Friday, August 08, 2014
The hidden “persuaders” of the environmentalist elite
We can scarcely imagine the countless ways the ultra-rich Big Green / Big Government movement acts in consort to control our lives – at the behest of the 0.01% of uber-elites ... and at the expense of the 99% of American taxpayers, consumers, workers and citizens. Even worse, just when we think we are beginning to grasp the enormity of the problem, another report emerges to demonstrate that we still don’t know the half of it, or even the fiftieth. In this article, Washington Examiner columnist and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise executive vice president Ron Arnold exposes still more of the dirty little secrets these would-be global dictators strive so mightily to keep hidden
America’s Big Green environmental agenda is set by elite foundations that decide which activists get the money. They form “affinity groups” to collude with President Obama’s bureaucracy, which funnels tax dollars to Democratic advocates to enforce that agenda.
And they don’t just attempt to develop public policy and persuade Americans to adopt them. They find numerous ways to impose those policies on us – without our advice or consent, and despite the harm they inflict on our economy, national security, jobs, living standards or well-being.
Meet the conservation cash cartel of the uber-rich: the Environmental Grantmakers Association, a veteran organization (founded in 1985) of more than 200 ultra-wealthy foundations now caught in the spotlight of a new 92-page US Senate report exposing Big Green wealth eating away America’s industrial strength.
This is the same EGA that emerged as an issue during Senate confirmation hearings for Rhea Sun Suh, the Interior Department’s new head of national parks and the Fish and Wildlife Service – and a veteran EGA member who invited colleagues to come visit her at Interior any time.
Suh once worked for the Packard Foundation on programs to block oil and gas production in the western United States. Ironically, Packard’s investment portfolio – the profits from which the foundation pays its anti-oil and gas grants – holds more than $350,000 in ExxonMobil shares, and millions in dozens of other lesser-known fossil fuel securities.
Most of the EGA’s foundation members have similar million-dollar dirty little secrets. But of course their tax-exempt activist recipients are not morally conflicted by taking fossil fuel cash and keeping it a secret – as long as the loot furthers their corrosive goals of reducing America’s hydrocarbon use and economic power, and regardless of the impacts their policies inflict on the jobs, living standards, health and welfare of poor, elderly, blue-collar and minority families.
The classic unintentional self-parody displayed by Greenpeace, for example, is fascinating to watch, as it concocts convoluted “ethical” explanations for why its oil-soaked funding is purified by the “lofty” save-the-planet intent of its donors, whenever the funding is exposed.
The new report is titled “The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA.” It was produced by the Republican staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, under the direction of Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, the committee’s ranking minority member.
Its executive summary states, “an elite group of left-wing millionaires and billionaires, which this report refers to as the ‘Billionaire’s Club,’ directs and controls the far-left environmental movement, which in turn controls major policy decisions and lobbies on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
Having researched over $80 billion in green grants during the past few decades, I was impressed by the scope and detail of the oversight team’s work, and asked Vitter how he felt about it.
“This report really gets to the core of tracking the money and exposing the collusion,” Vitter told me. “The complicated, layered system is intended to create a lack of transparency. There is an unbelievable amount of money behind the environmental movement, and far too much collusion between far-left environmental groups and the Obama EPA.”
The collusion is like something out of a bad spy movie. For example, Vitter’s oversight team uncovered a June 2009 deal in which the Rockefeller Family Fund offered then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson money to pay for a plant inside the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, to “stake the EPA’s claim there,” and then slip the shill into a pre-arranged EPA job, giving the agency a White House insider on staff –while not coincidentally tightening the Rockefeller Fund’s power grip over the EPA.
Jackson wrote to her chief of staff Diane Thompson, “I think it’s a fine idea and can only help EPA in the long run.”Jackson then used her fake Richard Windsor email account to send the note, in an attempt to prevent exposure of her unethical shenanigans. Thompson replied, “My thoughts exactly. The more inside connections, the better.”
The Rockefeller shill was Shalini Vajjhala, who agreed to leave her minor position at the Washington think tank Resources for the Future for a two-month stint at the CEQ, holding the pretentious title of “deputy associate director for energy and climate.” The EPA then slipped her in as deputy assistant administrator of its Office of International & Tribal Affairs. Vajjhala remained there until her 2011 appointment as EPA’s special representative leading a presidential US-Brazil initiative.
After Vajjhala cycled through the White House and EPA, she got her personal reward in 2012: approval to found and manage a new investment portfolio supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. (This is the original 1913 John D. Rockefeller philanthropy, not the fourth generation’s Family Fund. There are many Rockefeller tentacles, which makes all of this even more confusing.) Vajjhala now contributes to the Huffington Post, funded in part by the wealthy Park Foundation.
