New scorecard reveals polluter attacks against renewable energy

ALEC. The Heartland Institute. The Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Sometimes, it's hard to keep these anti-clean-energy front groups straight without a scorecard. Thanks to our friends at the Energy & Policy Institute, you've got one, titled Attacks on Renewable Energy Policy in 2015. It's a new A-to-Z listing of anti-clean-energy groups, along with a catalog of their funding sources, their principal body of work, and, sometimes, their money-laundering indictments. (About this A-to-Z business: Really, the report reads almost like a kids' alphabet book, except for the scary, heavy-polluter agenda it reveals.) Together, these groups and their corporate polluter sponsors are responsible for almost all of the attacks on state renewable energy standards that have helped drive the exponential growth of wind and solar power in recent years, and for many of the efforts to sabotage solar net metering, which allows solar owners to sell excess electricity back to the grid at a fair price.

Many of these front groups seek to provide a "non-profit" or "academic veneer" to make them seem more credible. But the truth is these groups do the bidding of their funders - to stymie the incredible momentum of renewable energy development. So it should come as no surprise that virtually all of these front groups are sponsored by either:

  • (a) oil billionaires Charles and David Koch, who, in the last year, have decided to throw $889 million into the 2016 election, in addition to underwriting so-called free market groups such as Americans for Prosperity. (The energy markets from which they've reaped their riches are anything but free, by the way);
  • (b) fossil-fuel companies and industry groups such as ExxonMobil, Marathon, and America's Natural Gas Alliance;
  • (c) or, some entrenched investor-owned utilities.

Among the most detrimental of their sneaky attacks are efforts to overturn, either in state legislatures or through the court system, the state renewable energy standards that have driven so much of the nation's deployment of clean energy. This year alone, in fact, these groups have tried to repeal or weaken 16 state renewable energy standards, along with net metering policies in at least 15 utility territories. Spreading disinformation through completely inaccurate and misleading white papers and equally fraudulent testimony in state legislatures is how these front groups strive to keep the status quo, or worse to take us all backwards. They have attempted to reverse policies that help level the playing field for clean energy in Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, and a host of other states. (Many of these efforts were led by state legislators involved with ALEC and its affiliated State Policy Network.)

The vast majority of these subversive efforts have failed, though, because voters and their elected representatives know that pro-clean-energy policies bring a host of benefits: lower electric costs; good jobs in large numbers; cleaner air for our kids (and the rest of us) to breathe; pollution-free power that can help curb climate change's worst effects.

Next time you read about some so-called groups and legislators attempting to repeal smart clean energy policies at the state and federal level, consider who's really behind those endeavors. With the Energy & Policy Institute's new report, you'll be able to tell the pernicious motives of the players and their funders, with your very own scorecard.