On August 3, the Rocky Mountain News reported on a controversial letter written by Stanley Lewandowski Jr., general manager of the Colorado-based Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA), that contained nearly identical wording to a misleading June 9 column by Mike Rosen that was published in both the News and The Gazette of Colorado Springs. The News' story failed to note the similarities between Lewandowski's letter and Rosen's column. The Gazette still has not covered the story.
Following an August 1 Colorado Media Matters item documenting the failures by the Rocky Mountain News and The Gazette of Colorado Springs to report on a controversial Colorado utility-industry letter, the News reported on the issue on August 3. As the weblog Real Climate and Colorado Media Matters noted, the letter -- written by Stanley Lewandowski Jr., general manager of the Colorado-based Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) -- contained nearly identical wording to a misleading June 9 column by Mike Rosen that was published in both the News and The Gazette. In the letter, Lewandowski falsely asserted that it is “simply not true” that “the scientific community has reached a consensus and that the debate [about global warming] is over.” The August 3 News story did not note the similarities between Lewandowski's letter and Rosen's column. As of August 3, The Gazette still had not covered the story from any angle.
On July 27, ABC News first reported that Lewandowski's letter -- sent to other utilities -- “says that in February of this year, IREA contributed $100,000 to Patrick Michaels, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia.” Michaels is a prominent critic of many widely accepted scientific views on global warming and has received substantial support from energy companies in the past.
A July 27 Associated Press article also reported on the letter. On July 30, The Denver Post reported on the letter, noting that "[s]ome IREA customers also raised concerns about the contribution" to Michaels.
In its August 3 article, the News reported that "[s]ome members" of the IREA said Lewandowski “overstepped his authority when he hired Virginia state climatologist -- and longtime global warming contrarian -- Patrick Michaels as a consultant.” The article quoted Rocky Mountain Farmers Union president and IREA customer John Stencel, who said, “I just think it's outrageous that Lewandowski feels he can do this without talking to the members of the organization.” Stencel added, “There is enough scientific information out there that shows that greenhouse gases are mounting and that it is causing global warming ... I think farmers and ranchers are concerned, when you look at the seven years of drought we're in and what's happening with our water supplies.” The article also reported that Tim Killeen, director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and president of the American Geophysical Union, who said “Michaels and a handful of other frequently quoted global warming skeptics 'create the perception that there's a real debate, when that's just not the case.' ”
As Colorado Media Matters has also noted, a May 28 Washington Post Magazine article reported that Michaels “doesn't ... want to be called a skeptic” of global warming. The Post Magazine article quoted Michaels as saying: “I believe in climate change caused by human beings ... What I'm skeptical about is the glib notion that it means the end of the world as we know it.”
In a review of Michaels's Cato Institute-published book, Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media (2004), Publishers Weekly noted that Michaels “acknowledges that the earth is warming because of anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, but he insists that the warming will probably be modest and that nature and humanity will easily adjust to it.”