EGA foundations are metastasizing into hundreds of far-left funds. The report drills into one of them, the Sea Change Foundation, “a private California foundation, which relies on funding from undisclosed donors and funnels tens of millions of dollars to other foundations and prominent environmental activists who strive to control both policy and politics.”
There is an incredible seedbed of Sea Change front groups. Bill Gates’ foundation gave Sea Change Capital Partners $2.5 million. eBay’s Omidyar Network Fund gave the same partners $2 million. David Rockefeller’s personal foundation gave loads of cash to the Center for Sea Change. Wal-Mart’s foundation gave $500,000 to Strategies for the Global Foundation Sea Change, an international tentacle into the White House.
But it’s not just the environment. The Crime Prevention Research Center, a nonprofit that tracks gun control activists, reported: “On January 8, 2013, the Obama Administration met with 23 large foundations to organize a push for national gun control. They included such organizations as the Open Society Institute, the McCormick Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation” and the MacArthur Foundation.
Foundations appear to be colluding with almost every Executive Branch department in the Obama administration. And it’s not just the Big Green donors. It’s all kinds of left-wing activists and bureaucrats who want to control our lives, liberties and living standards – with no accountability for mistakes they make, intentional harm and emotional distress they intentionally inflict, or damage they cause to millions of American businesses, families and communities.
It’s time for Congress to hear testimony from some of the manipulative foundation program directors and investment managers, as they try to explain their actions to those whose lives they have wrecked and destroyed.
NETWORK COVERAGE OF ‘EXTREME WEATHER’ UP NEARLY 1,000 PERCENT
Use of the phrase “extreme weather” in news stories has exploded in recent years. Almost a decade ago, before former Vice President Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” was released, the broadcast news networks rarely used the term. Gore’s 2006 movie and book of the same name used the phrase “extreme weather” and linked the hurricanes, floods, drought and other natural disasters to global warming. The networks have lauded Gore and his film for years.
Between July 2004 and July 2005, a year before Gore’s movie, the three networks only used the phrase “extreme weather” in 18 stories on their morning and evening news shows in that entire year.
Now, it is a favorite phrase of the networks. In the past year (July 2013 through July 2014), the same network news shows talked about it 988 percent more: in a whopping 196 stories. That’s more than enough stories to see one every other day on average.
During that time, extreme weather was frequently used by the networks to describe heat waves, droughts, tornadoes, hurricanes and winter storms, and they often included the phrase in onscreen graphics or chyrons during weather stories. ABC even has an “extreme weather team” dedicated to covering such events. Some of those reports explicitly linked the events to climate change, but even when they didn’t the stories fueled the narrative of climate alarmism.
The networks have worked tirelessly to promote the idea that extreme weather events were more common than they actually have been. What used to just be called weather, is now extreme. On May 6, 2014, NBC White House Correspondent Peter Alexander told “Nightly News” viewers to “just think of all the extreme weather headlines in the last months. Floods, tornadoes, record cold and record droughts.”
ABC correspondent Dan Harris announced on Feb. 22, 2014, “Good Morning America” that “much of America [is] dealing with extreme weather right now. A really nasty mix of twisters, high winds and flooding rains.”
But even alarmist scientists who worried about the danger of global warming admitted connecting so-called “extreme weather” to climate change was “controversial” and lacks proof. The United Nations reduced its certainty regarding a connection between heat waves, droughts and tropical cyclones and climate change in 2013.
While discussing extreme weather, including simultaneous “extended periods of cold” and “unprecedented winter warmth,” climate alarmist Michael Mann of Penn State University said that connections to climate change were “a speculative and genuinely controversial area of the science.”
As for claims that storms are becoming more frequent, that hasn’t been the case with hurricanes. Climatologist Dr. John Christy who has looked back to the 1850s told the MRC in 2013 “there is no trend in hurricanes.” He said, “[I]f you look at the last seven years, there has not been single major hurricane hit the United States. This is the longest period of such a dearth of hurricanes in that entire record.”
In early 2014, when the networks hyped a drought in California as the “worst drought on record,” Dr. Martin Hoerling, a federal climate researcher, disagreed and told the MRC it was consistent with previous California droughts.
Is It The Sun?
In 2008 William Livingston and Matthew Penn of the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, in a controversial paper that contradicted conventional wisdom and upset global warming theorists, predicted that sunspots could more or less disappear after 2015, possibly indicating the onset of another Little Ice Age. They stated, “The occurrence of prolonged periods with no sunspots is important to climate studies, since the Maunder Minimum was shown to correspond with the reduced average global temperatures on the Earth.” The Maunder Minimum lasted for approximately 70 years from about 1645 to 1715, and was marked by bitter cold, widespread crop failures, and severe human privation. (2)
There has been increasing evidence in recent years to support this supposition that global warming is linked with solar activity.
