heartland institute

"Anti-Greta" Naomi Seibt Marched with Neo-Nazis and Promotes White Nationalists

  • Posted on: 10 March 2020
  • By: Connor Gibson

Photo credit: @antifalinkems, via wiedertaeufer.ms

Greenpeace USA's Valentina Stackl assisted with editing and German translation for this article.

Over the last week, The Heartland Institute – an infamous climate denial think tank - has been rolled with not one, but two scandals.

HuffPost's Alexander Kaufman revealed that the Heartland Institute laid off more than half of its staff, who accuse Heartland leadership of financial mismanagement.

But HuffPost called out something else that went unmentioned by far too many media outlets:

Heartland's contractor and YouTube personality Naomi Seibt marched with Neo-Nazis and promotes white nationalists unapologetically.

According to Heartland's recently-departed staff, Naomi Seibt was seen as a ticket out of Heartland's financial troubles. It is unclear if Heartland is okay with Seibt's history of marching with violent racists and promoting white ethnocentrism could end out being more trouble for Heartland than she is worth as a fresh new voice for climate deniers to rally around.

The 19-year old Seibt was coined the "Anti-Greta" by Heartland, which wants a puffed-up foil to Greta Thunberg. Thunberg, the 17-year old global sensation, has dedicated her life to broadcasting the increasing urgency of the climate crisis. Thunburg's statements are consistent with what scientists have attempted to warn us for decades, as she meticulously read reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Seibt simply rejects the warnings of scientists, choosing instead to broadcast her contrarian opinions on YouTube.

And that’s not where the differences between these two ends. We've pulled together a research brief on Seibt to help journalists and allies.

Naomi Seibt Marched with Neo-Nazis in 2018:

This photo was taken by Anti-Fascist activists in Münster, Germany, at a 2018 anti-abortion march that involved a contingency of Neo-Nazis, including Robert Malcoci of the Neo-Nazi Malcoci family. The "1,000 White Crosses" rally, or 1000 Kreuze Marsch, in German, was not organized by Neo-Nazis, but it included at least one bloc of people from such groups, as the photo above shows.

This March 4, 2020 post from the German website Münsterland rechtsaußen includes more information and references on the 1000 Kreuze Marsch:

"Alongside Seibt marched members of the ‘Identitarian Movement’ and the ‘Fraternity Franconia,’ a local far-right fraternity. Amongst them Robert Malcoci, a well-known neo-Nazi and activist of the ‘Identitarian Movement.’ [3,4] Following her participation in this fundamentalist rally, she posted a video about the ‘Pride Weeks’ where she addressed her concerns about homosexuality and the LGBTQI * community."

On February 28, 2020, Seibt denied attending any Neo-Nazi rallies, when questioned on camera by Jamie Corey at Documented--a watchdog group that I frequently collaborate with.

At #CPAC2020, I asked “Anti-Greta” @SeibtNaomi—who works for the climate denial, Mercer-funded @HeartlandInst—about anti-semitic comments that came to light in the @Guardian. Here’s what she said. pic.twitter.com/dNmUBDTpnJ

— Jamie Corey (@JamieMCorey) February 28, 2020

What struck me most about Seibt's reaction to the question was this indication that Seibt doesn't believe you can be "100% German" if you are Jewish or Muslim:

"I don't care if you're a Jew, or a Muslim, or 100% German."

Naomi Seibt's Anti-Semitic Comment After Yom Kippur Synagogue Shooting

Thanks in particular to a report for The Guardian by Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Emily Holden, U.S. press began catching on to Sebit's ties to white nationalists.

The article included a comment made by Seibt in an online video following a shooting at a Synagogue in Germany during Yom Kippur:

In a YouTube discussion last year that was highlighted in a report by the German broadcaster ZDF, Seibt discussed an attack on a synagogue in Halle that killed two people who were outside the temple, and said Jews were considered to be “at the top” of groups who were seen as being oppressed. “Ordinary Germans”, she said, were “at the bottom”. Muslims, she added, were somewhere in between.

The remarks were part of a video discussion that appears to have been deleted. They were seen by some experts as saying that Germans had less pity for “ordinary German” victims of crime than for Jews and Muslims. A portion of the discussion was included in a report by ZDF and is still available online.

A longer translation of this quote was reported by Jennifer Dhlouy for Bloomberg:

“The normal German consumer is at the bottom, so to speak. Then the Muslims come somewhere in between. And the Jew is at the top. That is the suppression characteristic,” she said in comments first reported by The Guardian.

Naomi Seibt Praise For Canadian White Nationalist

The Guardian article by Kirchgaessner and Holden included another concerning statement made by Seibt regarding a well known White Nationalist in Canada. The article was published the same day that Seibt spoke on a panel at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, hosted by the American Conservative Union.

In another YouTube interview describing her embrace of “views that were outside the mainstream”, Seibt referred to the Canadian alt-right internet activist Stefan Molyneux as an “inspiration”.

Molyneux has been described as an “alleged cult leader who amplifies scientific racism, eugenics and white supremacism” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremism and white supremacy.

Business Insider reporter Anthony L. Fisher was at CPAC and asked Seibt about her praise for Molyneux:

During a Q&A session, Insider read Molyneux's following quote to Seibt: "I've always been skeptical of the ideas of white nationalism, of identitarianism and white identity. However, I am an empiricist, and I could not help but notice that I could have peaceful, free, easy, civilized, and safe discussions in what is essentially an all-white country."

Insider asked Seibt if she was aware of Molyneux's statement and, if so, still considered herself a fan of his. 

"I am still a fan of Molyneux's, absolutely," Seibt replied.

Following this reporting, acknowledgement of Seibt's support for White Nationalism was picked up by the Washington Post, the New York Times, HuffPost, and global outlets like the UK Daily Mail and Yahoo! News Australia.

