Analysis: Americans for Prosperity Anti-Wind Letter, June 2014

Wind_PTC2014_Graphic.png

The fossil fuel-funded Americans for Prosperity spearheaded a letter published as a full page advertisement in Politico on June 9, 2014 that was signed by 117 organizations. The letter attacked wind energy and called on Congress to oppose the extension of the Wind Production Tax Credit. The Energy and Policy Institute examined the list of signatories and found the following:  

  • Sixty organizations are either funded by fossil fuel interests like the Koch Brothers, ExxonMobil, and the American Petroleum Institute, and/or have known ties to the Koch Brothers’ political network.
    • Thirty-six have been exposed as fossil fuel-funded front groups.

    • The additional 24 organizations have been known to operate within the Koch Brothers’ vast political network as allies of the State Policy Network, American Legislative Exchange Council, or other Koch-backed organizations, and may very likely be funded by fossil fuel interests.

  • Forty-two of the organizations are local anti-wind groups, many of which have minimal public presence or are small collections of local anti-wind activists. Due to the lack of an online footprint, we were unable to determine the size or funding of many of these groups. However, some of the local anti-wind groups listed attended a meeting organized by a fossil fuel front group in Washington, D.C. in 2012.
    • Twenty-one of the 117 organizations have no public presence or a sparse online footprint.

    • For example, “Sherman.Wind.Resistance” has no public presence except for a single reference [.doc] to the email address sherman.wind.resistance@gmail.com

    • The organization “Lee County Informed” is a group of 10 families fighting a local wind farm, but has minimal public presence and no online footprint. 

    • “Save our Skies Ohio” has been unincorporated in the state of Ohio, according to business records

  • Americans for Prosperity claims that 117 organizations signed the letter. However, there are only 116 organizations listed, and the list includes entities that are hardly organizations. 

    • The Weyrich Lunch is not an organization, but a weekly gathering of elite conservatives that happens every Wednesday in Washington. The gathering is affiliated with Grover Norquist’s Wednesday morning meetings (of fossil fuel-funded Americans for Tax Reform).

    •  

      Less Government is a front group managed by consultant Seton Motley, but it has no website at its URL, lessgovernment.org and no public presence except for Seton Motley’s work as a pundit. 

    •  

      Ohioan for Affordable Electricity has no online footprint, and is actually just one anti-wind activist, Tom Stacy. Stacy apparently runs “Save Western Ohio,” but the organization’s website is a collection of old or dead links. 

See our full analysis of each "organization" below. 

Organization State Fossil Fuel Funding? Koch Network? Description
Cleburn County Wind Farm Awareness AL    
Local anti-wind group; no website
No Wind Alabama AL      
Local anti-wind group
Save Cherokee Rock Village AL      
Local anti-wind group; no website
Wind Swindle Alabama AL      
Local anti-wind group; no website
Advance Arkansas Institute AK Yes Yes

Funding from DonorsTrust/State Policy Networkmember of State Policy Network; part of Franklin Center, funded by DonorsTrust and launched by Sam Adams Alliance, which is funded by Koch-backed SPN

Arizona Free Enterprise Club AZ Yes Yes  
Support from Koch-backed Institute for Justice, which litigated the group's case before Supreme Court
National Tax Limitation Committee CA      
Tobacco industry funded front group - worked to limit federal regulation on tobacco
Independence Institute CO      
Funded by DonorsTrust; part of Franklin Center, funded by DonorsTrust and launched by Sam Adams Alliance, which is funded by Koch-backed SPN 
60 Plus Association DC Yes Yes  
Funding from Center to Protect Patient Rights, a Koch funding passthrough; also funded by Freedom Partners, the Koch Brothers' secret bank; also received funding from Koch-network's TC4 Trust 
American Commitment DC Yes Yes  
Koch-funded group, almost entirely funded by Koch passthroughs Freedom Partners, Center to Protect Patient Rights
American Conservative Union DC Yes Yes  
Funding from ExxonMobil; DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund
American Energy Alliance DC Yes Yes  
Funded by ExxonMobil, Koch Brothers and Freedom Partners; President is former Koch lobbyist
Americans for Prosperity DC Yes Yes  
Founded and funded by Koch Brothers
Americans for Tax Reform DC Yes Yes  
Funded by American Petroleum Institute and Koch Brothers; member of State Policy Network
Citizen's Alliance for Responsible Energy DC Yes Yes
Founded by Mark Mathis, consultant to Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico; funded by New Mexico Oil and Gas companies
 
Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes DC   Yes
Americans for Prosperity funded allied group Building a Better Ohio on Ohio Issue 2; signed previous AFP anti-wind letter
 
