Every wonder where the largest and loudest green groups get their million-dollar budgets? Forget those small-change contributions you see cup-rattlers collecting outside your local supermarket. The big bucks — and they are very big indeed — often arrive via shadowy conduits from some very surprising sources
Early this year in Hollywood, James O’Keefe, a scourge of progressives, ran a sting against Green film producers Josh and Rebecca Tickell. The Tickells were creating a movie against gas frakking. O’Keefe’s accomplice “Muhammed” successfully posed as a Middle East oil owner offering to fund the film, but only on condition the funding stayed secret. Rebecca told “Muhammed”: “Because if people think the film is funded by Middle Eastern oil it … will not have that credibility.” Added Josh Tickell: “It’s money, so in that sense we have no moral issue.”
Last month, a minority Republican report from Senate Environment and Public Works Committee set out how America’s green groups are being funded to the tune of tens of millions of dollars by secret offshore interests with a Bermuda address.
These interests are part of a complex and secret web of green funders, headed by some of America’s billionaires and multi-millionaires. The billionaires whose foundations and charities are involved include the Hewlett and Packard computer families, the Rockefellers, Intel’s heirs, and the Walton clan of Walmart fame. Sub-billionaire funders include Google heirs, Getty heirs, food and media heirs, and hedge-fund owners.
The 90-page Senate report was titled, “The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA.”
Members of the “club” have successfully served as midwives for President Obama’s new policy against coal-fired power, announced in June. This involves 30% emission cuts (relative to 2005) by 2030, which the Senate committee fears is the ‘death knell’ for the coal industry. President Obama last October famously criticised his opponents for “millionaires and billionaires bankrolling whoever they want, however they want, in some cases undisclosed. What it means is ordinary Americans are shut out of the process.” Perhaps he was speaking tongue-in-cheek.
Among recipients of the club’s funding to activists in the period 2010 to ’13 were Centre for American Progress, $US8.4 million; Earthjustice, $US3.5 million; Environmental Defence Fund, $US54 million; Greenpeace, $US2 million; League of Conservation Voters’ Education Fund, $US13 million; Natural Resources Defense Council, $US26 million; Nature Conservancy, $US59 million; Sierra Club Foundation, $US17 million; Union of Concerned Scientists, $US8 million; and World Wildlife Fund, $US26 million.
Even minor green groups enjoy multi-million-dollar assets. Earthjustice commands $US59 million and Centre for Biological Diversity gets $US12 million. The big ones include Environmental Defense Fund ($US209m); National Resources Defence Council ($US268 million) and Audubon Society ($US450 million).
The committee was constrained to dealing only with the Environmental Protection Agency and energy/environmental policy. It reported that it had barely scratched the surface of hidden funding mechanisms for the “progressive” NGOs (non-government organisations). The billionaires’ role in the guise of tax-free ‘philanthropy’ has generated little interest from the mainstream US media. One wonders if this might have something to do with the steady stream of packaged “scoops” reporters are fed by their green contacts.
By contrast, the oil industry’s billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch, have been lambasted by Greenpeace as bankrolling the pro-fossil-fuel Americans for Prosperity Foundation for close to $US1 million p.a. for the six years to 2010. The Heritage Foundation similarly received an average sum of under $US400,000 a year (David Koch is chairman; it’s not much of a secret). The Cato Institute averaged $US600,000 and the Manhattan Institute, $US200,000
These were the biggest sceptic recipients of Koch money, according to Greenpeace. If Greenpeace is right that the Koch brothers dispensed $US67m to sceptics over the 13 years from 1997 until 2010, that’s just $US5m per year — a small matter when compared with well over $US1b from rival foundations to the warmist community in 2011 alone.
The committee was mystified at why many super-rich are anti fossil-fuel and pro the green’s agenda for Big Government, and why they go to such lengths to conceal their involvement. It drops hints that some sponsors are heavily invested in energy renewables; some are anti-frakking for personal reasons; and others are ideologically driven.
Here are some club members:
- William & Flora Hewlett Foundation (computers): assets $US7.7b
- David and Lucile Packard Foundation (computers): assets $US6.3b
- Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (Intel): assets $US5.7b
- Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc. (oil): assets $US800m
- Walton Family Foundation (retailing) : assets $US2b
- Schmidt Family Foundation (Google): assets $US312m
- Park Foundation, Inc. (foods, media): assets $US366m
- Marisla Foundation (Getty oil): assets $US51m
- Sea Change Foundation (mystery): assets $US124m
- Wallace Global Fund (chickens and eggs): assets $US155m
- TomKat Charitable Trust (Tom Steyer hedge funds): assets $US178m
Key players include the Sea Change Foundation and The Energy Foundation, which muster wholesale tranches of funds from local and undisclosed foreign donors, and disburse them to environmental activist groups.
Sea Change Foundation is a private outfit based in San Francisco. In 2011 it was the sixth-largest donor to environmental causes, giving $US43 million in grants to environmental and far-left eco activists. More than $US20 million went for campaigns against US fossil fuels. Sea Change’s president is hedge-fund owner Nat Simons. His father, James, is worth $US12 billion. Nat Simons is also CEO of Elan Management, a renewables company, which laments that US baseload energy is still ‘a very inexpensive resource’ relative to wind and solar.
Most of Sea Change funding comes from the Simons, but 33% to 49% in recent years came from mysterious Bermuda-based shell company Klein Ltd. Public information about Klein and its funding sources is virtually non-existent, the report says.
Many green funders coordinate their giving through membership of the secretive Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) – “command central of the environmental movement”.
