Tea Party

Greedy Lying Bastards

Greedy Lying Bastards

Documentary Hits Fossil Fuel Industry-Funded Climate Change Deniers

Greedy Lying Bastards

Greedy Lying Bastards is as timely a movie as you will ever see. The global warming documentary — directed, produced and narrated by Craig Rosebraugh — pulls no punches in a damning indictment of the fossil fuel industry-funded climate change deniers who have successfully deceived the public and prevented climate change action in Congress at a time when Americans are feeling the damaging effects of a changing climate — from Hurricane Sandy to western wildfires to devastating droughts.

A look at recent headlines proves why this film is so important:

– The Environmental Protection Agency proposed new clean fuel regulations that would require refineries to make gasoline with less sulfur to reduce polluting tailpipe emissions. The EPA’s move to toughen fuel standards predictably drew attacks from Big Oil’s lobbying arm, the American Petroleum Institute, and Republicans such as Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who in 2011 received large campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, including a PAC representing ExxonMobil.

– Tea Party senator and climate change denier Ted Cruz (R-TX) removed a mention of climate change from a routine resolution commemorating International Women’s Day. Cruz cut the part that said women “are disproportionately affected by changes in climate because of their need to secure water, food and fuel for their livelihood.”

– And perhaps the most infamous climate change denier in Congress, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), recently said he was proud to be targeted by Greedy Lying Bastards. Inhofe, who has repeatedly called global warming a hoax, said, “I was not surprised to see myself front and center on the promotional material for this climate change movie, and quite frankly, I’m proud of it.”

The film exposes the front groups the fossil fuel industry uses to attack the 97 percent of climate scientists who agree that man-made greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change, making the comparison to the tactics used by the tobacco industry to attack the scientific findings linking smoking to cancer.

ExxonMobil and Koch Industries are exposed in the film as the two worst culprits in funding misinformation campaigns to delay action on climate change and confuse the public.

Rosebraugh made the film because he is “concerned about the future of the planet and our ability to exist on it. I wanted to undertake a project that would uncover the hidden agenda of the oil industry and provide answers as to why as a nation we fail to implement clean energy policies and take effective action on important problems such as climate change.”

Click here to watch the trailer.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This article is written by Josh Mark and is published at http://www.nationalmemo.com/documentary-hits-fossil-fuel-industry-funded-climate-change-deniers/

the national memo

Southeast leads in creating clean-energy manufacturing jobs, but will politicians kill the momentum?

Clean energy and clean transportation projects are helping drive the U.S. economic recovery, and green business is particularly booming in the Southeast.

But will politicians kill the momentum?

That’s the question raised by a report released last week by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), which found that in 2012 companies and communities nationwide announced more than 300 clean energy and clean transportation projects expected to create 110,000 jobs. E2 is a coalition of environmental-minded business leaders that’s affiliated with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

E2 map of green energy jobs createdThe Southeast led the country in manufacturing-related clean energy job announcements, E2 reported. There were more than 13,700 such jobs announced last year — about 80 percent of the nation’s total. Most of those were related to the solar, advanced vehicles and wind energy industries.

California led the nation in clean energy project announcements, followed by North Carolina and Florida. Texas was the other Southern state among the top 10.

Noting that state policies have helped drive the clean-energy industry’s growth, E2 Executive Director Judith Albert raised concerns about efforts to derail those policies.

“If lawmakers care about creating good, clean energy jobs in their neighborhoods, they should continue supporting those policies,” she said. “If not, they can sit back and watch these good-paying jobs go elsewhere.”

Albert pointed to efforts by groups and lobbyists backed by the fossil fuel industry to repeal state renewable energy portfolio standards (REPS), which require utilities to generate a certain percentage of power from clean sources.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an influential group that brings together state legislators and corporate representatives to draft model legislation promoting conservative policies, has launched an initiative to repeal REPS through its model “Electricity Freedom Act.” ALEC is working alongside other fossil fuel-funded groups including the Heartland Institute, the American Tradition Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and Americans for Tax Reform, and the Kansas REPS law was their first target.

In 2007, North Carolina became the first state in the Southeast to establish a REPS and is now one of 29 states with such laws. But state Rep. Mike Hager (R-Rutherford), chair of the House Public Utilities Committees and an ALEC member, has said he intends to introduce a bill during the legislative session now underway to repeal North Carolina’s law, which requires a modest 12.5 percent of all electricity sold in the state by 2025 to come from renewable sources.

It’s unclear how North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) would react if such a bill were to make its way to his desk. McCrory spent 28 years working for Duke Energy, which says it generally supports renewable energy standards as a way to “help our country transition to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.” McCrory continues to hold substantial investments in the company.

McCrory has also been supportive of the wind energy industry, promoting it as part of his “all of the above” energy policy.

“There is a lot of interest in North Carolina right now for clean energy,” said E2 member John Robbins, president of Greathorn Development Corporation in Concord, N.C., which is working with airports to cuts energy costs with solar power. “For all the right reasons, clean energy is growing in North Carolina — and it’s creating jobs and boosting our economy along the way.”

(For a larger version of the map from the E2 report, click here.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This article is written by Sue Sturgis and is published at http://www.southernstudies.org/2013/03/southeast-leads-in-creating-clean-energy-manufacturing-jobs-but-will-politicians-kill-the-mo

institute for southern studies

Media campaign against windfarms funded by anonymous conservatives

Secretive funding network channeled millions to stop state governments moving towards renewable energy

Anti wind farm lobby :  near Shabbona, Illinois

The trusts, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, served as the bankers of the conservative movement over the past decade, have funded a campaign against windfarms. Photograph: Alex Garcia/Getty Images

(editor’s note:  this article is describing the activities of groups involved in the ALEC/Koch Cabal)

 

Conservatives used a pair of secretive trusts to fund a media campaign against windfarms and solar projects, and to block state agencies from planning for future sea-level rise, the Guardian has learned.

The trusts, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, served as the bankers of the conservative movement over the past decade. Promising anonymity to their conservative billionaire patrons, the trusts between them channelled nearly $120m to contrarian thinktanks and activists, wrecking the chances of getting Congress to act on climate change.

Now the Guardian can reveal the latest project of the secretive funding network: a campaign to stop state governments moving towards renewable energy.

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

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

The largesse to the Franklin Centre signals a shift in priorities for the conservative billionaires who are funding the anti-climate cause towards local and state-level organising.

The backers of the anti-climate cause have eased off in their support of DC-centric thinktanks, said Whitney Ball, the chief executive and president of Donors Trust. “They are not as prominent any more.”

Instead, it appears the donors are banking on an aggressive anti-climate media strategy, led by the Franklin Centre, to push back against climate action.

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

The Franklin Centre purports to be a hub for a network of “citizen journalists” and “watchdog” groups reporting from state capitals. It claims on its website to provide 10% of all daily reporting from state capitals across the country. It says it is on a mission to uphold a media culture of “transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility at the grassroots level”.