Naomi Seibt and the Ethnopluarlist "Identitarian Movement"

According to the March, 2020 post from Münsterland rechtsaußen:

All rhetorical whitewashing put aside, Seibt's concept of nationalism resembles the concept of "ethnopluralism" which is the main concept of the "Identitarian Movement", a far-right group from Europe. It is based on the racist conspiracy theory of the "great replacement" by the French far-right academic Renaud Camus. The far-right terrorists who carried out the attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, and in Halle, Germany, partially based their manifestos on this racist, anti-Semitic and anti-feminist theory which is also popular amongst the politicians, members and supporters of the "Alternative for Germany" and other far-right movements in Germany. (Google translation)

Naomi Seibt, Karoline Seibt and the German AFD Party

The German Alternative for Germany political party, aka "Alternative für Deutschland" or AfD, is known for its scapegoating of Jews, Muslims, and refugees. The AfD's affiliates promote perspectives that many Germans say contributed to nationalist terrorist acts like the Halle Synagogue shooting in October, 2019.

Naomi Seibt and her mother, Karoline Seibt, both have deep ties to the AfD party. And as mentioned in the new HuffPost report,

Her [Naomi Seibt] mother, Karoline Seibt, is an attorney who works with Alternative für Deutschland, Germany’s far-right nationalist party with ties to neo-Nazis. In 2018, the mother was pictured partying with Milo Yiannopoulos, the far-right former star columnist at Breitbart who, according to BuzzFeed News, pushed white nationalist ideology into mainstream U.S. politics.

The Guardian's David Smith was the first journalist in the U.S. to report on Seibt's connections to the AfD political party in Germany:

[Seibt] was pushed into the limelight by leading figures on the German far right and her mother, a lawyer, has represented politicians from the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party in court.

Seibt had her first essay published by the “anti-Islamisation” blog Philosophia Perennis and was championed by Martin Sellner, leader of the Austrian Identitarian Movement, who has been denied entry to the UK and US because of his political activism.

A Facebook post by the AfD youth wing names Seibt as a member and she spoke at a recent AfD event, though she has denied membership of the party.

In May 2019 she posted her first video on YouTube, reading out verses submitted for a poetry slam competition organised by the AfD.

The March, 2020 post from Münsterland rechtsaußen mentions an AfD event featuring Seibt and another speaker who appeared to express pride for his parents' "achievements" during the Nazi Germany era: (see Google translation):

[Naomi Seibt] was invited as a speaker to the New Year's welcome event of the local branch of the far-right party "Alternative for Germany" in February 2020 [7]. Rüdiger Lucassen, one of the speakers at the event stated that "we are proud of the achievements of our mothers and fathers and not ashamed of them". [8] Since Lucassen was born in 1951, his parents were part of the generation that enabled, supported and committed crimes during the reign of the Nazis in Germany.

More examples of Karoline and Naomi Seibt's work with the AfD, and with white nationalists, is chronicled by Correctiv, Münsterland rechtsaußen (here and here), and Die Wiedertäufer.

No More Excuses to Ignore Neo-Nazi Ties

The confusion of Seibt's sudden entrance to the U.S. media market and the complications of translating material published in Germany are no longer an excuse.

Heartland rejoiced at the initial U.S. press coverage of Seibt. The group rejoiced over "fair" coverage in this Washington Post that debuted Seibt to U.S. audiences before a speech at CPAC two weekends ago. The article said nothing of Seibt's thinly-veiled support for White Nationalism.

Neither did Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain, which hosted Seibt live on their program last week with no mention of her ties to Neo-Nazis and racist white nationalists. Instead, Morgan apologized to Seibt for slightly misrepresenting the particular aspects of climate science that she denies, which Heartland has used to continue promoting Seibt.

In the era of Putin and Trump, of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, of Charleston, South Carolina and Charlottesville, Virginia, we have no more excuses to misunderstand this dynamic. Enough false equivalence has been published.

It's time for reporters and editors to carefully include evidence of Seibt's ties to Neo-Nazis when reporting, or not report on her at all.

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ALEC Climate Change Denial: A Touchy Subject

  • Posted on: 6 April 2015
  • By: Connor Gibson

Here's a headline you might expect to see on Reddit's "Not The Onion" page:

Washington Post: This conservative group is tired of being accused of climate denial — and is fighting back

The "conservative group" is ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a lobbyists' policy factory, where corporations vote as equals on "model bills" with state legislators.

The Post notes that ALEC takes issue with the label "climate change denier," after the group's work doing just that led to the departures of major corporate supporters. Two organizations got letters from ALEC's lawyers, insinuating there would be legal action taken for accurately describing ALEC's legacy of denying climate change.

If you want to see how ALEC's own member politicians, lobbyists, and materials deny the science of climate change, check out ALECClimateChangeDenial.org. It's in their own words, so they may have to send a Cease and Desist letter to themselves.

For the record, Greenpeace's feelings are a bit hurt we too didn't get a warning. Did you not see our years of work to expose ALEC's climate change denial? 

ALEC may have ignored us, but ALEC's member corporations haven't. Companies ranging from Google to BP to eBay to Northrop Grumman have recently dumped ALEC. Google's chairman said ALEC is "literally lying" about climate change in a surprise announcement to abandon the lobbying group on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show.

This isn't the first time ALEC got turned away at the dance. In the past, ALEC has faced mass corporate defections for its role in spreading lethal Stand Your Ground gun laws across the country and for disenfranchising legitimate voters with "Voter ID" legislation. Over 100 companies have ditched ALEC.

Together, lobbyists and lawmakers create fill-in-the-blank laws to hide chemicals used in fracking (for ExxonMobil), attack renewable energy incentives in the name of "Electricity Freedom" (for The Heartland Institute's corporate clients), and create red tape around the President's plan to reduce carbon pollution from coal plants (for polluters represented by the Edison Electric Institute), and many many more examples of promoting fossil fuels, attacking clean energy competition and denying the science of climate change.