A Rockefeller Fund member of EGA was quoted: “Funders can play a role in using money to drive, to create, ad hoc efforts, in many cases that will have a litigation component coming from one group, a lobbying component coming from another group, a grass roots component organizing component from yet a third group with a structure that enables them to function well.”
In 2011, EGA members collectively donated $1.13 billion, or 40% of all US foundation giving, to environmental causes.
A typical grant was $US200,000 from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to the so-called Union of Concerned Scientists (anyone can join for $US35) “for coal retirement and removing market barriers to renewable energy projects.”
The Senate committee says of the club, “The scheme to keep their efforts hidden and far removed from the political stage is deliberate, meticulous, and intended to mislead the public … These individuals and foundations go to tremendous lengths to avoid public association with the far-left environmental movement they so generously fund.” The foundations are accompanied by a network of charitable trusts, some of which function as intermediaries distancing greens from their wealthy backers and others useful for washing political funding into tax-exempt entities.
An innovation is ‘fiscal sponsorships’ which see leftist charities lend their non-profit and tax-exempt status to political lobbyists in return for a fee.
Another umbrella group is Divest/Invest, seeking to switch investment from fossil-based fuels to renewables. Its strategy is to liken its plan to the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s, with fossil-fuel divestment presented as a moral imperative and fossil-fuel advocates cast as pariahs. The committee says that Divest/Invest is unconcerned that its program would stall South Africans’ rise from poverty, which Nelson Mandela sought to remedy.
Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is examined and found to be complicit with activists.
- EPA administrator Al Armendaris was caught by the committee stating internally in 2012 how he would “crucify” an energy company to set an example for the rest of the oil and gas industry. He was scheduled to testify before Congress about his controversial statement, but instead resigned from EPA and is now Senior Campaign Representative for Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal Campaign”.
- EPA official Bob Sussman was outed by the committee for vetting EPA job applicants based on whether they “had the support of environmental justice leaders,” and using his personal email for sensitive communications with environmental lobbies.
- Another EPA insider, Michelle DePass, formerly with the Ford Foundation and the Environmental Grantmakers Association, for a time ran her EPA and Ford roles concurrently, and resigned when outed by the committee.
- Under Obama, EPA has handed out more than $US27m from taxpayers to Green groups, including $US1m each to two groups with personal ties to senior EPA officials.
The foundations like to finance research that can be presented as buttressing their green agendas. They also finance media outlets, which duly report on those same research findings, and defend them against critics. The public does not know about the linkages via grant money.
The committee names Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and Climate Desk as outlets that have obtained grants from ‘the club’ and which act as echo chambers for funder-paid Green propaganda. In one example, a story reporting on a Park Foundation-supported anti-fracking study was reproduced by a Park-funded news organization through a Park-funded media collaboration. It was then further disseminated via Twitter by the maker of Park-backed anti-fracking movies!
The Park Foundation ($US366m assets) is run by an anti-frakking zealot, Adelaide Park Gomer, who is not content with prose attacks on fracking. Her outlets also have published her verse, such as Ballad of a Dying Planet:
Islands and forests paved over forever
By asphalt and buildings while mankind endeavors
To replace nature with ugly big boxes and towers,
Golden arches, Disney worlds, a banquet of horrors.
From 2010, Park has given $US400,000 for anti-frakking studies by ecologist Robert Howarth. Cornell University published one in early 2011, but it was quickly rebutted as flawed. It was, however, puffed and defended by environmental media sources Earth Island Journal (which received $US31,500 from Park) and Yes! magazine ($US50,000). The partners of Park-funded Climate Desk — including Huffington Post, Mother Jones ($US170,000 from Park), the Atlantic and The Guardian — all puffed the Howarth research. So did Grist ($US95,000). The Schmidt Foundation (assets $US312 million) also backed Mother Jones ($US225,000 grant) and Grist ($US850,000). The club also has donated more than $US1.8 million to Media Matters, a group whose remit is “correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media” (emphasis added).
“Respectable” green groups, such as World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense Fund and Centre for Biological Diversity, serve as the face of the movement and provide cover for funding that ultimately goes to more radical groups.
The club uses funding to organize sham ‘grass-roots’ campaigns to secure national objectives at state level – such as fracking restrictions in New York and Colorado (“Frack Free Colorado”).
An example of funding of “dark greens” involves money to 350.org, dedicated to pushing the world backward from the current 400ppm CO2 to 350ppm. Key people in 350.org are catastrophists James Hansen (the NASA employee who virtually launched the CO2 scare in 1988), and 350.org founder Bill McKibben. For a sample of the latter’s intellectual clout, try this from Copenhagen, 2009:
“This afternoon I sobbed for an hour, and I’m still choking a little… My tears started before anyone said a word. As the service started, dozens of choristers from around the world carried three things down the aisle and to the altar: pieces of dead coral bleached by hot ocean temperatures; stones uncovered by retreating glaciers; and small, shriveled ears of corn from drought-stricken parts of Africa.”
On the vulgar subject of money, McKibben described 350.org that year as “a scruffy little outfit” with “almost no money”. By that, he meant expenses of over $US2.6m and net assets of over $US2.1m, with an asset increase of $US1m in the next couple of years. Thereafter grants poured in from the wealthy foundations.
A curious example of money-washing involves the Tides Inc. group, with tax-exempt charity status. It takes money from the club and funnels it to more than 200 Green groups while offering anonymity to the actual sponsors. Tides Foundation had $US135m assets in 2012. At one point Tides Foundation gave $US10m to Tides Centre, and Tides Centre gave $US39m to Tides Foundation – presumably to obscure a money trail.
If the climate wars are a David ‘n Goliath affair, the sceptics certainly aren’t Goliath.