From Tom Steyer to Nat Simons, billionaires have hijacked the environmental movement to line their own pockets. Hedge funds and billionaire investors with a line into government contracts, grants and loan guarantees have built relations with these lobby groups to influence government to ensure taxpayer largess flows to the green industries which they are invested in. A new report by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute examines some of the largest contributors to the Sierra Club and their self-interested dealing that gives new definition to the meaning of “going green.”
E&E Legal produced a report on the Sierra Club Foundation last fall, which showed how eight of the Foundation’s 18 directors own or operate organizations that directly benefit from its Beyond Coal campaign, the Sierra Club Foundation’s single most expensive program. This type of “self-dealing” is a violation of IRS; a clear case of a private individual receiving “goods and services” from the Sierra Club to their direct and personal benefit. In response, E&E Legal filed a referral with the IRS pointing this out.
In the latest report, E&E Legal documents similar benefits accruing to some of Sierra Club’s largest donors and, specifically, how they appear to use the Sierra Club for market manipulation. Such self-dealing by donors is prohibited by the IRS.
“What is apparent from this latest report is that very wealthy individuals and family foundations use the Sierra Club as hired guns to beat up the coal industry, and to push renewable energy while these same individuals stand to gain significantly from this market manipulation,” said E&E Legal General Counsel David Schnare. “This is a blatant violation of the IRS tax laws, and we will be filing a referral with the tax agency reporting several of the Sierra Club’s largest donors as we did last fall regarding the eight Sierra Club Foundation directors who engaged in similar activities.”
What is clear from examining the large contributors to the Sierra Club is that these donors seek to use the Sierra Club to manipulate government policies in order to irrevocably alter the world’s energy portfolio in a manner that benefits the donors and their businesses. This strategy appears to have been put in place in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Energy Foundation, for example, was launched in 1991 by three extremely wealthy family foundations, including the Rockefeller Foundation.
“Looking back to the late 1980s, what emerges is that these influential elites, or ‘one-percenters,’ dedicated themselves to sounding alarms about ‘global warming,’ which morphed into ‘climate change’ as conditions demanded,” said Craig Richardson, E&E Legal Executive Director and author of the report. “Huge money followed from some of this country’s largest and most influential foundations, much of which ended up in the hands of groups like the Sierra Club.”
Other billionaires, all large contributors to the Sierra Club and including Michael Bloomberg, Nathaniel Simons, and Roger Sant, jumped into the fray. Their strategy is simple. Phase I targeted coal as the threat that must be arrested, claiming anthropogenic C02 emissions are the root cause of ‘climate change’ and threaten a catastrophic future, thus opening the door to non-coal technologies in which they have invested; and to create movement in the markets that these men can manipulate to their own hedge fund benefit. The group’s unprecedented contributions allowed them to engage in one of the most intense and thorough public relations, political, and grassroots assaults ever waged.
Phase II of their campaign was a heavy push on government policies promoting renewable energy – primarily wind and solar. These intermittent energy sources are not an alternative to what is known as “dispatchable” energy sources such as coal and natural gas-based electricity and thus cannot replace the older, cheaper coal and gas generation. In 2009, this second phase accelerated in earnest with the Obama Administration’s policies to prop up renewable interests, benefiting these donors, while disabling coal through regulatory policy. Similarly, states pushed renewable energy rules requiring a percentage of a state’s consumption be composed of wind and solar.
In addition to serving the obvious financial and generally ideological interests of Sierra’s donors, the Sierra Club’s policies also serve donors who succor population control. This includes the family foundation of William Hewlett, a Sierra Club supporter, which is dedicated to population control and view environmental issues as a means to curb and ultimately reduce human involvement in the world as well. This, of course, is nothing short of a war on the poor, the antithesis of a war on poverty.
“This report helps answer the mystery of why the Sierra Club abandoned the mission of its founder John Muir, which was to protect this country’s most sacred nature resources,” noted Richardson. “When you see the hundreds of millions of dollars pumped through the Sierra Club for its war on coal – an effort that clearly benefits the very same people who are donating the money – it’s clear the Sierra Club is now just a mercenary force beholden to the highest bidder.”