But the Pew Research Centre’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has ranked Franklin’s watchdog.org affiliates as “highly ideological”. Many of the media organisations listed on Franklin’s website as affiliates are ultra-conservative groups.

Among them are several that have been active in the past year or two to stop the expansion of solar power and windfarms.

In North Carolina, the two Franklin affiliates, the John Locke Foundation and the John W Pope Civitas Institute, also led effort for a ban on the term “sea-level rise”. The state legislature eventually voted in June last year to bar state agencies from taking into account future sea-level rise in development planning.

The groups have also led opposition to offshore wind development in North Carolina, organising workshops against windfarms.

Another Franklin affiliate, the New Jersey Watchdog, pushed for the state to drop out of a regional emissions cutting programme.

Other Watchdog affiliates have cast doubt on the link between extreme weather and climate change.

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The article was written by, US environment correspondent for the guardian.co.uk,

How Donors Trust distributed millions to anti-climate groups

The secretive funding network distributed $118m to 102 groups including some of the best-known thinktanks on the right

exhibitors promote their oil and gas related businesses : funding climate change deniers

Dozens of exhibitors promote their oil and gas related businesses. By 2010, Donors Trust had distributed $118m to 102 thinktanks or action groups. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

(editors note:  VLTP has previously noted Donor’s Trust, the American Enterprise Institute, Amerians for Prosperity, and the Heartland Institute as members of the Koch/ALEC Cabal, which we now know is international in scope.)
The secretive funding channel known as the Donors Trust patronised a host of conservative causes.

But climate was at the top of the list. By 2010, Donors Trust had distributed $118m to 102 thinktanks or action groups which have a record of denying the existence of a human factor in climate change, or opposing environmental regulations.

Recipients included some of the best-known thinktanks on the right. The American Enterprise Institute, which is closely connected to the Republican party establishment and has a large staff of scholars, received more than $17m in untraceable donations over the years, the record show.

But relatively obscure organisations did not go overlooked. The Heartland Institute, virtually unknown outside the small world of climate politics, received $13.5m from the Donors Trust.

Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party group seen as the strike force of the conservative oil billionaire Koch Brothers, received $11m since 2002.

Levi Russell, spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, declined to comment on the importance of that support to the organisation. “We’re very grateful for each of the millions of activists and donors that make what we do possible,” he said in an email.

The secretive funding network also funded individuals, such as Jo Kwong, an official at the Philanthropy Roundtable who was awarded $200,000 in 2010. And there was strong interest in funding media projects.

Some of the groups on the Donors Trust list would have struggled to exist without being bankrolled by anonymous donors.

The support helped the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (Cfact), expand from $600,000 to $3m annual operation. In 2010, Cfact received nearly half of its budget from those anonymous donors, the records show.

The group’s most visible product is the website, Climate Depot, a contrarian news source run by Marc Morano. Climate Depot sees itself as the rapid reaction force of the anti-climate cause. On the morning after Obama’s state of the union address, Morano put out a point by point rebuttal to the section on climate change.

The gregarious Morano is a former aide to the Republican senator Jim Inhofe notorious for declaring climate change the greatest hoax on mankind.

According to Cfact’s tax filings, Morano, listed as communications director, was the most highly paid member of the organisation.

However, Craig Rucker, the group’s executive director, insisted the funding was not critical to their work. “It is not crucial in the least. Climate Depot’s continued operation is not linked to funding from any particular source,” he said.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This article is written by Suzanne Goldenberg and was posted at The Guardian, Thursday 14 February 2013
the guardian

The Devil is in the Details

By David Streifford, Preserve Carolina (www.preservecarolina.org), with the Researchers at the Voters Legislative Transparency Project (www.vltp.net)

Keep NC Frack Free
North Carolinians need to understand our state Senate’s most recent attempt to circumvent controversial legislation.  Legislation that some legislators approved only because it would give them the opportunity to responsibly review a set of regulations before permitting any hydraulic fracturing.

Let’s step back and look at what has brought us to this terrible point in time.

In June, 2012, the North Carolina General Assembly approved the legalization of fracking in North Carolina, although it was vetoed by then Gov. Bev Perdue (D).

Shell OilInterestingly, after this veto, Governor Perdue took a Shell Oil sponsored trip to review fracking operations in Pennsylvania. (please click here)  Later, she told the G.A. to change just one part of the fracking legislation and she would sign it.   But the G.A. would not make the change, and Perdue vetoed the bill—only to have the G.A. override her veto when Rep. Becky Carney (D-102), a long time veteran of the Assembly “accidentally” hit the wrong button and voted to override the veto contrary to her stated position.  After 10 years in the Assembly she could notBecky Carney-green or red button remember which button to hit.  After hundreds of votes, she forgot what the red and green buttons were for.  Hmmm.  Seems her campaign was overwhelmingly funded by corporations rather than her constituents…so who was really her constituency?  (You can read more about this by clicking here and here)

A procedural maneuver by Paul Stam (R-ALEC) prevented her from changing her vote.

The fracking bill—SB 820–reversed state laws from back in 1945 which prohibited horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the two main components of producing natural gas from prehistoric shale rock formations.
NC fracking locationsBear in mind that when this legislation was first presented, it was only hours after the U.S. Geological Survey released its findings that instead of the 40 year supply of natural gas available via fracking which had been estimated by State geologists, there was only 5.6 years of availability based on 2010 NC electricity use.  That’s on estimated reserves of 1.7 trillion cu ft in the entire Deep River Basin as opposed the recently downgraded estimates of the reserves at Marcellus Shale of only 410 trillion cu ft. (please click here to see the USGS Survey of Natural Gas Reserves in NC)  But why quibble about numbers as long as there was corporate profit to be made.

Advancing to today, with an ex-Duke Energy Governor as part of a supermajority in Raleigh, SB 76 has passed committee and is headed for a fullNorth Carolina General Assembly vote of the Senate, presided over by Phil Berger (R-ALEC).  Consider if you will, that just 8 months after passing SB 820 “The Clean Energy and Economic Security Act” the Senate is now getting ready to push forward with SB 76 – “The Domestic Energy Jobs Act”, which negates the minimal protections put into effect per SB 820.

Here are the changes to SB 820 brought by this new legislation.  It will, (among other problems):

            (1) Allow the issuance of drilling permits starting on 3/1/15–regardless of whether  or not the regulations have been finalized and approved;

            (2) Eliminate two seats, including the state geologist, from the N.C. Mining & Energy Commission (MEC);

            (3) Allow deep injection of flowback water into wells for permanent disposal.  (Flowback is a mixture of chemicals and fluids used during fracking, mixed with underground brine and naturally occurring compounds that flush out of  the ground after a gas well is fracked.) The DENR study which last year  concluded that fracking could be done safely with the right safeguards in place.  But it also cautioned that North Carolina’s geology is not suitable for re-injecting tainted water. So our experts, our public serving state     legislators, are willing to go forward with controversial fracking, giving us their own layman expert opinions that those whose seats they eliminated cannot give.  Don’t worry. Be happy.  It’s only going to last for a few years anyways.