ALEC may be nervous with the attention its operations are getting. ALEC's own lawyers have written about their precarious relationship with IRS tax law, acknowledging they would need to spin off a sister organization and register some staff as lobbyists in order to avoid potential action from the IRS that could affect ALEC's tax-exempt status. For ALEC's member corporations, that's a big deal - it's unclear what liabilities they would face if ALEC's nonprofit status was revoked.

Common Cause - one of the organizations to get these legal threats from ALEC over the "climate denial" exposure - has submitted detailed complaints to the IRS documenting how ALEC operations likely violate their nonprofit status. So far, the IRS has failed to do its job and walk into the shadows of ALEC's operations, where there is every indication that ALEC has crossed the line.

So no hard feelings, Common Cause. You're probably getting the legal letters because ALEC would rather have you arguing about climate science that their questionable relationship with the IRS. Joe Bast ALEC climate change denialJohn Piscopo ALEC climate change denialLisa Nelson ALEC climate change denial

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Man Who Defrauded EPA calls EPA "Fraudulent" on FOX

  • Posted on: 29 August 2014
  • By: Connor Gibson

If you're John Stossel and you want to host a segment to rail against the US Environmental Protection Agency, who ought you call?

It turns out, a man who was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison for defrauding the EPA!

Stossel's guest last night, Jay Lehr, was sentenced to six months--serving three--in a minimum security federal prison back in 1991, and his organization at the time was fined $200,000. So Jay Lehr knows about EPA corruption better than anyone: he was the guy caught "falsifying employee time sheets on a government contract" for EPA, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Ironically, Lehr told Stossel that EPA is "fraudulent" in estimates of amounts of pollution that pose hazards to people's health, such as particulate matter in coal pollution, estimated to prematurely kill 13,000 Americans every year, according to the American Lung Association.

Jay Lehr is now the "science director" at a climate chance science denying organization called The Heartland Institute, which has received money from coal mining company Murray Energy.

John Stossel did not mention Lehr's fraud conviction. Perhaps he didn't know his guest defrauded US taxpayers, but Stossel and Lehr share a flair for denial of global warming for polluting corporations like Koch Industries, which has financial ties to both men. Heartland is part of the Koch brothers-funded State Policy Network--the massive apparatus of state-based and national front groups that push political agendas that are favorable to billionaire executives like Charles Koch. Heartland itself has received money from Koch foundations.

Stossel hosts "Stossel in the Classroom," a product of the Koch-funded Center for Independent Thought. When Stossel ran a TV segment in 2009 that was intended to mislead students about the scientific reality of climate change, Koch's Claude Lambe Foundation gave CIT $35,000. The Center for Independent Thought has continued to receive money from Koch foundations every year since, according to IRS tax filings.

According to a Heartland Institute email advertising Lehr's attendance on Stossel's show, Mr. Lehr's relevance in attacking the EPA comes from a Heartland report he wrote urging the agency to be "systematically dismantled." This coming from a group soliciting money from coal company Murray Energy, former ExxonMobil lobbyist Randy Randol and the Charles Koch Foundation.

This all fits into the framework that is becoming nauseatingly familiar to American voters: billionaires pull the strings, and our voices don't matter. Stossel is just one of many Koch-funded or Koch friendly media personalities that wrap Charles Koch's values in patriotic rhetoric and un-factual packaging. Meanwhile, people like Jay Lehr at groups like Heartland continue to carry Koch's water into the policy arena, influencing politicians to do things like undermine enforcement of laws to reduce air and water pollution or mitigate dangerous climate change.

SourceDavid Lore, "Minimum Security, Maximum Cost: State Spends $53,000 Per Prison Bed to House Mostly Nonviolent Criminals," Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) September 6, 1992.

USA V. LEHR, ET AL, Case Number: 2:91-CR-00068, Charges Filed 04/26/1991, U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio.

Hat tip to Deep ClimateRussel Seitz and Thomas Miles for leading to primary sources on Jay Lehr's conviction.

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Heartland Institute Climate Change Denier James Taylor PWND on TV

  • Posted on: 20 May 2014
  • By: Connor Gibson

James Taylor, lawyer for The Heartland Institute who claims he's "a scientist by training" because he took college science classes, despite having no degree in science.

(Not an internet nerd liek the author? Check out what "pwn" means...)

SHOWTIME's Years of Living Dangerously series just aired a segment featuring James Taylor, a lawyer who has been paid to confuse the public over the reality of climate change, its causes, and its impact on humanity. The Heartland Institute, where James Taylor works, is know for alienating its corporate supporters by comparing people like you and me--assuming you recognize the reality of climate change--to the Unabomber, Charles Manson, and Osama bin Laden.

I wish I was joking, but I'm not.

The joke was on James Taylor, last night. Taylor made an easily disprovable boast to America Ferrera, claiming, "I'm a scientist by training as well," apparently in addition to his law degree. See a teaser of that interaction here:

When pushed for an explanation--since Taylor holds no degree in science--he misrepresents himself:

"I successfully completed Ivy League atmospheric science courses, so I'm a scientist by training."

Who'd would've thought? Apparently if we all want to be scientists, we just need to take a course or two in science!

That means there must be thousands, perhaps millions of people in this country who qualify as scientists in James Taylor's world. Unless, of course, you have to take your science classes at the Ivy Leagues--I'll follow up with Taylor about that and let you know what he thinks.

After trying to spin his lack of expertise as full credentials, Taylor invokes the long-debunked "Oregon Petition" as supposed proof against climate change, despite the petition's inception as a tactic of the fossil fuel industry, its lack of climate experts as signatories, and its inclusion of fictitious characters like the Spice Girls.

As Lisa Graves at the Center for Media and Democracy explains in the Years of Living Dangerously segment,

"The scientific evidence is really against them, but they say things so boldly and stridently that it makes some people believe that they must be telling the truth."

She's right. It has to take a lot effort, creativity and sheer willpower to make a career pretending the obvious does not exist.

