climate change at their AGM May 30 in Dallas, including a resolution on greenhouse gas reductions. Reporters: go cover that meeting! Starting in 2006, Exxon dumped all (well almost all, see Heritage below) of the current co-sponsors of the Heartland meeting whom they had sent a grand total of $5.49 Million in grants from 1998 until they cut them off one by one. This year's co-sponsors include:

NOTE: Late comer to the Heartland party is the Illinois Coal Association. For years they bragged that these Denial-Palooza meetings were not funded by corporations, but alas times have changed. But the legacy of these groups is deeper and more detailed than just sharing money from Exxon. The Koch brothers Foundations sent the co-sponsors of the Heartland meeting a total of $13.8 Million from 1997 onward. Koch money receipts by Heartland co-sponsors

  • Americans for Prosperity, late conference co-sponsor, has received nearly $5.8 Million from the Koch foundation. David Koch is the Chair of Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
  • Heritage leads all Koch fundees having received over $4.4M since 1997
  • Reason Foundation has received at total of $1.8M
  • Capital Research Center hauled in $660K
  • CEI got $521K in Koch money
  • Frontiers of Freedom has received $175K
  • Ayn Rand Institute, Center for Study of CO2 and Global Change, Independent Institute and the John Locke Foundation all received Koch money.

Let's explore the history of this hardcore climate denial club a bit further: American Petroleum Institute Secret Plan Many of the people at the Chicago meeting and the organizations they represent were part of the American Petroleum Institute's Global Climate Science Communications Team (GCSCT), circa 1998. This leaked document revealed a multimillion dollar plan to train scientists for media and run a counter narrative to the prevailing climate science.

Greening Earth Society Craig Idso, a speaker at the conference, who we now know is on the Heartland payroll at over $130K this year, was one of the architects of the 1992 coal-funded Greening Earth Society which tried the non-denial approach: It's good for us, everything will be greener and warmer. Don't worry, burn coal as fast as you can!! Can you believe this guy still has a job? Recap The Peter Gleick master dupe of the century, revealed for all to see the Heartland 2012 Budget and Fundraising Plans. When DeSmogBlog released the documents on Valentines Day, we learned an awful lot about the Heartland mob and their plans. The Greenpeace Heartland investigation continues at PolluterWatch. Some of what we have learned:

  • Their climate denial lifeline over the past five years at least has been one "Anonymous Donor" who is managed by the random Mr Bast., who at times has accounted for over 60 percent of their operating budget.
  • Heartland is developing K-12 curriculum to teach our children their climate mythology.
  • They have moved uptown out of their "shabby" offices and wanted to raise more money working on fracking, presumably to keep up with the rent.
  • They hope(d) to increase their $20,000 2011 donation from one of the Koch Foundations to $200,000 and leverage the Koch network to expand their funding base. Wonder how those fundraising calls to the Kochs' are going now, after the billboard blowback?

This Heartland Chicago meeting might be interesting. The last one was a dud I hear. Oh to be a fly on the wall as the participants line up to rail on Joe Bast for dragging them into his cesspool.

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More corporate funders drop Heartland Institute, yet some major names remain

  • Posted on: 15 May 2012
  • By: JesseColeman

Heartland billboard featuring Ted Kaczynski

Adding to a growing list of defections, Eli Lilly, BB&T Bank, and PepsiCo have announced they will not fund the Heartland Institute in 2012.  They join State Farm, USAA, and others who have stopped financial support of the Chicago front group after Heartland released a billboard featuring a picture of Ted Kaczynski next to the text “I still believe in Global Warming. Do You?”

Sign our petition asking the rest of Heartland's corporate sponsors to stop funding climate science denial.

Just for background, Heartland’s fringe positions on science and loose grasp of reality is no secret in corporate circles. Heartland’s climate stance is so extreme that ExxonMobil, the great patron of climate science denial, dropped them years ago - saying they could no longer support groups that “serve as a distraction” to the climate issue.

Heartland peddles its own pseudo-science that contradicts the vast majority of scientists in the world, and observable reality.  As James Hansen recently wrote in the New York Times, climate change can be conclusively linked to recent extreme weather conditions like the major heat wave that killed hundreds across Europe and the excruciating drought the western U.S. is still suffering from. (At right: A cow stuck in the mud in Texas, photograph by Jay Janner, 2011)

However, in part because the effects of global climate change have become perceptible to most Americans, fewer and fewer people are buying Heartland’s BS about climate science. 

 

Which leads to the Big Questions: - where does Heartland get the money to buy crazy billboards?

 

Where do they get the money to pay for climate denying school curriculum?

 

With Exxon gone, which anti-science corporations still support Heartland’s loony climate denial meetings?

 

For starters: Pfizer.

