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Memo: Group Wants To Create Fake Grassroots Wind ‘Subversion’ Campaign That ‘Should Appear As A Groundswell’

By Stephen Lacey  

"Memo: Group Wants To Create Fake Grassroots Wind ‘Subversion’ Campaign That ‘Should Appear As A Groundswell’"

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In February, a group of anti-wind activists gathered in Washington, DC. Their goal: establish a coordinated, nation-wide program of “wind warriors” who could be dispatched to fight the industry anywhere, anytime.

The organization would combine efforts and create “what should appear as a ‘groundswell’ among grass roots” to counter legislation supporting wind energy on the federal, state and local levels.

The leader of the group was John Droz, Jr, a long-time wind opponent and a senior fellow at the ultra-conservative American Tradition Institute. ATI calls itself an “environmental” think tank. The organization, known best for suing climate scientist Michael Mann, is devoted to spreading doubt about climate change, opposing state-level renewable energy targets, and stripping away environmental regulations.

The ATI is so extreme that it was denounced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for contributing to an “environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas.”

According to a memo just obtained by the Checks and Balances Project and reviewed by Climate Progress, Droz has also been focused on crafting a fake grassroots campaign to fight renewable energy projects — specifically wind — in legislatures, zoning boards and town halls across the country.

In a poorly timed suggestion, Droz contemplates joining with the Heartland Institute (because there is “substantial commonality”) and launching a fake billboard campaign to derail wind developers. What could go wrong with that?

The memo shows that Droz brought together these wind opponents from all over the country last year to “cause subversion in message of [the wind] industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit they are for it.”

The minimum national PR campaign goal is to constructively influence national and state wind energy policies. A broader possible goal is to constructively influence national and state energy and environmental policies.

The goal will be realized by coordination of a focused message along many channels and with multiple voices. The intent is to target three audiences with consistent messaging to create the change.  Public opinion must begin to change in what should appear as a “groundswell” among grass roots.

By “constructively influence” the authors really mean “disrupt” any piece of legislation supporting wind energy — and likely other forms of renewable energy as collateral damage.

The document, authored by Illinois anti-wind attorney Rich Porter and edited by Droz, outlines in great detail how a national PR campaign would function. The American Tradition Institute says Droz acted alone in crafting the plan, according to the Guardian.

The group’s campaign efforts would include outreach to a who’s who of conservative media outlets and think tanks already working to discredit renewable energy: Fox News, The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Heartland Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and Americans for Prosperity.

The memo outlines more than 20 ideas for undertaking a national campaign, including teaching anti-wind curriculum in schools and creating “dummy” companies to trip up wind developers attempting to build projects. Below is a list of some of their ideas:

  • Youth Outreach will create program for public school coordination as well as college coordination. This will include community activity and participation with sponsorships for science fairs, school activity etc. with preset parameters that cause students to steer away from wind because they discover it doesn’t meet the criteria we set up (poster contest, essays etc).
  • Setup a dummy business that will go 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 a well-known spokesman with star credibility. (Find one to volunteer?)
  • Create counter-intelligence branch (responsible for communicating current industry tactics and strategies as feedback to this organization)
  • Write expose book on the industry, showing government waste, harm to communities and other negative impacts on people and the environment.
  • A team investigates links to any organization supporting wind in order to expose that support.

The release of this memo follows public statements from highly-influential conservative groups like ALEC and Americans for Tax Reform about their plans to eliminate targets for renewable energy in states around the country. The Droz anti-wind plan is more proof that these organizations are stepping up their political campaigns against the industry.

We have posted the memo here.

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32 Responses to Memo: Group Wants To Create Fake Grassroots Wind ‘Subversion’ Campaign That ‘Should Appear As A Groundswell’

  1. Sasparilla says:

    Excellent article Stephen. Obviously for all the “leaked” groups there are others without the leaks but similar goals.

    Anyone with doubts that the GOP and its supporting, guiding (the Koch’s), funding groups and propaganda outlets (News Corp. principally) are waging an all out war against Green Energy (not just Climate Change) should have those doubts erased (besides the legislative & PR evidence). These groups and the people they pay want Green Energy dead in the United States and have been working to achieve this.

