Conservative Think Tanks Launch Campaign to Turn Americans Against Wind Energy
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Recent developments in the campaign against wind power include:
• A new $6m election ad buy by the ultra-conservative group Americans for Prosperity attacking Barack Obama's support for wind and solar power.
• An email and telephone campaign by the American Legislative Exchange Council and Americans for Tax Reform to repeal or alter clean energy mandates requiring electricity companies to get a share of their power from renewables.
• Putting forward Alec-drafted bills overturning those measures in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Colorado, Montana and Washington state.
Droz, in the telephone interview, confirmed that he had enlisted support for telephone campaigns from Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks – both of which have received funds from the Koch family. He also appeared at an anti-wind forum sponsored by the John Locke Foundation in North Carolina last December.
But he dismissed any idea of a co-ordinated effort. "We happen to have common interests on some things," he said. "But it's not collusion."
But conservative activists describe the ramp-up as critical to the effort to defeat Obama in the elections. "It's absolutely a campaign issue and it's a big one," said Dave Schwartz, who heads the Maryland chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a tea party group with Koch funds. "It absolutely is a contentious issue," he said.
Kert Davies, Greenpeace research director, agrees. "They are going back to the states to create the space for an anti-Obama, anti-green energy thing. It is really a political attack," he said. " What the right wing wants to perpetuate is that this is a type of energy that never works and requires massive government handouts."
More than 30 local wind farm opponents, all selected by Droz, came to Washington at his invitation. Participants included members of conservative groups such as Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and Tea Party Patriots.
A number said they had come to DC for strategy tips and PR advice. Three used the same phraseology as Droz who said the decision to meet and pool strategies was to avoid having to continually "reinvent the wheel".
"Everybody is amateur and everybody is learning from the ground up and re-inventing the wheel and the discussion among some of us was as to whether or not we could be a little more efficient and share resources and information," said Carolyn Gerwin an attorney and Tea Party activist from Pontiac Illinois who was among the participants.
Gerwin has been active in both Illinois Wind Watch and the Tea Party Patriots, and lobbied against wind energy at the state and federal level, her sign-in questionnaire for the February meeting said. "I'd like to see us develop a nationwide network of wind warriors that can be mobilised on very short notice," she wrote in a questionnaire distributed to participants.
There is evidence that network is already coming into being. Since the meeting, participants have pooled efforts to make phone calls and send email to members of Congress.
Opposing Obama's energy policies was a natural fit for conservatives, said Marita Noon, a conservative activist from New Mexico who was at the meeting. "The American way, what made CostCo and Walmart a success, is to use more and pay less. That's the American way," The president's green policies however were the reverse, she said.
"President Obama wants us to use more and pay less."
That set the stage for a confrontation over wind farms and other clean energy issues in the elections, Noon argued. "I would say it's almost the issue," she said. "It's going to be huge."