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Updated – Huron County – A Koch Brother Target?


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 changes 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 Tribune. What caused this turn-around?


Update: 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. Now the conservative group Mackinac Center for Public Policy has filed a story on this issue supporting the FOIA requests filed by Arlene. ThumbWind has also been contacted by other townships in the area on the “tone” of our posts. We appreciate their interest and encourage them to over-communicate to their residents. 


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. In 2013 the IICC signed with the Koch Brothers front group Americans for Prosperity  calling for the non-renewal of the wind Production Tax Credit tax credit given to the emerging wind industry.ptc-image

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 grassroots 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.


Update: 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.  Kevon also indicted that the IICC has not received any funding from the Koch Brothers. The IICC utilizes a web service in which to obtain donations. Kevon asserts that the attention ThumbWind is giving IICC is a “hatchet job” We have Kevon’s remarks  in the comments area below.


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 wind project development of Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola counties.  There is a real concern if Huron County is being “used” as a firewall effort by powerful outsiders like the the Koch Brother’s and other oil and gas interest as part of their larger effort of stopping the progress of wind energy in the Great Lakes Region.


Update: We are still looking into the source of the Lincoln Township $1,100 defense fund donation. 


For the record ThumbWind is neither a Pro or Anti Wind site. We are an eclectic blog wishing to point out the best the Upper Thumb of Michigan has to offer. Our readers and followers seem to like this style. …and yes we do sell T shirts to help offset the cost of this site.  http://shop.thumbwind.com


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22 thoughts on “Updated – Huron County – A Koch Brother Target?”

  1. Since you didn’t return my call, Mike, I will respond here. I am sure you will delete it if it even gets posted, but nonetheless I will try.

    Not even DTE believes that IICC is funded by Koch. They certainly never suggested that when we worked with them fighting Proposal 3.

    But in the event the Koch Brothers actually fund organizations like ours, please direct them to click the PayPal link at http://www.iiccusa.org I would love to be able to trade in my 1999 Park Avenue. But then again I am forbidden by our charter from receiving any salary from my volunteer activities educating communities about their rights under Michigan law to regulate land use as they see fit, despite the efforts of fossil fueled corporations like DTE and NExtEra to suggest otherwise.

    (And Hey Folks! After getting the Koch’s to donate to IICC, please buy some “anti-wind” t-shirts from Mike Hardy so that he can afford to attack “anti-wind” people with baseless ad hominems from his “anti-wind” t-shirt profiteering. Just sayin…)

    As I told Mike in our Facebook exchange- and as I have told the Tribune- if IICC actually had enough money to help townships adopt equitable wind energy zoning, we would have done so with an over sized novelty check and a room full of press. No need to hide. But we did not.

    Of course Mike left that part out of this piece above.

    And who really thinks that the Kochs would kick in a measly $1,100.00? Seriously? $1,100.00 to fight DTE Energy? DTE must be shaking in their shoes that next month the Koch’s may kick in another fifty bucks! Can DTE ever hope to overcome such financial firepower?

    DTE’s Matt Wagner probably makes $1,100.00 in a couple days.

    And why would Koch fight wind anyway? Wind development increases demand for natural gas as a balancing and firming fuel at the expense of coal. Since Koch transports oil and gas (and not coal), wind energy mandates are nothing but a win for them.

    Need proof? Who is building new gas lines and gas-fired power plants?

    DTE.

    And is there any chance you can write an article about Lincoln Township wind lease holders? I hear they are on the take from the state’s largest polluter, DTE. I even hear they get paid a bonus to speak out in favor of wind projects. Maybe look at their lease? Might make a great expose. Secret special interest money and all…you know the drill. See the template above.

    And you missed this article when you did your google hack job on me:

    http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/when-anti-clean-energy-conspiracy-isnt.html

    As James Hansen said, “Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”

    Better look into him too: probably Koch money behind his anti-global warming activities.

    There was a time when the environmental movement opposed noise pollution, fought industrial blight, and supported “little guys” whose quality of life was threatened by “corporate greed.”