Imagine if The Heartland Institute's staff spent their time and money working on real solutions to these problems. Imagine if people like Koch and Murray felt the inevitable need for a shift, and put their skills as businesspeople into solutions-based entrepreneurship.

Unfortunately, these fossil fuel executives would rather fight against inevitable future trends, just like the Tobacco industry fought tooth and nail against scientific evidence of the dangers of smoking. In fact, The Heartland Institute continues to wage Big Tobacco's campaign. Check out this recent video of Heartland's president, Joe Bast, caught in an embarrassing contradiction of his own claims denying the health impacts of smoking:

The Heartland Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, Americans for Prosperity and other fossil fuel industry front groups have united to kill incentives for wind energy in Kansas. Affiliated under the banner of the State Policy Network, these groups have also coordinated against clean energy in states like North Carolina and Ohio, where dirty energy giants may score a victory against renewable industry jobs.

So far, most of the State Policy Network attacks on clean energy have failed. As Years of Living Dangerously examines in Kansas, leasing land for wind farms has benefited farmers like Pete Ferrell, who faced impossible economic conditions from recent extreme droughts, made worse by climate change, leasing land to the wind industry has provided crucial income.

Because of farmers like Pete, and blue-collar wind workers and other citizens who are pleased with getting energy from sources that doesn't poison their air, water or climate, Kansas politicians have now defeated attacks on renewable energy incentives three times in the last two years. More are likely to come, as companies like Duke Energy and Peabody coal don't want clean energy competitors, while executives at Koch Industries and Murray Energy Corporation still combat the science of climate change with the finance of misinformation.

That means we will continue to see people like James Taylor, popping up on our TV sets and our state legislatures, lying about whatever he's paid to lie about. Keep your eyes peeled.

james taylor heartland institute climate change energy

Heartland Institute lawyer James Taylor, as illustrated in Greenpeace's report on climate change deniers: "Dealing in Doubt"

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Heartland Institute CEO Joe Bast has his own Tobacco-Cancer Denial Read to his Face

  • Posted on: 30 April 2014
  • By: Connor Gibson

Joe Bast reluctantly reaffirms cigarette health risk denial

Well, this is the most embarrassed that the Heartland Institute has been since...21 days ago when they were run in circles for their denial of climate change at the National Press Club! To get a sense of how bad a month it has been for the liars at Heartland, footage of that humiliating event is available on Stark Reports.

And now, hat tip to Lee Fang and Nick Surgey posting on Republic Report for this cringe-worthy confrontation of Heartland Institute CEO Joseph Bast's ongoing shilling for tobacco companies. Bast denied writing a 1998 opinion article dismissing the health hazards of smoking cigarettes. Watch him eat his own words, hard, as the ghosts of propaganda-past revisit him.

Rather than accept the undeniable truth about cigarettes and cancer, Bast decided to stand by his own lies from over fifteen years ago. His article, "Five Lies About Tobacco," is still on Heartland's website. Funny how Bast suddenly remembered the piece after having it read back to him, blaming an anonymous pulmonologist he has lost contact with in order to defend the ludicrous claim that smoking seven cigarettes per day won't hurt you.

Right Joe. I'm sure you remember that as of 2012, Heartland still solicited funding from tobacco giants Altria and Reynolds American for funding, according to Heartland's own fundraising plan.

The clip was filmed at a coal industry convention. In recent years, Heartland has received funding from private coal mining company Murray Energy Corporation (MEC). CEO Bob Murray is so out-of-touch on climate science that other coal interests have trouble working with MEC, much like Joe Bast's extremely dishonest views even alienate others operatives in the small world of climate change denial.

We here at PolluterWatch have confronted Mr. Bast about his denial of climate change science at the behest of companies like Murray, the Koch brothers and anonymous billionaires like Barre Seid:

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Climate Investigations Center: Craig Idso and Heartland Institute Climate Change Denial "NIPCC" Report

  • Posted on: 9 April 2014
  • By: Connor Gibson

Crossposted from the Climate Investigations Center, written by Kert Davies (a former Greenpeace employee).

Background briefing, April 2014

Craig Idso: “Climate change is good for you”

This week the Heartland Institute will release another chapter of its NIPCC, the “not the IPCC” document that will tell you the opposite of the main message that’s been coming from the prestigious IPCC, namely that climate change is a threat to security, food and mankind and especially a threat to the world's poor, along with ecosystems worldwide including coral reefs, polar regions, and the wildlife and myriad of creatures these ecosystems support.

Heartland Institute on the other hand, in its NIPCC “Climate Change Reconsidered II: the Biological Impacts” document, will say that climate change is good for the world, will have a net benefit for both plants and human health. This is the latest line run by right wing think tanks like Heartland, the coal industry’s ACCCE coalition, Peabody Coal, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and echoed across the blogosphere by climate deniers.

This set of messaging and all 'reports' to back this line, all appear to be coming from one organization, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, and specifically from its chairman and former president, Craig Idso, one of the NIPCC’s lead authors, who has been arguing the same “C02 is beneficial” line for nearly 20 years, along with his father, Sherwood Idso.

Background

Craig Idso, his father Sherwood B. Idso, and brother Keith Idso, founded Arizona-based organization in 1998.

The Center's claimed mission is to “separate reality from rhetoric in the emotionally-charged debate that swirls around the subject of carbon dioxide and global change.” Its main publication is CO2 Science, a weekly magazine that features articles questioning the science verifying man-made climate change and its impacts.

In 2012, leaked documents from the Heartland Institute revealed that they were paying Craig Idso $11,600 a month for his NIPCC work.  We do not know how much Idso has been paid since that time, or prior.

The organization’s total funding peaked in 2009 at $1.5 million a year. Funders have included ExxonMobil (total, $100,000 since 1998), Donors Trust, Sarah Scaife Foundation and a number of other right wing funders. See Conservative Transparency for a recent (but not full) breakdown. The Center's IRS 990’s are here at Citizen Audit.

