Anti-wind activists want to create fake grassroots campaign against industry
A version of this post originally appeared on Climate Progress.
Last February, a group of anti-wind activists gathered in Washington, D.C. Their goal: establish a coordinated, nationwide program of “wind warriors” who could be dispatched to fight the industry anywhere, anytime.
The organization would combine efforts and create “what should appear as a ‘groundswell’ among grass roots” to counter legislation supporting wind energy on the federal, state, and local levels.
The leader of the group was John Droz, Jr., a longtime wind opponent and a senior fellow at the ultra-conservative American Tradition Institute (ATI). ATI calls itself an “environmental” think tank. The organization, known best for suing climate scientist Michael Mann, is devoted to spreading doubt about climate change, opposing state-level renewable energy targets, and stripping away environmental regulations.
ATI is so extreme that it was denounced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for contributing to an “environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas.”
According to a memo just obtained by the Checks and Balances Project and reviewed by Climate Progress, Droz has also been focused on crafting a fake grassroots campaign to fight renewable energy projects — specifically wind — in legislatures, zoning boards, and town halls across the country.
In a poorly timed suggestion, Droz contemplated joining with the Heartland Institute (because there is “substantial commonality”) and launching a fake billboard campaign to derail wind developers. What could go wrong with that?
The memo shows that Droz brought together these wind opponents from all over the country last year to “cause subversion in message of [the wind] industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit they are for it.”
The minimum national PR campaign goal is to constructively influence national and state wind energy policies. A broader possible goal is to constructively influence national and state energy and environmental policies.
The goal will be realized by coordination of a focused message along many channels and with multiple voices. The intent is to target three audiences with consistent messaging to create the change. Public opinion must begin to change in what should appear as a “groundswell” among grass roots.
By “constructively influence,” the authors really mean “disrupt” any piece of legislation supporting wind energy — and likely other forms of renewable energy as collateral damage.
The document, authored by Illinois anti-wind attorney Rich Porter and edited by Droz, outlines in great detail how a national PR campaign would function. The group’s campaign efforts would include outreach to a who’s who of conservative media outlets and think tanks already working to discredit renewable energy: Fox News, The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Heartland Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and Americans for Prosperity.
The memo outlines more than 20 ideas for undertaking a national campaign, including teaching anti-wind curriculum in schools and creating “dummy” companies to trip up wind developers attempting to build projects. Below is a list of some of the ideas:
- Youth Outreach will create program for public school coordination as well as college coordination. This will include community activity and participation with sponsorships for science fairs, school activity, etc., with preset parameters that cause students to steer away from wind because they discover it doesn’t meet the criteria we set up (poster contest, essays, etc).
- Set up a dummy business that will go into communities considering wind development, proposing to build 400-foot billboards.
- Create a “think-tank” subgroup to produce and disseminate white paper reports and scientific quotes and papers that back up the message.
- Employ a well-known spokesman with star credibility. (Find one to volunteer?)
- Create counterintelligence branch (responsible for communicating current industry tactics and strategies as feedback to this organization).
- Write exposé book on the industry, showing government waste, harm to communities, and other negative impacts on people and the environment.
- A team investigates links to any organization supporting wind in order to expose that support.
The release of this memo follows public statements from highly influential conservative groups like ALEC and Americans for Tax Reform about their plans to eliminate targets for renewable energy in states around the country. The Droz anti-wind plan is more proof that these organizations are stepping up their political campaigns against the industry.
Get Grist in your inbox