A Free-Market Energy Blog

Market Environmentalists vs. Wind/Solar/Battery Industrialization, Sprawl

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- March 7, 2024

“These aforementioned groups and individuals are standing tall against the Climate Industrial Complex and Big Government Wind, Big Governmental Solar, Big Government Batteries, and the I-want-to-control-your-energy-life elitists. The real environmentalists speak from the grassroots, not from Washington, D.C.”

The article by Dave Anderson for the Energy and Policy Institute, (EPI), “Blocking Renewable Energy Is a Top State Legislative Priority for Network of Pro-Fossil Fuels Think Tanks,” lists the names of many organizations and individuals who should be applauded for their efforts to spare the living, green space from industrialization and energy sprawl.  

Dense energy is the most environmental, as pointed out by the late Peter Huber in Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists (New York: Basic Books, 1999):

The greenest fuels are the ones that contain the most energy per pound of material that must be mined, trucked, pumped, piped, and burnt. [In contrast], extracting comparable amounts of energy from the surface would entail truly monstrous environmental disruption….

The greenest possible strategy is to mine and to bury, to fly and to tunnel, to search high and low, where the life mostly isn’t, and so to leave the edge, the space in the middle, living and green.

Anderson in his article also fails to understand that the “Pro-Fossil Fuel Think Tanks” are less pro-fossil fuels than they are pro-consumer, pro-taxpayer, pro-freedom, and pro-environment. The problem of massive industrial wind turbines and solar acreage is that consumers do not like them and they are bad neighbors as judged by real local grassroots environmentalists.

Back to the article. Dave Anderson provides the following list for real environmental applause:

The State Policy Network (SPN) announced on its website last month that it will focus on working with state lawmakers to prevent states from adopting wind and solar power in 2024. 

SPN is the national organization that serves as the central hub of a network of affiliated think tanks located in all 50 states, and is funded by right-wing and corporate donors that include fossil fuel interests. The network also includes associate groups like the Donald Trump-aligned America First Policy Institute and multiple organizations backed by Charles Koch, such as Americans for Prosperity. 

Koch is the billionaire CEO and chairman of Koch Industries, which operates in multiple sectors of the fossil fuel industry. His Stand Together Trust contributed $5 million in 2022 to SPN-affiliated think tanks and millions more to SPN associates like the American Legislative Exchange Council and Cato Institute, according to the Center for Media & Democracy.  

The Energy and Policy Institute is publishing new research profiles of SPN and several affiliated think tanks involved in coast-to-coast efforts to block renewable energy projects. Highlights and links to the new profiles can be found below: State Policy Network: SPN has brought on Amy Oliver Cooke, a political consultant who previously worked for a SPN-affiliated think tank in Colorado that was funded by coal producers in Wyoming, to lead its Energy Policy Working Group.

Sponsors of SPN’s annual meeting in Chicago last year included the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, Stand Together Trust, and the Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity. Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF): TPPF, which received more than $3 million from Stand Together Trust and the Charles Koch Institute in 2021 and 2022, ran an online fundraising campaign last year that featured false claims about offshore wind farms “beaching whales” and aimed to raise $500,000.

Ten of the nineteen individuals listed on TPPF’s board of directors web page have direct financial connections to the fossil fuel industry. Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI): CRI is leading SPN’s national campaign against offshore wind power. The Delaware-based SPN affiliate received $162,500 from the du Pont family’s Longwood Foundation in 2022.

The Longwood Foundation’s president Thère du Pont is a director for the DuPont Company, which sells products used by coal and methane gas power plants, and the foundation’s chairman Charlie Copeland works for CRI. Ben du Pont chaired a $150-per-person fundraising dinner for CRI’s anti-offshore wind campaign in November.

Cascade Policy Institute: The Oregon-based SPN affiliate published a report, “Quantifying the Unreliability of Wind and Solar Power in the Northwest,” last year by Eric Fruits. Fruits is also a senior scholar for the International Center for Law & Economics, which received $500,000 in 2022 from Koch’s Stand Together Trust.