Publications produced by Craig Idso, with members of C02Science,org:

After founding the organisation, Idso got his PhD in geography at Arizona State University under the tutelage of one of the very early climate deniers employed by the fossil fuel industry, Robert C Balling Jr.

More resources at DeSmogBlog:  Craig IdsoSherwood Idso

Idso, the Greening Earth Society and the Western Fuels Association

Robert Balling, Idso's mentor, was one of the leading scientists paid by the Greening Earth Society, the climate science-denying front group created by the Western Fuels Association, one of the first and earliest coal industry groups funding the denial of climate change. But the coal industry's line was not 'climate denial' but 'climate change is good for you'.  The Western Fuels Association is a cooperative of utilities and power companies supplying coal from the Powder River Basin in the western U.S.

Robert Balling was one of the seven scientists deployed by Western Fuels in the 1990s to challenge the prevailing consensus in climate science. Other names included some who are still on the core climate denial team today: Willie Soon and Patrick Michaels.

It was the Greening Earth Society for which Craig and Keith Idso penned a paper in 1995: “The Greening of the American West: The Atmosphere’s Rising CO2 Concentration Is Stimulating Woody Plant Growth in the U.S. Forests, Grasslands, and Deserts.”

Idso, Fred Palmer and Peabody Coal

From its inception, the Chair and CEO of the Western Fuels Association and the Greening Earth Society was Fred Palmer, who was also a registered lobbyist for the Western Fuels Association, a coalition of utility and coal companies.

Palmer is now the Senior Vice President of Government Relations at Peabody Energy (Peabody Coal). (Guardian backgrounder 2011), and was in the media in 2010 leading the charge for “green coal.”  He chaired the World Coal Association from 2010 to 2012.   Peabody is behind the recent climate denial hub "Advanced Energy for Life" campaign, working with Burson Marsteller as revealed by Climate Investigations Center.

From 2001-2002, Craig Idso served as Director of Environmental Science at Peabody Energy in St. Louis, MO.  This was to set up the long relationship with the company that continues to this day.

Idso and ACCCE Tout the Social Benefits of Carbon

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is an industry group promoting coal, of which Peabody coal is a key corporate member.

There is a major fight heating up at the State and Federal level on how we set what the government calls the Social Cost of Carbon, a metric calculated by the Government on the harm carbon (C02) does the economy, to our health and to the planet. These social costs range from the medical bills and lost workdays (when a mother has to take her asthmatic child to the hospital), all the way to the impact of sea level rise on coastal communities.

In 2013, the EPA recalculated the social cost of carbon and increased the figure to  $35 per metric ton, up from $21. 

ACCCE and Peabody Coal retaliated by questioning why the Obama EPA didn’t included analysis of the benefits of CO2, enhancing agriculture, for instance.

As part of this argument, ACCCE released a report in January, entitled "The Social Costs of Carbon. No, the Social Benefits of Carbon" claiming the government is vastly underestimating the social benefits of coal as well as the benefits from the carbon dioxide pollution produced by burning that coal, including enhancing photosynthesis and agricultural productivity. DeSmogBlog has more details.

Footnotes of the report reveal ACCCE commissioned Craig Idso to undertake a study that appears to be a rehash of the work he has done for 20 years.  Idso's contracted study, titled “The Positive Externalities of Carbon Dioxide,” which makes up a large part of Chapter III of the ACCCE "Social Benefits" report.

Idso and ALEC

Idso’s “benefits of C02” was also a topic at the 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council Annual meeting. According to Sourcewatch, he spoke at a workshop of state legislators that was to be titled "Warming Up to Climate Change: The Many Benefits of Increased Atmospheric CO2." The title was later changed to "Benefit Analysis of CO2".

Idso was joined in that workshop by two other speakers and fellow climate skepticsRoger Helmer and Robert Ferguson.[8]

ALEC has also used that same “CO2 is beneficial” line in submissions to the EPA.  

Idso told the audience that we “should let CO2 rise unrestricted, without government intervention”, a very different recommendation than that emanating from the IPCC and the vast majority of the world's climate scientists.

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Ohio Clean Energy still in Koch & ALEC crosshairs

  • Posted on: 30 October 2013
  • By: Connor Gibson

UPDATED November, 2016: Since late 2012, a nationally-coordinated attack on state RPS laws by State Policy Network and fossil fuel industry has largely failed. A handful of states took steps to reverse their commitment to clean energy development. The Energy and Policy Institute published a report on state-level attacks on clean energy policies in 2013-2014, and an update for 2015. NRDC's Aliya Haq has published research on state-level clean energy attacks in 2016.

UPDATE, 2015: After ALEC legislators failed to freeze or repeal RPS laws in North Carolina, Kansas, and many other states, ALEC legislators in Ohio froze its RPS law, effectively gutting the clean energy and energy efficiency incentives. Ohio state Senator and ALEC member Troy Balderson sponsored SB 310, which passed and was signed by early ALEC alumni Governor John Kasich. Troy Balderson, the third ALEC member senator in Ohio to introduce RPS attack legislation, is listed in ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force rosters from 2011 (see ALEC EEA agendas from Cincinnati and New Orleans, from Common Cause's whisteblower complaint to the IRS about ALEC's lobbying activities). Balderson's ALEC affiliation was unfortunately unreported by Ohio press and bloggers. Despite a nationally-coordinated State Policy Network and fossil fuel industry attack on state RPS laws, Ohio is the only state that has allowed ALEC and SPN to undermine its own clean energy incentives, after quietly passing the RPS law with support from ALEC legislators back in 2008. In Kansas, after three years of continued attacks, Koch Industries, Koch's Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-backed Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the state's wind industry lobby cut a deal to weaken the Kansas RPS law by making compliance voluntary. This was a largely symbolic political victory for Koch's lobbyists, since the state's utilities have already exceeded the 2020 target for renewable energy generation targets established by the law.

ORIGINAL POST:

Crossposted from Greenpeace’s blog: The Witness.

