PolluterWatch Blog

Americans for Prosperity's Lisa Thrun faces public scrutiny in NY RGGI lawsuit [VIDEO]

States participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

“I’m not a scientist, I’m an event planner,” explained Lisa Thrun when I asked her if she believed burning coal and oil contributed to climate change. Oh really, Ms. Thrun? If you’re just an event planner, what are you doing giving a presentation on the economic impacts of a regional plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? See the video:

Lisa Thrun, the chair of grassroots for the New York Chapter of Americans for Prosperity, was invited by the Tompkins County Republican Committee to speak about the economic impacts of RGGI. Pronounced “Reggie,” the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a cap-and-trade program, which promises to reduce CO2 emissions 10% by 2018 among Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.  
Thrun is the lead plaintiff in a New York lawsuit against RGGI - a serious conflict of interest since Americans for Prosperity was started and is still funded by the oil billionaire Koch brothers. David Koch is the chairman of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, AFP's sister group. It’s pretty ironic that the lead plaintiff in a suit against plant emissions works for an organization that is heavily involved in the ongoing orchestration of campaigns to sell doubt over climate science. When I asked Thrun about this conflict of interest, she responded, "You know what? I don't know what the Koch brothers do. It just goes to show you our independence from the Koch brothers."See the video:


AFP's ongoing suit against RGGI in New York is ironic for another reason: Koch Industries, which funnels profits to AFP through the Koch brother's foundations, was involved in the very first trade of physical carbon allowances under RGGI. Thrun’s main argument focused on economic implications for states (and families) involved in the cap-and-trade program. One slide during the presentation demonstrated how initiatives like cap and trade can be detrimental to big business. The charts proudly boasted the logos of groups including the Heritage Foundation, the Competative Enterprise Institute, and the Beacon Hill Institute - all three of which have been involved in Koch-funded scandals. Thrun continuously warned that RGGI is a costly program, even though the average residential bill increases less than 50 cents a month and RGGI participating states show $3-$4 benefits for every $1 invested. The invested money then goes into state-designed consumer benefit and strategic energy programs, like home weatherization which can reduce household heating energy needs by 15 to 30 percent. (source: RGGI Proceeds Report Press Release) In response, Thrun implied that winterizing homes helps to save us money and energy, but “we should be doing it on our own.”
As the New York lawsuit is pushed forward by the polluter apologists running Americans for Prosperity, we will see if AFP is can finish pushing New Jersey out of RGGI. Gov. Chris Christie caved to AFP pressure last year, announcing New Jersey's withdrawal from the profitable program and then bragging about it right to the Koch brothers faces at their private political meeting in Vail, Colorado.
The Koch brothers are not running out of money. Their wealth has increased by $13 billion each in the last five years (Forbes, 2006 and 2011) and they will continue to bankroll ideological attacks on environmental initiatives that threaten their billions in private profits. What Charles and David have lost is the ability to ghost run the country in secret.
PolluterWatch will continue to track the development of Koch-backed attacks on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and other dirty campaigns. For more, see PolluterWatch's profiles for Koch Industries and Americans for Prosperity.

If pollutors continue to

If pollutors continue to TITHE (dark ages) and RGGI funds are redirected, please explain your position. Conflicting information.

Click here: The RGGI raid: how cap-and-trade revenues went to fix state budgets

"Lately, however, a few of the cash-strapped states have had other designs on the money. The same day as the most recent auction (June 9), New Hampshire lawmakers voted to take all of the state's expected $3.1 million share of the proceeds and use it to help plug a $295 million budget hole. That move came after New York and New Jersey had staged even bigger raids on cap-and-trade funds. New York transferred $90 million out of a fund of auction proceeds and into its general fund. And New Jersey is poised to use $65 million from carbon-credit sales to help balance its budget, pending a vote of the Legislature expected today.

The money grabs are creating concern among environmentalists. When the states were putting together the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, back in 2005, each agreed to a memorandum of understanding that at least 25 percent of the auction proceeds would go toward reducing energy usage. Some states went much further than that. New Jersey's Global Warming Response Act said 80 percent of the money should go toward energy-related causes.

"RGGI is a pretty simple concept," says Matt Elliott, the Global Warming and Clean Energy Advocate for Environment New Jersey . "We cap pollution, we charge polluters to pollute, and we put the money back into programs that conserve energy." Elliot says the RGGI raids not only violate the states' original agreement with each other, but also upend the idea that cap-and-trade was supposed to save ratepayers money on their energy bills in the long run. "It means cap-and-trade will cost money now instead of saving money," Elliot says.

As Congress debates cap-and-trade legislation of its own, the RGGI raids would seem to confirm the fears of critics. "Cap and trade is the tax that dare not speak its name," a Wall Street Journal editorial said last year, arguing that utilities would pass the costs of carbon credits through to consumers. Now, with three states stashing extra auction proceeds in their general funds, there's evidence to support the view that cap-and-trade regimes amount to just another tax."

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