In 2011, three papers suggested the Earth could be heading for a ‘little ice age’ as solar activity drops once again. (3)
Other research also confirmed that solar effects could bring on little ice ages. Sarah Ineson and her colleagues report that changes in the Sun’s emissions of ultraviolet radiation coincided with observed cold winters over southern Europe and Canada between 2008 and 2011. (4)
And Katja Matthes and colleagues report that simulations with a climate model using new observations of solar vulnerability suggests a substantial influence of the Sun on the winter climate in the Northern Hemisphere. (5)
A 2014 paper by Chinese scientists reported the impact of carbon dioxide on climate change may have been overstated with solar activity giving a better explanation of changes in the Earth’s temperature. The paper found ‘a high correlation between solar activity and the Earth’s averaged surface temperature over centuries,’ suggesting that climate change is intimately linked with solar cycles rather than human activity. Indeed, the study says that the ‘modern maximum’ – a peak in solar activity that lasted much of the last century corresponds very well with an increase in global temperatures. (6)
Russian scientists foresee an even more dramatic situation. They predict that a little ice age will begin in 2014. (7)
In their book, The Neglected Sun, authors Fritz Vahrenholt and Sebastian Luning pose that temperatures could be two-tenths of a degree lower by 2030 as a result of an anemic sun, which would mean warming getting postponed far into the future.
Note that these reports are from researchers around the world.
Nick Hallet observes, “The research shows that the current warming models of the IPCC seem to underestimate the impact of natural factors on climate change, while overstating that of human activities. Solar activity is an important ingredient of natural driving forces of climate. Therefore, it is valuable to investigate the influence of solar variability on the Earth’s climate change on long time scales.” (6)
Add to all this a very recent paper that says the modern Grand maximum of the sun (which occurred during solar cycles 19-23, i. e., 1950-2009) was a ‘rare or even unique event in both magnitude and duration in the past 3,000 years.’(8)
Unfortunately, it was beyond the scope of this paper to address the potential impact of solar activity on climate. Yet the reconstruction leaves a very big question unanswered—What effect did the Grand maximum have on Earth’s climate? As a ‘unique’ and ‘rare’ event in terms of both magnitude and duration, one would think a lot more time and effort would be spent by IPCC and others in answering that question.
Instead, as noted earlier, IPCC scientists have conducted relatively few studies of the Sun’s influence on modern warming, assuming that the temperature influence of this rare and unique Grand maximum of solar activity, which has occurred only once in the past 3,000 years, is far inferior to the radiative power provided by the rising CO2 concentration of the Earth’s atmosphere. (9)
Lawrence Solomon sums this up well, “The upshot for scientists and world leaders should be clear, particularly since other scientists in recent years have published analyses that also indicate that global cooling could be on its way. Climate can and does change toward colder periods as well as warmer ones. Over the last 20 years, some $80 billion has been spent on research dominated by the assumption that global temperatures will rise. Very little research has investigated the consequences of the very live possibility that temperatures will plummet. Research into global cooling and its implications for the globe is long overdue.” (2)
Grassroots to Congress: Stop the EPA Power Grab
This past week the Environmental Protection Agency held a series of regional hearings throughout the country—in Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Washington. EPA representatives heard from the public about the job-killing rules on power plants it proposed in June, which would force states to impose draconian restrictions on carbon emissions by 2030.
Although the regional hearings drew many high-profile speakers including members of Congress and state governors, what was more remarkable was the high number of everyday Americans that testified. People at the grassroots level are increasingly concerned about what the new rules will mean for their wallets and their well-being. Hundreds of Americans for Prosperity activists and our coalition partners, together representing millions of Americans, rallied in the shadow of the Colorado state house in Denver and on the steps of the EPA building in Atlanta. Together, Americans called on President Obama's EPA to stop its power grab.
Many were coal miners, concerned that regulations will cause energy production — as well as the jobs that they support — to go overseas to countries like China that do not enforce these rules. Many miners drove long distances in order to weigh in, from states as far away as Wyoming and Arizona.
Others focused on how this rule would impact economic growth. A representative from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) talked about how small businesses are hard-pressed to shoulder higher energy costs during these lean times. Hotel owners also rallied, concerned that this proposed rule would reduce visitors to mining towns and hurt the local economy.
Federal overreach by the Obama administration is nothing new. But when it comes to the President’s EPA agenda, the President says he has no problem going around Congress and disregarding the will of the people to force greater burdens on the American middle class. In fact, the EPA would unilaterally decide which states will get hit hardest by the power plant rules.
