From Science Matters
By Ron Clutz
Robert Bryce reports on the wealthy and shadowy push against domestic use of natural gas in his substack article The Dark Money Behind The Gas Bans. Excerpts in italics wtih my bolds and added images
The big-money donors behind the gas bans are hiding their identities, and their funding,
behind an extensive dark money network.
Last Tuesday, Rewiring America announced that it has hired Georgia politician Stacey Abrams to help the group “launch and scale a national awareness campaign and a network of large and small communities working to help Americans go electric.”
In a press release, Abrams, who will hold the title of “senior counsel” said she is “excited to join Rewiring America to share the benefits of electrification and ensure families get their fair share. I look forward to working together as we build the tools that will transform everyday Americans from energy consumers to energy moguls.”
Stacey Abrams and Saul Griffith. Photo credits: Gage Skidmore (L) and Jeff Kubica.
Abrams, a Democrat who served in the Georgia House of Representatives for 11 years, ran for governor of Georgia two times but failed in both attempts against Republican Brian Kemp. Abrams famously refused to concede in the 2018 race and claimed the election was “stolen.”
Rewiring America is part of the NGO-industrial-corporate-climate complex that, as I reported here last month, is now spending some $4.5 billion per year to promote anti-industry policies. While their agendas vary, the anti-industry NGOs are generally trying to:
♦ mandate increased use of weather-dependent renewables,
♦ hinder (or stop) hydrocarbon production,
♦ prevent the construction of new hydrocarbon infrastructure,
♦ mandate building electrification, and of course,
♦ ban the use of natural gas in homes and businesses.
As I explained in January, Rewiring America’s mission to electrify everything, ban the use of natural gas in homes and businesses, (and gas stoves), is part of a years-long, lavishly funded campaign that is being bankrolled by some of the world’s richest people. But here’s the pernicious part: the big-money donors backing Rewiring America, and other groups pushing the gas bans, are hiding their identities behind a dark money network of NGOs that are purposely obscuring their funding and the groups they are bankrolling.
Although it is impossible to know exactly how much dark money is being shuffled among groups like the Windward Fund, Rewiring America, and others, my tally shows that just four of the dark money NGOs behind the gas bans have combined budgets of about $820 million. Thus, as you can see in the graphic below, by themselves, those four anti-industry groups are spending about 83% of the amount that is being spent by the top 25 NGOs that support traditional energy sources.
Indeed, despite claims from legacy media outlets about the influence of the hydrocarbon sector, the truth is undeniable: the overwhelming majority of the money, media coverage, and momentum in the debate over energy policy and climate change is on the side of the anti-hydrocarbon and anti-nuclear energy NGOs.
And one of their top priorities is banning the use of
natural gas in homes and businesses.
On its website, Rewiring America cites Griffith’s 2020 book, which is also called Rewiring America, in which he claims “we can still address the threat of climate change, but only if we respond with a massive war-time mobilization effort to transform the fossil fuel economy into a fully electrified one, run on wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources.”
Note the lack of any mention of nuclear energy. Also unmentioned: attempting to run the economy on weather-dependent renewables would require paving vast tracts of rural America with obscene numbers of noisy, 600-foot-high, bird- and bat-killing wind turbines and endless oceans of landscape-ravaging solar panels. Also unmentioned: attempting to electrify everything would require doubling or tripling the amount of electricity produced in the country, an effort that would require mining, smelting, and fabrication of staggering amounts of copper, steel, aluminum, and other metals. Also unmentioned: nearly all of the alt-energy supply chains depend on China.
Has Griffith or Rewiring America been lobbying federal officials? If it has, the group has not registered to do so. A search of federal lobby records for the U.S. House of Representatives shows no record for Griffith or Rewiring America. A similar search of lobby registration for the U.S. Senate turned up no records.
Windward’s flood of cash is not coming from foundations. Instead, most of it is coming from super-rich individuals.
The first listing on Schedule B of its 990 shows a donation of $59 million from an unnamed person. Other individuals kicked in sums of $24 million, $20 million, $16 million, $14 million, $13 million, $10.5 million, $10 million, $10 million, $9 million, $6 million, and $6 million respectively. Thus, more than two-thirds of the Windward’s 2021 revenue came from about a dozen unnamed plutocrats. Windward’s 990 also shows that it is giving grants to dozens of small climate-focused NGOs around the country.
Energy Foundation lists more than 100 staff on its website. Its board members include Gina McCarthy, who was a climate advisor to President Biden. Before that job, McCarthy headed the Natural Resources Defense Council, the giant anti-nuclear NGO that shamelessly cheered about its role in the premature closure of the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York.
In an ironic statement, given the amount of dark money that is being deployed by the anti-industry industry, McCarthy claimed, “Now it has moved from denial, but the dark money is still there. The fossil fuel companies are still basically trying their best to make sure that people don’t understand the challenge of climate.”
There is much more to be written about the dark money that is driving the anti-industry industry, the unaccountable parasitic force that employs thousands of lawyers, strategists, pollsters, and fundraisers, who are pushing policies like natural gas bans. I will close this piece by recounting a claim Abrams made in the press release put out by Rewiring America last Tuesday.
She said that families across the country are living “too close to the economic edge,” and that “few understand how much money they can save with a little help to upgrade their homes and vehicles.”
Banning natural gas and forcing consumers to buy EVs will impose regressive energy taxes on consumers. In addition to the high cost of replacing existing appliances with electric ones, the cost of operating an all-electric home is higher than that for a home that uses natural gas. As for EVs, good luck finding a Tesla in the barrio. An average EV now sells for about $66,000. That’s Benz and Beemer territory.
Last March, in the Federal Register, the Department of Energy published its annual estimate for residential energy costs. As you can see in the graphic above, on a per-Btu basis, electricity costs about 3.5 times more than natural gas. The fuel is, by far, the cheapest form of in-home energy, costing less than half as much as fuels like kerosene, propane, and heating oil. That point was bolstered again last October when the Department of Energy published its Winter Fuels Outlook, which predicted that heating with electricity this winter would cost about 46% more than heating with natural gas.
The DOE’s numbers make it clear that Rewiring America’s agenda of forced electrification will result in higher energy bills for consumers. And low- and middle-income Americans will pay the biggest price because they will be forced to spend a larger percentage of their disposable income on energy than wealthy consumers.
Abrams may have found a new job at Rewiring America. Good for her. But does she really understand the economics of what she will be promoting?
The facts are clear: attempting to electrify everything will impose new regressive taxes on the poor. And no amount of spin, or dark money, can change that fact.
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