It started out as a simple question. Who donated $1,100 to Lincoln Township to set up a legal defense fund. The fund was being set up in case a legal challenge should arise because of a sudden change in zoning policy with respect to wind project development.
Lincoln Township resident Arlene Schipinski wanted to know what happened to cause this sudden formation of a legal fund for her Township. Her questions were met with criticism and hostility. To date she has been stonewalled by the township with each request resulting in $1,000s in township expense and no answer to who has funded this “legal slush fund.” Schipinski has filed four FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests and more are pending in the next days.
The Huron Daily Tribune reported that the Township is part of a “39,000-acre wind overlay district currently proposed by DTE Energy that also includes parts of Dwight, Bloomfield and Sigel townships, and would include 50 to 70 turbines.” It seems that in a dramatic turn of events that Lincoln township board has turned cold on the idea of further wind development. Citing; “We feel that Huron County has done our part as far as Green Energy. We feel that no additional turbines should be allowed in Huron County.” Yet four of five Lincoln board members have easement agreements with DTE Energy for the new project. That includes Supervisor Melvin Drake, Clerk Irvin Kanaski, Treasurer Patricia Weber and Trustee John Wisneski. according to the Huron Daily Tribute. What caused this turn-around?
Since ThumbWind was made aware of this story we have been contacted by several residents and concerned citizens who what to “set us straight”. This sudden interest to our questions sent up the red flares and our team has been reaching out in several areas. What we found had been chilling.
The Interest of the IICC in the Thumb’s Wind Projects.
The Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, IICC, is supposedly a local anti-wind group based in Adrian Michigan. Yet their moniker appears to comment and be involved for just about every wind project from the Mackinaw Bridge to southern Indiana. Suddenly the IICC groups director, Kevon Martis, begins commenting in the Huron Daily Tribune on the FOIA requests. According to Michigan State University’s “State News” IICC was able to have the resources and funding to bus protesters from Indiana, Ohio, Ontario and Huron County into Lansing for an anti-wind project protest in Lansing in November 2013. The group’s director Kevon Martis has multiple connections to known fossil fuel-funded front groups. His group has cited the work of the Center of the American Experiment, an affiliate of the State Policy Network; a Koch Brothers funded front group.
The Koch brothers, who are notorious for attacking renewable energy — precisely because their fossil fuel interests are so threatened by renewable energy — the tactic is to fund local grass roots organizations to offer resource assistance for anti-wind efforts.
Martis’ also criticized a ballot proposition that would have expanded Michigan’s renewable energy standard last fall in the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Capitol Confidential blog, on the website of fossil fuel front group-backed MasterResource.org, and on the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow’s (CFACT)’s website. Groups have also cited his false and misleading claims to the costs of wind energy which has fallen dramatically in the past year. He has also attacked wind energy projects in op-eds in media outlets, most recently in the Huron Daily Tribune. It was reported that Kevon Martis was an attendee at a secret anti-wind meeting spearheaded by a fellow of the American Tradition Institute in 2013. The documents uncovered by Energy & Policy Institute’s Gabe Elsner showed for the first time that local anti-wind groups were coordinating and working with national fossil fuel-funded advocacy groups to wreck the wind industry.
We directly asked Kevon Martis if the IICC or any affiliated group donated funds to the Lincoln Township defense fund and he responded that they had not.
The Bottom Line
As predicted , it’s clear that Huron County is now a front line action with respect to renewable wind energy in the Great Lakes region. However now the question comes into play is the amount of resources and outside pressure will play in the further development of Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola counties. There is a real concern if Huron County is being “used” as a firewall effort by powerful billionaire outsiders like the the Koch Brother’s as part of their larger effort of stopping the progress of wind energy in the Great Lakes Region?
We are still looking into the source of the Lincoln Township $1,100 defense fund donation.