The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final draft of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) on August 1, 2015, which will require states to reduce the carbon pollution from power plants operating within their borders, just a few months before the international climate change conference convenes in Paris.
Power plants are the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution and the EPA’s CPP will limit those emissions. Since the plan will bring about a cleaner economy many fossil fuel corporations and the Koch Brothers’ network of “free-market” front groups are fighting to prevent states from implementing the CPP.
Below are ten industry-funded front groups that have attempted to stop Obama’s plan to combat climate change and will likely continue through the remainder of his presidency. This list is meant to inform reporters and state officials working on the implementation of the CPP about the organizations that will attempt to influence the debate surrounding these important climate regulations.
60 Plus Association – front group targeting seniors, funded by the Koch Brothers.
The Alexandria, Virginia-based group calls itself America’s largest free market seniors advocacy organization. It has been urging the EPA to withdraw the CPP, and in its comments filed with the agency it cited the NERA Economic Consulting Report funded by trade associations, which included the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, and the National Mining Association.
60 Plus Association has echoed the coal industry’s latest talking point, that coal is the “last best hope for the poor.” That is at the center of Peabody Energy’s Advanced Energy for Life PR campaign, which has been run by Burson-Marstellar, the world’s largest PR firm. The World Bank recently rejected this talking point – Rachel Kyte, the World Bank climate change envoy, said, “In general globally we need to wean ourselves off coal. There is a huge social cost to coal and a huge social cost to fossil fuels … if you want to be able to breath clean air.”
American Legislative Exchange Council – “corporate bill mill” funded by coal and oil companies, electric utilities, and Koch Industries.
The Arlington, Virginia-based group, which is composed of corporations and state legislators, is organized into “task forces.” The Energy, Environment and Agriculture (EEA) Task Force is co-chaired by American Electric Power, the second largest coal burning company in the nation.
At ALEC’s recent meeting in San Diego, the EEA Task Force passed a model bill, which if passed in the states, would create an “environmental impact litigation fund” that could be used by the states to litigate against the EPA on regulations under the following laws: Clean Air Act; Clean Water Act; Endangered Species Act; Safe Drinking Water Act; Toxic Substances Control Act. The fund would be made up of “gifts, grants, and donations” from corporations looking to fight against those laws and the money would then be transferred to the state treasury to be used by the attorney general to pay for litigation costs. The intention is to perhaps have corporations such as American Electric Power, Peabody Energy, and Koch Industries, give states the resources to hire more attorneys to help fight the CPP.
ALEC has also brought many individuals to speak to state legislators urging them to fight against the EPA. Peter Glaser, an attorney at Troutman Sanders who has represented the National Mining Association, spoke in 2013, and told the crowd to engage in “guerrilla warfare” against the EPA. Recently, ALEC had West Virginia Solicitor General Elbert Lin address state legislators in which he pleaded for them to get their governor and attorney general to join the multi-state lawsuit against the EPA led by Texas and West Virginia.
Americans for Prosperity – national astroturf group founded and funded by the Koch Brothers.
The Arlington, Virginia-based organization has published at least 16 newspaper op-eds by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) state officials, all of which have urged state legislatures to oppose the CPP, according to Media Matters. Additionally, some of these AFP officials have testified against the standards.
Already with 1,000 full-time staffers and thousands more of volunteers, AFP has also built a network across the country with the intention of influencing voters on a variety of issues, including the CPP. AFP has cited information from fossil fuel-backed Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy and its director, Marita Noon.
Beacon Hill Institute – policy think tank housed at Suffolk University that produces flawed economic analyses used by ALEC and front groups.
Beacon Hill Institute (BHI) is known for taking money with the clear intentions of “marshaling economic arguments to roll back clean energy programs in the [United States],” as reported by the Guardian.
BHI has produced reports opposing the Clean Power Plan throughout 2015 funded by a grant passed through a corporate-linked front group run by Richard Berman. These reports have been released in partnership with fossil fuel-funded state think tanks with ties to the Koch Brothers, in states in order to advance model legislation produced by ALEC. The studies inflate the cost 2x of the CPP and minimize the benefits of the standards by 10x compared to the impact analysis done by the EPA. BHI’s economic model, STAMP, was used to assess the CPP’s impact but many economists have criticized this model.
Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy – fossil fuel-funded advocacy group.
Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE) has been very active this year with the executive director, Marita Noon, publishing a paper criticizing rooftop solar that was amplified by ALEC, becoming an “Expert” for Heartland Institute and continuing her role as a policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (another front group that has been exposed countless times and is featured in the 2014 film Merchants of Doubt).