            (4) Prohibit local governments from taxing energy exploration and drilling;

             (5) Require state royalties from offshore energy development to go into a $50 million emergency fund for cleanup of oil spills;

            (6) Allow state-licensed hospitals to use emergency dual-fuel generators that run on natural gas and liquid fuel;

            (7) Encourage the governor to join South Carolina and Virginia to develop a regional strategy for offshore energy exploration;

            (8)  DENR would require environmental regulators to promote business opportunities for energy companies by creating an Energy Jobs Council

It also turns out that our General Assembly, together with the Mining and Energy Commission [MEC] which it created, both think that it is necessary and perfectly fair to force landowners to let the oil companies

              (9) Drill beneath their lands:

            (10) Lay pipeline across their lands;

            (11) Build roads across their lands.

Again it is important to note that these 11 items – and more – are being implemented despite the fact that oil industry geologists do not think that there is much natural gas to be extracted; only a tiny fraction of what’s available and already being extracted in Pennsylvania, Texas, Oklahoma, Montana, West Virginia, etc.

Isn’t it just great that our democratically elected officials are doing so much to help maximize the short term profit of the oil and gas industry?   We have to wonder if it ever occurred to those we elected to public service that they are abrogating their responsibility to be serious stewards of the environment, to protect our water, our air and ensure we have safe communities in which to live and raise our families?

Who do our politicians work for?  They are supposed to work for their constituents, and their constituents are not corporations who cannot vote.  Then again, as you can see here, this is on the agenda Americans For Prosperityfor Americans For Prosperity (AFP) – the Tea Party – funded by David Koch and Art Pope among others, so do you really have to ask who?   But We, The People, should expect them to work for us as is their legal responsibility.  But instead they take the corporate money and work for them.  Thank you Citizens United.

Wind, solar groups quit ALEC as conservative powerhouse targets clean-energy programs

no alecTwo renewable energy industry groups have dropped out of the American Legislative Exchange Council, citing the conservative coalition’s efforts to wipe out state-level clean energy programs.

ALEC connects businesses and about 2,000 state lawmakers to push free-market legislation, and state lawmakers who are members of ALEC often introduce the model bills in their home legislatures — an increasingly controversial practice that has been widely criticized by liberal and environmental groups and some government watchdogs.

The American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association joined the industry-backed coalition for a year because they wanted a “seat at the table” to discuss hot energy issues, said AWEA spokesman Peter Kelley.

But the groups decided to drop out after ALEC adopted the “Electricity Freedom Act” model bill in October, which would end requirements that utilities generate a set amount of electricity from renewable sources, such as wind and solar (E&ENews PM, Nov. 5, 2012). SEIA allowed its one-year membership to expire last fall, and AWEA dropped out earlier this month.

SEIA’s decision to drop out was also fueled by ALEC’s refusal to take up a SEIA proposal to ease permitting costs for distributed generation, said Carrie Cullen-Hitt, a senior vice president for the solar industry group. “We didn’t get very far with that,” Cullen-Hitt said.

Now, AWEA is warning state lawmakers not to be taken in by ALEC’s message, one that Kelley said is driven by fossil fuel companies. He pointed out that conservative think tank and climate skeptic Heartland Institute told The Washington Post last year that it had joined ALEC to write language to revise state renewable energy mandates in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

“We want to warn our former fellow members of ALEC about that misinformation because we won’t be around to protect them,” he said.

Environmental and clean energy groups cite watchdog websites that show companies like Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil Corp., Duke Energy and Peabody sit on ALEC’s energy, environment and agriculture task force and have a hand in crafting energy legislation.

“There are 29 states that have renewable portfolio standards, and it’s my understanding that ALEC is targeting each one,” said Bill Gupton, an outreach director at Consumers Against Rate Hikes.

Renewable energy development on the state level has drawn much of the energy sector’s attention in recent months as efforts to forge a climate bill on Capitol Hill become increasingly unlikely.

Kelley said that although the notion of RPS programs being reversed could be devastating for the renewable energy industry, he doesn’t believe ALEC will get far. “You can find someone to introduce a bill, but that doesn’t mean you can find someone to pass it,” he said.

For its part, ALEC says interest in repealing the state programs stems from the lawmakers themselves, not the conservative coalition as a whole.

ALEC, which does not disclose its membership or sources of funding, is simply a “platform” where lawmakers repeatedly raise the concern that consumers should not be forced to pay for politically backed energy sources like solar and wind through mandates, said Todd Wynn, who directs ALEC’s energy, environment and agriculture task force.

“The characterization of this issue in particular is often misleading,” Wynn said. “I think that, often, our opposition and advocates of renewables energy think that ALEC is opposed to renewables, when we’re not.”

Some renewable energy companies and firms that manufacture goods needed to produce renewable energy belong to ALEC and don’t leave the group — even if they disagree with some policies — because they want to discuss hot-button issues, he added.

ALEC expects a handful of states to introduce bills to repeal RPS programs in February and March and full repeals to be implemented in 2014, Wynn said.

“Members are driving the debate. … Our state legislators have taken up the torch on these issues,” he said. “But ALEC itself isn’t driving an energy mandate repeal campaign.”

‘Dream come true’

Tracking ALEC’s connection to state lawmakers and particular legislation has become more difficult because the group is increasingly savvy about how it reaches out to state legislators, and model bills don’t always match measures that are introduced, said Connor Gibson, a researcher at Greenpeace.

For now, green groups are left checking state legislators’ membership in ALEC and speaking engagements, and waiting for bills to be introduced.

Such is the case in North Carolina, where state Rep. Mike Hager , a member of ALEC, is poised to introduce a bill next month that would repeal the state’s RPS program. North Carolina currently requires utilities to procure 12 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2021.

Hager, a former engineer for Charlotte-based Duke Energy, said during an interview today that ALEC isn’t helping him write his legislation. Instead, Hager said he’s a free-market, conservative Republican who doesn’t believe the United States should subsidize renewable energy when large quantities of cheap coal, gas and oil exist. He added that he does his own research.

“It’s just the central philosophy of the government subsidizing the industry,” Hager said. “It’s a logic issue.”

Duke Energy, a member of ALEC and large player in North Carolina, is trying to sidestep the debate.

Duke spokesman Dave Scanzoni said the utility hasn’t taken a formal position on the bill, and the decision to implement or repeal renewable portfolio standards should be “state specific.”

“Though we’re a member of ALEC, we don’t always agree with every issue that the organization or any other organization of which we’re a member takes,” he said, adding that Duke is a member of a wide array of liberal and conservative groups.

But a spokesman for Duke told the Charlotte Business Journal last May that the utility indeed opposes Hager’s bill and helped craft North Carolina’s RPS. Duke also opposes ALEC’s position to curb U.S. EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions and coal ash storage and set standards for mercury emissions, the spokesman said.

Gibson said ALEC’s push to repeal state renewable programs puts Duke in an awkward position.

