According to ABC News, a small rural electric cooperative in Colorado paid a notorious climate change denier $100,000 without first informing or asking its members.
"It’s outrageous," Ron Binz, a public utility consultant formerly with the state of Colorado, told ABC. “It’s an abuse of authority. The customers are member-owners. [General Manager] Stan Lewandowski is basically spending other people’s money."
In a memo (PDF) sent to 900 fellow members of a rural co-op industry group, Lewandowski essentially admitted the effectiveness of Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth, writing that "Although our preference would be for this issue [climate change] to simply go away, that is not going to happen."
For that reason, Lewandowski wrote that his co-op, serving 133,000 members living in an area between Denver and Colorado Springs, paid University of Virginia researcher Patrick Michaels $100,000 "to stand up to the alarmists."
According to Exxonsecrets, which tracks donations made by the huge oil company to deniers, Michaels, probably the best-known climate change denier, has already made well over $100,000 from coal and oil interests, but this appears to be his biggest pay-off yet.
Michaels is infamous among climate change scientists for arguing that global warming could be beneficial. In a 2004 editorial available on the Cato Institute website, he argues that "scientists exaggerate global warming [and] ignore its positive aspects." As an example, Michaels claimed that "global warming is likely to increase winds, several kilometers aloft, that actually destroy hurricanes," a pleasant fantasy that has been blown apart by numerous studies, including this one from the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
In the memo, Lewandowski also said that several large fossil-fuel companies, including Koch, The Southern Company, and AEP, are talking about "possibly financing a film that would counteract An Inconvenient Truth." That statement has yet to be confirmed.