Think tank: Ac­tivists work­ing with of­fi­cials to ad­vance green agenda

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY JAMES VARNEY

With Cal­i­for­nia kick­ing off its Global Cli­mate Ac­tion Sum­mit, a new re­port shows a net­work of en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists and donors work­ing with gov­er­nors and state at­tor­neys gen­eral to ad­vance their global warm­ing agenda.

The pic­ture that emerges is of state gov­ern­ments pur­su­ing ag­gres­sive green poli­cies through prose­cu­tions and other ex­ec­u­tive strate­gies that they were un­able to get through their leg­is­la­tures or by tax­pay­ers, ac­cord­ing to the Com­pet­i­tive En­ter­prise In­sti­tute, a free mar­ket think tank.

“What you have is a mer­ce­nary use of law en­force­ment pow­ers,” said CEI se­nior fel­low Chris Horner. “When you have the le­gal sys­tem work­ing as an area of pol­i­cy­mak­ing you have to ask, ‘how in the world did they be­gin to use law en­force­ment this way?’”

Mr. Horner says he dis­cov­ered through pub­lic doc­u­ments and in­for­ma­tion pried loose in lit­i­ga­tion a con­sor­tium of blue-state lead­ers lever­ag­ing money and man­power of var­i­ous non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions and en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists.

The en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists and donors agreed to foot the bills for per­son­nel who would be at­tached to state govern­ment, and that out­side groups write re­ports states can pass off as their own work, Mr. Horner con­cluded. In re­turn, the gov­er­nors ap­pear on the fore­front of the global warm­ing fight and en­joy a closer re­la­tion­ship with ma­jor lib­eral donors.

Draft con­tracts ob­tained by CEI ex­plic­itly state that the politi­cians will make hir­ing de­ci­sions that will be for­mally ex­e­cuted by the non­profit — which will then hire and house the “sup­port func­tions” that are to be at the politi­cians’ dis­posal and di­rec­tion. This ar­range­ment was made pos­si­ble by the “plethora of ad­vo­cate and fun­der in­ter­est.”

Gov­er­nors’ of­fices in New York, Cal­i­for­nia and Wash­ing­ton didn’t re­spond to re­quests for com­ment, nor did the Hewlett Foun­da­tion, the big­gest donor men­tioned.

CEI ac­knowl­edged they “do not know the full ex­tent of this model’s use,” but said it is an ex­ten­sion of ef­forts by dis­graced for­mer New York At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Sch­nei­der­man to mulct en­ergy com­pa­nies and so-called “cli­mate de­niers.” That ef­fort col­lapsed among me­dia scru­tiny, le­gal push­back and Mr. Sch­nei­der­man’s res­ig­na­tion af­ter un­re­lated sex abuse ac­cu­sa­tions.

The donors, non-prof­its and pub­lic of­fi­cials in­volved all stepped up their ef­forts af­ter Pres­i­dent Trump’s elec­tion, the records show.

Un­der the aegis of the “U.S. Cli­mate Al­liance,” Dan Carol, Mr. Brown’s se­nior aide for in­fra­struc­ture and en­ergy pre­pared a “Pow­erPoint pre­sen­ta­tion, which is ti­tled ‘Cli­mate & En­ergy Out­comes for 2017-2021: U.S. Cli­mate Al­liance, [that] cites ‘2018: $15 mil­lion ramps up work ($10 mil­lion passed through to con­sor­tium part­ners)’ and ‘2019: $30 mil­lion as we en­gage new gov­er­nors, share de­ploy­ment learn­ings, and drive a new na­tional pri­or­i­ties de­bate ($25 passed through to con­sor­tium part­ners),’” ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ments.

In the doc­u­ments, Mr. Carol es­ti­mates the amount of money spent on groups pur­su­ing global warm­ing poli­cies as $1 bil­lion an­nu­ally.

While tax­payer money does not ap­pear to have been di­rectly spent on the gov­er­nors’ ef­fort, Mr. Horner con­tends hun­dreds of hours were spent by govern­ment em­ploy­ees in fram­ing and co­or­di­nat­ing the con­cept.

“It ap­pears that the au­thors of this cam­paign both wrote and trans­mit­ted the pro­posal to donors to fund a 501(c) 3 for the gov­er­nors’ pol­icy ad­vo­cacy use while us­ing pub­lic of­fices and re­sources in their roles as pub­lic em­ploy­ees.”

CEI re­leased its re­port on the eve of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown of Cal­i­for­nia host­ing a three-day cli­mate meet­ing in San Fran­cisco. Mr. Brown this week also signed leg­is­la­tion to re­quire Cal­i­for­nia to get all of its en­ergy from re­new­able sources in the next 27 years, and to move up the dead­line for when the state must get half of its en­ergy from such sources to 2026, four years ear­lier than the pre­vi­ous marker.

The meet­ing’s agenda doesn’t dis­cuss the co­or­di­na­tion Mr. Horner al­leges, but it does tout the gath­er­ing as a chance for like-minded folks to work to “to ful­fill the Paris Agree­ment and the United Na­tion’s Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals.”

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