WASHINGTON -- Too often the media portrays environmental groups as selfless do-gooders and their opponents as greedy corporate polluters and the Bush Administration. But the press rarely mentions that moneyed interests are also behind environmental groups. Just take a look at who's funding the environmental groups that are trying to attach global warming regulations to the energy bill now before Congress.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Environmental Defense are two of the noisiest groups that want the U.S. Senate to adopt what's called the McCain-Lieberman bill, named after its two sponsors. In a stream of seemingly endless emails, they are imploring their members to pressure Congress to support McCain-Lieberman. This bill, officially called the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act, would seriously harm our economy by requiring American businesses to cut their current output of carbon dioxide to 2000 levels by the year 2010. Yet none of the news stories about this bill mentions how much money the NRDC and Environmental Defense have raised -- much of it from government -- to promote this job-destroying legislation.
From 2000-2002 the NRDC and Environmental Defense were among the top recipients of almost $125 million in grants that federal government agencies gave for climate change-related projects. According to a recent report from the George C. Marshall Institute, NRDC took in $6.7 million in grants from left-leaning foundations and government agencies. Environmental Defense garnered just over $5 million.
Does the Bush Administration know that its agencies are spending taxpayer money to fund groups opposed to its own policies? In 2004 the NRDC received over $390,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency to study how to reduce gas emissions. So not only does the NRDC lobby for legislation that will hurt American taxpayers, but the American taxpayer gets the pleasure of helping it do so.
The NRDC and Environmental Defense also raise money from a Who's Who of private U.S. foundations. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation gave $300,000 to both groups to maintain the "momentum" for imposing global warming regulations. Ted Turner's foundation handed the NRDC $800,000 and Environmental Defense $100,000. The Public Welfare Foundation gave the NRDC a cool $1 million, while a more reticent Energy Foundation gave a mere $970,000 to Environmental Defense for global warming.
To get around the Administration's opposition to taxing Americans for an unproven theory, many foundations also fund state-level climate change initiatives. Last year, the Pew Charitable Trusts -- one of the most aggressive foundations on climate change -- gave $550,000 to the NRDC to promote global warming initiatives in the West and Northeast. Environmental Defense received grants from the Dyson Foundation ($25,000 in 2002) and the Wallace Global Fund ($10,000 in 2002) for state climate-change campaigns; The NRDC got money from the Bullit Foundation for this effort ($110,000 in 2001). The Energy Foundation of San Francisco is a cash cow for state-level climate change. Since 2001 it has given five grants totaling more than $610,000 to NRDC and four grants worth $520,000 to Environmental Defense for climate-change programs in places like California.
The NRDC raises money by playing the national security card on global warming, and then raises more money by opposing other national security measures. On global warming, the NRDC raises the specter of Middle East oil. "Global warming pollution and dependence on foreign oil are urgent problems," the NRDC's website warns. Yet the group opposes a national missile defense and has raised money fighting it: $50,000 from the John Merck Fund and $400,000 from the Turner Foundation.
Grants to environmental groups like the NRDC and Environmental Defense would soar if global warming regulations were added to the current energy bill. Green groups would go hat-in-hand to private foundations and the federal government requesting money to "study implementation" of the regulation and "monitor compliance" with its provisions for reducing so-called greenhouse gases.
Climate change regulation is potentially a huge economic burden on the United States (but not on India, Russia or Brazil). The debate should not go forward without acknowledging that the environmental lobby has a financial stake in promoting global warming hype.