Competitive Enterprise Institute DC Yes Yes  
Funding from ExxonMobil and Koch Brothers; Member of State Policy Network
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste DC Yes Yes  
Funding from Exxon Mobil; signed previous AFP anti-wind letter
Energy Makes America Great, Inc. DC Yes Yes  
Funded by New Mexico Oil and Gas Association; part of Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy
Freedom Action DC Yes Yes  
Executive Director is Myron Ebell, who works for Competitive Enterprise Institute
Freedom Works DC Yes Yes  
Funded by DonorsTrust; Break up of Citizens for Sound Economy (funded by the Koch Brothers) created FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity (funded by the Koch Brothers)
Heritage Action for America DC Yes Yes  
Funded by Koch Brothers; member of State Policy Network
Independent Women's Forum DC Yes Yes  
Funded by Koch Brothers; affiliated with Americans for Prosperity for 5 years
Less Government DC      
Front group managed by consultant Seyton Motley; no website exists at lessgovernment.org, the organization's listed web URL
Let Freedom Ring DC Yes Yes  
Funded through Koch Brothers' political network
National Center for Public Policy Research DC Yes Yes  
Funding from ExxonMobil; member of State Policy Network
R Street Institute DC   Yes  
Connected to Koch political network, was part of Heartland Institute
State Sight DC Yes Yes  
Run by Casey Given, part of Koch political network (Students for Liberty)
Taxpayer's Protection Alliance DC   Yes
Connections to Koch-funded Americans for Job Security and Alliance for America's Future
 
Taxpayers for Common Sense DC      
Anti-subsidy group pushing to end to all energy subsidies
Tea Party Nation DC   Yes  
For profit company, organized first Tea Party convention 
The Club for Growth DC Yes Yes  
Founded by Stephen Moore, who's connected to American Legislative Exchange Council and Koch network; Wisconsin Club for Growth funded by Koch-front group Center to Protect Patient Rights
The Conservative Caucus DC      
Marc Morano of CFACT on the board
The Libre Initiative DC Yes Yes  
Very likely funded by Koch Brothers; Koch affiliated at the least
The Weyrich Lunch DC   Yes  
Not an organization but a "weekly, off the record meeting of conservatives that happens every Wednesday in Washington. Grover Norquist's meeting is at Americans for Tax Reform's office in the morning; those invited to "Weyrich" head off campus after noon." 
Caesar Rodney Institute DE Yes Yes  
Funded by Donors Capital Fund; Member of State Policy Network
Secure America's Future Economy DE   Yes  
part of National Taxpayers Union, which is a State Policy Network member
Georgia Center Right Coalition GA      
No website, no additional information found
Include Resource Supply Management GA      
"Resource Supply Management" is a utility industry consulting group run by Americans for Prosperity Georgia activist
Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy GA   Yes  
part of Consumer Energy Alliance, fossil fuel funded front group
Energy Integrity Project ID   Yes  
Local anti-wind group; part of anti-wind meeting in DC
Advocates for Responsible Energy Development IL      
Local anti-wind group
Bureau County Informed Farmers IL      
No website, no additional information found
Energize Illinois IL   Yes  
No website, no additional information found
Illinois Policy Action IL   Yes  
Funded by Donors Capital Fund; Member of State Policy Network
Illinois Wind Watch IL   Yes
Part of anti-wind meeting in DC, Tea party group connection
 
 
Lee County Informed
 IL    
Local anti-wind group, no website, group of 10 families
 

Ogle Wind

IL    
No website, no additional information found
The Heartland Institute IL Yes Yes  
Funding from ExxonMobil and Koch Brothers
Concerned Taxpayers of Wells County IN      
No website
Grant County Concerned Citizens IN      
Local anti-wind group
Howard County Concerned Citizens IN      
Local anti-wind group
Resite Now IN      
Local anti-wind group
Wells County Concerned Citizens IN      
Local anti-wind group
Whitley County Concerned Citizens IN      
Local anti-wind group
No Wind Turbines Int'l      
No website, no additional information found
Kansas Policy Institute KS Yes Yes  
Funding from Franklin Center, which is funded by Donors Trust/Donors Capital; member of State Policy Network
Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions KY   Yes  
Member of State Policy Network
Friends of Lincoln Lakes ME      
Local anti-wind group; no website
Friends of Maine's Mountains ME      
Local anti-wind group
Protect Our Lakes ME    
Local anti-wind group
 
SavingMaine.org ME      
Local anti-wind group
Wayne County Taxpayer's Association MI      
Local anti-tax group
Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition MI, OH   Yes
Local anti-wind group; connections to Koch network
 