“They’re still paying ALEC to do work that they say they don’t support,” he said. “This particular bill is attacking a law that Duke helped create.”

Green groups are suspicious that similar efforts could be under way in Virginia, Ohio, Kansas, Arizona, Missouri and Wisconsin. All are states that, like North Carolina, have Republican majorities in the legislature (control of the state Senate in Virginia is split, though a Republican lieutenant governor can break tie votes). Of those states, only Missouri has a Democratic governor.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a GOP gubernatorial candidate, is backing two bipartisan pieces of legislation to eliminate incentives that utilities receive for complying with the state’s voluntary RPS program.

Cuccinelli’s office said the bills would remove the “extra” payments that customers must make while ensuring that the state’s utilities generate 15 percent of their power from renewables by 2025.

“In short, Virginians can expect to have the same amount of renewable electricity as they would have had under the current law, but will pay less for it,” said Caroline Gibson, a spokeswoman for Cuccinelli.

But Beth Kemler, director of Virginia’s Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said that the legislation is a “de facto repeal” of the state’s RPS program and that Cuccinelli has been known to speak at ALEC events.

“We certainly can’t draw any straight lines from ALEC to this bill, but … we can draw a straight line from ALEC to Cuccinelli — he has spoken at their events,” Kemler said. “We basically think of the [bill] as a very smart backhanded way to get rid of the RPS.”

Cuccinelli’s office said today that the attorney general is not an ALEC member.  Editor’s note:  We do not know if Cuccinelli is a current member of ALEC as Legacy Memeberships are extremely difficult to research and prove, HOWEVER, Cucinelli was a member of ALEC as recently as 2008

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This article was written by Hannah Northey and posted at http://eenews.net/public/Greenwire/2013/01/30/1
Greenwire

Richard Fink: The Koch Brothers’ Big Tobacco Man Behind the Kochtopus Curtain

Richard Fink has long been one of the Koch Brothers’ inner circle, playing the role of both political strategist and close confidante.
Richard FinkSome say the Koch Empire wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without Fink. Without him and his ideas, what is now pejoratively known as the “Kochtopus” probably would not have branched so far into research or political advocacy.
kochtopusBut relatively few people have heard of Richard Fink. And even fewer know of his connections to Big Tobacco – connections which may have influenced the creation and actions of Koch-funded front groups for decades to come.

With the Kochs’ support, Fink established the Mercatus Center in 1980, and then co-founded Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) in 1984, where he served as President and CEO. Later, Fink helped found Americans for Prosperity to succeed CSE in 2004.

Fink sits on the board of the Institute for Humane Studies and is the former President of two Koch Family Foundations. Further, he has served as the Executive Vice-President of Koch Industries since 1989.

The Koch Brothers are best known as a key funder behind the climate denial machine and for their political attacks on President Barack Obama, as Jane Mayer exposed in her must-read New Yorker article.

The Kochs have donated over $25 million to front groups that attack climate science, create doubt and confusion among the public, and otherwise delay accountability for polluters.

Americans for Prosperity has campaigned against efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and amplified the “Climategate” attack on scientists, calling global warming the “biggest hoax the world has ever seen.”

But the Koch front groups’ involvement in the tobacco industry has gone largely unreported.

In 1999, the major tobacco companies were accused of a mass conspiracy to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking. The United States Department of Justice filed a racketeering lawsuit against major cigarette manufacturers, and sought $280 billion in penalties.

To combat this, Big Tobacco called on its allies for support – including the Mercatus Center and Citizens for a Sound Economy – both created by Richard Fink.

THE MOBILIZATION UNIVERSE

In a document called “Mobilization Universe,” as seen on the Tobacco Archives, Philip Morris laid out a plan to call on its allies. The goal: avert White House filing of the federal suit.

Its plan was to leverage third-party relationships to “oppose DOJ appropriations request for federal suit task force, oppose federal legislation enabling cause of action against the industry, and persuade the Administration and Senate and House Democrats of the political liability in a federal suit.”

Philip Morris laid out its key targets and key message points, examples of which include “Assumption of risk,” “Money grab,” and “Bad for Gore and Senate and House Democrats in 2000.” The document calls for third-party surrogates to write op-eds, LTEs and editorials, give speeches or testimonies, create policy reports, join coalitions, and provide access to policymakers, to name several.

CSE and the Mercatus Center were documented as allies several years before that, as well. In 1991, both CSE and Mercatus were part of a portfolio of organizations Philip Morris had cultivated to support its interests during a federal suit. Many other Koch-funded organizations were also included in this list, including the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

A HISTORY OF ALLIANCE

For several years, Fink acted on behalf of Big Tobacco using tactics laid out in their mobilization strategy – dating back from 1985, when he wrote federal representatives urging them to eliminate the US Tobacco Program. In a hand-signed letter, he wrote:

“Dear Representative: On behalf of the 220,000 members of Citizens for a Sound Economy, I urge you to consider the heavy costs of the U.S. tobacco program, and the enormous benefits to consumers and taxpayers which would result from the elimination of that program.”

The elimination of the tobacco tax bill would have lined the pockets of Big Tobacco CEOs, with less taxes and easier access for farmers to grow tobacco. Fink aligned not only himself but the entire membership of CSE with the interests of Big Tobacco.

In 1988, Fink wrote to the Surgeon General to express concern about the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health’s inquiries into the subject of tobacco and U.S. trade policy. He warned that it would be unwise to suggest any foreign trade barriers, ending, “we hope that you will keep these thoughts in mind as your department discusses U.S. trade policy toward tobacco.” This letter was tracked down by the Checks & Balances Project in the Tobacco Archives, with an addendum from Samuel Chilcote – President of The Tobacco Institute – urging others to follow Fink’s lead and support.

For Fink’s efforts, Chilcote thanked Fink in a hand-signed letter on behalf of the tobacco industry, writing, “When an advisory body such as the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health ventures into the field of U.S. trade policy, it is vitally important that the public record be balanced by the sound economic views and sensible business judgments that you provided.”

A LEGACY OF LOBBYING

In 1988, Fink testified on behalf of CSE to the National Economic Commission, urging them to avoid tax increases – increases that would have negatively impacted Big Tobacco’s profits.

Under Fink’s guidance, CSE participated in coalitions and partnered with other tobacco front groups, honing the dirty public relations tactics employed today by the Kochtopus Empire to delay action on combating climate change.

CSE joined the “Coalition for Fiscal Restraint” (COFIRE) in 1988, along with Koch Industries and Philip Morris. This is the only coalition in which Koch Industries represented itself as a corporation, rather than through its myriad front groups.

CSE also took part in “Get Government Off Our Back,” the front group created in 1994 by RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company to fight federal regulation of the tobacco industry. Its involvement in this group was kept in strict confidence until eventually made public via the Tobacco Archives. During this time, CSE was funded to the tune of at least $400,000 by the tobacco industry for its efforts to limit government regulation.

