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Lisa Finaldi is the former National Campaigns Director for Greenpeace US.

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Desmogblog.com has released a series of documents from the conservative Heartland Institute that exposes their 2012 climate skeptics program and their major donors, many of whom had requested anonymity. This is a rare window into the world of the most conservative policy thinkers in our country.

According to the documents, Heartland views itself as playing a leading role in preventing “the implementation of dangerous policy actions to address the supposed risks of global warming.” A new program for 2012 focuses on creating K-12 curriculum because “principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective.” The Charles Koch Foundation, a major supporter of efforts to kill national climate policy, gave $200,000 to Heartland in 2011. Heartland is looking for an increase in 2012 and access to the Koch’s “network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests.”

The Heartland fundraising strategy exposes donors, many that requested anonymity.  While the US Chamber of Commerce is a supporter, you’d expect that. Here’s a few more unexpected donors:

In North Carolina, the chairman of BB&T is a donor as is GlaxoSmithKline headquartered in RTP. John Allison, Chairman of BB&T and a Wake Forest University Distinguished Professor of Practice in the Business School contributed $16,000 to Heartland in 2010, $0 in 2011 and Heartland is looking to Allison for $25,000 this year.

GlaxoSmithKline gave a total of $50,000 in 2010/2011, and according to the New York Times, a spokesperson for the company said the funding was for Medical News a monthly newsletter for Heartland Institute members. The Heartland Institute’s “Consumers for Health Care Choices” program states “We believe Obamacare …… ought to be repealed and replaced.” Other pharmaceutical companies also contributed to Heartland over the past two years – Eli Lilly (25k in 2010), Pfizer ($130k in 2010), PhRMA (20k in 2010).

The Heartland Institute works on a variety of issues from the environment to education, health care, to the federal budget. These documents are worth a read for progressive activists as we gear up for this year’s election and the policy issues that will be debated alongside.

Oh and here’s Heartland’s lame response to the documents being released by Desmogblog.com

 

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The NC League of Conservation Voters and the national League of Conservation Voters issued its 2011 National Environmental Scorecard this week, ranking the North Carolina Congressional delegation on environmental issues. There were no surprises with Senator Kay Hagan receiving a perfect score and Representative Virginia Foxx receiving the lowest score.

The group said 2011 revealed the most anti-environmental session in history of the US House but the Senate and the Obama administration stood up against the assault on environmental laws and public health safeguards, stopping many dangerous bills.  Republicans ranked lowest with Burr, McHenry, Myrick and Ellmers scoring in the single digits.

 

 

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Estimates for how much natural gas is available in shale deposits in the US continue to spiral downward.  The US Energy Information Administration recently downsized its projections – in 2011 it estimated 827 trillion cubic feet but now says it’s more like 482 trillion cubic feet – more than a 40% drop.

Specifically for the Marcellus shale, covering parts of NY, Ohio and much of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, estimates have dropped from 410 trillion cubic feet to 141 trillion cubic feet – a whopping 66% lower (six years of supply rather than the 17 years originally touted). Meanwhile the US Geological Survey put the estimate at 84 trillion cubic feet in August. In other words, no one really has a solid handle on the situation.

So when the NC Geological Survey estimates that natural gas in shale deposits in our state could supply all our needs for 40 years or more – I suggest we remain skeptical and ask for a lot more data.

If you want to keep up with the latest news on fracking in NC, check out the NC Sierra Club’s new site, the Daily Frack.

 

 

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On national MLK day, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) launched a 5-state, $6 million TV and social media campaign aimed at the President in the run up to this year’s election. AFP says it will focus its efforts in North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, spending $1 million in our state. ABC’s Jake Tapper reported that the Koch Brothers (David Koch is the AFP founder) are among the campaign donors and don’t forget that conservative, deep pockets Art Pope, president of Variety Wholesalers based in Henderson, is a board of Director for the national AFP.

For those unfamiliar with AFP, it describes itself as a grassroots organization advocating for public policies that “champion the principles of entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint.” For example, they are responsible for the attack on then President Obama’s green jobs czar Van Jones, creating Tea Party rallies against global warming policies with funding from big oil and supporting activities in Wisconsin to deny collective-bargaining rights to public-sector workers (where Koch Industries was among the largest contributors to Governor Scott Walker’s campaign). Does this sound like grassroots to you?

ABC’s Tapper fact checked the Anti-Obama ad and provides a critique. While I cannot deny that the Solyndra loan had its problems, AFP is using it to continue its attack on clean energy and government subsidies. Yet AFP is fine with big oil, gas, coal and nuclear subsidies from the feds – subsidies that continue our fossil fuel addiction and in the case of nuclear are very high risk guaranteed loans.

 

 

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This week the NC Justice Center, NC WARN and the NC Housing Coalition challenged the proposed Duke Energy rate hike settlement that the NC Utilities Commission Public Staff is supporting. The organizations are highlighting how unfair the proposal for a 7.21% rate increase is to residential and most business customers, because the rate allocation method is biased to accommodate energy hogging industries.

Energy Hog

These energy hogs – such as Facebook and Google data centers – are already being subsidized by various tax breaks and incentives offered by the state, creating few jobs and benefiting from Duke’s biased rate allocation method.

The organizations also raised concerns about discriminatory practices regarding residential late payment charges and shut off notices, noting how these practices disproportionately impact low-income customers.

The NC Utilities Commission needs to require Duke Energy to develop a rate allocation method that reflects the new demand brought on by the energy hogs, reflecting the need for peak, intermediate and base load capacity through the year. This issue will also become important to Progress Energy customers if the Duke-Progress merger is approved because Progress uses a different, more fair rate allocation, and how the two will be resolved remains to be seen.