Features

Stealth Kyoto

"Stealth Kyoto" Continued...

Issue: "Out from the shadows," Dec. 22, 2007

Part of the attraction to CCS is that its input and perspective come cheap. Because the organization raises significant funds through private grants and donations, state expenses for the process are very low. For example, Minnesota is paying CCS just $40,000 to direct the creation of its comprehensive climate strategy, which is about halfway complete. Other states, like South Carolina, consult with CCS free of charge.

At first blush, such modest reliance on public money seems beneficial, a welcome demonstration of fiscal restraint and sound economic policy. In fact, the absence of public funding for CCS services allows ideologically driven organizations to control the purse strings. Global-warming alarmist groups like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Turner Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, and the Energy Foundation combine to pour millions of dollars into CCS projects.

Peterson insists that such funding sources should in no way impugn the credibility of CCS as an objective entity: "Our relationships with the private donor community are not contingent on our outcomes. We do not allow any of the funders to occupy a majority share of the donations. That structure of the funding process doesn't lend itself to any sorts of tilting of the field."

But the very fact that such ideologically uniform groups swarm to support CCS indicates the field is already tilted at the outset. Imagine if an organization funded by oil companies offered to direct state policies on alternative fuels. Yet CCS continues to operate with little scrutiny. Peterson said the group's funding sources have posed no problems in any state thus far. And he professed ignorance of any criticism of the center's operations.

At least one organization has taken issue with CCS. The conservative John Locke Foundation in North Carolina witnessed the group in action firsthand when it began developing a comprehensive climate strategy there in 2006. Paul Chesser, an associate editor for one of the foundation's publications, investigated the origins of CCS and discovered close connections

to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), a self-described "advocacy" agency that presses lawmakers to undertake such green initiatives as carbon sequestration and carbon-credit trading.

PEC founded Enterprising Environmental Solutions, Inc., which in turn operates CCS as one of its featured programs. Last year's EESI 990 tax form, obtained by WORLD, states that EESI "is controlled by PEC." In other words, a committed environmental advocacy group is calling the shots for the supposed impartial policy consultants at CCS. The 990 form further declares that EESI's mission is "to advance, support, and promote the purposes of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council."

What's more, three of EESI's four board members work for PEC, and PEC president Brian Hill functions as EESI secretary and treasurer. Chesser and other Locke Foundation critics contend that CCS might face greater difficulty building partnerships with state governors if it were more open about its origin.

Peterson contends CCS is entirely forthright about its mission and process. All the meetings it helps direct are open to the public and minutes are posted to government websites for public viewing. He dismissed any criticism from the John Locke Foundation as the product of sour grapes, since the foundation was unable to deter North Carolina from embracing the CCS process.

"We're not an advocacy organization that's pushing any particular solution," Peterson said, restating the group's party line. "We're a service organization that is here to help the states."

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