    The amount of treachery and duplicity stated is breathtaking – with the apparent end goal of stopping most future wind projects, a technology that poses no particular threat to any industry (not coal, not gas), is very disconcerting.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      The situation is the same in Australia, the villains, particularly the Murdoch pathocracy, the same. The Murdoch sewer is fanatically anti-wind power, running stories about the supposed ‘health dangers’ of wind towers. The opposing forces of rationality and decency have struck back by noting that these mysterious ‘symptoms’ are only found in farmers NOT paid for the presence of towers, and NEVER in those who receive money. In a nice Orwellian touch, these concoctions are run under the by-line of the ‘environment editor’ which in the Orwellian world of Murdochism is akin to the Saudi Religious Police’s ‘lifestyle consultant’.

      • enroncrooks says:

        Dear Mulga People cannot complain because the developers make them sign a gag order and they have agreed not to discuss any problems. If they do they will be sued.

  2. Chris Winter says:

    Oh, no! Attack of the 400-foot billboards!

    What a goofy idea.

  3. Ashtanga says:

    I experienced this type of anti-wind subversion, albeit on a much smaller scale. I was working for a small climate action group in Ontario last summer, in the run-up to the provincial election. The incumbent Liberals and their Green Energy Act were on the chopping block as the Conservative party was leading in the polls. Central to the Green Energy Act (which was implemented in 2009) was a Feed-in Tariff that had made it possible for a surge in new wind projects, among other renewables. The Conservative party used this as a target to discredit the Liberals, and their shills created fake grassroots groups that organized all over Ontario. They whipped up opposition to wind power among rural residents, telling them that wind turbines would make them sick, and would make their energy prices skyrocket. Environmental groups got out-organized by a long shot; no matter how many times we countered their arguments with facts, we couldn’t combat the anger and fear they were instilling in people. The Liberals managed to squeak by with a win in the election, so the GEA is safe for now, but its really scary how much of an influence vested interests can have in changing the public discourse. If ATI is successful with what they’ve outlined in this article, it could be hugely detrimental to the progress of wind power.

  4. prokaryotes says:

    Isn’t this a crime?

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        I’m afraid that, when it comes to money, the production of which is the sole raison d’etre of capitalism, humanity is irrelevant. Useful as a raw resource to be as ruthlessly exploited as possible, but, if proving recalcitrant or forgetful of who is Boss, eminently expendable. If the plutocrats decide (if they haven’t already) that they can live with a 90% reduction of the human population if that is the price needed to protect their money and power, then it will happen.

        • prokaryotes says:

          So who is the Plutocrats? Apparently even at the top 0.01% there are different tendencies. If you relate your remarks to people like the Koch Brothers, i have to agree.

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            It’s the 0.01% alright, those who control the vast bulk of the planet’s wealth. They have their cabals, like Bilderberg, that meet openly but whose deliberations are kept secret, because the MSM dares not show any interest. They are known to have discussed global population reduction often over the years, and they control politics. I mean, David Cameron or Tony Blair meet Murdoch frequently, not the average punter. Onama spends a lot more time with Wall Street (they make up much of his Administration, particularly the crucial economic roles), than Main Street.The hardheads like the Kochtopus act in the interests of their uber-class, and you will not see the other billionaires calling for them to desist, because their financial and business interests are so intertwined. In my opinion all the dreadful, terminal, problems facing humanity derive from the gargantuan concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny elite, and the grotesque inequality that produces. And this concentration of wealth, and its attendant ills, inequality and poverty, are only growing.

          • prokaryotes says:

            That the Bilderberg meeting has anything in common with what you suggest is a rumor to discredit it. I have yet to read anything substantial, other then “Oh the Bilderbergs, bla bla ..”. There are so many people and to generalize all of them, is just not right.

            Here this is spmething more substantial, and echoes we can read in todays headline…

            Koch Brothers Convene Super-Secret Billionaires’ Meeting for 2012 Elections
            Some of America’s wealthiest Republicans flew into Palm Springs last weekend to update their stealthy political strategy for 2012. http://www.alternet.org/story/153998/koch_brothers_convene_super-secret_billionaires'_meeting_for_2012_elections

  5. John Tucker says:

    Just the beginning.

    I would say handle it the way you/we handled the anti nukes spreading fear and misinformation. But we didn’t.