In 1998, CSE lobbied against California’s Proposition 10, an amendment to raise tobacco taxes in the Sunshine State. Members of CSE wrote letters to legislators and put forth a pledge to vote no. Ultimately, the effort “went up in smoke” and Prop 10 passed.

In 2004, Citizens for a Sound Economy split into two groups, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and FreedomWorks.

Richard Fink continued to lead Americans for Prosperity as President, and the tobacco lobbying efforts continue under the smoke of a new banner.

The most recent AFP pro-tobacco effort occurred this past summer, when it campaigned to oppose CA’s Proposition 29. If Prop 29 had passed, it would have increased tobacco taxes and directed the money raised from taxes towards cancer research – insidious given the Koch Brothers’ support for cancer research at places like MIT.

AFP, along with the tobacco industry, spent around $40 million to defeat Prop 29, mostly on anti-Prop 29 television ads.  During that campaign, AFP was also part of a broader coalition of tobacco and anti-tax groups. According to maplight.com, Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds bankrolled almost the entire campaign.

The arguments made against Prop 29 were very similar to those made by Citizens for a Sound Economy in 1998 when it unsuccessfully campaigned against CA Prop 10.

This was not AFP’s first attempt to shill for Big Tobacco.

In 2006 AFP campaigned to oppose tobacco tax increases in several different states – South Dakota, Texas, Kansas, and Indiana. For their work in South Dakota, AFP received money from US Smokeless Tobacco, Retail Tobacco Dealers of America, and Tobacco Warehouse of Rapid City. It also opposed taxes in Texas, Kansas, and Indiana. The following year, in 2007, AFP campaigned to oppose Texas’ smoking ban in indoor workplaces.

Finally, in 2009, AFP and Philip Morris were both asked to react to Virginia’s smoking ban, in an email from Karen Corriere of Altria Group, Inc. (the parent company of Philip Morris). Unsurprisingly, both voiced their opposition quickly. Americans for Prosperity reacted in full, hiring a company to make tens of thousands of calls to the offices of Virginia legislators, pressuring them to vote against the ban.

FISCAL TIES TO BIG TOBACCO

Throughout the years, the alliances were tied together in one of the most politically influential ways – money. The following is just a sample Big Tobacco’s money trail:

  • In 1987, Roger Ream – Vice President of CSE – wrote to the Tobacco Institute asking for funding. Given their alliance, it is likely they achieved their goal.
  • For its participation in the “Get Government Off Our Backs” (GGOOB) campaign, CSE received $400,000 in 1994 from RJ Reynolds and other tobacco corporations.
  • In 1996, CSE requested a funding increase of $500,000 from Philip Morris. Due to the handwritten “OK $500,000” at the top of the letter, this was almost definitely approved.
  • In 1999, Beth Stevens of CSE wrote to Kirk Blalock of Philip Morris requesting $100,000 in funds to support their efforts “to fight increased government spending, taxes, and regulation.”
  • In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the Mercatus Center received public policy grants from Phillip Morris: $10,000 in 1999, and $20,000 in 2000. CSE received a total of $520,000 in 1999.
  • In 2000, in a memo to Philip Morris, CSE requested two million dollars to lead the opposition against tax increases and a Medicare suit to fund “big government” initiatives. The plan: “CSE will develop and run print, radio, and television advertising inside the Beltway and in targeted states. They will generate letters and phone calls to Congress from constituents. CSE will also educate Members of Congress and their staffs by preparing and distributing policy papers, conducting congressional education events, and meeting directly with offices.”

HOW DOES FINK TIE INTO ALL THIS?

Richard Fink first formed his alliance with Big Tobacco in 1985 when he urged legislators to eliminate the Tobacco program. But his value to the tobacco industry only increased with time, much like Dick Armey’s did at FreedomWorks.

As Fink gained more influence and power, his relationship with the tobacco industry tightened. When asking the Tobacco Institute for funding, Roger Ream of CSE wrote: “Recently, our president, Richard H. Fink, was appointed to the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve and to the Department of Transportation’s Amtrak Privatization Commission. This further enhances CSE’s credibility and effectiveness on these issues.”

From the beginning, Fink’s position in the government was used as a selling point to earn funding support from Big Tobacco, exemplifying CSE’s ability to reduce taxes and fight government regulation.

Richard Fink came to the Koch brothers in 1977 to urge them to turn their libertarian ideals and love of “free markets” into political advocacy. In 2009, he advised them to do everything in their power to change the course of the 2012 election.

The Koch Brothers and their allies have funded attacks on climate science, attacked clean energy and stifled the green debate via an army of front groups. Lo and behold, they also worked with Big Tobacco to stop common-sense regulations and public health measures on smoking. In fact, fighting the tobacco file helped them to hone the playbook they would continue to use to fight against accountability for polluting the atmosphere, harming their workers and fenceline communities, and subverting participatory democracy.

Just as the severe health risks of tobacco are no longer up for debate, neither should be the reality of climate change, though the “Merchants of Doubt” shilling for a killing have – in a self-serving manner – maintained a façade of “controversy” over the issue for decades.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This article is posted at The Checks and Balances Project  (Holding government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public) and may be seen at http://checksandbalancesproject.org/2013/01/31/richard-fink-the-koch-brothers-big-tobacco-man-behind-the-kochtopus-curtain/

 

ALEC Alumni Pushing “Electricity Freedom Act” in OH and VA

ALEC Alumni Pushing “Electricity Freedom Act” in OH and VA

Over the past couple weeks, fossil fuel interests and their allies have ramped up attacks on clean energy on the state level. As the Washington Post reported in November, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a alecfossilfuelfundersfossil fuel-funded advocacy group, has made it a priority to eliminate clean energy standards across the country.

From the East Coast to the Southwest, ALEC members, alumni and operatives are moving full steam ahead to eliminate clean energy projects and the policies that support them.  However, not all of these attacks are coming from ALEC members sitting in state legislatures.  In Ohio and Virginia, former ALEC legislators, now in other positions, are driving anti-clean energy attacks. Below is part one of our series this week on former ALEC legislators spearheading fossil fuel-funded attacks on the clean energy industry.

 VIRGINIA

Two weeks ago, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a former ALEC legislator, struck an agreement with Dominion, one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S., to support legislation effectively eliminating the state’s voluntary clean energy standard. According to the Associated Press, under the agreement, the power companies would no longer have the same financial incentives for using sources of renewable energy in Virginia. Without a legally-binding clean energy standard, killing the financial incentives of the law would stop big utilities from investing in new sources of energy (editor’s note:  This is ALEC’s “Electricity Freedom Act”, as reported here), especially when they can keep profiting off of old coal-fired power plants.