Other SPN affiliates and associate groups have also been ramping up efforts to block renewable energy The Buckeye Institute, an Ohio-based SPN affiliate, has made the Frasier Solar project and Knox County officials the latest targets of its campaign against Ohio’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program.

PILOT payment arrangements provide renewable energy developers with tax certainty, while ensuring counties benefit from reliable revenue from wind and solar projects for local schools and services. Frasier Solar has faced opposition from Knox Smart Development, an anti-solar LLC that has connections to the gas industry and has used the Buckeye Institute’s flawed analysis in its efforts to derail the solar project. 

The Buckeye Institute’s Board of Trustees includes Mark Jordan, the president of the gas exploration and production company Knox Energy. Jordan also serves on the board of the Kirkpatrick Jordan Foundation, which contributed $35,000 to $40,000 annually to the Buckeye Institute in recent years, according to IRS Form 990s

The Center of the American Experiment, which received $250,000 from Koch’s Stand Together Trust in 2022, has run multiple anti-wind and anti-solar ad campaigns on Facebook. The Minnesota-based SPN affiliate also received $20,000 from Americans for Prosperity in 2021, when it published an anti-renewables report, “Not in Our Backyard,” by Robert Bryce, a leading purveyor of anti-renewable energy disinformation. 

Center of the American Experiment’s Facebook ads The John Locke Foundation, a North Carolina-based SPN affiliate, is busy fighting solar farms and offshore wind. The group received $100,000 in 2022 from “the dark money ATM of the right,” Donors Trust, which contributed $19.3 million to SPN affiliates that year.  The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Michigan’s SPN affiliate, received $525,000 from Stand Together Trust in 2022.

The group is supporting the Citizens for Local Choice ballot initiative, which aims to repeal Michigan’s new law aimed at streamlining renewable energy siting in the state. The leaders of the ballot initiative include longtime anti-wind and solar activist Kevon Martis.  Martis is also listed as a Senior Policy Fellow at the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), a Virginia-based SPN associate that’s received funding from the coal industry.

Martis and Bryce spoke last month at a Knox Smart Development anti-solar event in Ohio. E&E Legal received nearly $950,000 in 2022 from Donors Trust.  The Cato Institute, a national SPN associate, received $1.8 million from Stand Together Trust in 2022. Cato hired former Trump Department of Energy politico appointee Travis Fisher, a longtime foe of renewables, last year. Fisher spoke in January at an anti-offshore wind meeting in Maryland led by several Republican members of Congress. 

Linnea Luekin of the Heartland Institute, another SPN associate located in Illinois, called for 2-mile setbacks for wind turbines in an appearance last month before state lawmakers in West Virginia. Heartland received more than $1.25 million from Donors Trust in 2022.  The Manhattan Institute, an SPN affiliate based in New York, received $495,000 from Stand Together Trust and $1.6 million from hedge funder Paul Singer’s foundation in 2022.

Adjunct fellow Jonathan Lesser has churned out a steady stream of anti-renewables opinion pieces featured in Forbes, the New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal.  Lesser is also president of the consulting firm Continental Economics, where his clients have included multiple pipeline companies, and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the group backed by Oxbow Carbon CEO Bill Koch that fought Cape Wind. 

These aforementioned groups and individuals (and many more) are standing tall against the Climate Industrial Complex and Big Government Wind, Big Governmental Solar, Big Government Batteries, and the I-want-to-control-your-energy-life elitists. from the grassroots, not from Washington, D.C.

One Comment for “Market Environmentalists vs. Wind/Solar/Battery Industrialization, Sprawl”

  1. Janet Dooner  

    Is the same happening to farmland in Pennsylvania, as in North Carolina. Many small townships are having to fight large scale Solar commercial generation. Some of these projects are being put in rural communities which have a mix of small residential with farm/forest land. My county will be hit with a tier of warehouse & Solar landuse development. Farmland could be lost with the number of projects in the PJM que. we need help in PA too


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