So now we know. At least we know more about the money flow and the complex machine behind radical environmental activists. The United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Work just issued a Minority Staff Report entitled The Chain of Environmental Command: How a club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA.”
Billionaire’s Club: Headwaters of the Money Flow
The report, issued July 30, 2014, describes what the Senate committee terms the “Billionaire’s Club”, made up of an elite group of left-wing millionaires and billionaires who establish private foundations which they, themselves, control. These foundations form a cadre known as the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA), and include the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Park Foundation, Inc., Marisla Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Wallace Global fund, the Walton Family Fund and others.
The Senate report tells us “the ‘Billionaire’s Club’…directs and controls the far-left environmental movement, which in turn controls major policy decisions and lobbies on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”
The report particularly notes the activities of the Sea Change Foundation. The principal donor to the Sea Change Foundation is a Bermuda-based corporation named Klein, Ltd., through which tens of millions of dollars flow into Sea Change from unknown foreign entities. According to the Senate report, Sea Change then “funnels tens of millions of dollars to other large but discreet foundations and prominent environmental activists who strive to control both policy and politics.”
Bermuda has made an agreement to not disclose the identities of Klein’s funders. In fact, this secrecy about who is funding whom is evident throughout the entire environmentalist machine. The Senate report comments on the difficulty of tracking the money flow: this “report covers only a small fraction of the amount of money that is being secreted and moved around. It would be virtually impossible to examine this system completely given the enormity of this carefully coordinated effort and the lack of transparency surrounding it.”
The Billionaire’s Club funds its own media as well, and in return, this media protects its funders’ identities and their true nature. According to the report
“The failure to acknowledge this force and the silence of the media with whom they coordinate further emphasize the fact that until today, the Billionaire’s Club operated in relative obscurity hidden under the guise of ‘philanthropy.’ The scheme to keep their efforts hidden and far removed from the political stage is deliberate, meticulous, and intended to mislead the public. While it is uncertain why they operate in the shadows and what they are hiding, what is clear is that these individuals and foundations go to tremendous lengths to avoid public association with the far-left environmental movement they so generously fund.”
The ostensible purpose of the Billionaire’s Club seems to be suppressing development of America’s fossil-fuel energy resources. The other principal donors to Sea Change Foundation are Nat and Pat Simons, who predominantly fund Sea Change out of their own personal wealth. Nat Simons, President of Sea Change, also serves as “CEO of Elan Management where he manages the early stages of clean-tech companies with a focus on solar and wind-energy sources.” Nat Simon’s father ranked 34th on Forbe’s list of world billionaires and Nat’s mother donated a total of $3,289,200 to Democrats in the 2014 mid-term elections. Nat, himself, donated $15,000 dollars to President Obama’s 2009 Inaugural and has donated to dozens of Democratic candidates for Congress. Nat Simons has stated words to the effect that it is unfortunate that energy in North America is still very inexpensive because that fact makes it difficult for customers to pay much attention to renewable energy technologies. The Senate Committee comments “only an affiliate of the Billionaire’s Club invested in renewable technologies would express disappointment in low energy prices.”
To conclude this section, the Environmental Grantmakers Association and Sea Change Foundation apparently make up the headwaters of the money flowing through the far-left, radical environmentalist machine. From this source the money flows through what are called “pass-through” foundations.
The Pass-Through Organizations
Pass-through foundations are public charity foundations established by the Billionaire’s Club evidently for the purpose of obscuring the money trail. Many, if not all, of the public charities set up for this purpose keep their donor’s list secret. Even when individuals representing particular public charities were asked by the Senate Committee to reveal their donors, they refused, saying that they protect the anonymity of the people they work with, or words to that effect.
Some named pass-through public charities are Pew Charitable Trusts, Tides Foundation, Energy Foundation, and others. Energy Foundation is of note because Sea Change donates massive amounts of money to it to be passed on down the line. The pass-through organizations provide other services to the Billionaire’s Club by offering fiscal sponsorship to activist organizations not recognized by the IRS, and by overseeing funded operations in the lower echelons.
The pass-through foundations then fund the bottom tier of the machine: the environmental activists, including such organizations as the Center for Biological Diversity, the Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club and others. These groups provide the public face of the environmental movement.
The radical environmentalist organizations have very specific functions within this machine. As the public face of the environmental movement, their first function is to provide an artificial grassroots movement. An excerpt from the report gives us more information:
“[One] service provided to the Billionaire’s Club is the manufacturing of an artificial grassroots movement. ‘Grassroots’ is a commonly used and exploited term by far-left organizations. Webster’s Dictionary defines grassroots as ‘the ordinary people in a society or organization: the people who do not have a lot of money and power.’ General characteristics of a grassroots movement include natural spontaneous and volunteer-based action that originates locally with citizens who unite around a common issue or cause within their community. Environmental groups have misleadingly used the grassroots label to gain credibility among the populace and to hide, among other things, their substantial funding, well-organized structures and powerful influence….Critically, it is not the citizens’ interests that drive the [environmental] movement; rather it is part of a well-funded national strategy….The real direction comes from agenda-driven far-left elites hundreds of miles away on the East and West Coasts.”