So why is the Attorney General Cuccinelli working to stop clean energy in Virginia? There’s one thing that might show his hand. Attorney General Cuccinelli is running for Governor of Virginia in the 2013 election, and has received over $100,000 from fossil fuel energy interests for his campaign (and over $400,000 from dirty energy interests since 2001) including:

  • $50,000 from David H. Koch, co-owner of Koch Industries, a major fossil fuel conglomerate.
  • $25,000 from Consol Energy, a coal and natural gas producer.
  • $10,000 from Alpha Natural Resources, a coal mining and processing company.
  • $10,000 from Appalachian Power, a subsidiary of American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utility companies.
  • $10,000 from Dominion, one of the largest electric utility companies.
  • $10,000 from Koch Industries, a major fossil fuel conglomerate.

The Attorney General’s office claims that he sought to eliminate the standard because it allowed utilities to buy renewable energy certificates from existing facilities rather than build new clean energy in the state of Virginia. Dominion charged ratepayers $77 million as part of the clean energy law, without building a single clean energy project in the state.

 

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli at an event sponsored by the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity.

But, Mike Tidwell, of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), which has worked with lawmakers to propose several bills to improve the incentive program, said that, “The standard is flawed; but there’s a clear way to fix that.” CCAN is working with Delegate Alfonso Lopez to propose a solution that would require Dominion to invest in wind and solar projects in Virginia in order to qualify for financial incentives.

But instead of trying to fix the renewable energy standard, Mr. Cuccinelli is advocating for the elimination of clean energy incentives while also raking in over $100,000 dollars from fossil fuel interests for his gubernatorial campaign. This clear conflict of interest is compounded by the fact that Mr. Cuccinelli was a member of ALEC, which has publicly stated eliminating clean energy laws as one of its goals for 2013. And, it is Mr. Cuccinelli’s fossil fuel donors, most of which are corporate members of ALEC, that stand to profit from killing clean energy laws and slowing the growth of the clean energy economy.

Instead of fighting for Virginia families and small businesses, it appears that Mr. Cuccinnelli is more concerned with the interests of his big, fossil fuel donors. It’s probably a good indication of how he’ll run the state from the governor’s mansion.

OHIO

In Ohio, no legislation has been proposed to rollback the state’s “Alternative Energy Resource Standard,” yet. But three weeks ago, former ALEC legislator Todd Snitchler, now Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), and two other commissioners, decided to squash a solar power plant proposed by American Electric Power (AEP) – a move that seems to correlate with ALEC’s agenda to stop the growth of the clean energy market.

AEP planned to build the Turning Point solar power plant, a 50 MW solar power plant comprised of panels from a factory in Ohio. The company planned this project to comply with the requirements of the renewable energy standard according to the PUCO opinion and order. Ohio’s clean energy law calls for 12.5% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy resources by 2025.

Todd Snitchler, Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, with Governor John Kasich. Both politicians are ALEC alumni.

One of the primary opponents arguing against the solar plant in front of the PUCO was FirstEnergy Solutions, an electric utility (that generates 72% of its electricity from fossil fuels) and a major donor to Governor John Kasich, another ALEC alumnus.  Gov. Kasich received over $600,000 from oil, gas and mining interests for his 2010 election campaign and in early 2011, Gov. Kasich appointed Mr. Snitchler to chair the PUCO.

Mr. Snitchler and the two other Republican commissioners voting to stop the Turning Point solar plant disregarded Public Utilities Commission of Ohio staff experts who stated that the project was necessary to comply with the state’s renewable energy standard.

Mr. Snitchler’s Twitter traffic affirms his ideological disdain for clean energy. He consistently attacked clean energy technology and the legitimacy of climate science (ignoring the Pope, United States Military, and every national academy of science in the world) according to a Columbus Dispatch analysis of his twitter traffic over the past year.

With anti-clean energy ALEC alumni in powerful positions in Ohio, pro-clean energy advocates must work to stop attempted rollbacks of the state’s clean energy standard in the state legislature or face a grim future in the Buckeye state.

editor’s note:  all emphasis in the article is mine.

This article has been re-named and re-posted from The Checks and Balances Project (Holding government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public).  The original title is ALEC Attacks Clean Energy Standards: Ohio & Virginia, and can be found at http://checksandbalancesproject.org/2013/01/30/alec-attack-clean-energy-standards-ohio-virginia/

 

 

Conservative plans to oppose wind power – Using the Conservative Template for PR/Propaganda

This strategy document calls for a national PR campaign aimed at causing ‘subversion … so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it’.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
UPDATED

…been thinking a lot about this post from earlier today. So much that I’ve changed the title with this update…This is such valuable information for environmentalists and other who believe in the need for renewable, “green” energy…but…deja vu all over again

VLTP has covered the conservative echo chamber and the way that the radical right uses it to sell their ideas to people who believe easy talking points and as easily-digested an explanation as possible.  But I’ve never seen the template, the modus operandus (part of the ALEC DNA)  spelled out this concisely before by a conservative source.

Amazingly, this strategy has worked for so long – and it still works.  It Still Works.  When will the media realize that they are being used to manipulate the American people?

Oops.  Forgot.  The myth of the “liberal” media.

Take a look at the list of ALEC’s Corporate Members from CMD’s SourceWatch (click here to refresh your memory).  Major networks.  Major newspapers.  Major publishers.  Major advertisers.

Catch the ads from ALEC’s Corporate Members all over the prime time on t MSNBC, as well as on the MSNBC web site.  What happened to Current TV?  Could it have been their advertising stance?

Aaron Sorkin got it right-on when he wrote this into his fictional HBO series, Newsroom. Click here to watch a key scene about how economic pressure could be used to quiet the way the medium is used to convey the message (apologies to Marshall McLuhan).

To get back on point, tonight’s evening news was airing a report on the NRA’s ongoing fight against gun control.  All I could think was how simple it would be to substitute the NRA, gun control, and Wayne LaPierre for those who oppose green energy in the article below.

In Australia they are currently fighting the Tobacco War, much as we did here years ago.  ALEC is there with their local members – including Sen. Cory Bernardi –using the playbook developed here.  A key part of their strategy is a PR campaign based on the same template that produced the National Campaign Strategy in the article below.

You can easily see the PR/Propaganda Template below in this report from The Guardian, U.K.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Conservative plans to oppose wind power – memo

(This) Strategy document calls for a national PR campaign aimed at causing ‘subversion … so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it’.

alecfossilfuelfunders

(here is the downloaded text file of campaign plans.  Emphasis added by me)

1: NATIONAL PR CAMPAIGN PROPOSAL
Draft from Rich Porter: 4/25/11.  Edited by John Droz: 1/23/12
— CONFIDENTIAL —

PR Audiences:

Policy/Political,
Local-State-Federal,
Landowner/Lease Grantor,
General Public (including non-rural population),
Tax Payer,
Utility Rate Payer,
Business Owner,
Media Academics,
Students

PR Strategy:

Create a national professional Public Relations (PR) campaign to effectively communicate with the selected audiences using targeted messages.   Have a consistent, positive, national message.  Be FOR something (e.g. Science), not AGAINST something (e.g. wind energy). Be proactive vs reactive. 

The minimum national PR campaign goal is to constructively influence national and state wind energy policies. A broader possible goal is to constructively influence national and state energy and environmental policies. Resolve: are our interests just wind energy, or broader?