    But that was a long time ago, before wind energy.

    Welcome to the circus.

    Kevon Martis
    Volunteer Director
    http://www.iiccusa.org

    Like

      1. I have no idea. It isn’t much of a “fund”. And my reading of the Tribune seems to suggest that it isn’t a legal defense fund as much as it is money donated to the township to establish township zoning rather than remain under the county, which is perfectly legal and should not encounter any legal risk.

        Do you have some reason to believe that Lincoln will get sued for exercising their right to self-determine land use policy in the township under the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act?

        Do you know with certainty what kind of regulations Lincoln may adopt and that they will actually be restrictive for wind development?

        And do you have an opinion as to why Huron County has ignored for many years the injunction in their own Master Plan to identify in advance which regions in the county are suitable for wind development rather than letting the fossil fuel wind profiteers tell the citizens what is best for them from their corporate offices in Detroit, Jackson or Juneau Beach Florida?

        Are you troubled by the wind leaseholders on the Huron PC deliberating on wind regulations that have a bearing on their own personal wealth?

        Does it trouble you that wind leaseholders once constituted a majority of the HC PC?

        Do you have an opinion on why $50/MWh HC wind contracts are better for MI ratepayers and the environment than imported $20/MWh wind energy from Iowa?

        Does it trouble you that wind subsidies to the tune of $30/MWh-roughly the wholesale value of the electricity they produce-are stripped from the US Treasury with every turn of the rotor blade, thereby transferring money that could fund programs like Head Start, fund the VA, and begin to reduce a national debt burden of $20 trillion dollars for our grandchildren and instead depositing it into the coffers of DTE and the rest?

        And does it not trouble you that even MISO concedes that wind energy is one of the most expensive means of CO2 avoidance under the Obama Clean Power Plan?

        http://www.eenews.net/assets/2014/09/18/document_ew_01.pdf

        Would love to hear your informed opinions on these questions.

        Like

      2. Thanks again Kevon…good questions. I’ll stick to asking questions too and seeking answers. As you can see from the content of ThumbWind, it’s an eclectic mix of local fun, like Cheeseburger in Caseville, to interesting stories regarding Wind Energy both pro and con. This mix seems to work as we have steadily grown readership over several years.

        Early on our stories where cautionary tales of DTE taking advantage of local landowners who moved forward with little or no legal review and local zoned communities like Lake Township who had no policy with respect to wind zoning. If you look back you will see a range of posts reflecting these wild times.

        Since 2013 the situation has changed. It seems that more outside interest have come into the state of Michigan as we have had rapid growth. In addition it seems with the cost of wind generation dropping like a rock DTE and Consumers are now rapidly developing capital plans for more solar and wind projects state-wide. The recent acquisition of LM Wind Power, a manufacturer and supplier of rotor blades to the wind industry, for $1.65 billion by GE is also an interesting development. It appears that GE is now going beyond selling generation capability and entering this market with a new vertical approach. The rapid success of RE100.org to sign up major Fortune100 companies to place renewable goals as part of a sustainable business plan is also truly game changing.

        Clearly the Renewable Energy train has left the station and signals that I read indicate that the Production Tax Credit (PTC) will be allowed to phase itself out completely by 2020.

        Like

    1. SomeONE or someSEVERAL people in Almer Township donated chairs, tables, skirting, and tv sets for the new BOARD room at the old Almer Township Hall. Someone also donated 5 to 6 hours on a Saturday steam cleaning the new Board room carpeting.

      They want to remain anonymous and Thumbwind thinks those scurrilous bums need to disclose the donations and the free labor? In my limited involvement in township politics, that’s what many of the wind lease owners and the pro-wind faction have resorted to when they don’t have an answer.

      “I’ve been to the base of the turbines and I don’t hear anything.” “You are anti-wind.” “You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” “Everybody loves the turbines.” “People who don’t live in our township have no business telling us how to run our township.” etc. etc. Kevon is right on. When someone says we are spousal abusers we have to prove those lies are lies.

