Wash. Post reported "think tank's" charge against Gore, omitted its anti-environmental background

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

In a March 1 Washington Post article, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR) was referred to as "a Nashville-based think tank that advocates 'limited government through policy solutions,' according to its Web site." But the TCPR's agenda apparently goes beyond limiting the size of government. Like other recent reports on the TCPR's attacks on former Vice President Al Gore's purported home energy use, the Post article did not note that TCPR has reportedly joined the "Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change," which claims to have "been established as a response to the many biased and alarmist claims about human-induced climate change, which are being used to justify calls for urgent action by governments."

Furthermore, the Post and other media have not reported on the backgrounds of TCPR's "Staff & Scholars," several of whom have supported anti-environmental causes or received support from anti-environmental groups:

  • According to his biography, TCPR president Jason "Drew" Johnson previously served as an "Institute for Humane Studies Koch Fellow." The Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) describes itself as an "organization that assists undergraduate and graduate students worldwide with an interest in individual liberty." On the issue of climate change, the IHS acknowledges the scientific consensus "that the earth has warmed about a degree Fahrenheit over the past century, and that humans have caused some of that warming." But the organization has also called into question the motives of environmentalists, writing that "the environmental movement sometimes looks less like a band of scrappy rebels, and more like corporate America with its own special interests to tend to."

The IHS is funded by right-wing foundations such as the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the Koch Family Foundations (consisting of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation).

The Koch Family Foundations, in particular, have donated millions of dollars to the IHS. Charles G. Koch, whose biography asserts that he "found[ed] or help[ed] build a number of organizations, including the Institute for Humane Studies [and] the Cato Institute," has since 1967 served as chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, a company with a dismal environmental record. In January 2000, Koch Industries agreed to pay $30 million, "the largest civil fine ever imposed on a company under any federal environmental law to resolve claims related to more than 300 oil spills from its pipelines and oil facilities in six states." The settlement also required Koch to "improve its leak-prevention programs and spend $5 million on environmental projects."

Further, as part of the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program, Johnson interned at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in 2002. As MSNBC host Keith Olbermann noted on the February 27 edition of Countdown, Johnson worked at "the same American Enterprise Institute that takes money from big oil, cheerleads the war in Iraq, and consistently, and now to pretty consistent laughter, downplays global warming." Indeed, AEI has received nearly $1 million in funding from ExxonMobil in recent years. Moreover, according to The Washington Post, AEI "has been soliciting critiques" of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in February and "has offered $10,000 to academics willing to contribute to a book on climate-change policy."

  • TCPR scholar Charles Van Eaton also serves as a trustee for the Lincoln Heritage Institute (LHI). The institute's "About LHI" page declares: "We ... cannot stand idly by and allow ... destructive environmental activism ... to become an accepted way of life in America."
  • Martin D. Kennedy, another TCPR scholar, runs the blog TennEconomics. On November 29, 2006, Kennedy wrote: "We don't know if fossil fuels lead to warming and if so, how damaging it is." On February 13, Kennedy linked, without comment, to a Drudge Report flash titled "President of Czech Republic Calls Global Warming a 'Myth' - Questions Gore's Sanity..."
  • Vanderbilt University student Douglas Kurdziel, a TCPR research fellow, blogged sarcastically about Gore's lectures on global warming on the website of the Vanderbilt Torch, "Vanderbilt's Conservative and Libertarian Commentary Magazine." He wrote: "On September 28, all of humanity inched one step closer to complete annihilation... Al Gore spoke to hundreds of United Nations diplomats and staff about climate change. Although it may seem like it sometimes, this is in fact not the reason for the impending obliteration of life on Earth."

From the March 1 Washington Post article "War on Warming Begins at (Al Gore's) Home":

Fresh off his victory lap at the Academy Awards, former vice president Al Gore -- who has not closed the door on a 2008 bid -- found himself in a more familiar position: on the receiving end of a political attack.

The barb came via the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, a Nashville-based think tank that advocates "limited government through policy solutions," according to its Web site.

"As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use," said the group's president, Drew Johnson, in a release alleging that Gore's house in the Volunteer State uses 20 times as much electricity as the average household nationwide.

Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for Gore, called the statement misleading.

"The power coming into their residence is green, renewable power," she said, explaining that the Gores participate in a program called Green Power Switch, which is run through the public Tennessee Valley Authority. Green Power Switch supplies energy from renewable sources to its members.

Kreider added that a renovation of the Gores' house is underway to make it more energy efficient, an update that will include the addition of solar panels.

Johnson was unimpressed. "The energy he receives into his house is no different than what I receive into my house," he said. "He doesn't have a green power line hooked to his house."

Posted In
Environment & Science, Climate Change
The Washington Post
Propaganda/Noise Machine
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.