We heard concerns from families, too. In Denver, a single mom took the podium. She said that the EPA’s proposal would mean bigger electricity bills and a tighter family budget – a simple concept, but one that politicians and bureaucrats seem to have difficulty comprehending. Everything from putting gas in the car to buying groceries could become harder.
Polling data among registered voters reflect this opposition at the grassroots level. A recent survey from the American Energy Alliance shows that the majority of American voters oppose EPA’s recently proposed power plant regulations after they learn about the sweeping impacts the rule would have on jobs and economic growth. Before receiving any information about the regulations, no less than 57 percent of voters in any state supported the regulations. But after listening to arguments both for and against the new rules, fewer than half of respondents in each state supported them. The survey looked at registered voters in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, and North Carolina.
What this poll shows is that the more people learn about the impacts of the new proposed rules on power plants, the more they turn against them. Folks may be initially open to the rules when they first hear the Obama administration’s vague claims about how this latest ream of top-down EPA red tape will improve the environment, but their support evaporates when they learn more about the rules and the harm they will do to the economy.
Given this growing grassroots opposition to the proposed rules and the harm they will inflict on fragile local economies, lawmakers should seek ways to push back on this federal takeover of the energy market. At the state and local level, too, elected officials should stand up against President Obama's EPA and protect American prosperity and access to affordable energy.
EPA Regulation Supporters Defend Electric Bill Increase
On June 2nd, President Obama announced new EPA regulations that would impose significant restrictions on power plants.
Last week, environmental activists gathered in front of the EPA headquarters to show their support for the new regulations. There was live music, toys for the kids and free ice cream provided by Ben & Jerry’s.
The new regulations are intended to cut down on carbon emissions which the activists insist are endangering life on planet Earth. But imposing these regulations will come with a steep cost to American consumers who will have to cover the new costs imposed on the energy companies with higher utility bills.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates the regulations could put 224,000 Americans out of work annually and increase electricity costs by more than $289 billion.
Even the EPA itself estimates that the new regulations will cause electricity prices to increase dramatically over the next 6 years.
Americans don’t hear much about these new costs from environmental activists or the Obama Administration, so I decided to head down to the rally and ask them about it myself.
Breakthrough in the Australian State of NSW: Government go-ahead for fracking project
NSW is very fearful of unconventional gas, even though the neighboring State of Queensland is gung ho about it
AGL Energy has moved a step closer to developing a controversial coal-seam gas project in New South Wales after the state government allowed it to conduct fracking activities at four test wells.
The Gloucester project is significant because it could provide the state with 15 per cent of its natural-gas needs and power close to one million homes if it goes lives in 2016 as planned. Energy companies, including AGL, say the state is facing a supply squeeze, as three giant gas-export projects in neighbouring Queensland threaten to deplete domestic reserves when they start up next year.
Proposed developments in NSW, however, are facing stiff opposition from environmentalists and farmers concerned that drilling practices for extracting methane trapped in coal seams could contaminate underground water supplies.
AGL’s decision to invest in the project will partly rest on the results of the four-well pilot project, which will test the quality of the resource. To proceed with the tests, the company had been relying on state government approval for it to carry out hydraulic fracturing, a controversial drilling technique that cracks underground rocks using high-powered bursts of water, sand and chemicals.
“This will not be the only solution to our reliance on gas from interstate, but it is a significant and vital step in the right direction to improve supply for NSW,” state Energy Minister Anthony Roberts said today.
NSW currently provides only 5 per cent of its own natural gas, but this could rise to 20 per cent if the Gloucester project goes ahead, AGL chief executive Michael Fraser said.
None of the Gloucester project’s output would be exported overseas, he said.
NSW has some of the country’s toughest coal-seam gas rules, having banned wells within two kilometres of residential areas, and land containing vineyards and horse studs. The rules, which came into effect in October, forced AGL to write down the value of its proposed Camden and Hunter gas projects.
The Gloucester project is in a more remote area, so it isn’t exposed to the same regulatory impediments.
The project, however, is still likely to face opposition from environmentalists and some farmers and community groups that claim it is still too risky.
Credit Suisse last week said it has only attributed $88 million in value to the project out of a $347.5 million book value, due to delay risks.
The broker said AGL might have to guarantee land values in the areas to win the blessing of farmers.
“A coordinated campaign targeting AGL’s electricity and gas customers could result in customer loss,” it said.
The state government’s tough stance is in stark contrast to neighbouring Queensland, where companies including ConocoPhillips and Total SA are spending more than $60 billion combined to liquefy coal-seam gas for export to Asia.
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Posted by JR at 6:57 PM