Non-Oil Industry Members of ACCF Encouraged to Break Ties Over Climate Denial Activity
Non-Oil Industry Members of the American Council for Capital Formation Encouraged to Break Ties Over Climate Denial Activity
Will They Dissociate from the Dirty Work the Supposedly Tax-Centric Think Tank Routinely Does for Big Oil?
Washington DC (July 6, 2016) – Pro-ethanol group Americans United for Change is taking its case straight to the source as a follow up to its recent report “ACCF: Big Oil’s Useful Tool” that exposed the American Council for Capital Formation’s deep but rarely acknowledged financial ties to Big Oil. Since the 90s, the supposedly tax-focused think tank has emerged as a leading third-party validator of oil industry policies including opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard and other efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
AUFC has sent letters (see example below) to the top officers of the non-oil industry members and sponsors of the ACCF, encouraging them to stop funding efforts that fan the flames of climate skepticism. Targeted organizations include: American Benefits Council; American Beverage Association; American Paper and Forest Association; American Iron and Steel Institute; Ameriprise Financial; Eli Lilly and Company World Headquarters; Beer Institute; Edison Electric Institute; Financial Services Forum; Metals Service Center Institute; National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts; Principal Financial Group; Real Estate Roundtable; Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association; Standard and Poor’s; USAA.
Brad Woodhouse, President, Americans United for Change: “Our bet is some of these organizations will be surprised to learn that their sponsorship of ACCF is directly feeding Big Oil’s climate denial machine. What remains to be seen is how many are comfortable continuing to do so.”
FULL TEXT OF LETTER [PDF version viewed HERE]:
July 5, 2016
c/o João Castro Neves, Chairman
440 First Street NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20001
Dear Chairman Neves:
I am writing today to encourage your organization to reconsider its sponsorship of the American Council for Capital Formation because of its affiliation with organizations with a history of funding efforts to deny climate change, and its ongoing efforts on behalf of those organizations to mislead investors, consumers, lawmakers, and the general public on efforts to reduce emissions in the United States. As you know, some of these organizations are facing legal actions and subpoenas by a number of states and Attorneys General for similar efforts to mislead on climate change in the past. We believe your organization is being used to provide cover to ACCF, which is part of an ongoing effort to mislead investors, consumers, lawmakers and the general public on energy and climate issues.
As you know, the list of your fellow ACCF members and sponsors include major oil companies Chevron, ExxonMobil Corporation, trade associations like the American Petroleum Institute and others. You may also be aware that ACCF has received at least $2.3 million in funding from the oil industry since 1998 (see enclosed report) and, in return, ACCF has devoted considerable resources to promote those interests. For example, last November, ACCF ran a national ad campaign amplifying debunked oil industry claims about the Renewable Fuel Standard’s impact on food prices. The oil industry has pumped out tanker-fulls of misinformation about the RFS with the goal of seeing its full repeal, even ironically suggesting ethanol is bad for the climate when fossil fuels are the leading contributor of carbon pollution. In our view, this is part of the oil industry’s business strategy to undermine their cheaper and cleaner ethanol competition, because the more of it in the fuel supply means the less they sell of their gasoline made from dirty crude oil.
But what may come as a surprise to you is how far ACCF leadership has been willing to go to protect the profits of its oil company sponsors, including efforts to derail action against climate change.
According to a Greenpeace report: “ACCF has released [several] climate-specific papers, policy analyses, op-eds and interviews since 2005 emphasizing a “lack of scientific consensus” on global warming and urging policymakers not to “follow Mr. Gore and tinker with failed policy that would lead to sharp increases in already high energy prices, lost jobs and reduced revenue.” ACCF devoted considerable energy to battling California climate legislation AB 32, and insisting that voluntary measures are better for the economy than mandatory emissions curbs or carbon cap/tax approaches.” As Greenpeace points out, ACCF studies have been credibly debunked on multiple occasions.
What prompted this letter today is who ACCF sent to represent them at a recent EPA field hearing in Kansas City collecting feedback on the agency’s proposed 2017 rule for the RFS. The two men who testified on behalf ACCF work for a consulting firm that recently led an aggressive misinformation campaign to discredit the environmental groups that outed Exxon Mobil for funding climate denial for decades after their own researchers recognized its consequences:
- Christopher Tucker, Senior Managing Director, FTI Consulting. FTI Consulting counts Exxon Mobil among its client list, and it’s clear from the May 9th Politico story “Exxon scrambles to contain climate crusade” that the oil giant gets their money’s worth. According to Politico: “On Nov. 3, ExxonMobil dispatched its top lobbyists to Capitol Hill on an urgent mission — tamping down an escalating campaign aimed at making the country’s largest oil company pay a legal and political price for its role in warming the planet. … Aside from the company itself, the most vocal resistance to the greens has come from FTI Consulting, a firm filled with former Republican aides that has helped unify the GOP in defense of fossil fuels. Under the banner of Energy in Depth, a project it runs for the Independent Petroleum Association of America, FTI has peppered reporters with emails that suggest “collusion” between green activists and state AGs, and has raised questions over InsideClimate’s Rockefeller grants.” According to Tucker’s company bio, he serves as “team lead for Energy In Depth.”
- Matt Dempsey, Managing Director, FTI Consulting. According to the Washington Post, Dempsey’s client list at FTI Consulting “include several fossil-fuel industry interests.” Dempsey’s duties at the firm have included being the spokesman for “Oil Sands Fact Check”, a pro-tar sands PR project funded by the American Petroleum Institute. Dempsey is a former aide to infamous climate skeptic Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), author of The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. During his time at Inhofe’s office, Dempsey went on record to blindly dismiss a climate study by a renowned NASA scientist by claiming: “The American people have rejected alarmism on global warming.” (They haven’t.)
We assume that you joined ACCF in a good faith effort to promote sound public policy. But it’s clear your organization’s sponsorship is being used by ACCF’s oil industry sponsors to hide the fact that ACCF is a part of the ongoing efforts to deny the consensus on climate science and mislead investors, consumers, lawmakers and the American public. ACCF leadership is comfortable with its public face, and by extension the public face of The Beer Institute, being the kinds of people who’ve made careers out of denying climate change to keep the oil industry free from responsibility. The question is: Is this a label your organization is comfortable with?
Again, we request that you demonstrate that you oppose oil industry efforts to mislead the American people on these issues by withdrawing your membership from ACCF.
President, Americans United for Change