That there is, in fact, an ongoing, coordinated nationwide effort to attack clean energy shouldn't really surprise anyone. The corporate funded anti-regulation activist network that has dominated conservative politics for the last couple of years has reliably been hostile to renewable power. But still, there's something discouraging about seeing the hard proof—and the far reach of their tactics is alarming as well.
The Guardian has obtained a confidential memo that details the efforts of a far-right group, the American Tradition Institute (ATI), to launch a wide-ranging anti-wind power PR campaign with other conservative groups. The effort would arm local wind foes with talking points and centralized support from fossil fuel-funded think tanks. The memo arose from a meeting ATI called a couple months back, which was attended by anti-clean energy groups around the country.
The general idea seems to be to unite the various institutions that have already proven suspicious of clean energy, and to provide materials to residents who have become overcome with not-in-my-backyard opposition to wind projects in their local communities.
Here's a sample of the prerogatives outlined in the memo, which you can read in full at the Guardian:
-Consider joining forces w some already established organization where there is substantial commonality and commitment (e.g. ATI, Heartland, IER, CEI, Marshall, Brookings, Cato, Manhattan, AfP, FW, CFACT, ALEC, NA-PAW, etc.).
-Provide training to local leaders regarding PR.
-Provide local groups support materials, like PowerPoint templates to put on local education seminars, document templates for them to file with their state utility commission, etc.
-Have a high-quality professional brochure available as a handout, that summarizes the situation with wind energy (e.g. Rasmussen).
In the Guardian's accompanying story about the effort, Suzanne Goldenberg details one activist's takeaway from the meetings:
"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.The effort still seems to be in its early stages, but Tea Party activist networks have been effective in organizing opposition before: anybody recall the vociferous town hall onslaught during the Obamacare days? Those who support wind power—both in local projects and at the state and federal policy level—should be on guard.
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.
UPDATE: John Droz, Jr. has contacted me and claimed that some facts in the Guardian's article are erroneous. He says that he was not in fact the author of the document. From his email:
"I had planned that [the confidential strategy document] would be one of many items we would talk about, but (as fate would have it) we ran out of time and never discussed this document. It stands now as it did initially: the opinions of one person."
He also tells me that there was no coordination between any Tea Party-affiliated groups. I am continuing a dialogue with him via email, and will offer a proper update when I return from an assignment abroad.