by Karen Rubin
It seems that renewable energy and green building are being attacked from an increasing number of angles these days in a last ditch attempt to block the success of these industries.
While names like ALEC (specializing in killing renewables), Americans for Prosperity and Heartland (specializing in misinformation on climate change) and many others have raised their shadowy heads of late, we can now add the Environmental Policy Alliance - which, in contrast to its green-sounding name, has it out for the whole enchilada - environmental groups, climate, clean energy and green building.
Led by multi-millionaire publicist Rick Berman - who is called "shadowy" and "Dr. Evil," his firm is a propaganda machine that's worked to overturn drunk-driving laws, smoking prohibitions, anti-obesity campaigns, health care reform, minimum wage, unions and public school teachers. Among the groups he's attacked are MADD, Center for Science in the Public Interest, and even the Humane Society of the US on behalf of deep-pocketed corporate clients such as Philip Morris, Coca-Cola, Monsanto, Tyson Foods, Wendy's,
Outback Steakhouse and Applebee's.
Now Berman has a new target: clean energy, green buildings and climate
change. His so-called Environmental Policy Alliance is aiming at every group focused on restoring the environment, from the US Environmental Protection Agency to Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the US Green Building Council.
Yes, LEED-certification is just as much an anathema to Berman's benefactors as banning Big Gulp soda. It's all in the name of Freedom.
Last month, Berman launched LEEDExposed.com, which challenges the building certification system as a sham and a waste of tax dollars when municipalities adopt it in building codes.
Pointing to Washington DC, which tops the country for LEED-certified buildings per capita, Berman issued a press release saying they actually use more energy than buildings that aren't certified.
That was picked up by the right wing echo chamber -
National Review, Forbes, Daily Caller, and a slew of bloggers with headlines like, Report: DC's Green Approved Buildings Using More Energy.
The US Green Building Council's response: "Recent claims made by the fictitious organization 'Environmental
Policy Alliance,' which runs LEEDExposed, are false," says Scot
Horst, Senior Vice President of LEED. Their 'analysis' demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding about the nature of the design, construction, and management process."
"No one is surprised that Washington DC lobbying groups use large
amounts of money to win elections and influence decisions in our government and
in our lives. In this case, Berman is being paid to discredit LEED because his
clients believe that providing information about their products is a slippery
slope that will lead people to question the chemicals used in their buildings," adds Horst.
Indeed, the chemical, plastic and vinyl industries are behind Green Globes, an industry-supported building certification program that is vying to take over for LEED.
After a decade of requiring LEED-certification for federal buildings, they managed to get equal standing for Green Globes.
Those industries are especially upset because the latest version of LEED zeroes in on using healthy materials and disclosing chemical ingredients in common building materials, such as formaldehyde and flame retardants.
Don't Leave EPA Out
Berman targets the EPA at EPAFacts.com, but that's nothing new - every conservative group has it in for regulations (that's why we're seeing flagrant corporate abuse in oil, chemical and coal ash spills).
And of course they stoke the idea that's there's no need to regulate greenhouse gases as they attempt to find flaws in climate research.
Big Green Radicals
Then there's the push against
Big Green Radicals, where Berman is "educating the public about the
real agenda of well-funded environmental activist groups": driving up costs, running over jobs and supporting the big, bad EPA.
Where do they come up with stuff?!
This ad appeared in the Wall St. Journal. It says: Middle class families are struggling to pay bills and make ends meet. Meanwhile, powerful, well-funded environmental groups like Sierra Club, NRDC, and Food & Water Watch are using scare tactics and junk science to push policies that increase the cost of energy:
BigGreenRadicals.com exposes these "multi-million dollar environmental lobbying machines" for their real goals:
- eliminate your energy sources (coal, natural gas, and petroleum) for solar and wind, which raise prices dramatically and reduces reliable energy.
- eliminate your food sources: radical environmentalists are trying to convince consumers to ignore scientific consensus on the safety of genetically modified (GMO) foods and scare the public and companies into relying only on organic foods.
- put an end to mining and energy exploration: this would cost thousands of jobs in a variety of industries.
After seeing the ad, Josh Mogerman, Deputy Director of National Media for NRDC responds: "This shoddy work is sadly representative of what will be coming
at the press and public in droves soon. In 2010, climate denial groups received
$1.2 billion, nearly doubling since 2003. And with sweeping climate
change action coming this summer, you can expect that tab to get even bigger as
the fossil fuel industry tries its darndest to push back."
Berman runs at least 15 industry-funded front groups and projects, here are some of them:
Center for Consumer Freedom: Founded with funding from Philip Morris, it attacks criticisms about smoking, fast
food or alcohol. Its new focus is on "food and beverage issues" to prevent action on obesity, mad cow
disease and genetically modified food. Donors include Coca-Cola,
Wendy's, Tyson's Foods, Cargill, Outback Steakhouse.
One of its projects, ActivistCash.com, "provides the public and
media with in-depth profiles of think tanks, activist groups, and foundations, along with information about the sources of their funding."
Employment Policies Institute: opposes raising the minimum wage by promoting the specious concept that higher wages would drive the poor and uneducated out of the job market. It also
attacks employer-mandated health care.
American Beverage Institute: fights drunk-driving
laws, DUI checkpoints, ignition interlock systems for
Center for Union Facts: promotes disparaging
information about unions.
To fight back, the Center for Responsibility and Ethics created the website, Berman Exposed: