ZOLA: Did Dumb Enviros Out Russell Honore As A Paid Shill For The Solar Crowd?

If you didn’t see it, our illustrious Hayride Publisher Scott McKay wrote a column Friday at The American Spectator discussing how much of what happens within the Democratic Party and the various left-wing advocacy groups is, as he put it, a grift. Scott brought up a specific group as an example, something called the Energy and Policy Institute. EPI appears to be something like Antifa, in that, as Joe Biden thinks, it’s more of an idea than an organization.

There is a vaporous entity called the Energy and Policy Institute (EPI), which bills itself as a watchdog specializing in bashing the oil and gas industry for “fake science” and propaganda in search of profit. EPI doesn’t have a physical address, operating out of a post office box in San Francisco. Nor does it exist as a juridical person, to the best anyone can tell. It isn’t registered as a 501(c)(3) or (c)(4), it doesn’t file statements as a nonprofit, it isn’t a registered business in any state. Its website is registered with a privacy-protection firm based in Panama.

The Center for Accountability (CfA) noticed that EPI puts out a never-ending stream of attacks on oil and gas companies for having done “shady” polls and other political shenanigans designed to move public opinion in favor of its industry. And yet the hypocrisy involved in an organization that won’t even disclose where they come from or how they’re funded seldom seems to surface. Especially not from the legacy media organizations who regularly cite press releases and media avails EPI’s small number of employees, who all come from organizations like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the Center for American Progress and mostly come from backgrounds in political communications, spit out machine-gun style.

Oh, but EPI screams that they don’t shill for any solar companies. When CfA’s Daniel Stevens wrote a blistering riposte to EPI at the Washington Examiner three years ago noting they were a front for the solar industry, EPI’s executive director David Pomerantz howled that “The Energy and Policy Institute does not accept and has not received funding from any corporations or trade associations. Our work is funded by environmental foundations interested in addressing the threat posed by climate change, as the author could have seen on our web site, which notes that we do not accept corporate funding.”

Got that? “Environmental foundations.” But he doesn’t say which foundations those are, nor does he say who funds those environmental foundations.

Another employee of EPI, an Alabama man named Daniel Tait, is known for filing FOIA requests seeking communications of energy regulators around the South. Tait aroused the curiosity of Alabama’s Secretary of State John Merrill earlier this year, and Merrill asked him to provide some pretty basic information:

  1. What is the legal status of the Energy and Policy Institute?
  2. Who funds your organization’s work? If you are funded, as spokesperson David Pomerantz has said publicly, “by environmental foundations interested in addressing the threat posed by climate change,” who are those foundations and to whom are they giving their contributions?
  3. Who compensates the numerous individuals like Mr. Tait, who work for the Energy and Policy Institute and who are listed on your group’s reports?

The response? Crickets.

The reference to Tait was interesting, because he’s not just active in Alabama. He plays the public records request game in Louisiana as well and has sicced himself on the Public Service Commission. EPI dumped out some of those results on its website not long ago, and we found some interesting nuggets of information there.

Specifically, Tait wrote a piece last week trashing Entergy for its commitment to increasing the amount of power production to come from natural gas, something that should be fairly uncontroversial. Gas is cheap and plentiful, and unless Entergy were to build nuclear power plants, which the environmental movement has all but made impossible, there really isn’t a cleaner reliable power source available. After all, damming the Mississippi or Atchafalaya for the purposes of hydroelectric power isn’t happening in our lifetimes.

But in that piece he dumped out some information that would otherwise never have reached the light of day. Namely, an accusation that Russel Honore, the famous National Guard general whose “Don’t get stuck on stupid” remark while he was temporarily in charge of Katrina-ravaged New Orleans embedded him in Louisiana lore and perhaps almost in its electoral politics, is a paid shill of the solar industry.

Entergy has fiercely opposed action to combat climate change, including threatening to sue the City of New Orleans for what advocates termed a “resilient renewable portfolio standard”, or R-RPS. The R-RPS, like a renewable portfolio standard, is a mandate to achieve a targeted percentage of energy from resources that are both renewable and resilient.

Entergy threatened the City of New Orleans multiple times with litigation if it adopted “anything like” a 100% R-RPS. The company told the Council that R-RPS proposals from clean energy advocates would result in “years of litigation at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).” The company warned the Council that forcing it to retire a resource, such as a coal plant, would “lead to litigation.”

Entergy also accused R-RPS advocates of “the intellectual equivalent of denying that climate change exists.” Entergy was undaunted by New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno’s accusations that the company was breaching the public trust: the very next month, the utility accused advocates of engaging in “anti-intellectualism” and “climate solution denial.”

In a bitter fight over the future of a distributed solar energy-enabling policy called net metering in Louisiana, Entergy pushed to severely limit compensation paid to its customers for excess solar energy that they sell back to the grid. Utilities across the country have fought net metering, despite many of them, including Entergy, acknowledging that distributed energy resources like rooftop solar can be a key part of achieving net-zero emissions.