    The only valid arguments against a wind install (and solutions) are :

    Bad wind area, population very close/under rotors, significant habitat loss (NEVER install wind in a bad area)

    Gas co generation, grid unprepared (just don’t do the gas, its not necessary – update your sorry grid immediately while installing the wind)

    Environmental damage to species populations (Turn off lights at night, do maintenance during migrations, install sensors and braking systems for condors, etc…)

    The rest of the arguments are aesthetic/fake medical bunk, extremely shaky or completely unsupported; all that we don’t have time for.

    • prokaryotes says:

      Bad wind area really becomes increasingly a non issue

      …maximized return on investment in low-wind areas, compared to its predecessors: This is a step that makes it financially feasible to install wind turbines in more low-wind areas than previously thought. Improvements like this mean that wind farms can operate economically in more locations than ever before. This is because low-wind sites are typically ignored because the cost to generate wind power is too high there, but this turbine will make it economically viable
      Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/19MQa)

      • John Tucker says:

        There are mechanical failure rates and maintenance to consider, as well as the initial carbon investment and the changing land scape over time (urbanization).

        There are sizes and degrees of wind power (like that article demonstrates) that I grossly neglected.

        However, I don’t feel “one or two sizes/types fits all” will ever work well in clean energy.

        As a matter of fact I think that concept has now been proven to work against deployment and realization of clean energy, and works more for a only slightly decelerated climate change. But climate change nonetheless.

        • prokaryotes says:

          I don’t understand, what concept does not work? These technologies are no concepts.

          This here is a very promising concept:

          Altaeros Energies – Airborne Wind Turbine Prototype 2012 http://energyclean.net/item/altaeros-energies-airborne-wind-turbine-prototype-2012.html

          • John Tucker says:

            Replacing the entire electric system with all wind power? really?? you think that would work with the investment needed, materials, and the amount of space and intermittent nature/severe weather issues. Not to mention the political implications.

            Not that we couldn’t install more than anyone can imagine now that it wouldn’t be an improvement, of course. But we dont have that luxury of available resources and need maximum efficiency of what we do install and immediate reductions in emissions.

            Its takes a whole lot of renewables to make a difference. Thats just the nature of the beast.

            Wind power usually will need at least one major overhaul in a 20 year lifetime.

            When we do install them, pay the carbon price for them, they need to seriously work at reducing emissions. Not be excuses for installing additional gas capacity, a feel good replacement for the irrational fear of nuclear power, or big happy yard ornaments.

            When something is inefficient its not returning well on its investment.

          • prokaryotes says:

            John Tucker “Replacing the entire electric system with all wind power?”

            I think we are not on the same page here. This topic is about discrediting wind energy deployment, with phony accusations. Then you suggest that it doesn’t work, without any kind of study, numbers whatever.

            Why do i get the impression that you are part of the disinformation campaign? Why don’t you start acknowledging the breakthrough technologies from companies like Gamesa? Why would Norfolk put up a wind park with Gamesa wind turbines? Or why would they set up one in Canada?

            John, why is it that you can focus on some phony accusations and shady claims about wind power, but not consider that the UK off shore wind could power the entire UK? Or you say WP needs a major overhaul within 20 years… are you kidding?

    • Jim Sarasin says:

      “install sensors and braking systems for condors, etc”

      Are you in earnest? We have to accept that there are problems with wind, despite the potential for good, and Condors and other large birds will unfortunately be among the casualties

  6. meteor blades says:

    Link to memo links back to this story.

  7. D. R. Tucker says:

    The wind industry is the target of a well-funded smear campaign ramping up – just
    in time for the election – by ultra conservative “think tanks”. As the Koch Bros. and
    their band of merry thieves, sinks to an all time low, we’ll get reaction from Peter
    Kelley of The American Wind Energy Association. Next, how are socially responsible
    corporations doing in their drive to be more sustainable – and accountable? We’ll talk
    to Anne Kerry Program Director with the business investment group, CERES..

    http://prn.fm/2012/05/09/green-front-050912/

  8. Chris Winter says:

    All you need to know about John Droz, Jr can be learned by visiting his own Web sites. But this profile from DesmogBlog is more succinct.

    http://www.desmogblog.com/john-droz

  9. Why wind power? I can understand big oil’s opposition to alternative energy as a whole, but does anyone really think that wind will someday shut down the pumps?

  10. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    “When the winds of change occur some build walls others build windmills” – Old Chinese saying.

