The Energy Foundation

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The Energy Foundation is an unconventional “pass-through” financing organization created by a consortium of left-leaning foundations acting as “partners.” It was incorporated in San Francisco, California on October 15, 1990 as a 501(c)(3) exempt private foundation on behalf of three progressive agenda-focused foundations, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Money

  • Tax status: Energy Foundation, 501(c)(3) public charity, formerly private foundation.

2013 Financials

  • EF financial assets: $58,693,095 (ledger value)
  • EF Income: $135,192,759
  • EF grants given $79,881,391
  • EF spent $1 million on lobbying
  • EF fundraising expenses $1,858,814
  • EF’s investment portfolio income was $2.8 million in 2013.
  • EF’s employee compensation $ 7,238,342.

Source: IRS Forms 990 and the Foundation Search databank

Influence

Revolving Door into Congressional Staff Positions

Former Energy Foundation lobbyists who took the revolving door into congressional staff positions:

  • Genevieve Cullen worked for Evan Bayh (D-IN);
  • Shelley Nan Fidler worked for Barney Frank (D-MA).

Source: Legistorm

Paid Congressional Junkets

  • Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) staffer Michael S. (Mike) Carr traveled to China on “Educational study tour to explore investments in developing clean energy technology” for 5 days in April 2010 at a cost of $14,016.77 paid by the Energy Foundation.
  • Mark Warner (D-VA) staffer Beatriz Eugenia Ibarra traveled to China on “Educational study tour to explore investments in developing clean energy technology” for 5 days in April 2010 at a cost of $14,004.96 paid by the Energy Foundation.
  • Joe Lieberman (Independent-CT) staffer Todd M. Stein traveled to China on “Educational study tour to explore investments in developing clean energy technology” for 5 days in April 2010 at a cost of $13,952.17 paid by the Energy Foundation.
  • Tom Daschle, (D-SD) staffer Peter G. Umhofer was Guest Speaker at the renewable energy and agriculture summit in St. Paul, Minn. February 3, 2002 at a cost of $750.35 paid by the Energy Foundation.

Source: Legistorm

Network Interactions

Grants Received (Money In) by Energy Foundation

The Energy Foundation has received 611 grants from 124 foundations totaling $534,010,140 between 1997 and 2015. The top 15 most anti-technology donors:

  1. WILLIAM & FLORA HEWLETT FOUNDATION $149,028,172
  2. DAVID AND LUCILE PACKARD FOUNDATION $70,664,800
  3. SEA CHANGE FOUNDATION $64,818,332
  4. MCKNIGHT FOUNDATION $52,191,300
  5. JOHN D & CATHERINE T MACARTHUR FOUNDATION $22,066,748
  6. DORIS DUKE CHARITABLE FOUNDATION $21,140,000
  7. MERTZ GILMORE FOUNDATION $18,735,000
  8. ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION $5,595,000
  9. PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS $4,947,600
  10. GOOGLE FOUNDATION $4,695,000
  11. TOMKAT CHARITABLE TRUST (Tom Steyer) $4,150,000
  12. THE OAK FOUNDATION USA $1,434,997
  13. BLOOMBERG FAMILY FOUNDATION INC $750,000
  14. TIDES FOUNDATION $355,000
  15. ROCKEFELLER BROTHERS FUND INC $250,000

Source: IRS Forms 990 and the Foundation Search databank

Grants Given (Money Out) By The Energy Foundation

The Energy Foundation has paid 30,178 grants to 12,058 recipients totaling $1,231,280,198 between 1998 and 2015. The top 25 most anti-technology recipients:

  1. NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL $35,194,691
  2. UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS $16,307,700
  3. PARTNERSHIP PROJECT $11,410,000
  4. SIERRA CLUB FOUNDATION $16,080,146
  5. ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND $11,197,277
  6. ENVIRONMENT AMERICA RESEARCH AND POLICY CENTER $7,736,300
  7. WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE $4,008,871
  8. CERES $3,683,000
  9. AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION $3,625,000
  10. NATIONAL RELIGIOUS PARTNERSHIP FOR THE ENVIRONMENT $3,576,000
  11. BLUE GREEN ALLIANCE FOUNDATION $3,270,000
  12. ROCKEFELLER FAMILY FUND $2,842,978
  13. NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL TRUST $2,609,600
  14. LEAGUE OF CONSERVATIVE VOTERS’ EDUCATION FUND $2,278,000
  15. NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION $2,248,000
  16. WILDERNESS SOCIETY $2,119,050
  17. US CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK $1,972,000
  18. IZAAK WALTON LEAGUE OF AMERICA $1,822,500
  19. CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS $1,224,000
  20. RESOURCES FOR THE FUTURE $1,010,718
  21. TIDES CENTER $896,698
  22. NATIONAL PARKS CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION $855,000
  23. CLEAN WATER FUND $722,500
  24. NATURE CONSERVANCY $603,000
  25. NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY $544,000

Source: IRS Forms 990 and the Foundation Search databank

Network Interactions

See the Energy Foundation Muckety Map for an interactive view of the foundation’s vast social network.

Background & History

The Energy Foundation was founded as a collaborative undertaking between the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Rockefeller Foundation. Its initial $20 million grant was revealed on January 10, 1991 as a new idea, though it appears from the group’s records that it was, at one time, The Energy Project of The Trust for Public Land, specifically noted by the Environmental Grantmaking Foundations 1995 Directory (page 150). The Trust for Public Land was what is known as an “eco-profiteer:” an organization charged with buying private land at distress prices from rural owners, usually under threat of federal condemnation, then, with the help of huge lobbying efforts and insider congressional contacts, selling it to the federal government at fair market prices and taking a cut. The program enriched the Trust by 31.5 million taxpayer dollars in 2014.

