Did Koch Brothers Influence Wind Energy Policy In Huron County Michigan?
Ed Note: This post was first published in 2015 and generated a lot of controversy. In 2017, we took the post down as the information was becoming dated. However, we are still getting inquiries about the possibility of outside funding supporting anti-wind efforts. We decided to republish the story with updates as an historical interest.
In 2019 we found a source of Political Action Committee activity and included KochPAC contributions to Michigan candidates and parties.
Huron County Township’s Take Back Zoning to Block Wind Projects
It started 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 sudden changes in zoning policy concerning 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. The Township officials stonewalled her with each request resulting in $1,000s in township expense and no answer to who has funded this “legal slush fund.” Schipinski filed at least four FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests.
Huron County Townships Go Anti Wind
The Huron Daily Tribune reported that Lincoln Township is part of a “39,000-acre wind overlay district project currently proposed by DTE Energy that also includes parts of Dwight, Bloomfield, and Sigel townships. It includes 50 to 70 turbines.” It seems that in a dramatic turn of events, the 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?
2016 Update: Since ThumbWind was made aware of this story, we were contacted by several residents and concerned citizens who what to “set us straight.” This sudden interest in 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 submitted by Arlene. ThumbWind was also contacted by other townships in the area on the “tone” of our posts. Asking questions can upset some Township officials. 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 group 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.
The Koch brothers, who are notorious for attacking renewable energy — precisely because their fossil fuel interests are so threatened by wind and solar — the tactic is to fund local grassroots organizations to offer resource assistance for anti-wind efforts.
Martis’ 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 the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow’s (CFACT)’s website. Groups have also cited his false and misleading claims of 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 the 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.
2017 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 indicated that the IICC had 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.
2019 Update: Martis has moved up in the world of anti-wind lobbying. Kevon Martis, now reports to be a senior policy fellow at the Energy and Environment Legal Institute in Washington, D.C. The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (aka. E&E Legal) was former the American Tradition Institute (ATI). ATI was involved in all sorts of anti-wind activity including a national PR campaign aimed at causing “subversion in message of [wind] industry so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it.” All the grimy details on ATI can be found at Sourcewatch.org
Has Outside Funding Influenced Huron County Voters?
As predicted, it’s clear that Huron County was front-line action concerning renewable wind energy policy in the Great Lakes region. However, a question that comes into play is the number 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 Koch Brothers and other oil and gas interests as part of their more significant 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.
Koch Money is Still Backing Anti-Wind
Harry Brown, Republican Majority Leader in the North Carolina Senate, wanted to ban new wind farms in eastern North Carolina. Brown received thousands of dollars in campaign money from Koch Industries and other fossil fuel interests. Brown received a $4,000 contribution for his reelection campaign from the Koch Industries Political Action Committee (KochPAC).
In Texas, State Senator Donna Campbell sponsored a 2017 bill that would have made wind farms located near military airfields ineligible for North Carolina property tax exemptions. The bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Gregg Abbott.
Senator Campbell received $5,000 in campaign cash from the KochPAC in 2017-18. Governor Abbott received $50,000 from the KochPAC during that same period.