    Put the WIND to WORK: To get inexhaustible,pollution-free Energy which cannot be misused.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
    Wind Energy Expert
    E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com

  11. ANGRY BADGER says:

    Reinventing fire mentions a new, jet engine-inspired turbine from FloDesign and could do great things for the wind industry :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB5CawKfE2M

    The storage problem is being addressed by Liquid Metal Battery, Acquion and others. With widespread deployment of electric cars, we could see a day when petrolium will not be needed for the majority of transportation.

    The issue I have with the airborne turbine is the shortage of helium. I wonder if that presents a challange to the technology.

    At any rate, the activities of groups like ALEC, ATR and ATI are reprehensible, given we need renewable so desperately.

  12. Shirley says:

    The level of cynicism demonstrated by this campaign is just astounding, in particular because of the proposed disinformation efforts aimed at schoolchildren.

    This paragraph (which I haven’t seen widely quoted yet) especially got to me:

    “(This will help slow the meme effect of the industry, for instance when a company places a seal showing wind power was used to produce the product, we automatically assign a tax wasting symbol to the product and recommend a boycott on the website. When a company uses wind power as marketing tool, or illustration such as a toy manufacturer showing turbines on the box, we automatically contact them to tell them we will list them on the web as actively participating in disinformation by favorably showing wind turbines)”

    They’re proposing attacks on socially/environmentally responsible toy-makers. If this doesn’t fit the “right-wingers hate kids” meme, I don’t know what does.

  13. Shelley says:

    The http://www.coalitionforsensiblesiting.com had a link to the AWEA meeting held in November. In it they described tactics such as coercion of politicians like this reference: Should the member not respond favorably to positive re-enforcment, we will use advertising to educate his or her constituents on the issue and the members role as a jobs killing tax hiker.
    They also show finacals of 33 million for thier promotion of wind.
    AWEA does seem to have created alot of jobs for the AWEA.
    I’ve read the Droz piece and have contacted him. These are only suggestions run by a small group to consider. What I’ve been reading in this AWEA memo is really heavy handed pushing of elected officials. AWEA is attempting to influence every department of government and attacking this small group for trying to get their opinion across.The Koch Brothers did not contribute or influence them in any way. They do have the internet and network with like minded persons. As I recall the internet toppled nations recently when people were unhappy.

    • enroncrooks says:

      Plus, if wind power did reduce oil consumption, the oil gravy train would last years into the future because as the supply lessened, they will increase prices. Win win for oil. That is a big argument for wind , reducing fossil fuels but we all know someone else will be burning what we don’t and coal exports are skyrocketing. I do not see wind making any difference as Europe has been on the win bandwagon now for 20 years with C02 still rising. Wind power makes some feel good , they are unwilling to make REAL changes to reduce C02 and they do not care that the env. suffers when trees are cut and emissions skyrocket manufacturing wind turbines.

  14. Spec says:

    Can someone explain why anyone would bother to fight far away wind farms? I understand (but do not agree) with people that don’t want to see or hear them . . . but why fight a far away wind farm?

  15. Alice Cheshire says:

    Spec–People actually do live in remote areas. They live in remote areas because they like nature and being away from industry. Planting 400 foot industrial turbines makes the area an industrial one. You don’t care, but those who bought in RURAL areas expected to stay rural.
    Also, why is it when wind creates a lobby it’s “correct and good” and when those who oppose it create one, it’s subversion? As “Shelley” notes, the AWEA is very heavy handed in it’s lobbying and is far richer than any anti-wind group. It appears that in America only the liberals and environmentalists are protected by the first amendment.
    Also, why do huge groups like AWEA fear small, low-funded groups? If money wins, AWEA has this hands down. They are far richer than any anti-wind group out there.
    Oil companies have no reason to oppose wind–you need to get that straight. Oil companies make money off turbine leases and the backup gas plants required for wind. If anything, oil companies love turbines. They create new gas plants, will never really threaten oil in any way (3% of our energy needs currently–not a threat), and it’s great PR. Oil companies all have green divisions and many actively participate in turbine building and siting. They lease land to wind companies. Wind is really their friend. Plus, if we cut wind subsidies, we might cut oil subsidies. You’re looking at the wrong thing here. The reason anti-wind is catching on is because facts about wind are getting out there. It happened with climate change and it’s happening with wind. All over the globe.