Entergy’s President of Utility Operations Rod West emailed Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Craig Greene last September about the net metering battle and accused the “solar lobby” of stoking the flames of a “class war.” West claimed without evidence that solar interests were paying for the testimony of decorated retired General Russel Honoré, best known for his work during rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

What’s fun about that last bit is that Honore, who in recent years has stayed occasionally in the news as the head of something called the Green Army, a collection of environmentalist organizations who regularly protest energy projects by both utilities and the oil and gas and petrochemical industries, has never said who’s paying his freight. The implication of that silence has always been that Honore is retired and involved in the environmental movement simply as a matter of conscience.

That isn’t what Rod West, who is the number two man in all of Entergy, is black as Honore is and is a former member of the LSU Board of Supervisors, thinks. From EPI’s own files, built through Tait’s public records requests, comes the text in question…

Tait says the accusation is made “without evidence,” but that statement is positively dripping with irony considering that EPI is “without evidence” that it even exists. It’s an organization which isn’t registered as a nonprofit or anything else with any Secretary of State, has no physical location, and files no Form 990’s. Alabama’s Secretary of State actually asked Tait about that question – specifically where EPI’s funding comes from – and got no answer at all.

EPI says that “environmental foundations” fund its operations. But won’t say which foundations those are.

Which is pretty much the same thing Honore’s Green Army says. Except just like EPI, it really isn’t hard to find some obvious indicators Rod West wasn’t “without evidence” when he stated the obvious about who’s backing Honore.

For example, last year when the Louisiana PSC voted to limit the amount of giveaway dollars heading to the rooftop solar panel industry, which take the form of subsidies paid to the purchasers of those solar panels by allowing them to sell excess electricity their panels generate back to utilities like Entergy at retail, rather than wholesale, rates (which utility customers pay for in the form of higher electric rates), the leading Louisiana seller of solar panels dropped an angry press release on their site. Here’s what PosiGen had to say, in pertinent part…

“The Commission’s blind refusal to rehear the case and address its consultant’s blatant ties to industry is another example of pubic servants failing Louisiana citizens. However, these decisions will not affect PosiGen’s determination to support energy independence for Louisiana families. We remain committed,” said PosiGen CEO Tom Neyhart.

As a Louisiana solar customer and leader of the Green Army, General Russel Honoré said, “Net metering allowed for Louisiana residents to have a say where their energy comes from, and enabled folks to put their rooftops to work. The elimination of net metering, quite literally, gives all of the power back to the energy companies.”

It’s certainly more than a little coincidental that Honore was available to lend a quote to PosiGen’s press release, don’t you think? Other than the company’s CEO he was the only source they bothered to get a quote from.

And there’s this

Lieutenant General Russel Honoré, the former hard-charging General and Hurricane Katrina Task Force Commander, is now on a new environmental crusade. Together with the members of the Alfred E. Flynn VFW Hall in New Orleans and PosiGen Solar Solutions, Lt. Gen. Honoré introduced a new outreach plan today to educate veterans about renewable energy and help them control their energy costs.

“In the spirit of Veterans Day and veterans month, we are happy to be recognizing our veterans with this great opportunity,” Lt. Gen. Honoré said. “Our veterans deserve the benefits of renewable energy, and solar is a wonderful way to not only be good to our planet, but also save money.”

The renewable energy outreach being provided by PosiGen Solar includes education, energy efficiency upgrades and special pricing during the month of November, with added incentives for veterans and active-duty military personnel. In addition to special pricing, veterans and military personnel will also receive a $100 gift card.

PosiGen will also make a $100 donation to the building fund of the Alfred E. Flynn VFW Hall for every new veteran homeowner who signs up, as the VFW membership works to rebuild New Orleans only remaining VFW Hall. While most VFW Halls are experiencing a decline in membership, Post 8973 is the fastest growing VFW Hall in the country. Once 30 veteran homeowners have gone solar, PosiGen will donate a 6 kw solar panel system to the VFW Hall, located on Lyons Street Uptown.

Plus this. Honore is doing local TV touting rooftop solar panels with a bunch of obvious talking points…

Lt. General Russel L. Honorè Supports Solar Energy

Lt. General Russel L. Honore speaks with WWLTV about the benefits of #solarenergy. Naturally, he only has good things to report!

Posted by PosiGen on Wednesday, June 22, 2016

That’s from PosiGen’s Facebook page.

And yet Tait says it’s “without evidence” that West makes the accusation.

It might have been better for the cause of EPI and its pals in the solar industry (who almost assuredly fund those “environmental foundations” EPI is fed from) if Tait hadn’t bothered to dump out that text from West. Maybe he thought that was going to make Entergy’s Number Two man look bad, but from this end it sure looks like West was on to something.

Honore ought to answer the question: who’s paying for the Green Army, and how much? If the EPI’s of the world are going to hit elected officials with public records requests, which is unobjectionable even if it’s inconvenient for them, perhaps they ought to be equally as forthcoming and disclose where their own funding comes from.

Because if this is just another paying gig for General Stuck On Stupid, that’s information the public deserves.

 



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