This activity was reported by the Energy & Policy Institute
KochPAC Contributions For Michigan Candidates
- WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2020 PRIMARY 09/19/2019 $4,000.00
- UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2020 PRIMARY 09/19/2019 $5,000.00
- HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2020 PRIMARY 09/19/2019 $5,000.00
- WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2020 PRIMARY 06/20/2019 $1,000.00
- JOHN JAMES FOR SENATE, INC. MI 2020 PRIMARY 06/20/2019 $1,000.00
- LENA FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 GENERAL 09/24/2018 $5,000.00
- HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 GENERAL 09/24/2018 $5,000.00
- FRIENDS OF PAUL MITCHELL MI 2018 GENERAL 09/24/2018 $3,000.00
- UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2018 GENERAL 08/01/2018 $5,000.00
- MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN PARTY MI 2018 JFC SPLIT TO WIN IN 2018 06/25/2018 $5,000.00
- LENA FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 06/25/2018 $5,000.00
- JUSTIN AMASH FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 06/25/2018 $5,000.00
- BERGMANFORCONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/22/2018 $3,000.00
- MIKE BISHOP FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/19/2018 $5,000.00
- WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/13/2018 $1,500.00
- WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 GENERAL 03/13/2018 $5,000.00
- HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/08/2018 $1,000.00
- WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 10/30/2017 $1,000.00
- FRIENDS OF PAUL MITCHELL MI 2018 PRIMARY 10/13/2017 $1,000.00
- UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2018 PRIMARY 09/14/2017 $1,500.00
- TROTT FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI VOIDED 6/5/17 DISBURSEMENT 07/27/2017 -$1,000.00
- HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 06/23/2017 $3,500.00
- TROTT FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2018 PRIMARY 06/05/2017 $1,000.00
- TROTT FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2018 PRIMARY 06/05/2017 $2,500.00
- UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/28/2017 $2,500.00
- WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/22/2017 $2,500.00
- FRIENDS OF PAUL MITCHELL MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/22/2017 $1,000.00
- BERGMANFORCONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/22/2017 $1,000.00
- BERGMANFORCONGRESS MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/22/2017 $1,000.00
- UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2018 PRIMARY 03/15/2017 $1,000.00
- BERGMANFORCONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 09/27/2016 $5,000.00
- JUSTIN AMASH FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 09/19/2016 $5,000.00
- HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 09/19/2016 $1,000.00
- FRIENDS OF PAUL MITCHELL MI 2016 GENERAL 09/14/2016 $2,500.00
- HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 06/24/2016 $1,000.00
- MOOLENAAR FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 06/15/2016 $500.00
- MIKE BISHOP FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 06/15/2016 $1,000.00
- MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN PARTY MI 2016 CONTRIBUTION 06/15/2016 $5,000.00
- HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 05/10/2016 $2,000.00
- TROTT FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 PRIMARY 03/23/2016 $1,500.00
- HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 03/23/2016 $2,500.00
- HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 03/23/2016 $1,000.00
- HUIZENGA FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 12/07/2015 $2,500.00
- JUSTIN AMASH FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 11/16/2015 $5,000.00
- UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2016 GENERAL 10/23/2015 $5,000.00
- UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2016 PRIMARY 10/23/2015 $1,000.00
- MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN PARTY MI 2015 CONTRIBUTION 10/23/2015 $5,000.00
- UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2016 PRIMARY 09/17/2015 $2,500.00
- TROTT FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 PRIMARY 07/13/2015 $1,000.00
- WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 06/12/2015 $2,500.00
- UPTON FOR ALL OF US MI 2016 PRIMARY 05/22/2015 $1,500.00
- WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 05/18/2015 $1,500.00
- WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 05/18/2015 $1,000.00
- WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 GENERAL 05/18/2015 $2,500.00
- MOOLENAAR FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 05/18/2015 $2,000.00
- BENISHEK FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 GENERAL 05/18/2015 $3,000.00
- BENISHEK FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 GENERAL 05/18/2015 $1,000.00
- WALBERG FOR CONGRESS MI 2016 PRIMARY 03/25/2015 $2,500.00
- BENISHEK FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 PRIMARY 03/18/2015 $3,000.00
- BENISHEK FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 PRIMARY 03/18/2015 $1,000.00
- BENISHEK FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 GENERAL 03/18/2015 $1,000.00
- BENISHEK FOR CONGRESS, INC. MI 2016 PRIMARY 03/03/2015 $1,000.00
For the record ThumbWind is neither a Pro or Anti Wind site. (Which drive some folks nuts. ) We are an eclectic blog wishing to point out the best the Upper Thumb of Michigan has to offer.
- Michigan Wind Farm Map
- Michigan’s Future with Wind Energy Could be Limited
- The Koch Brothers Have Been Waging A War On America For 50 Years
- Oil Billionaire Koch Brothers’ Growing Influence In Renewable Energy Policy