Center of the American Experiment MN      
member of State Policy Network and American Legislative Exchange Council
Coalition for Sensible Siting MN      
Local anti-wind group
Freedom Foundation Minnesota MN      
Member of State Policy Network; part of Franklin Center, funded by DonorsTrust and launched by Sam Adams Alliance, which is funded by Koch-backed SPN 
Goodhue Wind Truth MN      
Local anti-wind group
United for Missouri MO Yes Yes  
Funded by Americans for Prosperity 
Montanans for Tax Reform MT Yes Yes  
Affiliated with Americans for Tax Reform
Civitas Institute NC Yes    
Member of State Policy Network; funded by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and Art Pope (one of AFP's former directors); part of Franklin Center, funded by DonorsTrust and launched by Sam Adams Alliance, which is funded by Koch-backed SPN 
John Locke Foundation NC Yes    
Funding from Donors Trust and Koch Brothers;  Member of State Policy Network; part of Franklin Center, funded by DonorsTrust and launched by Sam Adams Alliance, which is funded by Koch-backed SPN ; Funded by tobacco industry and advocated against tobacco regulation
Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom NE   Yes
affiliated with National Taxpayers Union, which is part of the State Policy Network
Win It Back NE      
Local anti-wind group; no website
Bayshore Tea Party Group NJ      
Local Tea Party group
Rio Grande Foundation NM Yes  
Funding from Donors Trust;  Member of State Policy Network; Part of Franklin Center, funded by DonorsTrust and launched by Sam Adams Alliance, which is funded by Koch-backed SPN;
Clear Skies Over Orangeville NY      
Local anti-wind group; "Partner" of Citizen Power Alliance
Citizen Power Alliance NY      
Coalition of local anti-wind groups 
Coalition for the Preservation of the Golden Crescent NY   Yes
Local anti-wind group; Signed letter with AFP in 2012, Member of Citizens Power Alliance
Coalition on Article X NY   Yes  
Signed letter with AFP in 2012
Cohocton Wind Watch NY    
Local anti-wind group; Member of Citizens Power Alliance, Same P. O. Box
Concerned Citizens of Cattarugus County NY    
Local anti-wind group; Member of Citizens Power Alliance
 
Great Lakes Beach Sweep NY      
Local beach clean up organization
Great Lakes Wind Truth, USA NY      
Local anti-wind group; related to Save the Eagles International and Great Lakes Wind Truth
North American Platform Against Wind Power NY      
Local anti-wind group
Protect Richfield NY      
Local anti-wind group
Save the Eagles International NY      
related to Great Lakes Wind Truth and Toronto Wind Action
Toronto Wind Action NY      
local anti-wind group, related to Save the Eagles International and Great Lakes Wind Truth
WindTurbineSyndrome.com NY      
Anti-wind website; Local zoning board found mold/radon which debunked an ABC News piece about Wind Turbine Syndrome
Mansfield North Central Ohio Tea Party Association OH      
Local Tea Party group
Mansfield Tea Party Patriots OH   Yes  
Local Tea Party group; Head of American Petroleum Institute-funded astroturf group was formerly organizer of Mansfield Tea Party Patriots, allies with Oil and Gas industry, and Americans for Prosperity
Ohioan for Affordable Electricity OH   Yes
One person group; spoke at Institute for Energy Research (a.k.a. American Energy Alliance) event, cited on MasterResource, also runs Save Western Ohio, no website
 
Save Our Skies Ohio OH      
Dissolved group, no website, cancelled corporate registration with Ohio state 
Save Our Skyline VWC OH      
Local anti-wind group; no website
The Black Fork Wind Resistance OH   Yes  
Local anti-wind group; signed previous Americans for Prosperity letters
Cascade Policy Institute OR Yes Yes  
Funding from Donors Capital Fund; member of State Policy Network; part of, Frankiln Center, funded by DonorsTrust and launched by Sam Adams Alliance, which is funded by Koch-backed SPN
Commonwealth Foundation PA Yes Yes  
Funding from Koch Brothers and DonorsTrust/Donors Capital Fund; member of State Policy Network; part of Franklin Center, funded by DonorsTrust and launched by Sam Adams Alliance, which is funded by Koch-backed SPN
Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity RI Yes Yes  
Funding by State Policy Network; member of Start Policy Network; part of Franklin Center, funded by DonorsTrust and launched by Sam Adams Alliance, which is funded by Koch-backed SPN
Far North Dallas Tea Party TX      
Local Tea Party group
Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute TX   Yes  
Member of State Policy Network
Texas Public Policy Action TX Yes Yes  
Funding from Koch Brothers; member of State Policy Network
American Legislative Exchange Council VA Yes Yes  
Funding from Koch Brothers, fossil fuel companies; central infrastructure to lobby state legislators as part of Koch political network
Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation VA Yes Yes  
Produced video for ExxonMobil-funded American Energy Freedom Center; connections to Heritage Institute and Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow
Frontiers of Freedom VA Yes Yes  
Funding from Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil; funded by tobacco industry
The Conservative Coalition VA      
Local coalition of Tea Party groups; No website
Brighton Ridge Protectors VT      
Local anti-wind group; No website
Newark Neighbors United VT      
Local anti-wind group; one of three groups opposed to Seneca Mountain Wind Project
Save Our Senecas VT      
Local anti-wind group; one of three groups opposed to Seneca Mountain Wind Project
Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy WI      
Local anti-wind group; one of three groups opposed to Seneca Mountain Wind Project
Sheboygan County Communities for Responsible Energy WI    
No website, same town of Sherman as"Sherman Wind Resistance" below
 