      Four out of four Board members from nearby Ellington Township were removed by a vote of the people——–by 3 to 1 margins. Four out of six Almer Township Board members were removed by a vote of the people by a landslide. Referendum petitioners in Almer Township needed 110 signatures and stopped their efforts after gathering 204 valid signatures out of 206 signatures WITHOUT going door to door———and Kevon Martis was no where to be seen.

      I originally started out as pro-setback or pro-health. But, as I listened to NextEra and the pro-wind lease holders, and as I read posts from sites like this front as a community information site, I am being pushed more and more in the direction of anti-wind. The misleading comments, outright lies, and/or obfuscation by pro-wind advocates does not endear me to your cause. And, after reading about the effects wind turbines have on people living within 1200 ft. or 1300 ft. and then talking to them in person, hasn’t done much to convince me that NextEra, and Invenergy, and Apex, and DTE, and Consumers Power, and Exelon, and Thumbwind have our best interests at heart.

      Nice try Thumbwind. But, as more and more people are informed about the abuses of wind energy companies and as residents learn more about your outlandish statements, the more opposed and resistant they are to wind development.

      By, the way, did you know that when the ice falls off at the end of blades spinning at 175 mph, the ice drops straight to the ground?

      Norm S.
      Almer Township

      Like

      1. Thanks for stopping by. This post was in regard to an undisclosed cash donation to Lincoln Township. Despite several FOIA requests by involved residents of the Township and the HDT, the doners are still unknown. We do know it was used to set up a legal fund supposedly to enlarge the township government and set up a zoning and planning board.

        Like

  2. “It seems that more outside interest have come into the state of Michigan as we have had rapid growth. ”

    What leads you to say this?

    I have been a front row observer of MI wind politics since 2009 when I was still a local planning commissioner.

    Wind mandates have never been more than a crony capitalist endeavor stretching all the way back to Ken Lay and Enron, who is actually the godfather of wind subsidies.

    In other words, wind is nothing but an outside interest from AWEA to the Environmental Councils to the League of Conservation Voters to Sierra Club and the rest, all advancing a crony capitalist wind build out to preserve their funding from the likes of Soros and Tom Steyer, green profiteers.

    Yet you somehow see something new in this sphere?

    That is why I take umbrage at the false accusations above.

    I fight the outside interests in my free time and on a virtually non-existent budget. I advocate on the behalf of ratepayers and the environment and on behalf of beleaguered communities who are under assault by these incredibly well heeled outside interests whose motives you have not impugned.

    My reward?

    Baseless ad hominems from a guy who first attacks my noble efforts and then offers to sell me t-shirts.

    You owe me an apology.

    Like

    1. Kevon, I’m sorry you feel this way. The rough and tumble world of politics in this area is not for the faint of heart. If you want an apology, seek it from the Energy and Policy Institute. They had your number three years ago. I found their information insightful and spot on. Regards….

      Like

  3. Yes and I dutifully told them as well that they were wrong. But like most wind cultists, they do not respond to reason.

    One thing is beyond dispute: you sell anti-wind t-shirts while falsely attacking me and my group as being anti-wind.

    And despite your love for wind energy, you do not know the answers to the most basic questions about wind energy.

    This makes you, like your friend Arlene who is receiving direct cash payments from the state’s largest polluter DTE Energy, useful to your masters.

    Let’s be honest. This defamatory hit piece is designed to do one thing: increase web hits to your blog site and increase sales of your product. You essentially told me as much when you first reached out to me.

    And if you were an honorable man, you would have returned my call instead of using your site to continue to demean me based upon a scurrilous and false hit piece from a few years ago.

    You have no interest in the truth. You are just a capitalist opportunist.

    And this exchange on our FB page makes it clear.

    Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, Inc. – IICC Who funds you Mike?
    Like · Reply · Commented on by Kevon Martis · October 16 at 8:44am
    Michigan’s Thumb – Thumbwind.com
    Michigan’s Thumb – Thumbwind.com
    Like · Reply · October 16 at 8:47am
    Michigan’s Thumb – Thumbwind.com
    Michigan’s Thumb – Thumbwind.com I sell a lot of tshirts.
    Like · Reply · October 16 at 8:47am
    Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, Inc. – IICC
    Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, Inc. – IICC DTE t-shirts?
    Like · Reply · Commented on by Kevon Martis · October 16 at 8:52am
    Michigan’s Thumb – Thumbwind.com
    Michigan’s Thumb – Thumbwind.com You might like a few of them…
    https://shop.thumbwind.com/collections/no-wind-protest-tees

    An honorable man would have verified the veracity of these claims before publishing them. Or at least taken my phone call.

    You did not.

    Shame on you.

    Like

  4. Do you deny that you are a signatory to the PTC document from Koch Brother’s funded American’s for Prosperity? In case you forgot here it is. http://www.hillheat.com/files/WindPTC_letter1.pdf

    Unlike your fellow traveler “Citizens of Bridgehampton Township” I’ve never blocked your responses. For the record, you have never called me. I’ll leave it to you to respond here publically and the readers to decide.

    Yes we sell T-shirts. It helps offset the cost of this site. I don’t depend on table scraps from external handlers.

    http://shop.thumbwind.com

    Like

    1. Of course we signed it. Are you suggesting that everyone that signs a petition is paid to do so?

      We oppose the PTC for Wind Energy. You know who else does? Exelon Wind: http://www.exeloncorp.com/newsroom/Pages/pr_20121213_EXC_WINDPTC.aspx

      Maybe Koch bought out Exelon Wind?

      I did call you and left a message with my cell number. The number is all over the web. You are deft with google so look it up an call me.

      And yes, you sell anti-wind t-shirts. And you are pro-wind.

      Yet you are profiting from pretending to be anti-wind in order to pay for your blog site. So between the two of us, only you are profiting from “anti-wind” activities.

      BTW: I also spoke to the Audubon Society? Maybe I am funded by Soros?

      I also spoke to the Detroit Urban League. Maybe I am funded by the NAACP?

      And exactly how much funding do I need to type responses on my phone while eating breakfast?

      You are playing the dirtiest trick in the book: you are trying to make someone prove that lies about them are lies.

      This is tantamount to me calling you a wife beater and asking you to prove you are not. Pathetic. Fortunately I believe your readers will be able to read these posts decide for themselves.

      Like

  5. Mr. Martis,

    Please refrain from making insinuations and accusations that I’m on the take with DTE or any pro-wind energy group. I have never ever been offered compensation and never have/never would accept compensation for my late nights of writing and research. All I get for my efforts is the headaches from lack of sleep because I work full time+ and help my husband farm. I have personally paid for my FOIA requests, upped my phone plan, upped my digital storage and had loss of wages because I have taken off of work to attend local governmental meetings. I don’t get free rides. These are at all my expense.

    My husband had signed the wind lease contract before we met. I have no vested monetary interest in the lease payments and contract he is trying to honor/fulfill. I have no vested interest in the farm’s income other than I’m supporting my husband by feeding the cattle, driving the tractors to work fields, do his banking business, shuffling machinery field to field or taking him meals to the field etc.

    I like the concept of wind energy. He likes the concept of wind energy.

    I don’t like the anti-wind protesters getting in my face at informational meetings. I don’t like the actions of 5 people making rash decisions for Lincoln Township citizens and in one swift maneuver taking away their voices then withholding pertinent information to explain their actions. As it has been quoted before in many articles I’ve read, “Government should be transparent”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “My husband had signed the wind lease contract before we met. I have no vested monetary interest in the lease payments and contract he is trying to honor/fulfill.”

      Thanks for being honest. Your household is receiving money from the state’s largest coal consumer. That meets the legal definition of having a pecuniary interest in the project.

      If you regret signing, return the money and get out of the lease. I hear that DTE-a fossil fuel company-is not very keen on giving the money back. But I wholeheartedly recommend you try.

