Liberal Foundations Pumped More Than $51 Million Into The ‘War On Coal,’ Tax Filings Show

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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  • Tax filings show major liberal foundations pumped more than $51 million into the “war on coal” over eight years.
  • The Sierra Club was one of the largest recipients, collecting at least $17 million during that time.
  • Environmentalists used that money to “inhibit coal development at the local level,” critics said.

Ten wealthy foundations pumped more than $51 million over eight years into environmentalist campaigns against the U.S. coal industry, according to tax filings compiled by the website Big Green, Inc.

President Donald Trump claimed victory in the so-called “war on coal” as his administration rolled back Obama-era regulations blamed for the closure of coal plants and mines. But tax filings show the “war” was also waged by activists bankrolled by liberal nonprofits.

Big Green, Inc.’s data, however, shows the well-funded activist effort to unravel the coal industry. Tax filings from 10 grant-making foundations show tens of millions of dollars have gone to grassroots organizing, litigation and lobbying against coal plants and mines.

“The other, lesser-known part, is the abuse of the legal system by environmental groups to inhibit coal development at the local level,” reads a statement from the Institute from Energy Research (IER), the free market think tank behind Big Green, Inc.

The Sierra Club is a major recipient of anti-coal industry funding, according to IER’s database. The group got $17 million between 2008 and 2016 to explicitly target the coal industry. (RELATED: ‘Big Green, Inc.’: Inside The $4 Billion Wealthy Liberal Foundations Handed To Environmentalists)

One 2009 grant from the Energy Foundation to the Sierra Club Foundation is to “defeat new coal-fired power plants in Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wyoming,” according to the grant’s description. The grant totaled more than $1 million.

That same year, the Sea Change Foundation gave the club $3.8 million to “reduce reliance on energy production from coal power plants.” Sierra Club got a $2.6 million grant from the The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2016 for its “Beyond Coal Campaign.”

The club’s “Beyond Coal Campaign” has been a major fundraising tool, mobilizing tens of millions of dollars not picked up in the tax filings compiled by Big Green, Inc. The Sierra Club’s anti-coal campaign is one of the most aggressive, described by Politico magazine as “the boots on the ground in the war on coal.”

Former New York City Independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation has given the “Beyond Coal Campaign” more than $100 million since 2011, according to the club. The goal of the campaign is to close one-third of America’s 500 coal plants by 2020.

The anti-coal campaign website claims more than 259 coal plants have shut down or been slated to retire. Bloomberg promised millions more to the Sierra Club in the coming years.

Indeed, the coal industry has been hard hit in recent years, shedding thousands of mining and power plants jobs. Regulations and low natural gas prices are largely blamed for coal’s demise, but Big Green, Inc. gives a hint at the sheer size of activist efforts against coal.

“This is just one example of how the Environmental Left works to carefully orchestrate and advance their environmental agenda, ultimately at the expense of the American people who are forced to pay higher energy costs as a result,” IER said.

The Sierra Club started taking money from Bloomberg after executive director Michael Brune admitted the group had taken millions from natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy to attack the coal industry.

According to a Sierra Club memo obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation in 2014, donor funds went towards hiring “an outside consultant to analyze each of the 1,200 coal boilers in the United States, the proposed rules, and the number of boilers each rule is likely to impact.”

The memo also outlined how “Sierra Club staff also work closely with EPA, providing technical and legal information when needed, and supporting EPA’s efforts to adopt and implement strong protections against coal pollution.”

“Sierra Club staff in DC also work with the Department of the Interior (DOI) around coal mining and clean energy development issues on federal lands, including offshore sites for wind development,” according to the memo.

The Sierra Club did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment in time for publication.

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