By Denise Tessier
“Interesting that Marita Noon would tweet this story exposing what her ilk are up to,” a colleague wrote in an email.
Interesting – and curious — indeed.
In her usual simplistic style, extractive industry booster and Albuquerque Journal column contributor Marita K. Noon (who uses the Twitter handle “energyrabbit”), tweeted just a headline and link: “Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against Obama’s clean energy strategy http://t.co/dN7DbFDJ via @guardian”
What’s curious is that her tweet alerts the public to a confidential strategy memo, obtained by The Guardian, which exposes a number of tricks the industry plans to carry out in order to make solar and wind energy look bad. According to The Guardian, the memo actually “advises using ‘subversion’ to build a national movement of wind farm protesters.”
Among the confidential memo’s strategies reported in “Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against Obama’s clean energy strategy”:
. . .the proposal calls for a national PR campaign aimed at causing ‘subversion in message of industry so that it effectively (becomes) so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it.
It suggests setting up “dummy businesses” to buy anti-wind billboards, and creating a “counter-intelligence branch” to track the wind energy industry. It also calls for spending $750,000 to create an organisation with paid staff and tax-exempt status dedicated to building public opposition to state and federal government policies encouraging the wind energy industry.
The Guardian continues that:
The strategy proposal was prepared by a fellow of the American Tradition Institute (ATI) – although the think tank has formally disavowed the project.
The proposal was discussed at a meeting of self-styled ‘wind warriors’ from across the country in Washington DC last February.
According to Gabe Elsner, a co-director of the Checks and Balances Project, the accountability group that unearthed the memo and other information, “These documents show for the first time that local Nimby anti-wind groups are co-ordinating and working with national fossil-fuel funded advocacy groups to wreck the wind industry,” the Guardian reported.
The Guardian, which was the paper most persistent in revealing the phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., provided this background on ATI, which allegedly prepared the memo after the Washington meeting of “wind warriors”:
ATI is part of a loose coalition of ultra-conservative think tanks and networks united by their efforts to discredit climate science and their close connections to the oil and gas industry, including the Koch family. Those groups include the Heartland Institute, the John Locke Foundation, and Americans for Prosperity, the organizing arm of the Tea Party movement.
ATI is a relatively new entrant, coming to national attention only last year when it filed lawsuits against climate scientists including Michael Mann and James Hansen.
Campaign groups and spokespersons for the wind industry say there has been a sharp rise in organised opposition since early 2009 when Obama put investment in renewable energy at the heart of his economic recovery plan.
“We do see evidence of co-ordination,” said Peter Kelley a spokesman for the American Wind Energy Association. “The same rhetoric pops up all over the place. Things that are disproven, that are demonstrably untrue, continually get repeated.”
It’s curious that Noon would bring this memo to wider attention, considering she is trumpeting a “confidential” memo from her camp. What could be her motivation?
The answer lies in the final paragraphs of The Guardian article. It turns out, the paper interviewed Noon, bringing to an international audience her down-home wisdom about energy and, in this instance, “The American Way”:
Opposing Obama’s energy policies was a natural fit for conservatives, said Marita Noon, a conservative activist from New Mexico who was at the meeting.
“The American way, what made CostCo and Walmart a success, is to use more and pay less. That’s the American way.” The president’s green policies, however, were the reverse, she said.
“President Obama wants us to pay more and use less.”
That set the stage for a confrontation over wind farms and other clean energy issues in the elections, Noon argued. “I would say it’s almost the issue,” she said. “It’s going to be huge.”