Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
Friday 15 February 2013
Conservatives used a pair of secretive trusts to fund a media campaign against windfarms and solar projects, and to block state agencies from planning for future sea-level rise, the Guardian has learned.
Now the Guardian can reveal the latest project of the secretive funding network: a campaign to stop state governments moving towards renewable energy.
The Franklin Centre, headquarters barely one-tenth of a mile away from the nondescript Alexandria, Virginia town home of its funders, received $6.3m from the two funds in 2011. It was the second largest disbursement to any entity by the Donors that year, according to tax records.
The largesse to the Franklin Centre signals a shift in priorities for the conservative billionaires who are funding the anti-climate cause towards local and state-level organising.
The backers of the anti-climate cause have eased off in their support of DC-centric thinktanks, said Whitney Ball, the chief executive and president of Donors Trust. "They are not as prominent any more."
Instead, it appears the donors are banking on an aggressive anti-climate media strategy, led by the Franklin Centre, to push back against climate action.
The Franklin Centre purports to be a hub for a network of "citizen journalists" and "watchdog" groups reporting from state capitals. It claims on its website to provide 10% of all daily reporting from state capitals across the country. It says it is on a mission to uphold a media culture of "transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility at the grassroots level".
Among them are several that have been active in the past year or two to stop the expansion of solar power and windfarms.
The groups have also led opposition to offshore wind development in North Carolina, organising workshops against windfarms.
CPI found multiple ties between the Franklin Centre and groups such as Americans for Prosperity, which has been funded by Donors Trust as well as the conservative oil billionaire Koch brothers. Some of the Franklin Centre's blogs have received funds from AFP. There was also cross-over of board members in the two groups.
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