WSJ's attack on wind energy fails to disclose Koch connection

Newspapers across the country are publishing oil industry talking points without identifying their source

Published December 3, 2014 4:25PM (EST)

  (Reuters/David Gray/<a href=''>Volodymyr Goinyk</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>/Salon)
(Reuters/David Gray/Volodymyr Goinyk via Shutterstock/Salon)

The Wall Street Journal and other newspapers throughout the country are throwing their support behind the Koch brothers' campaign against wind energy, publishing Op-Eds that blast federal wind credits without revealing the authors' financial ties to the oil industry.

Media Matters reports on the phenomenon, represented most notably in this Sunday WSJ column calling for Congress not to renew the federal wind production tax credit (PTC), which is needed, for now, to make the job-creating renewable energy source viable -- and which has bipartisan support. It's written by Tim Phillips, who's identified only as the president of Americans for Prosperity (AFP). It makes no mention whatsoever of AFP's deep financial ties to the Koch fossil fuel empire, or of the fact that the group is currently spending $200,000 on an ad campaign attacking the PTC, all factors that just might be influencing Phillips' opinion that the credit "is one of America’s least-known wealth-redistribution schemes," or his portrayal of the construction of 12,000 megawatts worth of new wind farms after the credit was extended in January 2013 as a bad thing.

Similar sentiments popped up over the past several weeks in the Boston Herald, the Tampa Tribune, the Detroit News, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, the Orange Country Register, the Palm Beach Post, the Desert News and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, all of which featured what's basically the same column, adjusted for local audiences, by Tom Pyle, who's identified only as the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA). That group, too, is in deep with the Kochs; it's also identified as the "grass roots" arm of the Institute for Energy Research (IER), which Pyle also leads, and which has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from ExxonMobil. (Phillips, if you're still following this, cites IER research in his column.)

This isn't the first time Pyle's gotten his PTC attacks into newspapers. This time around, however, he puts the anticipated anti-Obama, anti-climate spin on it: The main reason Floridians should want Congress to kill the PTC, he writes, for example, in the Palm Beach Post, is because "it’s a central component for President Barack Obama’s destructive climate agenda." Never mind the fact that plenty of Republicans support the PTC, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who in 2012 called the wind industry  “an American success story that is helping us build our manufacturing base, create jobs, lower energy costs and strengthen our energy security.”

Media Matters notes, as well, that the columns are inordinately pessimistic about wind energy's costs -- as the New York Times recently reported, renewable energy is already becoming cost-competitive with natural gas and coal in certain markets, even without subsidies.

Want to guess whether Pyle and Phillips, who argues that "it is time to let the wind industry compete with other energy industries in a fair market," make mention of the more than $21 billion in state and federal subsidies fossil fuel companies received last year?

By Lindsay Abrams

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Koch Brothers Media Criticism Ptc Renewable Energy Wall Street Journal Wind Energy