As Saudi Arabia unveils a $100 billion plan to wean itself off fossil fuel and go solar, conservative think tanks in the U.S. are attacking energy legislation that would support development of wind farms. Of course, there is no way to tell this story without mentioning Charles and David Koch, owners of the Keystone Pipeline. The oil sands billionaires fund both Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council which are now attacking President Obama’s clean energy plans. Ever since the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based public-policy think tank funded by Koch Industries, was exposed to be systematically undermining climate research in order to further their claims that climate change is a hoax accountability groups have been reasonably skeptical of anti-wind groups that deny the safety and efficiency of wind power in order to rally support for the expansion the Keystone Pipeline and natural gas fracking. They want us to forget the fact that a wind industry would create jobs because they only want more jobs for big oil and gas.
Checks and Balances, an accountibility group, unearthed a strategy memo showing plans to create a national movement of wind farm protesters. Documents showed suggestions to:
- Start a PR campaign for the purpose of “subversion in message of industry so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it.”
- Spend $750,000 to create an organization dedicated to building public opposition to state and federal government policies encouraging the wind energy industry – and this organization would have a paid staff and tax-exempt status.
- Set up a “dummy businesses” to buy 400 foot anti-wind billboards [Likely in order to cast wind farms as visual blight].
- Forming a “counter-intelligence branch” to track the wind energy industry.
“These documents show for the first time that local Nimby anti-wind groups are co-ordinating and working with national fossil-fuel funded advocacy groups to wreck the wind industry,” said Gabe Elsner, a co-director of Checks and Balances. The strategy was prepared by John Droz, Jr., a senior fellow at the American Tradition Institute, although ATI claims he acted alone. In February, Droz and Illinois lawyer Rich Porter held a meeting with wind-opponents from around the country in Washington DC to discuss the anti-wind campaign.
Saudi Arabia’s oil minister called global warming “among humanity’s most pressing concerns” earlier this year and just months later they have produced a plan to scale up solar power to one third their domestic electricity production by 2032. It seems baffling that conservative groups in the US are moving in the opposite direction. And yet a March Pew poll suggests 78 percent of the American public supports increased funding for wind and other forms of alternative energy. Perhaps more baffling is how Koch has x amount of money, spends a great deal of it trying to keep Americans in the dark, and yet somehow they are not yet a household name. Their clever PR has managed to wipe it from many headlines. Remember the name Koch (pronounced Coke) Industries and next time you hear big oil, tar sands, or Keystone news.