Foundation for Clean Air Progress

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

The Foundation for Clean Air Progress (FCAP) describes itself as "a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that was formed in 1995 to provide public education and information about air quality progress." The organization states on its website that its "message is fact-based and derived from U.S. EPA data" and that its "tips for clearing the air are comprised from those advocated by the American Lung Association, EPA and other environmental and health advocacy organizations." [1]

Industry Front Group

FCAP is a front group. John Byrne Berry wrote in "Environmentalists, Industry Face Off Over EPA Limits On Smog, Soot" for the Sierra Club's March 1997 newsletter that, "[i]n addition to using the traditional tactics of a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign, like hiring doctors and economists to write reports saying tougher standards are unnecessary, industry is also creating front groups to give the appearance of a grassroots movement. The American Petroleum Institute, for example, has hired a public relations firm to run the Foundation for Clean Air Progress, a scientific think tank that conveniently excludes scientists whose work proves the need for tougher standards."

FCAP is one of several "industry and corporate sponsored coalitions that also profess to care about the environment - particularly when it affects their bottom lines," Marion Currinder wrote in the July 15, 1997, Capital Eye newsletter.

In the August 24, 1997, Albion Monitor, James Terry included the FCAP among "a number of groups [that] has emerged from the shadows of private-sector power to fight the EPA on behalf of the moneymen in polluting industries."

"They are waging an intense lobbying and PR campaign to prevent cleaner air from becoming a reality. The campaign relies on stealth and obfuscation, and involves the usual assortment of dishonest ads, phony front groups with Orwellian names (in Florida the Florida Coalition for Clean Air is opposing cleaner air), scientists-for-hire and mega-dollar PR flacks," Terry wrote. "The Foundation for Clean Air Progress, which is opposed to clean air progress. The foundation is a creation of the American Petroleum Institute and PR agency behemoth (and veteran green-washer) Burson-Marsteller. Members include such notable tree-huggers as the Asphalt Institute and the American Trucking Associations."

David Cromwell wrote in "The Propaganda Model: An Overview" (excerpted from Private Planet, 2002):

"In her 1997 book Global Spin, Sharon Beder documented at great length the operations of corporations and their hired PR firms in establishing grassroots 'front movements' to counter the gains made by environmentalists. One such coalition, the Foundation for Clean Air Progress, is 'in reality a front for transportation, energy, manufacturing and agricultural groups'. The Foundation was established to challenge the US Clean Air Act by 'educating' the public about the progress made in air quality over the previous twenty-five years. As Beder notes, the Foundation's 'focus is on individual responsibility for pollution, as opposed to the regulation of industry to achieve further improvements.' The threat - real or imagined - of law-suits can be a powerful deterrent to media investigation."

In 2001, Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber wrote in PRWatch:

"Burson-Marsteller is also behind a deceptively-named group called the 'Foundation for Clean Air Progress' (FCAP). Judging from its name, you might think that FCAP supports measures to control air pollution. In fact, it was formed specifically to pressure the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to adopt tougher air pollution controls. The Washington Post reported on June 17, 1997 that FCAP participates in a 'multimillion-dollar campaign to turn back EPA regulations for smog and soot. ... The nerve center behind the attack is a coalition of more than 500 businesses and trade groups that calls itself the Air Quality Standards Coalition. Created specifically to battle the clean air proposals, the coalition operates out of the offices of the National Association of Manufacturers, a Washington-based trade group. Its leadership includes top managers of petroleum, automotive and utility companies as well as longtime Washington insiders such as C. Boyden Gray, a counsel to former president George Bush. The same industries would likely bear the brunt of the costs for the new regulations, which the EPA estimates at more than $ 6 billion a year. ... Exxon, a member of the coalition, recently sent notices to its credit card customers urging them to oppose the EPA regulations. Other companies helped pay for TV and newspapers ads produced by the Foundation for Clean Air Progress, a nonprofit institute funded by energy, transportation and manufacturing companies that operates out of the offices of the public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller.'
"According to Frank O'Donnell, executive director of a genuine environmental group called the Clean Air Trust, FCAP 'was formed to distract the public from the dangers of air pollution. It tries to ignore the fact that air pollution--much of it produced by the foundation's financial backers--is still linked to tens of thousands of premature deaths a year.' O'Donnell noted that FCAP's members are also major sources of greenhouse gases (U.S. Newswire, March 16, 1998).
"The Tennessean reported on July 14, 1996 that FCAP was 'made up of 20 organizations' including 'the American Petroleum Institute, Petroleum Marketers Association of America, American Trucking Associations, American Farm Bureau Federation and the Transportation Coalition for Clean Air. ... The foundation itself is not listed with Washington, D.C., telephone directory assistance. Burson-Marsteller staffers answer calls made to a number listed in a handout.'"

Address

In 1999, the Foundation for Clean Air Progress's address was 1801 K Street NW, Suite 1000L, Washington, DC 20006. [2]

Contact Information

Foundation for Clean Air Progress
601 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
North Building, Suite 540
Washington, D.C. 20004
Website: http://www.cleanairprogress.org
Email: info AT cleanairprogress.org

External links

Reports

Articles & Commentary