Policy: Environment & Energy

Religious climate change activists aren't so angelic

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Ron Arnold,Columnists,Sierra Club,EPA,Analysis,Environmental Defense Fund,Energy and Environment,Oil,Oil Sands,Natural Gas

Second of two parts

When Interfaith Power and Light – an aggressive, religious, climate change campaign – recently co-hosted a prayer session outside the Environmental Protection Agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters to bless the agency's carbon regulations, it could be seen as mere political theater.

It wasn’t, though, as we saw previously in this space. IPL is a campaign of the California-based Regeneration Project and a fervent climate change evangelist.

IPL is also a devout lobbying network seriously fixated on bringing apocalypse down on the fossil fuel industry. They live in a dream world with no grasp of the inability of wind and solar to replace coal, oil and natural gas.

Most worrisome, IPL has deep financial connections to the EPA – its leader was an individual winner of the 2007 EPA Climate Award and the group received a $450,000 EPA grant.

IPL’s zealous founder, Rev. Sally Bingham, an Episcopal senior priest, is an accomplished leader of climate change true believers.

Bingham was appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for a one-year term in 2010. She supported creating an “Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the EPA.”

Her work got IPL invited to Windsor Castle by Great Britain’s Prince Philip and his Alliance of Religions and Conservation.

There, IPL and 30 others were honored by then-United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon for religious climate change commitment. IPL also had representation at the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

Bingham’s battalion of true believers has been blessed with generous grants, many from Big Green icons, including the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund.

According to the CitizenAudit database created by the Washington Examiner's Luke Rosiak, Big Green foundation grants to the Regeneration Project/IPL totaled over $6.4 million in the past decade.

Such funding levels won’t bring about the desired endless pure energy, but will certainly provide further push to move America toward catastrophic industrial collapse.

Who’s loading up this kill-fossil-fuels collection plate? Here are the top dozen funders of IPL’s energy doom campaign, according to CitizenAudit:

· KENDEDA FUND, $1,445,000. Donor: Anonymous trust, managed by Atlantic Trust Company. IRS Form 990 shows gifts to Kendeda of $34,050,250 of Home Depot shares. Who is the donor? Best guess: Bernard Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot and Atlanta billionaire philanthropist, net worth estimated at $3.3 billion.

· SCHMIDT FAMILY FOUNDATION, $1,055,000. Donor: Google chairman Eric Schmidt and wife Wendy Schmidt. May be the real control center behind Bingham’s battalion through interlocking directorates: Regeneration chair Joe Sciortino is also Schmidt executive director; former IPL board chair Amy Rao is Schmidt president.

· THE ENERGY FOUNDATION, $865,000. Donor: Seven Big Green foundations jointly created this single-purpose destroy-the-fossil-fuel-industry menace.

· SURDNA FOUNDATION INC, $550,000. Donor: John Emory Andrus (1841-1934) (SURDNA is Andrus backwards) investor in pharmaceuticals, timber and real estate. Old-line fund evolved into a domineering Big Green prescriptive donor with strings on the money.

· TIDES FOUNDATION, $356,000. Donor: Jane Bagley Lehman, Reynolds tobacco heiress and president of Arca Foundation from 1970 to 1980, co-founded the Tides Foundation with Drummond Pike, one of Big Green’s most effective executives. Current grants come from many sources.

· WILLIAM K. BOWES JR FOUNDATION, $335,000. Donor: William K. Bowes Jr, a venture capitalist in the Bay Area for nearly 50 years, founded U.S. Venture Partners.

· SCHWAB CHARITABLE FUND, $260,000. Donor: Anonymous gift or gifts funneled through one or more donor-advised funds managed for small donors by this independent IRS 501(c)(3) charity with service agreements with certain units of the Charles Schwab Corporation.

· TURNER FOUNDATION INC, $195,000. Donor: Ted Turner, media mogul, and his five children, Rhett Turner, Laura Turner Seydel, Jennie Turner Garlington, Teddy Turner and Beau Turner.

· MARISLA FOUNDATION, $140,000. Donor: Anne Catherine Getty Earhart, third generation heiress to the Getty Oil fortune. Formerly the Homeland Foundation.

· RUSSELL BERRIE FOUNDATION, $135,540. Donor: Russell Berrie (died 2002 at age 69), founder and CEO of Russ Berrie & Company in Oakland, N.J., one of the world's largest gift companies.

· COMPTON FOUNDATION INC, $124,000. Donor: Randolph Compton, a New York investment banker, and his wife Dorothy.

· LEONARD & BERYL BUCK FOUNDATION, $101,000. Donor: Beryl Buck, widow of Leonard W. Buck, a pathologist and oil millionaire. The family foundation became a substantial Big Green player when its Beldridge Oil stock was bought by Shell Oil for $235 million.

My take on all this: The goodness and authority of religion is perverted by the power lust of climate clergy and the wealth of those immune to job loss, fuel poverty, or social demonization.

That goodness and authority is thus re-directed toward the political destruction of America's fossil fuel industry, which is the backbone of our national energy economy. That is at least profane, if not obscene.

Ron Arnold, a Washington Examiner columnist, is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.
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