Pfizer, the giant drug company, is a leading sponsor of the Heartland Institute. But wait you say, doesn’t Pfizer have a strong statement about the serious threats posed by climate change and the necessity of cutting greenhouse emissions?  Yes, yes they do. But, Pfizer also has a history of saying the right thing to the public while doing the exact opposite behind closed doors.  Take healthcare reform for example; Pfizer publicly supported president Obama’s Healthcare reform while quietly giving the Heartland Institute hundreds of thousands of dollars to savage the president and the healthcare law.

Side note: Pfizer is no stranger to being called out for their affiliations to unsavory corporate front groups. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the group that helped for-profit prison companies write and pass immigration bills that put more people in jail - and helped gun groups write and pass the Stand Your Ground law in Florida, (which protected the killer of teenage Trayvon Martin) counts Pfizer as a corporate sponsor.  At a protest calling for Pfizer to drop ALEC, eight people were arrested outside of Pfizer’s gates. In a telling show of corporate hubris, Pfizer never even responded to the demonstrators requests.

 

Nucor, the steel manufacturer, is also a Heartland funder.

According to leaked internal documents from the Heartland Institute, Nucor directly funds Heartland’s climate work.  Like Pfizer, Nucor talks openly about solutions to climate change, and their website proudly proclaims “Concerns about climate change not taken lightly by Nucor.”

 

Other corporate bad actors still funding Heartland include Comcast, Reynolds American inc, and Golden Rule Insurance.  Tell these companies that their support of climate denial must be stopped, by signing this petition.

 

PolluterWatch: Greenpeace Investigates Heartland Institute Leaked Documents -- click to see a list of companies that dropped Heartland and ongoing investigations.

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What's on ALEC's polluter agenda tomorrow?

  • Posted on: 10 May 2012
  • By: Connor Gibson

Tomorrow, the American Legislative Exchange Council--known as ALEC--will host their 2012 Spring Task Force summit in Charlotte, NC. At tomorrow's meeting, the corporate front group will round up its various committees and prepare to peddle new state-level legislation to attack clean energy laws, protect polluting industries, privatize education, and suppress voters, among other big business schemes.

Need a refresher on ALEC? It's the group that brings state legislators to the table with representatives from major corporations in the sectors of energy, healthcare, tobacco, private prisons, and other groups to manipulate state politics to maximize their profits and limit their liabilities. These companies help craft template bills for state legislators to bring home and introduce in their respective statehouses.

Documents obtained and published by Common Cause now give us a roster of specific attendees at ALEC's environmental meetings, a consortium of state legislators and a who's who of the most offensive polluting political heavyweights including: Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Duke Energy and Peabody. Participating legislators know well they're walking into a dirty party, sometimes using state taxpayer money to foot the bill.

The corporations that fund ALEC are well known for their political spending on both sides of the aisle. ALEC funders include Koch Industries, known for its coordinated political spending against President Obama, and Duke Energy, which is laying down a ten million dollar line of credit to host the Democratic National Convention in their hometown of Charlotte, NC. But these polluting companies are co-conspirators under the banner of ALEC, where partisan politics are set aside to focus on the mission of destroying environmental protections, clean energy competition and liability for crimes against both people and the ecosystems sustaining us.

So what exactly are ALEC and these oil, coal, chemical and public relations companies focusing on tomorrow?

According to their newest meeting memorandum, ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force is going to discuss some pending model laws that ALEC will likely be approved for state distribution:

  • The "Electricity Freedom Act" (really? Electricity Freedom?!) is a new attack on states with plans requiring companies to get a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. This new bill is similar to other legislation ALEC has already peddled in several states and compliments an "email and telephone campaign" against state renewable energy standards, according to the Guardian.
  • The "Coal Intrastate and Use Act" serves to prevent EPA from overruling state permits for coal mining and producing dirty coal products (like liquid coal for fuel) if all the coal operations are conducted within the borders of a single state.
  • The "Resolution on U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement Accountability" mandates a report be filed on cities and states that have fallen short of their goals to reduce greenhouse gases through the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which has over 1,000 signatories. ALEC's new resolution then demands that any program that hasn't met its goal be canceled out right, voiding the Climate Protection Agreement altogether. Keeping in mind that ALEC's members like Koch and Exxon have fought greenhouse gas programs at every turn for years, it is obvious that this ALEC bill is meant for one thing, attacking programs that address carbon emissions.
  • A resolution demanding the passage of the notorious federal REINS Act, which would give Congress the power to block the enforcement of just about any federal protection--clean air and water laws, safeguards for mine workers, prohibiting tobacco sales to kids, protection from discrimination, you name it. It's the ultimate gift from Congress to their corporate fundraisers who would like to avoid responsibility for...everything.
  • The exhaustively-titled "Resolution Supporting a Reasonable Compliance Timeline and Economy-wide impact study of EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Rule" has a simple purpose: delay when coal-burning utilities have to reduce mercury pollution and other severely hazardous emissions. For major mercury polluters like Energy Future Holdings, American Electric Power, and Duke Energy, this is likely to be a popular item tomorrow.