Noon’s work critiquing the Clean Power Plan has appeared in several conservative publications including, NetRightDaily.com and RedState.com. She has testified against the plan saying, “Thinking that what we do in the United States will have a serious impact on global carbon dioxide emissions is like thinking that declaring a “no pee” section in the swimming pool will keep all the water urine free.” Also, her blogs have been dispersed by Americans For Prosperity.
Consumer Energy Alliance – front group run by the PR firm HBW Resources, whose clients include BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon, Shell, and Norway’s Statoil.
The Consumer Energy Alliance’s tagline is “the voice of the energy consumer” when really it is the voice of its fossil fuel corporate funders. David Holt, president at CEA, is also a managing partner at HBW Resources. CEA has been working to weaken net metering policies and open up the Atlantic Coast to offshore oil drilling.
Regarding the Clean Power Plan, CEA co-funded a report authored by NERA Economic Consulting. The other funders were: American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers; Association of American Railroads; American Farm Bureau Federation; Electric Reliability Coordinating Council; National Mining Association. The report artificially inflates the costs of the EPA’s proposal and ignores the climate and health benefits. The NERA report has been used by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representative to attack the CPP, and has been dispersed by Heartland Institute.
Heartland Institute – front group with over $800,000 in contributions from fossil fuel companies.
The Arlington Heights, Illinois-based organization known for its annual climate denial conference and a billboard campaign equating climate change scientists to terrorists and mass murderers, has been mostly ostracized from regulatory or policy discussions. The organization continues to spread misinformation to its members and allied organizations. Heartland echoes many of the flawed reports published criticizing the Clean Power Plan, such as NERA Economic Consulting’s report and the Beacon Hill Institute’s reports.
Heartland also lends its name to support federal legislation aimed at allowing states to ‘say no’ to implementing the CPP and delay it until all judicial reviews have been completed.
National Black Chamber of Commerce – organization with funding from ExxonMobil and the Edison Electric Institute.
Harry Alford, who serves as the organization’s president and CEO, founded the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC). Alford recently released a study concluding that the CPP will inflict severe and disproportionate economic burdens on poor families, specific minorities. The study was produced by Roger Bezdek, president of Management Information Services, Inc. Bezdek attended the American Legislative Exchange Council’s December 2014 conference and told the audience, “virtually everything that climate activists say is demonstrably false, whether it’s wildfires, whether it’s coal climate or whether it’s hurricanes… It’s the old Nazi theory, that if you repeat a big lie loud enough and long enough, people believe it.”
Alford has also said the Clean Power Plan is a “slap in the face to poor and minority families.” And at a June 23 hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Alford further criticized the CPP and cited his report.
Furthermore, NBCC is hosting its 23rd annual conference in August and it includes sessions on the EPA that will feature panelists from the American Chemistry Council, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy.
Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy – front group funded by the dark money groups Partnership for Alabama Leadership and Vote Alabama. These groups are connected to Southern Company’s subsidiary Alabama Power.
The Montgomery, Alabama coalition has been working together with the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) to attack the CPP. After the CPP draft rule was released in June 2014, PACE and CEA hosted the Gulf Coast Energy Forum to attack the regulations. PACE has also filed a public comment on the CPP that included the American Farm Bureau, National Association of Manufactures, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
PACE also paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Southern Christian Leadership Conference leader Charles Steele, who has then spoke in favor of Alabama Power at a 2013 rate hearing and also published an article on The Christian Post attacking the CPP.
Texas Public Policy Foundation – conservative think tank funded by Koch Industries and the Texas electric utility company Luminant.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is based in Austin, Texas and part of the State Policy Network and several task forces in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Recently, TPPF proposed an interstate compact to defy the EPA and Clean Power Plan under constitutional authority. The proposal would prevent the states that are part of the compact to submit plans to the EPA while also inhibiting the EPA from enforcing its own federal plan on those states, which the EPA is legally obliged to do when a state fails to comply with standards. Congress would need to agree to the compact.
August 4 update: The Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy issued a statement criticizing the Clean Power Plan. It seems PACE collaborated with the National Black Chamber of Commerce and the Consumer Energy Alliance since both of these organizations are featured on the statement. PACE is also signatory to a Consumer Energy Alliance statement released July 30 stating, “EPA should reconsider its “Plan” in light of all the ongoing court proceedings and the legitimate concerns raised by bipartisan policymakers, non-partisan regulators, and the consumers they serve.”