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There They Go Again: Big Oil Whines About Big Wind

The wind wars are heating up again as Congress considers another extension of the production tax credit for wind power. The latest salvo is an open letter to federal legislators under the auspices of the American Energy Alliance,* an organization which seems to think that referring to the American wind industry as Big Wind is something other than a fart joke. We’ll get to the letter itself in a bit, but for now we’re more interested in the connection between AEA and our favorite climate change deniers, the Koch brothers.

Big Oil And Climate Change Denial

If you’ve been following the climate change denial lobby, you probably know until a few years ago one of the most notorious climate change deniers in the oil industry was Exxon Mobil. The company was a major funder of the lobbying organization Heartland Institute, a leading force in anti-climate management efforts.

Koch Brothers lobby against production tax credit for wind.

Wind turbine by lamoix.

By 2007, Exxon Mobil was publicly disavowing its denialist position and the company cut ties to Heartland, but since then the Koch brothers have more than made up the difference (for those of you new to the topic, Koch Industries has been challenging climate management on a wide array of fronts).

As far as the relationship between AEA and the Koch brothers goes, while the organization is not required to disclose its sources, our friends over at SourceWatch have connected the dots for us.

According to SourceWatch, AEA was founded in 2008 by Thomas Pyle, who also serves as its current president. Pyle’s roots are in the petrochemical industries lobby, which includes work for Koch Industries.

Pyle is also the President of AEA’s sister organization, the Institute for Energy Research (IER), which according to a report by Greenpeace continues to receive both direct and indirect support from the Koch brothers.

They Write Letters

AEA’s anti-wind tax credit letter is brief and to the point, positioning itself as a grass roots effort with 100 signing organizations representing “millions of Americans.”

That positioning is reinforced by AEA’s website, which features the following warning on its home page…

Thanks to Big Wind the hidden cost of wind energy may get even MORE expensive.

…along with an exhortation to retweet the following message:

Big Wind’s tax credit already cost tax payers $12B and now they want more? Time to #EndtheWindGiveaway via @AEA

However, among the many grass roots style names on the list is a generous helping of “Big” organizations openly supported by the Koch brothers, including the 60 Plus Association, Americans for Prosperity, and Freedomworks.


As for those groups with grass roots-sounding names, it’s worth noting that several are Tea Party affiliates. Though positioning itself as a grass roots movement, the Tea Party is a corporate creature as revealed by a recent peer-reviewed study that examines the decades-long linkage between the use of astroturfing by the tobacco lobby, anti-climate management efforts, and Koch brothers funding, which resulted in the founding of the Tea Party in 2002.

The Tea Party affiliates on the list include the Greenfield Area Tea Party, the Mansfield North Central Ohio Tea Party, the Outer Banks Tea Party, the State Coordinator (OH) Tea Party Patriots, and the Georgia Tea Party, Inc.

We’re not saying that a few bad apples spoil the whole barrel, but if anyone out there is familiar with the money behind any other “grass roots” organizations on the list, feel free to drop us a note in the comment thread.

*Clarification: The American Energy Alliance is a signatory to the letter, which is part of an Americans for Prosperity project.

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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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