Who are these guys? Yet more polluter-funded front groups hit the climate scene

There's a new front-group running around DC, backed by some old gunslingers who've been packing heat for polluters for years.

Yesterday the American Energy Alliance announced it is running radio ads in the districts of some of the members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which is currently looking at a bill that would establish polluter penalties on global warming pollution. The ads repeat Newt Gingrich's false- and thoroughly debunked - claim that a climate bill will cost every American $1,300 per year. 

(Update - I mixed up the false claims here. The AEA ads actually pick up Sen. Inhofe's debunked $3,100 claim.)

So who is the American Energy Alliance? Another offshoot of the ExxonMobil and Koch Industries families of polluter-funded advocacy, it turns out. Described by NPR as "a new advocacy organization with strong ties to the oil industry," AEA was formed in 2008 and is led by long-time polluter-pal Thomas Pyle, who serves as President.

Pyle worked for former strident anti-environmentalist members of Congress Tom Delay and Rich Pombo.  Then he became a lobbyist directly for Koch, then he went to the Rhoads Group where Koch was one of his clients, then he set up a consulting firm in his own name and continued to represent Koch. In 2008 he dropped Koch and lobbied for the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.

(Koch, by the way, found themselves some new lobbyists: According to Federal Election Commission records, in 2007 and 2008, Koch Industries spent $15,450,000 on federal lobbying. In the first quarter of 2009, "Koch Public Sector," spent $1,480,000 on lobbying, hoping to take advantage of the stimulus package. Sure, the Kochs opposed the stimulus bill - through another one of their front-groups, Americans for Prosperity, but apparently not enough to refuse money from it.

But I digress.

Pyle is also President of the AEA's counterpart the Institute for Energy Research (IER). What's that? Well, the tobacco industry had the Tobacco Institute to peddle its smoke screens, deceptions and other propaganda. The energy industry has the Institute for Energy Research, which Sourcewatch describes this way:  " ... founded in 1989 from a predecessor non-profit organization, [IER] advocates positions on environmental issues which happen to suit the energy industry: climate change denial, claims that conventional energy sources are virtually limitless, and the deregulation of utilities."

Just how far out there does the IER get in touting the energy industry line on climate change denial?  In recent weeks, the energy-financed IER has helped tell the, well, dirty lie that "clean energy is a 'dirty lie."

IER also did its part to spread around the lies contained in a widely debunked Spanish "study" that falsely suggests green jobs are somehow a bad thing.

Speaking of being out there on denial issues, one of IER's directors is Steven Hayward with the American Enterprise Institute.  Hayward was exposed two years ago for offering to pay scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change $10,000 for written critiques of the IPCC's newest findings.

These industry groups are the same ones that got us into this mess and are trying to keep us tied to old, dirty 19th century technology instead of leading us forward with new safe, clean energy that will create jobs and make America a global leader for 21st century.

And so it goes...

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Pete Altman

Director of Federal Campaigns

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