Propaganda and Bad Science
The activist environmental groups provide the Billionaire’s Club with other services. Other services described by the Minority Staff Report are “promulgation of propaganda,” comprising “nimble and transient groups under fiscal sponsorship arrangements, distance/anonymity between donations made by well-known donors and activities of risky activist groups,” and “above all—the ability to leverage tens of millions of dollars in questionable foreign funding.”
One especially important way activist groups provide a service to the Billionaire’s Club is to generate propaganda as part of an artificial echo chamber. What is meant by an “artificial echo chamber” is illustrated by the following example from the report:
“Activists are skilled at creating and pushing out propaganda disguised as science and news. For example, both the Park Foundation and the Schmidt Family Foundation have financed questionable scientists to produce anti-fracking research, which the Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and Climate Desk—all grant recipients—eagerly report on.”
Corrupting the EPA
Another role of the activist organizations is to lobby the EPA and to influence policy from within the EPA itself. The report explains:
“This report proves that the Obama EPA has been deliberately staffed at the highest levels with far-left environmental activists who have worked hand-in-glove with their former colleagues. The green-revolving door at EPA has become a valuable asset for the far-left and their wealthy donors. In addition to providing insider access to important policy decisions, it appears activists now at EPA also funnel government money through grants to their former employers and colleagues. The report tracks the amount of government aid doled out to activist groups and details a troubling disregard for ethics by certain high powered officials.”
The Senate Minority Staff Report says this about radical environmental activists groups:
“The ultimate recipients of donations from the Billionaire’s Club work in tandem with wealthy donors to maximize the value of their tax deductible donations and leverage their combined resources to influence elections and policy outcomes. Often they lobby on behalf of the EPA and advance policy positions important to the agency, which is statutorily prohibited from lobbying on its own behalf…[They] present themselves as non-partisan benevolent charities to a public not aware of the secretive backroom deals and transfers. The Billionaire’s Club achieves many of its successes through ‘capture’ of key employees at EPA. These ‘successes’ are often at the expense of farmers, miners, roughnecks, small businesses and families.”
Siding with Crony Capitalists
The Senators respond drily to EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, who told Congress EPA’s draconian regulations, which sound the death knell for the coal industry, really create an opportunity for investment in renewable and clean energy:
“The ‘opportunities’ McCarthy was referring to…are the economic opportunities of millionaires and billionaires who are part of the far-left environmental machine heavily invested in helping EPA advance such regulations. It is surely not an opportunity for Americans living in Appalachia or the Powder River Basin who depend on coal for their energy supply and livelihood, nor is it an economic opportunity for Americans already struggling to pay their energy bills.” [Emphasis mine]
Who Else Has Something to Gain?
As for the identity of those unknown foreign donors to Sea Change, and who has something to gain by blocking the development of American fossil-fuel energy, the first people that come to my mind are members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, also known as OPEC. This evidently was not far from the Senators’ minds because they remark
“The role Sea Change plays as a member of the Billionaire’s Club is deeply troubling, especially in light of recent revelations that environmental activists, many of whom are clearly benefiting from this extreme “dark money,” do not have any moral qualms over where their money comes from—so long as it supports the far-left cause. This sentiment was captured by a recently released investigative video that revealed Hollywood producers of far-left environmental films were eager to accept Middle Eastern money to produce an anti-fracking video. Notably, in speaking with a man believed to represent rich Middle Eastern oil interests opposed to American energy independence through fracking, one producer said: ‘This is not the first major project that we’ve had funded through a funding source, which you know, for various reasons—we didn’t disclose. It would have been very unwise for everybody to understand the dynamics of that funding. So we know how tricky it is….It’s money, so in that sense we have no moral issue.”
Other foreign entities who have something to gain from America’s failure to make wise use of her natural resources come to mind, but perhaps that is a subject for another post.
Read it for Yourself
If you would like to get all of the Senate Committee’s findings and the stunning details, it is a good idea to download this substantial report here and read it for yourself. This post only gives an overview of the most salient characteristics. The Senate Minority Staff Report is full of information that every American should be made aware of. As rich in detail as the report is, we are told that this is a partial picture because the Committee’s “jurisdiction is limited to oversight of the EPA and energy and environmental policy.” The Senate Committee tells us that this model of doing business is being replicated across the far-left political movement.
I hope you have found this post informative. If you have any comments on the Senate Minority Staff Report or this blog post please feel free to leave them below. I know you will respect Internet etiquette.