“Green Electricity or Green Money? Why some environmental groups hamper clean energy (and support the smart grid)
From Camilla Rees, The National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy
The National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy has published a new paper, “Green Electricity or Green Money? Why some environmental groups hamper clean energy”, by Timothy Schoechle, PhD. It highlights conflicts of interest and mistaken positions on energy policy at certain large environmental organizations. Please share widely and help us shine a light on this important issue impeding transformation to a clean energy economy.
• Why do some large environmental organizations collaborate with fossil fuel industries to obstruct, mislead and divert efforts to revamp our energy economy?
• Do the significant annual capital needs of these organizations limit their independence and thus their ability to achieve meaningful environmental goals?
• To what degree have these organizations lost sight of their missions, and thus lost their legitimacy as representatives of the people?
• Should local communities provide “checks” on Big Environmentalism by taking more control of their own energy future to assure sustainability?
• Are well-known “clean energy” investors interested in clean energy—or merely in green money and the “greenwashing” of their investments?
It seems that every day we are confronted with the ever more obvious and damaging effects of human-induced climate change. Why do some of our largest environmental organizations then increasingly collaborate with the fossil fuel industries to obstruct, mislead, or divert efforts to revamp our energy economy? Some of the biggest environmental groups are doing exactly that. They seem to be taking on the growing role of “Judas goat” for the oil and gas and electricity industries by misleading other environmentalists into compromises or concessions. Why is this happening? What are the implications?
This article examines two of the three largest environmental organizations, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and offers specific cases where they appear to have lost their way and are failing us when we need them most. These cases show the pitfalls of the compromises and accommodations that many environmentalists have made in order to raise money and support their organizational growth as well as their political and other goals. They also show that true leadership and change can only spring from the people and not from governments and entrenched institutions.
The case below of the EDF looks at its vigorous advocacy of “smart meters”, devices that have been shown to have dubious energy merits and serious environmental, privacy, and public policy drawbacks. The promotion of smart meters has diverted massive financial resources in directions tangential to the goals of a truly intelligent electricity grid and integration of community-based clean energy, and has fed public cynicism about the “smart grid”—the last thing one would expect a leading environmental organization to do. The case also looks at EDF’s role in fostering the deceptive siren call of the supposedly “green” energy investment mirage by venture capitalists, financiers, and government.
The case of the NRDC shows how it has also assumed a policy role adverse to the recent growth of local rooftop solar “distributed generation” (DG). Instead, NRDC has aligned itself with utility industry interests and their political allies tied to the fossil fuel industry, and with their counterproductive assault on net metering, “value-of-solar” tariffs, and other needed reforms of electric utilities.
Introductory Letter from NISLAPP