Sherman Wind Resisistance WI      
Local anti-wind group; no website
Allegheny Front Alliance WV      
Local anti-wind group; part of Allegheny Highlands Alliance
Allegheny Highlands Alliance WV      
Coalition of local anti-wind groups 
Friends of Beautiful Pendleton County WV      
No website, Part of Allegheny Highlands Alliance
 
Laurel Mountain Preservation Association
 WV    
Local anti-wind group
 
West Virginia Coal WV Yes    
West Virginia statewide coal association

 

 

Add your reaction Share

Fossi Fuel-Funded Deception Stealing Our Sympathy and Our Future

Guest post by Sarah Taylor from Cleveland, Ohio. Cross-posted from Windustrious.org

There is a growing sense among the public that life on our planet is being threatened by our careless misuse of its resources.

The most obvious evidence of this misuse is climate change. Unexpected dramatic weather patterns are now being experienced everywhere. Along with rising sea levels, due to the melting of polar ice, these patterns have led to increased flooding of coastal communities. Perhaps more insidious is the growing desertification of large continental areas. This is accompanied by a rapid reduction in fresh water supply, essential for food production, in neighboring agricultural regions.

Specifically, it is the burning of fossil fuels, with the accompanying release of carbon dioxide, that is to blame. Those fuels powered up the industrial revolution, but their time has come and gone.  

We can replant swaths of landscape to absorb some of the carbon dioxide that humans continue to produce, but our overwhelming need is to transition rapidly to carbon-free sources of energy. Our planet is fortunately blessed with just such non-polluting energy resources - the sun and the wind - which can, with relatively small investments, provide us with unlimited supplies of power into the indefinite future.

There is just one thing that might get in the way - namely the financial interest of those with a stake in our outdated sources of energy. These tycoons may be few in number, but they are huge in influence (i.e. money!). They know that wind and solar power installations can be rapidly built, can threaten the profitability of coal, oil and gas, and can subsequently lead to their mines and wells being closed down. They therefore feel a need to create and sow widespread doubt amongst the public, about the effectiveness of the new sources of energy. This goal is being accomplished, extraordinarily successfully, through the exploitation of a completely unexpected resource - human sympathy.

So how did they achieve this?

Years ago, with the erection of the first wind turbines around the United States, the public response that was most discussed was that of visual impact. It is understandable that when large new structures are added to the landscape, some concern may follow. However, it turns out that as people become aware of the usefulness of the new additions, and of their contribution to society's well-being, then acceptance, and even affection, follow. This transition from hostility to appreciation happens, even when a structure is not intended to be functional. An example of this, cited by Paul Gipe in "Wind Power in View", is the evolution of Parisians' attitudes - from negative to positive - to the erection of the Eiffel Tower.           

Fossil fuel interests soon realized that it was unlikely that they could delay the erection of wind turbines by encouraging dislike based on visual pollution. So what other factor could they find - or maybe invent - that the public might object to? The unexpected answer is danger to birds and bats. 

Most humans care about animals (at least the ones they don't eat). This is particularly true of bird lovers, of which there are millions in the United States. Caring for birds is based on unselfishness, unlike one's feelings about an altered view, or about mechanical noise. By appealing to peoples' concern, and potential guilt, rather than to their self-interest, fossil fuel supporters have brilliantly succeeded in cultivating not just delaying tactics, but outright opposition to the installation of wind turbines. Countless statements in countless documents now describe the danger that wind turbine blades pose to birds. Repetition sparks repetition. More and more extensive and elaborate studies are demanded for every proposed wind project. Many installations have now been put on hold, or simply stopped. All this is in spite of the fact that accidental bird deaths are thousands of times more likely to be due to collision with glass windows than to collision with wind turbines (see linked article). Less obvious, but even more deadly, is the mortal threat that global climate change is already causing directly, to many animals.

All this deception by the fossil-fuel industry would be effective enough, even if they were the only ones responsible for spreading the fear-mongering. However, they have had the invaluable support of some so-called environmental groups, who have provided the key element of credibility to the deceit. How much these self-described conservation groups are unwitting supporters, and how much they are actual allies, of the anti-wind power effort, has yet to be decided. Some of them have simply helped to spread doubts about the sites of many wind projects, while others have actually been the leaders in halting proposed wind installations (see linked article). Some unrelated environmental organizations then highlight these stories in their publications, and inadvertently spread the lies even further.

It is vital that we all become aware of this massive deception. We should realize that birds are capable of navigating around or between the slowly rotating blades of large wind turbines, and are in far, far greater danger when they fly near our towns and cities.

If we allow ourselves to be deceived by the fossil-fuel industry and their fabricated worries about birds, then we will be refusing to look the future squarely in the face. We must end our addiction to fossil fuels, and work to establish clean, renewable alternatives.     

The birds and bats will thank us.

Add your reaction Share

Wind Energy: A Mature Business Challenging Fossil Generation Profits

Wind energy is a rapidly growing and profitable business worldwide, usually at the expense of fossil fuel generation revenue and, more importantly, profits. Unwrapping the conditions underlying profitable wind farms is useful when considering getting into the wind energy business or analyzing it, but also in terms of understanding motivations and tactics of those opposed to wind energy.

The factors determining the profitability of wind energy projects are the wind resources available, modern wind turbines, an effective economic regime to sell wind energy into, relatively cheap connections to the grid, highly optimized management and maintenance, and efficiency in getting to operational status.

 Source: Utility-Scale Land-Based 80-Meter Wind Maps

Source: Utility-Scale Land-Based 80-Meter Wind Maps

 

Read more
2 reactions Share

Property Values Not Hurt by Wind Energy

By Mike Barnard, Senior Fellow, Wind

Windmill generators in GermanyTen major studies in three countries of 1.3 million property transactions over 18 years of data have found no connection between wind farms and property values. Yet the fear of property value loss persists and is exploited by anti-wind campaigning groups in their attempts to turn local populaces against wind developments.

By comparison, only two moderately reliable studies with some statistical significance found property value impacts, and they are both challenged in different ways. Five other often referenced studies are merely case studies with no statistical significance, done by appraisers who show strong evidence of bias, and in one case there is clear evidence that they ignored the reality of the property they appraised. 

Table of wind farm property value studies

The evidence that wind farms don't harm property values is robust, methodologically sound and from reliable organizations. The evidence that wind farms harm property values is much weaker, methodologically challenged at best and usually from much less reliable organizations. 

Read more
2 reactions Share

Michigan Releases Report on Renewable Energy Benefits Amidst Front Group Attacks

On Monday, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder unveiled a new study by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) detailing how renewable energy is saving consumers money and leading to robust business investment. The new report [.PDF] states that it is feasible for Michigan to achieve a 30% renewable energy standard (RPS) by 2035. MPSC Chairman John Quackenbush said, after the release of this new report, that Michigan is "capable of reaching that goal with resources located right in the state of Michigan..." according to Michigan Live. It also goes on to report that wind energy technology improvements have resulted in a decline in wind generation prices from over $100 per MWh in 2009 to $50 to $60 per MWh today.

The MPSC's latest report cements that the state's clean energy laws are generating positive economic opportunities and creating jobs [.PDF] - a pattern found across the country with pro-clean energy policies like RPS. MPSC's report on renewable energy confirms the findings from another recent report on the implementation of Michigan's Renewable Energy Standard from February 2013. The February report stated the "cost of the renewable energy standard is substantially lower than the cost of new-coal-fired plant, but combined, at a cost of $45.98 per MWh, the two PA 295 standards cost less than any newly built generation including new natural gas combined cycle plants." The Februay report also looked at the cost of service data for Consumers Energy and Detroit Energy, companies with a combined 8 million customers, and found that the weighted average of current overall power supply costs, including purchased power, is more than the combined cost of the renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.

Furthermore, the independent grid operator for all or part of 13 Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes states, PJM, performed a separate study that found wind energy reduces electricity production costs, wholesale prices, and eliminates carbon dioxide pollution. 

Read more
4 reactions Share