Today, the American Energy Alliance (AEA) released a poll regarding the EPA’s plan to cut carbon emissions, and federal tax credits for clean energy like the wind Production Tax Credit.
The poll was an effort to show that Americans disapprove of EPA’s Clean Power Plan and the federal tax credit for wind energy. AEA president Thomas Pyle said in the press release, “The survey makes clear that Americans are growing weary of the blatant cronyism that runs rampant through our political system, and the failed federal policies that stifle innovation and increase the cost of the reliable energy we need to move America forward.”
Ironically, results from the poll show that a majority of respondents favor the tax credit to increase wind energy. They also support states that require a certain amount of their electricity to come from renewable sources.
Although the poll is presented as objective, the validity of the poll is questionable because a close look at AEA’s connections and supporters shows they are far from objective.
AEA is the advocacy arm of the Institute for Energy Research (IER), a pro-fossil fuel and anti-clean energy think tank that has received funding from ExxonMobil and the Koch Brothers. Documents obtained by Republic Report last month revealed, for the first time, that IER was founded by Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries. Reports revealed that IER and AEA have received grants from Koch family foundations, and its leadership includes several individuals who have at times worked for Koch or Koch-related interests. But, as Lee Fang writes, “[T]his is the first time it has been revealed that Charles personally founded the organization.”
AEA is organized as a 501(c)(4) non-profit and is run by Thomas Pyle, who previously lobbied on behalf of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association and Koch Industries.
The organization hired MWR Strategies to conduct the survey. Data from OpenSecrets.org shows that MWR Strategies has been retained by Koch Industries; Southern Company, which is the second largest utility company in the country; Dow Chemical; Competitive Power Ventures; GDF Suez, which is Europe’s largest liquefied natural gas importer; Public Service Enterprise Group; and Tampa Electric Company; for a combined lobbying revenue of $320,000 in 2014.
MWR Strategies has collected a total of $1,120,000 from Koch Industries and Southern Company since 2007. American Electric Power, the country’s largest generating utility, also retained MWR Strategies between at least 2004 and 2012, spending $570,000 for the company’s services.
American Electric Power and Southern Company are both members of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). These front groups are used to drum up opposition to the EPA’s power plant standards, as well as pro-renewable energy policies such as the Production Tax Credit.
Koch Industries uses their web of front groups and think tanks including IER and AEA, as well as ALEC to also fight EPA standards and restrict renewable energy development.
With Senator Harry Reid saying he will bring legislation to the Senate floor by the end of the year to renew the Production Tax Credit, and the comment period for EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan concluding on October 16, more opposition to these policies is expected.