Newt’s ‘American Solutions’ Is A Front Group For King Coal

This is the second post in our series of investigative pieces looking into ASWF. See the first post here.

Peabody CoalPeabody Energy, the world’s largest coal company, became one of the top funders for Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future (ASWF) this June, with a contribution of a quarter of a million dollars. IRS documents reveal that Peabody’s donation of $250,000 on June 9 — days after fossil-industry senators blocked global warming legislation — came on top of an April contribution of $25,000 from Peabody’s top Washington lobbyist, Fredrick Palmer:

Peabody, World’s Largest Coal Company, #4 Backer Of American Solutions For Winning The Future. Newt Gingrich’s 527 organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future, has received $275,000 in contributions from Peabody Energy, Inc. As of July 1, 2008, the world’s largest private-sector coal company is ASWF’s fourth highest contributor. [IRS, $250,000 6/16/08, $25,000 4/30/08]

Last year, a front group backed by Peabody smeared Kansas Governor Kathleen Sibelius (D) as a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for denying an air permit to new coal plants because of their potential global warming pollution. When challenged, Peabody declared, “We are pleased to support the message.”

On July 23, Peabody reported record profits of $242.6 million and record sales of $1.53 billion for its second quarter, on surging coal prices. Its 59.8 million tons of coal sold are responsible for about one percent of the world’s total global warming emissions that quarter.

Peabody Energy’s vision for “America’s Energy Future,” with U.S. coal consumption doubling by 2025, is shared by ASWF, as its “Platform Of The American People” attests:

— To combat the rising cost of energy and reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources, we support the United States using more of its own domestic energy resources, including the oil and coal it already has here in the U.S.

— We believe the United States should increase its use of coal because it is a domestically available energy source, is less expensive than imported foreign oil, and new technologies have dramatically reduced emissions from burning coal, as well as making it much less harmful to the environment.

— We believe that if research indicates we could build clean coal plants in the United States with no carbon emissions, it would be important to build such plants as rapidly as possible.

— We believe in using United States domestic energy sources such as clean coal and oil, even if it means drilling off our coasts and in Alaska, as well as offering tax credits for American businesses that develop new energy sources.

The fossil-fuel-dependent future that Peabody Energy is promoting through Newt Gingrich’s “Drill Here, Drill Now” billionaire-backed front group is catastrophic, as it “ignores the nightmarish damages that would be caused to our air, water and climate.”

In the words of NASA climate scientist Jim Hansen, “Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, as tobacco companies discredited the smoking-cancer link.” ASWF is just the latest of these fossil-fueled front groups. Hansen concluded:

CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature. Conviction of ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal CEOs will be no consolation, if we pass on a runaway climate to our children.

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