Memo Exposes Conservative Campaign to Turn Public Opinion Against Renewable Energy

If you have any doubts that right-wing, conservative groups are out to kill renewable energy for their oil industry and Koch Brother backers, this might clinch it.

As if ALEC, Heartland Institute and Americans for Prosperity weren’t enough, yet another ultra-conservative group is coming out of the shadows, American Tradition Institute.

The Guardian exposed a confidential memo uncovered by Checks and Balances, that calls for a national campaign to turn American public opinion against solar and wind energy and President Obama’s energy agenda.

The memo advises using "subversion" to build a national movement of wind farm protesters "so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit they are for it."

The idea is to create a coordinated, national protest program that appears to be a grassroots groundswell against wind energy.

That’s exactly what conservatives did in all those town halls where people were supposedly up in arms about Obama’s health care reform plan. They bused them in from everywhere – and they were able to turn the tide of public opinion.

The memo calls for spending $750,000 to create a tax-exempt organization with paid staff to build public opposition to state and federal government policies that assist the wind energy industry.

The mirage grassroots movement would block wind energy legislation and projects at local, state and federal levels.

"These documents show for the first time that local Nimby anti-wind groups are coordinating and working with national fossil-fuel funded advocacy groups to wreck the wind industry," says Gabe Elsner, co-director of Checks and Balances.

The group would work in tandem with the conservative media and think tanks, which are already focused on discrediting renewable energy: Fox News, The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Heartland Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and Americans for Prosperity.

"We do see evidence of coordination," Peter Kelley, from the American Wind Energy Association told the Guardian. "The same rhetoric pops up all over the place. Things that are disproven, that are demonstrably untrue, continually get repeated."

The memo lists many public relations (PR) tactics such as providing Power Points to local groups; training local leaders in PR; provide experts for testimony to government agencies; create catch phrases like puff power, breeze energy; and coordinate with like-minded groups.

The memo includes a list of some 20 ways to conduct a national campaign, including:

  • Create and coordinate media contact campaigns as well as radio, TV and alternate media ads.
  • Setup a dummy business that goes 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 or get a well-known volunteer spokesman with star credibility.
  • Write an expose book on the industry, showing government waste, harm to communities and other negative impacts on people and the environment.
  • Start a "get people talking" campaign. Use controversy to spark ideas.

"American Tradition Institute is part of a loose coalition of ultra-conservative thinktanks and networks united by their efforts to discredit climate science and their close connections to the oil and gas industry, including the Koch family. Those groups include the Heartland Institute, the John Locke Foundation, and Americans for Prosperity, and the organizing arm of the Tea Party movement," says the Guardian. We would also add ALEC.

So far, we’ve seen Americans for Prosperity television ads attacking Obama’s support for Solyndra and clean energy and moves to block clean fuel standardsALEC’s mission to  eliminate state Renewable Portfolio Standards and regional climate cap-and-trade pacts, and the latest Heartland Institute bomb, the billboard that compares people who accept the science of climate change with Charles Manson, Osama bin Laden and the Unibomber.

GM, AT&T, Diago (owner of Smirnoffs and other liquor brands) and all insurers including State Farm pulled support from Heartland because of the despicable billboard, which is still on their website.

"They are going back to the states to create the space for an anti-Obama, anti-green energy thing. It is really a political attack," Kert Davies, Greenpeace research director, told the Guardian. "What the right wing wants to perpetuate is that this is a type of energy that never works and requires massive government handouts."

One conservative activist says, "I would say it’s almost the issue [in the presidential election]. It’s going to be huge."

Meanwhile, in a campaign speech at a Colorado oil field, Mitt Romney said, "His [Obama] ideas about energy are simply out of date. We’re applying policies from the past that just don’t work." He was referring to renewable energy, of course, not the outdated subsidies for Big Oil.

Read the memo!:

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