      And for the record, you continue to bring up my name at both township and county level meetings even though I am not in the room and have never met you.

      And I am also glad that the people will get a chance to vote. Wind never wins at the township level. Wind is 0-11 since 2009 in MI.

      Of course I am also hearing that the two county wind overlays pending currently will also be placed on the ballot. That should be interesting.

      So democracy will speak again.

      And I have little sympathy for your expenses. Despite your false claims to the contrary, I have spent many thousands of my own money helping communities understand their rights under MI zoning law to determine their own land use policies and that is money I will not ever recover. I do not regret that expense because I know many wind lease holders in MI who now live with turbines and who deeply regrets ever signing those leases. And if you are as connected to the farming community as you seem to suggest, you know that is true.

      I also know many townships that wish they had never had turbines constructed either.

      Wind developers have little concern for their leaseholders or the host community once the turbines are up and I find that deplorable.

      This fellow found that out first hand in Minden City: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHBK2yfJUlA&list=PLwrkRwLmj2RXtkXJuh22X5ZAU_9lT1c6n&index=1

      I know you are a fine person and that their behavior is not acceptable to you either. I feel sorry that your husband got hooked by their sales agent and I wish you well.

      Regards,

      Kevon Martis

      Like

      1. He had his lawyer review the contract before he signed and he was able to sign it with confidence. I support my husband’s decision.

        Like

  6. What hooey. As a long time birder and I and committed opponent to the crime of bird- bat- slaughtering wind energy (and a Dwmocrat), I am grateful for all Kevon Martis and IICC is doing in its efforts to expose this wind energy scheme masquerading as “green.”

    While too many well-known national and state conservation organization have stayed mum (check who contributes to THEIR funding), I have, time and again, relied on IICC to support my position and advocate against wind turbines as an alternative energy source. I hold Kevon Martis in high esteem for his tireless efforts

    Raising suspicion about a thousand-dollar donation to a township is absolutely laughable when heaven-know how many thousands of thousands have been spent on greasing palms, intimidation, and propaganda by this lucrative wind game.

    With nearly 500 wind turbines killing birds and bats and sickening residents in Huron County, I remain grateful
    for the voice of IICC.

    Monica Essenmacher, Head
    Port Crescent Hawk Watch

    Like

  7. You can take those annoying taxpayer subsidized windmills and place them where the sun does not shine and where the wind does not often blow. Place them in your backyard where the sound and vibrations will keep you up all night .. and where they will keep you busy picking up windmill slaughtered birds.

    Like

  8. With freedom of speech comes responsibility. If a coal mine owner opposes wind, they are free to say that, AS A COAL MINE OWNER. But it is obviously immoral, dishonest, to say it as “Moms for a Healthy Michigan”. Who gave $1100? That’s not a very hard question. Lie or tell the truth. I support wind. I will give $100 to a worthy group to support wind, because of my well-researched belief that it is needed. And I am fine with that organization disclosing my contribution. The Kochs are fundamentally dishonest because they hide their fully funded propaganda machine as the “Ethan Allen Institute” here in Vermont and the “Mackinac Center” in MI. If you believe something, sign it. Own it. Don’t hide it. Honesty is NOT overrated. It is real. Dirty money is a cancer. It speads and contaminates democracy. Instead of lesions tumors, we get clumps of people who actually believe that dog crap the Kochs are feeding us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bill, Thanks for stopping by. As you can see by the responses my post rankled some that I even asked the question. To date, the contributors remains anonymous and Lincoln Twp now has to develop and fund a larger township government in order to be self zoned. It started with Arlene Schipinski who wanted more information from her elected officicals. Not getting an answer, she filed several FOIA requests. As a result she was maligned by elected officials. It’s a mess.

      I agree 100% with your assessment of “Dark Money” no matter how small. Not having an open transparent government where incoming funds are concerned naturally leads to questions of impropriety. Is Lincoln Twp. going to continue to run with funding from unknown outside interests?

      Like

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