Ohio is currently fighting this year's final battle in a nationally-coordinated attack on clean energy standard laws, implemented by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other groups belonging to the secretive corporate front group umbrella known as the State Policy Network (SPN).

ALEC and SPN members like the Heartland Institute and Beacon Hill Institute failed in almost all of their coordinated attempts to roll back renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in over a dozen states--laws that require utilities to use more clean energy over time. After high profile battles in North Carolina and Kansas, and more subtle efforts in states like Missouri and Connecticut, Ohio remains the last state in ALEC's sites in 2013.

ALEC Playbook Guides the Attack on Ohio Clean Energy

After Ohio Senator Kris Jordan's attempt to repeal Ohio's RPS went nowhere, ALEC board member and Ohio State Senator William Seitz is now using ALEC's new anti-RPS bills to lead another attack on the Ohio law--see Union of Concerned Scientists.

ALEC's newly-forged Renewable Energy Credit Act allows for RPS targets to be met through out-of-state renewable energy credits (RECs) rather than developing new clean energy projects within Ohio's borders. RECs have varying definitions of renewable energy depending on the region they originate from, lowering demand for the best, cleanest sources of power and electricity.

Sen. Bill Seitz's SB 58 takes advantages of existing provisions of Ohio's RPS law and tweaks other sections to mirror the key aspects of ALEC's Renewable Energy Credit Act. His RPS sneak-attack is matched by House Bill 302, introduced by ALEC member Rep. Peter Stautberg.

Just five years ago, Senator Seitz voted for Ohio's RPS law. Now, Seitz calls clean energy incentives "Stalinist."

Attacks on Ohio's Clean Energy Economy: Fueled by Dirty Energy Profits

Most of ALEC's money comes from corporations and rich people like the Koch brothers, with a tiny sliver more from its negligible legislator membership dues ($50/year). This includes oil & gas giants like ExxonMobil ($344,000, 2007-2012) and Big Oil's top lobbying group, the American Petroleum Institute ($88,000, 2008-2010). Exxon and API just two of dozens of dirty energy interests paying to be in the room during ALEC's exclusive Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force meetings.

Other polluting companies bankrolling ALEC's environmental rollbacks include Ohio operating utilities like Duke Energy and American Electric Power. AEP currently chairs ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force. Some of these companies (like Duke Energy and the American Petroleum Institute) pay into a slush fund run by ALEC that allows Ohio legislators and their families to fly to ALEC events using undisclosed corporate cash (see ALEC in Ohio, p. 6).

Ohio Senator Kris Jordan used corporate money funneled through ALEC to attend ALEC events with his wife (ALEC in Ohio, p. 7). With electric utilities as his top political donors, Sen. Jordan has dutifully introduced ALEC bills to repeal renewable energy incentives (SB 34), along with other ALEC priorities like redirecting public funds for private schools (SB 88, 2011), and blocking Ohio from contracting unionized companies (SB 89, 2011).

Koch-funded Spokes & Junk Data Bolsters the ALEC Attack

The behavior of Senator Bill Seitz indicates he's more beholden to ALEC and the dirty energy utilities dumping tens of thousands of dollars into his election campaigns* than his constituents. There is support from a majority of Ohioans for utilities to obtain at least 20% of their electricity from clean sources. Ohio veterans spoke up for the RPS for increasing the state's energy security and lowing wholesale energy costs.

Rather than listening to these voices from Ohio, Senator Seitz has sided with out-of-state Koch-funded mouthpieces invited to testify against the Ohio RPS. Back in March, Seitz heard anti-RPS testimony from The Heartland Institute's James Taylor, who repeated false claims that the RPS will make electricity unaffordable.

Taylor's assertions mimicked those made in a debunked series of reports written for ALEC's RPS attacks. The Ohio anti-RPS report was co-published by the Koch-funded Beacon Hill Institute and the American Tradition Institute (ATI), sister group to the Koch-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute. ATI, now known as the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, was largely funded by Montana petroleum millionaire Doug Lair.

Senator Seitz also heard testimony from Daniel Simmons of the Institute for Energy Research (IER), who recited long-debunked statistics from the so-called "Spanish study" and "Danish study." Koch-funded groups have used these two papers for years to stifle clean energy growth in the United States. Daniel Simmons previously worked for ALEC and the Mercatus Center, which was founded by the Kochs. Heartland and the Institute for Energy Research have financial or personnel ties to the Kansas billionaire Koch brothers.

RPS and Energy Efficiency Are Helping Build Ohio's Economy

Thanks in part to energy efficiency incentives and the RPS law, Ohio's clean energy economy is expanding rapidly, with 25,000 Ohioans employed by 400 companies in the sector. Wind energy is set to expand rapidly, with the American Wind Energy Association projecting $10 billion in investments over the next decade, thanks to the RPS targeted by ALEC and its dirty companies through loyal politicians like Senator Seitz.

Not content to just weaken incentives for clean energy growth, Bill Seitz's SB 58 would also undermine energy efficiency standards, another item on ALEC's agenda. This despite a projected $2.7 billion in savings for Ohio by 2012, as directed by the efficiency and RPS laws.

No wonder ALEC got dumped by its wind and solar trade members.

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*Since 2007, Senator Seitz has received $46,450 from coal utilities that are ALEC member companies:

  • $21,500 from American Electric Power (AEP)
  • $15,300 from Duke Energy
    • $4,800 of this bundled from Duke Employees in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana during the 2008 election cycle
  • $4,000 from NiSource
  • $3,000 from Dominion
  • $2,650 from the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, a member of the nation's top dirty energy lobbying heavyweight, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

If you add contributions from FirstEnergy, AES subsidiary Dayton Power & Light, and the Ohio Coal Association, Sen. Seitz's coal money since 2007 tops $66,000.

ALEC's December, 2012 meeting in Washington, DC was heavily sponsored by coal companies, including AEP, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), and Edison Electric Institute, the utility trade group whose membership includes Duke Energy, AEP, NiSource, Dominion, AES and FirstEnergy.

