In a report, entitled Clean Energy Under Siege: Following the Money Trail Behind the Attack on Renewable Energy, the Sierra Club in the United States presents information on what it claims are the political and non-renewable energy interests supporting the push-back against renewable energy in the country.
The report is interesting to the Canadian context for two reasons: 1) in today’s age of much greater access to information (and misinformation) it is difficult for corporate interests to maintain a zero profile when providing funding to organizations that help advance those interests; and 2) it is still difficult for observers to determine the organizations that are behind an apparently grass roots campaign unless a group like Sierra Club publishes a report of this nature. Even then, publications like GallonDaily or even a daily newspaper, are not readily able to verify Sierra Club’s claims.
This is more a political than an environmental document. It does reinforce the mantra that “There is no reason to shy away from questions about the advantages and disadvantages of clean energy . Robust, rigorous, and open debate powers the engine of democracy . But it is also important to know who is initiating that debate and ask what their self-interest is.” This is something that every organization, whether environmental ngo, community group, or corporation, should ponder before launching a campaign to inform the public about their views on an issue. Outing of funders and spokespersons can sometimes do significant harm to reputations, especially when the reasons for political support of an issue are not at all clear to the public.
Clean Energy Under Siege is a distinctly US analysis and may even lack some of the punch, especially in terms of previously unpublished information, that its subtitle suggests. As an example of the kind of critical, and potentially unhelpful, analysis that a campaign may face, we recommend it to all who are involved in seeking to influence government policy on any aspect of the environment. Find it at http://www.sierraclub.org/pressroom/downloads/SierraClub-CleanEnergyUnderSiege.pdf