The foundation “partners” have only said that “the sponsors conceived their energy partnership in 1989,” as an effort “to promote energy efficiency and greater reliance on renewable sources like wind and solar power,” according to the New York Times.

The Energy Foundation pooled the consortium’s money and redistributed the funds in the form of “Energy Foundation” grants, creating the appearance of a more diversified base of support for each chosen organization. The initial donor organizations were also, then, shielded from public scrutiny. The Foundation has also convened workshops, commissioned papers and took its own direct initiatives.

The three original consortium partners gradually reduced or ended their involvement and similar foundations took their positions. The Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation joined in 1996, the McKnight Foundation in 1998, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation brought the China Sustainable Energy Program to the mix with a $22 million grant in 1999 and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2001, with others later.

In 2009 the Energy Foundation converted its IRS status from a private foundation to a public charity in order to avoid taxes on its investment profits and accept tax-deductible grants from non-partner donors.

Energy Foundation Partners 2016

Links take you to the Muckety Map of each partner for an interactive view of the consortium’s vast social network:

Energy Foundation Leadership

  • Eric Heitz – CEO and Co-founder
  • Bill Ritter Jr. – director
  • William D. Ruckelshaus – director
  • Philip R. Sharp – director
  • Noa Staryk – director
  • Michael Wang – director
  • Hongjun Zhang – director

Controversies

Energy Foundation Featured In Senate “Billionaires Report”

A 2014 report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works titled The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA features the Energy Foundation. The evidence provided in this report, according to its author, highlights “the lengths the far-left environmental movement goes to hide sources of funding and to disguise their actions – bought and paid for by millionaires and billionaires – as charitable acts in service of their fellow man.”

The Energy Foundation, according to the Report, “is a quintessential example of a pass through frequently employed by the Billionaire’s Club. Energy Foundation receives money from several key foundations and redirects it to activists. In doing so, they are providing two services: distance between the donor and the activist, and enhancing the clout of the donors as their individual influence is maximized by pooling resources.”

The Energy Foundation’s funding paths are best shown in this Billionaire Report chart:

Energy Foundation Filtering Funds

Source: Page 48, Senate Billionaire Club Report

The “pass through” operates like the chart shows: Instead of directly funding the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) or the Sierra Club, the Sea Change Foundation or the Hewlett Foundation contribute to the Energy Foundation. Abbreviations: ALA American Lung Association; UCS Union of Concerned Scientists.

The most intriguing aspect of the Energy Foundation’s pass through strategy is its partisan political power. The Senate report says, “The Billionaire’s Club is also adept at converting charitable donations into political outcomes by taking advantage of loopholes in the tax code.” Foundations and wealthy individuals can fund a non-political status 501(c)(3) like the Energy Foundation, which then transfers large sums to an affiliated lobbying and campaigning status 501(c)(4), which can engage in political activity.

The Senate report says, “The affiliated groups often share office space, staff, and even board members.” Blatant example: The 501(c)(4) Green Tech Action Fund was incorporated in Delaware August 14, 2008 for anonymity and reincorporated in San Francisco November 10, 2009 by EF’s President Eric Heitz who is also Green Tech’s president. Green Tech is an affiliate which receives large grants from the Energy Foundation and in turn donates funds to 501(c)(4) far-left environmental activist organizations and campaigns through a maze of hidden connections, as shown on this Billionaire Report chart:

Energy Foundation Campaign Funding

Source: Page 51, Senate Billionaire Club Report

An Odd Prediction for the Coal Industry

Forbes contributor Ken Silverstein penned an April 26, 2015 celebration of the Energy Foundation’s speculative views on the future of American industry, focusing on the fossil fuel industry. “Coal-related jobs are going up in flames, but new ones will emerge from the ashes. That’s the conclusion of a new economic study.”

The “study,” which was funded by the Energy Foundation, concludes that job creation would start out modestly but pick up over time. Along with Jason Price of Industrial Economics, the two found that beginning in 2020, job growth would equal 74,000 – a number chosen with little evidence.

Silverstein substantiated the Energy Foundation’s claim with material from a friendly academic:

“At a higher level, when you see a big shock, things will eventually get better,” says Doug Meade, an economist at the University of Maryland, and co-author of the just-released economic study, in an interview. “Yes, the economy does heal: for industries that lose jobs there will, eventually, be demand in other places. People may have to move to other places.”

 

The study concluded with few details on which industries would grow to replace the coal industry, leaving little in the way of detail for those concerned with the economic implications of greater environmental regulation.

 A Strange Debate Over the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan

The Conversation US, a brand new web feature, held a debate June 15, 2015 under the headline “EPA Clean Power Plan reenergizes the US climate policy debate.

Its moderator was Jonas Monast, Climate and Energy Program Director, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions; Senior Lecturing Fellow, Duke Law School at Duke University.

The Conversation US revealed a little about its moderator in a disclosure statement:

Jonas Monast receives funding from

  • the Energy Foundation,
  • the Merck Family Fund,
  • the Roy A. Hunt Foundation, and
  • the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

The Conversation US also told us about itself:

The Conversation is funded by

  • Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation,
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute,
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,
  • Alfred P Sloan Foundation and
  • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
  • Our global publishing platform is funded by Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The debate, unsurprisingly, came out in favor of Obama’s Clean Climate Plan.