Data aggregated by the National Institute for Money in State Politics - FollowTheMoney.org

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Climate Denial & Barre Seid: the name The Heartland Institute can't say

  • Posted on: 23 September 2013
  • By: Connor Gibson

Drawings of Heartland Institute staff from Greenpeace's report on climate change denial, Dealing in Doubt.

Barre Seid - the billionaire behind climate denial at The Heartland Institute

Yesterday, the Heritage Foundation hosted The Heartland Institute's CEO Joseph Bast, along with two of Heartland's contracted climate denial scientists (Willie Soon and Bob Carter), to present their new report that denies the seriousness of global warming. Greenpeace was there to ask Heartland about the report's funders, including billionaire Barre Seid, and to challenge Heartland's assertion that their work has any scientific validity (it doesn't). See the video for yourself.

Heartland's "Climate Change Reconsidered," written by the usual climate denier suspects under the guise of the "Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change" (NIPCC) is intended to undermine new scientific findings from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Despite what Joe Bast and Heartland comms director Jim Lakely claim, their false report is not peer-reviewed, a formal process conducted by editors at actual scientific journals have other qualified scientists rigorously review and critique submitted work if it is to be approved for publication.

You'll notice that Heartland's climate denial report isn't being published in any scientific journals, but rather from Heartland itself. This is because the document is a public relations tool intended to keep politicians and the public doubting that global warming is worth addressing.

While Heartland continues politicizing science, demonizing credible scientists and using tobacco industry tactics to forge doubt over global warming, Americans are feeling the real toll climate change is already taking on society, by increasing the severity of storms like hurricane Sandy or pushing droughts, wildfires and heatwaves to new extremes.

Heartland doesn't care, or even recognize, that global warming is already costing the global economy $1.2 trillion dollars and contributing to 400,000 deaths each year. They don't care that billion-dollar weathers disasters, intensified by climate change, are on the rise and impacting the U.S. economy and our infrastructure. Nor do they accept repeated research indicating the overwhelming consensus among credential climate scientists that human fossil fuel use is the primary driver of unnatural global warming--in fact Heartland's staff have repeatedly lied to cast doubt upon that research.

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Dear Greenpeace: 5 Lies from the Heartland Institute

  • Posted on: 13 September 2013
  • By: Connor Gibson

Heartland Institute's Joseph Bast, James Taylor and contractor Craig Idso, as illustrated in Dealing in Doubt.

As we've told the Heartland Institute directly through Twitter, their response to our new report on climate change denial, Dealing in Doubt, contains a series of lies that are tellingly consistent with the lies we document in the report itself. Here are some, but not all, of the silliest claims Heartland made in their response to us:

Lie #1:

"Fact: Most scientists don’t believe the effect of human activities on climate is sufficiently well understood to make predictions about future climate conditions, and many believe the modest warming that may occur would be beneficial."

This is a sad, sad attempt to continue what Heartland does best on climate change: say anything but the truth. Without valid refutation, Heartland fully dismissed our citations of two separate peer-reviewed studies (from PNAS, 2010 and Environmental Research Letters, 2013) showing 97%-98% consensus among active climate scientists about the existence and cause of global warming. Nor did Heartland acknowledge the review of thousands of peer-reviewed papers on climate change, concluding that only 24 of 13,950 rejected global warming.

Here's the really sad part: Heartland cites a 2009 survey by Peter T. Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman that supposedly shows "most scientists do not side with Greenpeace on the issue."

Except that's not what the study concludes at all. Rather, Doran and Zimmerman found a 96-97% consensus among specialized scientists that took part in the survey who agree that the earth's temperature is rising and humans are the cause. The end of the paper specifically points out the greater understanding of climate change by scientists who took part in the survey and those without scientific expertise:

"It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes."

Heartland's other citations aren't any better. One is Heartland president Joseph Bast's "reasonable interpretation" of conclusions he'll never accept, and the rest comes from a retired TV weatherman named Anthony Watts (who's not a climate scientist), who runs the climate denier blog WattsUpWithThat. Watts was on Heartland's payroll last year for a $44,000 project to undermine climate change evidence gathered from weather stations, funded by Heartland's billionaire "anonymous donor," Barre Seid.

But this is what we expect--Heartland has always demanded legitimacy despite its inherent lack thereof.

Lie #2:

"[The Heartland Institute] has never demonized scientists who disagree with its positions, never broken the law, and never lied about any aspect of global warming ... or any other issue for that matter."

That's pretty rich for a group like Heartland...

...which experienced a "mutiny" from its entire Finance, Insurance and Real Estate department abandoned Heartland in response to its climate change denial activities (like comparing scientists with terrorists). The exodus of Heartland's Insurance company members along with many other companies blocked Heartland from raising $1.3 million from corporations in 2012.

...which faked the endorsement of the Chinese National Academy of Sciences for its ongoing pseudo-scientific "Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) "Climate Change Reconsidered" reports, which we detail in Dealing in Doubt.

...which was dropped from ExxonMobil's roster, as Heartland acknowledges, for being too out-of-touch with the scientific reality of climate change--that's according to ExxonMobil!

Note also Heartland's frequent demonization of climate scientists (see bombastic slander of Michael Mann here, here, here and here, to start). Not to mention Heartland's PR and fundraising campaign to put scientist Peter Gleick in jail after its staff were foolish enough to email their internal documents to him, revealing all of their corporate and personal funders, including Chicago billionaire Barre Seid's multi-million dollar support for for Heartland's denial of global warming.

Lie #3:

"Heartland has produced more educational material on climate change than all but a handful of organizations in the world."

As reported in the Washington Post and revealed by Heartland's internal document leak, Heartland packages its scientifically untenable material on global warming into books and propaganda curricula for distribution to children and young people across the United States. Heartland has also worked with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to pass laws in several states that force schools to misrepresent climate change science to students.