Documents obtained and published by Common Cause also show us what ALEC's focal points have been for other meetings in the last two years. Here are a few examples:

  • A resolution urging Congress and the State Department to push through TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. ALEC recycles a lofty jobs lie in their reasoning for this resolution, ignoring State Department KXL job estimates under 2,000 and a Cornell study warning that "There is evidence to suggest that the effects of KXL construction could very well lead to more jobs being lost than are created." How many jobs does ALEC assume? 120,000 -- see Greenpeace's letter to the SEC to understand how they were calculated by politics rather than reality. Go figure--the American Petroleum Institute and its largest members were in the room when this resolution was forged.

Who exactly attends these events? Beyond ALEC staff and dozens of corporate representatives, industry front groups are also represented. Tomorrow will feature John Felmy of the American Petroleum Institute in a presentation on gas prices (spoiler alert: this crowd will probably blame the President). Next up: presentations from representatives of the Edison Electric Institute (utility trade group) and the Nuclear Energy Institute (nuclear industry lobby).

Perhaps most intriguing will be a chat about "The Dirty Truth Behind Reusable Bags" led by Charles Gerba, who will warn attendees that reusable bags will give them "projectile vomiting and diarrhea." Gerba may not mention this dramatic and messy sickness can be avoided by simply washing one's reusable bags, since Mark Daniels of Hilex Poly (a plastic bag company) regularly attends these meetings, and Gerba serves as an advisor to Hilex Poly.

ALEC always gets some of industry's most interesting mouthpieces to set the rhetorical tone for those attending ALEC's anti-environmental jamborees. Looking back to last August at ALEC's Energy, Environment, and Agriculture task force meeting in New Orleans, presenters included:

  • Robert Bradley of the Institute for Energy Research, which made press recently when its sister group the American Energy Alliance spend $3.6 million on ads blaming the President for high gas prices. IER has a former Koch lobbyist on staff and has received $175,000 from Koch foundations in recent years as part of the climate denial network.
  • Gerry Angevene of the Fraser Institute, another longtime player in the Koch- and Exxon-funded climate denial machine
  • Craig Idso, whose nutjob Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has been paid by the coal industry and the Heartland Institute to tell people that global warming is good for the planet. Craig Idso explained this nonsense to state legislators in August. As is the pattern here, see the Center's history of Koch- and Exxon-funding, as well as Idso's former employment at Peabody and work for the Western Fuels Association.
  • Stephen Miller of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which spends big on national advertisements promoting the idea that perhaps coal isn't inherently dirty, dangerous and deadly (it is). Miller, who is resigning from ACCCE this year after serving as a dilligent coal apologist for the last decade, came under Congressional fire in 2009 when it was revealed that ACCCE contractors forged letters on behalf of groups "representing senior citizens, minorities and veterans," including the NAACP.

Likely due to the publicity of ALEC Exposed and the recent mass migration of 16 companies and 34 state politicians away from ALEC (in response to controversial bills on voter suppression and Stand Your Ground laws that protected Trayvon Martin's killer), ALEC no longer includes the specific members of its task forces in the documents it mails to participants beforehand. ALEC's Energy task force as of June, 2011 shows the nefarious people who run this dirty operation, by name. People representing the following groups have been consistently present at recent ALEC meetings over the last couple years:

Oil and gas industry:

  • ExxonMobil
  • Shell Oil
  • BP
  • Chevron
  • American Petroleum Institute
  • Occidental Petroleum
  • Marathon Oil
  • Continental Resources
  • American Gas Association (trade association)

Coal mining

Coal-burning utilities:

  • Duke Energy & Progress Energy (which are merging into the nation's largest utility company)
  • Energy Future Holdings
  • American Electric Power
  • PacifiCorp (a MidAmerican subsidiary, owned by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway)
  • Alliant Energy
  • Pinnacle West
  • MDU Resources
  • NiSource
  • NV Energy
  • Edison Electric Institute (trade association, membership includes all utilities above)
  • American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (membership includes AEP, Peabody, and Energy Future Holdings subsidiary Luminant)
  • Salt River Project
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (an aggressive lobbying group for electrical utility cooperatives and top political donor in the energy sector)

Nuclear Industry:

  • EnergySolutions
  • Nuclear Energy Institute (trade association)
  • Duke, Progress, AEP, and Pinnacle West all have notable nuclear generation capacity

Other major polluters:

Front groups, all involved in climate science denial (Koch funding since 2005):

 

 

 

Public Relations Firms 

Dezenhall Resources, which Businessweek calls the "Pit Bull of Public Relations." Dezenhall Resources is currently included in a Greenpeace lawsuit due to its role in hiring spies on behalf of chemical companies to track Greenpeace's internal campaign plans.

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