Environmental Policy Alliance

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The Environmental Policy Alliance is a front group operated by the PR firm Berman & Co. The firm operates a network of dozens of front groups, attack-dog web sites, and alleged think tanks that work to counteract minimum wage campaigns, keep wages low for restaurant workers, and to block legislation on food safety, secondhand cigarette smoke, drunk driving, and more.

The Environmental Policy Alliance describes itself as "devoted to uncovering the funding and hidden agendas behind environmental activist groups and exploring the intersection between activists and government agencies." It is a project of the Center for Organizational Research and Education (CORE) and consists of several sub-front groups, including Big Green Radicals, EPA Facts, Green Decoys, and LEED Exposed.[1]

According to the watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the Environmental Policy Alliance "attacks environmental advocacy groups and fights against environmental regulation by the government."[2]

The organization shares a mailing address with notorious lobbyist and front-group operator Richard Berman and his firm. Research analyst Anastasia Swearingen, who has published materials on behalf of the Environmental Policy Alliance and its projects, has previously worked for other Berman-associated organizations Center for Consumer Freedom and the American Beverage Institute and is a Berman & Co. employee.[3]

EPA Releases Video Criticizing Bill McKibben and a Global Day of Action for Climate Change

Breaking Up with Fossil Fuels is Hard to Do

Richard Berman and his front group the Environmental Policy Alliance released a video entitled "Breaking Up With Fossil Fuels is Hard to Do" on February 10, 2015 on the website of Big Green Radicals, another Berman front group.[4] The video is an attack on Bill McKibben and 350.org's movement to divest from fossil fuels. The Center for Media and Democracy's PRWatch noted, "Although it is not known who specifically bankrolled the video, it was being promoted online by Independent Petroleum Association of America, the Institute for Energy Research, the American Energy Alliance, and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, ad groups and trade associations representing fossil fuel interests.[5]

EPA Facts Attacks New Obama Administration Regulations

On June 2 and 3, 2014, EPA Facts, a project of Berman & Co's Environmental Policy Alliance, ran full page ads in both Politico and USA Today in reaction to the Obama administration's announcement of new federal rules limiting carbon emissions from the nation's existing power plants. The ad insinuates the regulations threaten to shut down 25 percent of the United States' electric grid and compares the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to terrorists, saying:

"What would you call a radical organization that threatens to shut down 25 percent of our electric grid?"

It lists "anarchist," "militia," and "terrorist" -- all struck out -- and leaves "Obama’s EPA."

"Obama's Environmental Protection Agency has issued regulations that threaten to shut down about 25 percent of the energy that powers America's electric grid. With radicals like this in power, who needs enemies?"[6]

Big Green Radicals Attacks Colorado Anti-Fracking Groups

In May 2014, Big Green Radicals launched a PR campaign against various Colorado groups seeking to block fracking in the state, calling it "ground zero" in the fracking debate. BGR sought to define the groups -- including the Colorado branches of Food & Water Watch, Water Defense, and Sierra Club, as well as Americans Against Fracking and Artists Against Fracking -- as astroturf organizations, groups that claim to be grassroots but are really primarily created by special interests.[7]

Big Green Radicals further asserted that these "extreme groups, mostly based far from Colorado in San Francisco, New York, or Washington D.C., are spending millions and spreading their anti-science message to scare voters into approving ballot measures in November to send the oil and gas industry (and the jobs and affordable energy it provides) packing from the Centennial State."[7]

In addition to its attack on these anti-fracking groups, BGR rebuked Colorado Congressman Jared Polis as the "poster boy" for the anti-fracking movement.[7]

At a June 2014 Western Energy Alliance event including representatives from Anadarko Petroleum,[8] Halliburton Company, ExxonMobil, Devon Energy, and Noble Energy,[9] Berman himself told the gathered fracking executives they "must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against the environmental groups" opposed to fracking, according to the New York Times, which obtained leaked audio of the speech. "And major corporations secretly financing such a campaign should not worry about offending the general public because 'you can either win ugly or lose pretty,' he said."[8]

"Think of this as an endless war," Berman told the group. "And you have to budget for it."[8]

Berman "offered companies a way to anonymously target their environmental foes -- at a cost of as much as $3 million" just to fight Colorado's proposed fracking bans according to Bloomberg, which also obtained the audio. And that $2 to $3 million "would be spent in addition to the 'positive campaign' companies were running," he said.[9]

According to Bloomberg, Berman "played an advertisement that showed one activist blaming fracking for his overeating and another for the fact that his sock-puppet, Mr. Snuggles, was ignoring him. The ad was posted online and ran on television a few weeks later, according to a Denver Post article."[9]

"What people always want to do is they want to know who funds me so they can attack the funder," Berman told the Western Energy Alliance. "We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors."[9]

Attack on Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club, and NRDC

On March 6, 2014, the Environmental Policy Alliance ran a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal attacking Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as "big green radicals" and announced its new website, BigGreenRadicals.com[10] Food & Water Watch responded with a blog post saying:

"He's been called an 'arch-enemy of do-gooders' by 60 Minutes. Thanks to his orchestration of massive corporate PR campaigns using 'deceptive corporate front groups' to discredit public interest efforts, he’s earned the nickname 'Dr. Evil.'
"And now, thanks to our outsized effectiveness in relation to our relatively small budget, he's targeting us.
"We're honored to be called one of the 'Big Green Radicals' by notorious corporate lobbyist Rick Berman through his apparent latest astroturf operation, the Environmental Policy Alliance, a 'project of the Center for Organizational Research Education.' Ever heard of it? We hadn't either. After doing a bit of digging, we found out that the Center for Organizational Research Education was recently known as the Center for Consumer Freedom led by the head of Berman & Co. -- Rick Berman."[11]

Contact

The Environmental Policy Alliance
1090 Vermont Ave., NW Suite 800
Washington, DC 20005

Phone: (202) 420-7875
Website: http://www.BigGreenRadicals.com

Resources and Articles

Related SourceWatch Articles

Other Berman Front Groups

References

  1. Environmental Policy Alliance, "Home Page," group website, accessed February 20, 2014.
  2. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Berman Exposed.org, organizational project website, accessed June 12, 2014.
  3. Anastasia Swearingen, Mis-LEED-ing green buildings, USA Today, March 12, 2014.
  4. Big Green Radicals, Divest From Fossil Fuels? Not if You Like Your Life, group website, February 10, 2015.
  5. Mary Bottari, Richard Berman Goes after Bill McKibben and Global Divestment Day, PRWatch, February 12, 2015.
  6. Environmental Policy Alliance, Full-page Ad Highlights EPA Threat, EPA Facts website, June 2, 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Environmental Policy Alliance, Big Green Radicals Colorado page, BigGreenRadicals.com, accessed June 12, 2014.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Eric Lipton, Hard-Nosed Advice From Veteran Lobbyist: ‘Win Ugly or Lose Pretty’, New York Times, October 30, 2014.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Mark Drajem, Fracking Advocates Urged to Win Ugly by Discrediting Foes, Bloomberg, October 30, 2014.
  10. Big Green Radicals, Big Green Radicals ad, Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2014.
  11. Darcey Rakestraw, Food & Water Watch, Rick Berman Strikes Again With Environmental Policy Alliance, organizational blog, March 6, 2014.