Report: San Francisco enviros fund green agenda in the South

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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A San Francisco-based environmental group has funneled millions of dollars to environmentalists in Alabama to advance green energy policies and accelerate coal plant retirements.

The San Francisco-based Energy Foundation has released documents that show they have given more than $3 million over the last three years to environmental groups in Alabama that regularly appeared before the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) to push for green energy development and for the retirement of coal plants within the state.

The Energy Foundation gave grants to these groups before and during a series of hearings held by the state PSC. The Alabama Coal Association went through these documents and found that the Energy Foundation has funneled more than $3 million towards Alabama-based environmental groups that are attacking the coal industry.

The coal group, however, goes farther and asks Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby if any taxpayer dollars went towards environmental groups.

“It is reasonable to question whether taxpayer funding was used by these groups, or others to pursue a war on coal that would result in a negative impact to a critical Alabama industry,” reads a letter sent from the coal association to Shelby.

The Energy Foundation is a grant-giving environmental organization that gave more than $76 million in grants in 2012, according to the group’s 990 forms. The Foundation gave grants to groups that advocated for such things as high fuel efficiency standards, green energy and the accelerated retirement of coal-fired power plants.

The conservative news site Yellowhammer Politics put together a sampling of who got funding before and during the Alabama PSC’s hearings:

  • Alabama Arise: $50,000 during the Alabama PSC hearings “to advance clean energy policies in Alabama.”

  • Alabama Environmental Council (AEC): $107,000 “to increase capacity and stakeholder engagement on clean energy issues in Alabama,” including $62,000 during the Alabama PSC hearings.

  • Alabama Rivers Alliance: $40,000 matching grant during the Alabama PSC hearings “to accelerate the retirement of coal-fired power plants in Alabama.”

  • Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Air Pollution (GASP): $70,000, including a $20,000 matching grant “to accelerate the retirement of coal-fired power plants in Alabama” and $50,000 “to increase capacity and support for clean air policies in Alabama.”

  • Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE): $810,000 for a wide variety of climate-related issues in the southeast, including $60,000 during the Alabama PSC hearings “to accelerate retirement of coal-fired power plants.”

  • Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC): $1.8 Million, including $60,000 during the PSC hearings “to accelerate retirement of coal-fired power plants in the Southeast.”

The southern environmental groups that received Energy Foundation to push back against the coal industry say that they were doing so lower energy rates for households.

“Unlike most of the groups at PSC hearings, our interest isn’t the environment or the business climate,” writes Kimble Forrister, the state coordinator of Alabama Arise. “Our concern is rooted in our member congregations that get so many requests for help from people who have a hard time paying their power bills (as well as gas bills, but those aren’t as big).”

“Despite repeating the lie that their participation in the PSC hearings was not about coal, these groups took money from their anti-coal funders both before and during the hearings,” said Alabama Coal Association president George Barger in a statement.

Sen. Shelby’s office did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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