The goal will be realized by coordination of a focused message along many channels and with multiple voices. The intent is to target the identified audiences with consistent messaging to create positive change.  Public opinion must begin to change among citizens at large. Create a grass-roots ground swell from which the clamor for change will reach the elected officials and policy-makers.

The message will be determined from a variety of analysis techniques including inputs from local groups and others who have an interest in spreading the message. The message will be tested for resonance with the audiences, and the dynamic of the audience shall be periodically assessed.

In addition to have the appropriate message, it needs to be communicated optimally.

We need to study and apply good communication skills.

Decide whether or not a national organization is advisable as well
(Part 2).


Goals of the PR Campaign

A) Cause the targeted audience to change its opinion and action based on the messages.

B) Provide credible counter message to the (wind) industry.

C) Disrupt industry message with countermeasures.

D) Cause subversion in message of industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit in public they are for it (much like wind has done to coal, by turning green to black and clean to dirty).

Ultimate Goal: Change policy direction based on the message. 


Some PR Tactics:

Most of this could be done by volunteers without having a formal
national organization.  Discuss how this would work and who would have
what responsibilities.

Consider joining forces w some already established organization where there is substantial commonality and commitment (e.g. ATI, Heartland, IER, CEI, Marshall, Brookings, Cato, Manhattan, AFP, FW, CFACT, ALEC, NA-PAW, etc.).

Provide training to local leaders regarding PR.

Provide local groups support materials, like PowerPoint templates to put on local education seminars, document templates for them to file with their state utility commission, etc.

Have a high-quality professional brochure available as a handout,
which summarizes the situation with wind energy (e.g. Rasmussen).

Encourage critical thinking from members and the public.

Develop a list of experts for testimony to government agencies, etc.

Identify key topics (e.g. health) and get volunteers to act as a clearing house for information and posting timely information for activists on a website.

Assign key people to be media interfaces (those who are knowledgeable can think on their feet, camera friendly, etc.)

Coordinate messages to address local, state and federal levels of
lawmakers.

Create some catch phrases of wind energy — e.g. puff power, breeze energy.

Setup a volunteer lobbying effort to reach key lawmakers. 

Identify and connect with like-minded groups such as tax, tea party, true environmentalists, business organizations, property rights advocates, etc.

 

2: NATIONAL ORGANIZATION PROPOSAL
Some Considerations Regarding a National Organization:

 [Note: This is optional. All of the above PR would be done as well, but having a funded national organization would allow for a more comprehensive PR effort.]

Decide on the purpose of a national organization, and how it would interface with local groups.  (E.g. local websites would primarily have info pertaining to the local issues. Education re wind energy would be handled nationally.)

Decide on the structure of a national organization, and where the funds would come from to support it.

Create a “think-tank” subgroup to produce and disseminate white paper reports and scientific quotes and papers that back-up the message. 

Timely gathering of information as it appears in media outlets on this subject.

Media Outreach & Response (communications) Committee will create and coordinate media contact campaigns. Use PR Newswire as the wind industry does currently.

Create advertising campaign for radio, TV, and alternative media. Coordinate with signage, tee-shirts, hats, bumper stickers etc.

Employ a well-known spokesman with star credibility. (Find one to volunteer?)

Develop corporate partnerships where the message goes onto bags, signs, tents and other outlets. Start a “get people talking” campaign. Use controversy to spark ideas.

Youth Outreach will create program for public school coordination as well as college coordination. This will include community activity and participation with sponsorships for science fairs, school activity etc. with preset parameters that cause students to steer away from wind because they discover it doesn’t meet the criteria we set up (poster contest, essays etc).

Setup a dummy business that will go into communities considering wind development, proposing to build 400 foot billboards.

Social Media Outreach director/create coordination for message on web and in Twitter-type outreach, YouTube, etc.

Create counter-intelligence branch (responsible for communicating current industry tactics and strategies as feedback to this organization)

A team investigates links to any organization supporting wind in order to expose that support.

Provide alternative solutions for public consumption as well as re-branding of the current wind industry?

Write expose book on the industry, showing government waste, harm to communities and other negative impacts on people and the environment.

Meme (self-replicating messages) Response Coordinator (This will help slow the meme effect of the industry, for instance when a company places a seal  showing wind power was used to produce the product, we automatically assign a tax wasting  symbol to the product and recommend a boycott on the website.  When a company uses wind power as marketing tool, or illustration such as a toy manufacturer showing turbines on the box, we automatically contact them to tell them we will list them on the web as actively participating in disinformation by favorably showing wind turbines).

Legal Department for contract review and guidance on communication efforts, and also taking developers (etc.) to court on various issues to cause media exposure. Maintain a comprehensive  collection of court cases on this subject. Also to provide legal voice for those who have none in this issue.  Develop legal strategies that can be copied in other areasTake zoning boards to court to rezone as industrial land to create chilling effect on signing contracts.  Also sue for property value loss to small land holders, and use all legal cases to create media poster child effect. Sue states regarding RPS. Sue state utility commissioners who don’t do their job. Etc.

Proposed Structure of a National Organization  

A paid, full time director will report to a board on which the director has a voting seat.  The director shall have one paid executive assistant.  The organization shall rely on a network of volunteer state committee chairpeople who are to coordinate efforts to disseminate the message in the state.  The chairperson shall make contacts and maintain them with various ad hoc groups throughout the state that would benefit from the coordinated message.

The director shall make use of information gathering technology to stay abreast of developments in the media and industry and then coordinate appropriate messages accordingly.   This technology shall include a subscription to Nexus.

The director shall also develop and maintain contacts and coordinate their actions in regards to the message.

The organization shall maintain 501c3 and PAC status and shall coordinate lobby efforts at the congressional and state levels.

The director will make use of scientific research which is designed to gauge the response to the message and allow for the adjustment of the message from time to time.  The same research is also to determine the weaknesses in opposition messages for the purpose of exploiting them to the end goal of the campaign.

National Organization: Details and Narrative. 

The purpose of a national organization would be to do a better, quicker job at constructively influencing national and state wind energy policies. A broader possible goal might be to constructively influence national and state energy and environmental policies.

The goal will be realized by coordination of a focused message along many channels and with multiple voices. The intent is to target three audiences with consistent messaging to create the change.  Public opinion must begin to change in what should appear as a “groundswell” among grass roots.   The message will be determined from a variety of analysis techniques including interviews with local groups and others who have an interest in spreading the message.  Those who hold opposing views must also be assessed.  The analysis will include scientific polls as well as focus groups to be used on a continuing basis from time to time to direct and focus the campaign on messages that are useful to the end goal.  As perceptions change over time, a barometer must be used to determine those changes and make dynamic adjustments in the  message and campaign.

