Foundations that promote a troubling forecast from the threat of global warming might be more intimately involved than previously known with North Carolina’s hired directors for its Climate Action Plan Advisory Group.
CAPAG’s management, the nonprofit Enterprising Environment Solutions Inc. and its subgroup the Center for Climate Strategies, have received about $1 million from the New York-based Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which is a strong advocate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions because they are believed by some to be the chief contributor to global warming.
The foundation, created in 1940 by the family that became the wealthiest in the world through the success of the Standard Oil Company, has funded EESI/CCS’s work in several states. The Pennsylvania-based management nonprofit runs state commissions to recommend options for cutting carbon dioxide, the most prevalent of the human-produced greenhouse gases.
EESI/CCS has also received a big financial, and apparently promotional, push by the Energy Foundation. The San Francisco-based organization formed its climate program in conjunction with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts. According to the Energy Foundation’s Web site, “Its goal is to develop and promote U.S. state and regional policies to reduce global warming pollution in order to build models for, and momentum toward, federal global warming policy.”
In previous comments to Carolina Journal officials with EESI/CCS have said they “do [not] have an advocacy mission” and that it “does not advance an agenda….” Board member Brian Hill, who also is president of CCS’s parent nonprofit the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, said, “CCS provides a model facilitation service and does not advance an agenda in terms of final policy decisions in respective states.”
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
According to information provided by the N.C. Division of Air Quality, which created CAPAG, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund contributed $100,000 to what was originally a $350,000 project. Since then the contract with EESI/CCS has been increased, but current figures were not available at press time.
Rockefeller Brothers has generously funded the work of EESI/CCS in several states and for other related projects. In 2004 the fund awarded $225,000 for its work. Grants totaling $255,000 in 2005 paid for similar projects in Arizona and New Mexico, as well as for CAPAG. The foundation added another $50,000 grant in June 2006, a $350,000 grant for EESI/CCS on Oct. 12, 2006, and $550,000 was awarded Dec. 14, 2006 for work in other unspecified states. In July 2006 Rockefeller Brothers contributed $50,000 to the Colorado Climate Project, which EESI/CCS managed.
Grants from Rockefeller Brothers to EESI/CCS since 2004 total nearly $1.5 million, but the assistance Rockefeller Brothers provides does not end with money. Earlier this year CCS Executive Director Thomas Peterson circulated an article in the November 2006 issue of the London-based publication Environmental Finance, which promoted the work of EESI/CCS. The feature, “The Good News from the States,” was co-written by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s director for sustainable development grant making, Michael Northrop. David Sassoon, founder of a Web site called Solve Climate, was the other coauthor.
“The policies which emerge from our work with state officials and stakeholders create economic as well as environmental victories,” Peterson told Northrop and Sassoon for the article. “They are politically desirable and often quickly implemented.”
Trying to get Virginia interested in hiring EESI/CCS, Peterson in December 2006 forwarded the article and copies of email correspondence to David Paylor, an official in the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, noting that “this just came across my desk and is timely.” Among the email records was a message from Northrop to Gerald McCarthy, executive director of another environmental grant maker called the Virginia Environmental Endowment, praising the work of EESI/CCS.
“I’ll attach an article [Northrop’s and Sassoon’s own article] on state action,” Northrop wrote to McCarthy. “The work CCS does is described in the article…. They are doing similar things in a bunch of other states as well. It’s a fabulous success and it would be great to re-create it in Virginia.”
Northrop forwarded his message to Peterson, who in turn sent it to Paylor.
Pew, Packard & the Energy Foundation
Private funding documents for North Carolina’s CAPAG process are still being compiled, but information provided so far from DAQ does not show the Energy Foundation as one of its sources. However, the San Francisco-based environmental charity did give EESI/CCS $200,000 in its 2006 grant cycle “to support the development of state global warming action plans.”
Separately, documents supporting Minnesota’s and New Mexico’s counterparts to CAPAG note the Energy Foundation as a financial source. Since then documents from South Carolina showed the Energy Foundation as supporting EESI/CCS work there. In 2005 the Energy Foundation was identified as a financial resource for the climate work of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, which is the parent nonprofit to EESI/CCS.
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has been generous in its grants to the Energy Foundation — itself a grant making organization — for climate and energy policy work. Since 2005 the Packard Foundation has given $21,090,000 to the Energy Foundation. Of that, $6 million has been earmarked to support a “U.S. Climate Program,” with most of the rest to support a “China Sustainable Energy Program.”
According to the Capital Research Center, which from a limited-government perspective researches nonprofit organizations that promote the growth of government, the Energy Foundation began its U.S. Climate Program (initially called the “Clean Energy Program”) in 1999 with help from the Packard Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Pew. Since 1998 Pew has granted the Energy Foundation $13.3 million for climate-related projects.
How has the Energy Foundation been directly involved with EESI/CCS? Besides its generous grants, the two climate-conscious groups appear to have helped one another in ways other than financially. According to a document obtained by CJ from Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality, which highlighted accomplishments by EESI/CCS in the years 2005-2006, Peterson compiled research at the behest of the Energy Foundation.
The report, apparently written by Peterson in his personal capacity as head of his own limited liability corporation and dated Jan. 5, 2005, said it “was prepared by [Peterson] at the request of the Energy Foundation to assist localities, states and regions with development of process and policy options for climate change mitigation policy action plans. Conclusions are based on personal observations and reviews by the author as a consultant to state and local governments.”
In his report Peterson, who earlier this year told CJ that EESI/CCS “does not have an advocacy history,” appeared to impugn the views of those who believe the threat of global warming is not severe. He cited the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the National Academy of Sciences, and two Pennsylvania State University researchers as representative of a scientific “consensus” that global warming is human-induced and that carbon dioxide emissions must be mitigated for the welfare of the planet.
“A reservoir of science and policy skeptics continue to oppose this consensus,” Peterson wrote, “and, in some cases, represent economic interests opposed to mitigation action.”
However, Peterson does not hold the same standard to his own private funding sources. In response to a query from the evangelical Christian newsweekly publication WORLD, about the advocacy nature of EESI/CCS’s supporting foundations, he said, “Our relationships with the private donor community are not contingent on our outcomes. We do not allow any of the funders to occupy a majority share of the donations. That structure of the funding process doesn’t lend itself to any sorts of tilting of the field.”
But all of EESI/CCS’s patrons are likeminded on the issue of global warming, and predict great danger for the planet if carbon dioxide emissions are not mitigated. State Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, said those foundations have expectations for their investments.
“You’ve got to wonder,” he said earlier this year, “if you’ve got groups who’ve got a mission — why would they be funding these folks to the extent that they are, if they didn’t have some degree of confidence that their money was being spent to promote their ultimate aim?”
Still, Peterson reiterated his claims of non-advocacy in the Dec. 22 issue of WORLD.
“We’re not an advocacy organization that’s pushing any particular solution,” he told the magazine. “We’re a service organization that is here to help the states.”
Paul Chesser is a contributing editor of Carolina Journal.