Lie #4:

"Greenpeace used the stolen documents [the leaked documents referenced above] to target scientists who worked with Heartland, contacting the deans of universities and asking that those scientists be fired or investigated."

Greenpeace never called for anyone to be fired, but we did certainly support the investigations of professors on Heartland's climate denial payroll in response to Greenpeace's inquiries. Mainly, Arizona State University's Robert C. Balling (a recipient of grants from ExxonMobil for his work to discredit climate science) and the University of Missouri's Anthony Lupo, whose inconsistent statements denying the scope of climate change are well documented. The full text of our letters to universities can be found on our page investigating the Heartland Institute leaked documents.

Lie #5:

"Fact: NIPCC is a genuinely objective, independent, and respected voice in the climate change debate. The IPCC is none of the above."

This was an interesting assertion, our report demonstrates how the Heartland's undistinguished NIPCC is very different from real Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change--mainly that Heartland's authors are paid, unlike the IPCC scientists, and Heartland only critiques writing from climate deniers while IPCC critiques all papers submitted for consideration (see Skeptical Science).

Even more telling, the NIPCC is paid for by billionaire and climate-denial-sugar daddy Barre Seid, according to Heartland's own documents, slated to provide $194,000 of NIPCC's $304,000 budget last year. The editors of Heartland's NIPCC "Climate Change Reconsidered" (Craig Idso, Fred Singer and Bob Carter) are all well-documented as anti-science shills for fossil fuel interests.

We'll leave it at that--while we want to correct Heartland's errors, we recognize that they exist to waste people's time, run interference on honest dialog and thrive off of the attention they get by projecting their own very actions onto others (mainly: lying, manipulating reporters, lawmakers and the public, and shilling for vested interests in matters that affect the public). We cannot possibly correct all of Heartland's historic and ongoing lies: that's what its staff are paid to do and forbidden to acknowledge.

Here are our @PolluterWatch Tweets to Heartland, calling out a few of the dishonest statements in their response to Dealing in Doubt:

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GREENPEACE REPORT: Climate Change Denial Machine vs. Scientists

  • Posted on: 10 September 2013
  • By: Connor Gibson

Written by Cindy Baxter, crossposted from Greenpeace: Dealing in Doubt.

Who likes being lied to by people paid by the oil industry who pose as “experts” on climate change?

Did you know it’s been going on for 25 years?

In a couple of weeks, the UN’s official advisors on climate change science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will update its global assessment on the issue. Yet in the background, more attacks on the climate science are underway

For the last quarter century, the climate science denial machine, its cogs oiled by fossil fuel money, has been attacking climate science, climate scientists and every official US report on climate change, along with State and local efforts – with the aim of undermining action on climate change.

Our new report, Dealing in Doubt, sets out the history of these attacks going back to the early 90s. These are attacks based on anti-regulatory, so called “free market” ideology, not legitimate scientific debate, using a wide range of dirty tricks: from faked science, attacks on scientists, fake credentials, cherry-picking scientific conclusions: a campaign based on the old tobacco industry mantra: “doubt is our product”.

We give special attention to perhaps today’s poster child of the climate denial machine’s free market think tanks, the Heartland Institute, which is about to launch a new version of its “NIPCC” or “climate change reconsidered” report next week in Chicago.

Unlike the real IPCC, with thousands of scientists involved from around the world, the Heartland Institute’s handful of authors is paid. Several of them claim fake scientific credentials. They start with a premise of proving the overwhelming consensus on climate science wrong, whereas the real IPCC simply summarizes the best science to date on climate change.

This multi-million dollar campaign has been funded by anti-government ideologues like the Koch brothers, companies like ExxonMobil and trade associations like the American Petroleum Institute.Big Oil funding of climate denial declines. "Anonymous" funding through Donors skyrockets. Interesting.

More recently, less visible channels of funding have been revealed such as the Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust, organization that that has been called the “ATM of the conservative movement”, distributing funds from those who don’t want to be publicly associated with the anti-environmental work product of organizations like the Heartland Institute.

In the last week we’ve seen new peer-reviewed science published, linking at least half of 2012’s extreme weather events to a human carbon footprint in the atmosphere and on the weather and climate.

As the scientific consensus strengthens by the day that climate change is happening now, that carbon pollution is causing it and must be regulated, the denial machine is getting increasingly shrill. But today, while they are being increasingly ignored by a majority of the public, their mouthpieces in the US House of Representatives, for instance, have increased in number.

They’re still fighting the science – and they’re still being funded, to the tune of millions of dollars each year, to do it.

Dealing in Doubt sets out a history of these attacks. We show how the tactics of the tobacco industry’s campaign for “sound science” led to the formation of front groups who, as they lost the battle to deny smoking’s health hazards and keep warning labels off of cigarettes, turned their argumentative skills to the denial of climate change science in order to slow government action.

koch brosWhat we don’t cover is the fact that these organizations and deniers are also working on another front, attacking solutions to climate change. They go after any form of government incentive to promote renewable energy, while cheering for coal, fracking and the Keystone pipeline.

They attack any piece of legislation the US EPA puts forward to curb pollution. Decrying President Obama’s “war on coal” is a common drumbeat of these anti-regulation groups. One key member of the denial machine, astrophysicist Willie Soon from the Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics, has portrayed himself as an “expert” on mercury and public health in order to attack legislation curbing mercury emissions from coal plants.

This recent history, as well as the prior history of denial by the tobacco companies and chemical, asbestos and other manufacturing industries, is important to remember because the fossil fuel industry has never admitted that it was misguided or wrong in its early efforts to delay the policy reaction to the climate crisis. To this day, it continues to obstruct solutions.

The individuals, organizations and corporate interests who comprise the ‘climate denial machine’ have caused harm and have slowed our response time. As a result, we will all ultimately pay a much higher cost as we deal with the impacts, both economic and ecological.

Eventually, these interests will be held accountable for their actions.

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