“Droz continues to be a man to watch…. Whatever the motive, Droz has built a far-reaching alliance to help his cause.”
– Sierra Club, “Clean Energy Under Siege: Following the Money Trail Behind the Attack on Renewable Energy” (2012).
In a 20-page want-to-be exposé, “Clean Energy Under Siege,” the Sierra Club has a section titled “John Droz: Anti-Wind Crusader.” Yes, it is six years later, but John Droz Jr. is still a man to watch!
The paper’s whole argument rests on what must be (but is not) debated: that Droz is prima facie wrong and must be getting well paid for his mischief. A PR hack, in other words.
But reading the very words of the critics with a different view–Droz is a spirited American speaking truth to wind power–defangs the argument entirely.
It is a compliment to John Droz, actually, to read the Sierra’s Club’s attempted takedown. One wonders when the Sierra Club, whose Los Angeles director coined the immortal term “Cuisinarts of the Air” to describe the bird-killing feature of a large California wind power project, will see the environmental light and go for dense, reliable, efficient energy versus dilute, intermittent, inefficient energy.
Here is the section on Droz verbatim (pp. 10-11).
Many of the lead advocates of the groups we describe here tend to be media-savvy individuals with a “fellowship” or “scholar” title. John Droz Jr. of the American Tradition Institute, Lisa Linowes of the Industrial Wind Action Group, and Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute form an eclectic snapshot of the anti-renewable Merchants of Doubt.
To be sure, it is not always easy to follow the line between legitimate scholarly work or modern media punditry and the more intentional role of driving the public debate toward bad science or bad policy. This report focuses on several examples of the latter— that is, people who are promulgating misinformation while actively misrepresenting themselves to the public and to elected officials in order to impede the progress of renewable energy.
John Droz Jr. is mentioned several times throughout this report, notably for his work on a so-called National Public Relations plan and the accompanying gathering of self-proclaimed “wind-warriors” who joined him to discuss anti-wind tactics in early 2012. Mr. Droz has maintained a complicated persona . He has described himself at times as a representative common man, proclaiming in an interview with E&E News, “I’m just a citizen who lives on a lake in the backwoods;” at other times as an intellectual and expert (“senior fellow with [the American Tradition Institute]”); and at still others as a scientist who cares about protecting the earth (a “physicist who has also been an environmental activist”).
So who is Droz in reality? Despite his varied claims and his master’s degree in Solid State Science from Syracuse University in 1975, Droz’s resume indicates that he focused the majority of his career not on energy or the environment but on real estate investment .
A review of Droz’s activity in recent years suggests he is little more than a climate-change denier and activist against wind power who uses his own version of “science” as a means of casting doubt on the virtues of that energy source. A PowerPoint presentation compiled by Droz asks the question: “Our energy policy: from science or lobbyists?”, then goes on to claim that wind energy has “never” been evaluated to “independently prove its efficiency.”
This skepticism bears a resemblance to Droz’s positions on man-made global warming and various environmentally-oriented issues. A documented climate-change denier, Droz has spoken at the Heartland Institute (itself known for its denial of climate change) . He has written statements such as, “There is considerable scientific evidence that contradicts the assumptions and conclusions of [man-made global warming] . Unfortunately, the main proponents of the AGW have not been able to provide credible scientific explanations for these contradictions.”
Jean Chemnick at E&E News notes that Droz has also spent time working to “prevent North Carolina from factoring climate change into its projections for sea-level rise.” In his “National PR Plan,” Droz proposes several “solutions” to his perceived lack of scientific backing for wind energy, including the creation of an anti-wind “‘think-tank’ subgroup to produce and disseminate white paper reports and scientific quotes and papers that back up the message.”
Such a group, of course, would be a striking parallel to his own employer, the American Tradition Institute, and would engage in work (suggested by Droz) hardly befitting a traditional think tank: “[Writing an] exposé book on the industry, showing government waste, harm to communities and other negative impacts on people and the environment” and “[creating a] counter-intelligence branch (responsible for communicating current industry tactics and strategies as feedback to this organization).
Whatever the motive, Droz has built a far-reaching alliance to help his cause. His “wind-warrior” meeting in February of 2012 brought together a “dream team” of more than 30 anti-wind activists from a variety of organizations.
In March of 2012, POLITICO reporter David Rogers wrote, “But other activists, such as John Droz, told POLITICO that he had enlisted Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks — which have received major support from the Koch family — as part of his own telephone campaign against the wind-power tax breaks.”
The connection between Droz and Americans for Prosperity (AFP) could yet bear fruit . AFP was founded by Koch Industries CEO David Koch and run by President Tim Phillips, a Republican campaign strategist who has helped organize Tea Party protests and the widely-covered disruption of town meetings leading up to the 2010 elections.
Apart from their work with Droz, AFP continued to fight the progress of renewable energy. In a 2012 press release headlined “Americans for Prosperity to Combat ‘Global Wind Day’ Fanaticism this Friday, June 15,” an AFP state director commented: “Far left European groups and other radical elements of the environmental movement want to use this event to spread their propaganda about offshore wind energy.” In reality, it was a Sierra Club pro-wind rally at the New Jersey shore.
AFP followed up its Global Wind Day attacks with an advertisement hitting President Obama on his support for green-energy jobs and the solar industry. The Washington Post ’s “Fact Checker” blog gave the advertisement a “four Pinocchio” rating — the most egregious manipulations of the truth or, in the Post’s words, “whoppers.”
Droz continues to be a man to watch. Given Koch’s virtually limitless funding strength, the collaboration of Droz and AFP conceivably could bring Droz’s “National PR Campaign” to reality and fulfill his plans to “Cause subversion in message of industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit in public they are for it.”