The amount of time and energy the campaign will consume will necessarily require a minimum of two paid positions with consideration for the addition of other paid positions as the campaign grows and is able to garner more funding.  A director will be appointed by a board, on which the director shall make material contributions to the direction the board takes in its approach.   The director should have at least one administrative assistant paid to help with work loads.  The work load of the director will likely exceed 60 hours per week and more if travel is included.  A travel budget should also be planned to allow the director to meet with key persons in the various states where the campaign will become active.

The director position assumes that volunteers are ready and willing to begin serving in various committee positions as soon as possible.  The beginning committees can be constituted by a board vote and should include the following for immediate activation:

Media
Science
Regional State Coordinators
Networking
Political / Lobby
Group Policy.

The group policy committee will decide the key messages and focus and will use data from analysis and research to make its decisions.  The decisions from this committee will be used to guide the efforts of the organization in communicating with the prospective audiences.  This committee is responsible for analyzing and responding to the dynamics of the audiences over time, and is key to successfully implementing the strategy by identifying the correct arguments and tone for resonance among the audiences.

The media committee is responsible for implementing the message in a variety of media resources including traditional media, new media, social media and networking.  This committee will also be responsible for using analysis to determine the most appropriate packaging of the message for the various outlets.  It should consider what channels and voices to use in each instance.  This committee will have the responsibility of message integrity, that is, the continuity of message.  The committee will need resources for message positioning as well as utilizing free message placement techniques.

The science committee will be responsible for assembling a directorate of scientists with the proper credentials to be accepted by main stream media.  Those credentials are also important in making the scientific material harder to target and more difficult to tear down by the opposition.  This committee will coordinate with the directorate to develop a highly respectable collection of scientific white papers and reports that are consistent in their approach to supporting the messages chosen as most likely to succeed.  This committee will provide well respected scientists for media and political symposiums to be conducted to further establish the messages.  They will coordinate their efforts with other committees whose duties will include dissemination of the science.

The state and regional coordinators will be volunteers appointed to regional positions to remain in contact with the state leaders in their area.  They will ascertain the needs of the state and also local campaigns and be responsible for regularly reporting those needs to the organization so they can be addressed.  They will also be responsible for coordinating the flow of information in two directions between the organization and the state.  They should hold a monthly meeting where round -robin information sharing assures the flow of information up into the organization.  The coordinators will also individually be responsible for reaching out weekly to their state contacts to maintain a current picture of the situation on the ground, and should communicate any urgent state needs directly up to the director who should then coordinate the appropriate response.

The networking committee will be responsible for coordinating the response of networked groups with like-mind on our message. These will include the tea party, anti-tax leagues and utility rate groups as well as government watch-dog, anti-waste groups.  This committee will help spread our message to the network groups and then gather feed-back as to their interests and needs for further information from the organization.

Political and lobby committee is the coordinating arm for the message going to elected officials and contact with them in the capacity of lobby efforts.  This group ideally will be able to present a ground swell of public opinion in addition to facts that support the message.  The lobby efforts will include targeted opposition to current bills that continue the policy this organization opposes.   A coordination with the science committee is important to provide facts for lawmakers in a format they can understand easily.

Funding for a National Organization

The organization will need funding and a recommendation of $750,000 for seed and startup is probably a realistic number.  Printed materials, mailing, and the creation of a media packet, plus phone and computer links and information services.  Travel will be necessary as well.  The director should receive a salary of not less than $80,000 per year with an assistant receiving $35,000 per year.  The director should have experience in PR and media with the appropriate understanding of marketing techniques.  High level of creativity in developing media strategies, with emphasis on writing and communications.  This person must think outside the box and be willing to use the latest understanding of PR to counteract the opposing message and strategy across a broad range of audiences.

This is a recommendation to hire a professional fundraiser responsible for coordinating  donations to both the 501c3 and Pac.  The fundraising efforts should be separated from the duties of the director so as not to interfere with the day to day activities needed to keep the campaign moving forward.

  Example Scenario (for a National Organization)

In this example, the group policy committee has identified that a particular bill providing funding for the opposition has been advanced to committee for a hearing.  Policy committee has asked for a coordinated effort to stop the progress of the funding measure.

First, the lobby committee uses their contacts to begin a campaign from the inside against the bill with phone calls and private meetings.  They meet with several staffers who suggest that the bill is being supported because it has been moved as green legislation and several committee members are afraid to oppose it on that basis.  The lobby committee reports this to media and science for further action.

The media committee decides to use a full page advertisement in the Washington Post as a method of communicating the ‘not so green truth’ to congress, and at the same time coordinates a special interview and story from a scientific point of view that illustrates the dirty side of the industry.  At this same time, the science committee holds a press conference to announce that the industry is using dishonesty and “greenwashing” as a cover for what amounts to corporate welfare.  

The message is also repeated in Wash Times, WSJ, Fox and other sources.

State regional coordinators are tapped at this time to provide a letter writing campaign from the grass roots asking the key legislators to back away from the funding measure.  This campaign is also echoed in various directorate groups coordinated from the organization including tea party, anti-tax leagues, etc.

The coordinated effort stretches across multi-channels and multi-voices, and appears to come from as many as a dozen separate sources, but the message is the same and stays on point.  The created barrage of voices provides enough cover that the elected officials have a way to vote no because they can clearly see they have support for our position.

CONCLUSION

A more consistent professional PR campaign is an absolute imperative. With well over a hundred US local groups fighting the same issue, it is clearly advisable that these people be on the same page. What sense does it make for each of these groups to be reinventing the wheel, and duplicating efforts?

There are several options as to how this can be implemented, ranging from the informal to the very structured.

The low cost alternative is to continue to rely on volunteers, and not to have a national organization. That can work, to a degree, but there still is a critical need for the numerous local groups across the country to work more closely together. Exactly how that can be best done is what needs to be resolved.

The more high-end approach would insure the widest distribution of the best message — but will require considerable time effort and funding. A national organization can not be accomplished without full-time people working to coordinate local efforts. Are we prepared to commit to that option at this point?  

Establishing a national organization (if that is the chosen route) should be viewed as a long term project.  A three year plan should be developed that can offer some time table for expected results. Due to the size of this undertaking, this plan should include a roll-out period where a test of the organization can be made in a single state or region of states first, before going to a national format.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This article was published by The Guardian, and can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2012/may/09/wind-power-memo
the guardian

Three Reforms to Top N.C. Agenda – Americans For Prosperity

by Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity

Now with a new governor working with the Legislature, here are the three key reforms to watch in the coming legislative session:

First, the Legislature needs to bring the benefits of fiscal responsibility home to each taxpayer through permanent tax reform. While the details have yet to be finalized, the Legislature may pass a bill to eliminate both the corporate and personal income tax. The state will make up the lost revenue by broadening the sales tax rate. This will encourage saving and investment, leading to higher job creation and greater overall prosperity.

Second, the state needs to take advantage of its energy reserves. Gov. Pat McCrory says he will join with his regional governors in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia to negotiate with the federal government for energy exploration off the Eastern Seaboard. In addition, the state needs to finalize regulations for natural gas development (fracking) so that investors More →