The environmental news outlet credited for investigating Exxon Mobil for hiding climate research is sponsored in part by groups deeply invested in the green energy industry.
Activist group CREDO and green energy company Clean Energy Choice are listed as sponsors on InsideClimate News’ website, the media outlet responsible for spearheading investigations into Exxon over its climate research.
CREDO earned its status throughout the mid-2010s by orchestrating successful lobbying campaigns to pressure Democrats to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline. CREDO is a progressive phone provider with an activist arm.
The group’s former CEO, Michael Kieschnick, who was instrumental in defeating Keystone, serves on the board of environmental billionaire Tom Steyer’s Beneficial State Bank.
A world without Exxon’s fossil fuels almost certainly benefits Clean Energy Choice, which recently decided to rename itself Ethical Energy.
Clean Energy Choice received a $1.25 million subsidy in September from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. The total value of the award is expected to net the company more than $2.5 million. It plans to use the largess to reduce the cost of renewable energy for solar panel customers.
The company’s board members are a mishmash of political organizers and environmentalists – Ethical Energy’s CEO and president, Tom Matzzie, is the former executive director of the liberal organization MoveOn.org; the company’s head of business development, Richard Graves, is a climate activist who worked with Steyer’s political group, NextGen Climate.
InsideClimate’s ties to Clean Energy Choice and CREDO have flown underneath the radar for the most part. The media outlet’s reportage has been greeted with a mixture of hosannas and accolades from various major media organizations.
It received a major journalism award from the Columbia School of Journalism earlier this year for publishing its piece on Exxon, titled “Exxon: The Road Not Taken.” The award carries with it a $5,000 prize, and is typically granted to publications for reporting on environmental issues that impact the world to some degree.
Anti-oil activist Bill McKibben was one of the panelist on the dais dolling out the prizes. McKibben has made a living off lobbying rhetorical firebombs at fossil fuel companies like Exxon, as well as co-founding virulently anti-fracking groups such as 350.org.
InsideClimate received similar praise from all manner of academic groups, including the panelists determining Pulitzer Prize awards because of their reporting on Exxon.
CREDO and Clean Energy Choice are not the only entities plowing money into InsideClimate.
The Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF) donated $25,000 to the outlet’s coffers so it could target Exxon, a company formed by the family’s wealthy lineage, oil baron John D. Rockefeller.
RFF’s directors, David Kaiser and Lee Wasserman, admitted several months ago in The New York Review of Books that the family intended all along to bring down Exxon because of its supposed anti-global warming positions. Their admission came despite claims the donation was never meant to target Exxon.
InsideClimate’s report spawned a cascade of investigations from various Democratic attorneys general.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, for one, launched an investigation in 2015 targeting Exxon’s knowledge about climate change. The crusading Democrat was “demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents” from the oil producer dating all the way back to the 1970s.
Schneiderman was later joined by Democratic Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, who is currently fighting legal challengers to her investigation.
A Texas district court judge said he believes the Massachusetts attorney general acted in “bad faith.”
Exxon wants the Texas court to prohibit Healey and Schneiderman from continuing their investigations.
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