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 repost the story with updates as an historical interest.
Huron County Township’s Take Back Zoning to Block Wind Projects
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 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 filed four FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests and more are pending in the next days.
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 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?
2016 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.
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 indicated 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.
Has Outside Funding Influenced Huron County Voters?
As predicted, it’s clear that Huron County is now a frontline action with respect to renewable wind energy in the Great Lakes region. However now the question 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 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.
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