American Energy Alliance

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

The American Energy Alliance (AEA) was founded in 2008 by Thomas Pyle, who previously lobbied on behalf of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association and Koch Industries and who previously worked for Congressman Tom Delay (R-TX), when Delay served as Whip and before Delay, as House Majority Leader, stepped down from the U.S. House of Representatives under an ethical cloud.

AEA states that its aim is to "create a climate that encourages the advancement of free market energy policies" and in particular ensure drilling for oil is allowed in the Artic National Wildlife refuge and in US coastal waters.[1]

On its website it lists the Institute for Energy Research (IER) as a "partner" organization and states that it is the "grassroots arm" of IER.[2] AEA states that, by "communicating IER’s decades of scholarly research to the grassroots, AEA will empower citizens with facts so that people who believe in freedom can reclaim the moral high ground in the national public policy debates in the energy and environmental arena."[3]

Koch Connection

The Koch Brothers are the conservative billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.

Funding

Since 2008, AEA has been established as a 501c4 non profit group, whose focus is lobbying, but it does not disclose who its funders are.[4] AEA's IRS form 990 filings for the year 2008 are not available for review on Guidestar.

AEA's allied organization, the Institute for Energy Research, is also led by Thomas Pyle.[5] IER received $95,000 from ExxonMobil in 2007 and $65,000 the year before, but the organization has said that ExxonMobil is no longer a funder.[6] IER has also received donations from the Brown Foundation, which was started by the founders of the construction and energy company Brown & Root; the Searle Freedom Trust, funded by the late conservative philanthropist Daniel Searle; and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is run by executives of Koch Industries, a major company in the petroleum refining industry and one of the main funders of Americans for Prosperity.[7] According to NPR, Wayne Gable, who lobbied for Koch Industries along with Pyle, is on the board of both IER and AEA.[8] IER has been active in questioning global warming, suggesting that Al Gore and others are "climate alarmists," and acting as a climate skeptic while defending climate deniers.[9]

AEA shares the same address as IER in Washington, DC. IER also has an office in Houston, Texas, which is listed as 1415 S. Voss Rd., Suite 110-287, Houston, Texas 77057, Phone: (713) 974-1918, which is the same address as the UPS store for postal boxes.[10]

History

AEA was incorporated in 2008. It has the same name as a group that was founded in 1993 to defeat a Btu tax;[11] however, the new AEA is a completely distinct corporate entity from the prior AEA, which is apparently defunct. The new and separate organization called "AEA" is not focused on Btu taxes but instead is focused on cap and trade and drilling issues primarily. While the confusion caused by sharing the same name is understandable, the organizations are not the same.

The other, unrelated, AEA was the subject of controversy back in June 1993 after Time magazine reported that the National Manufacturers Association "got together with the American Petroleum Institute, 1,600 large companies, small businesses and farmers to form the American Energy Alliance (AEA), a group designed solely to defeat the BTU tax. The coalition paid more than $1 million to Burson-Marsteller, a public relations firm, to deploy nearly 45 staff members in 23 states during the past two months. Burson's goal was to drum up as much grass-roots outrage about the BTU tax as possible and direct it at the swing Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee..."[12]

Controversy

Obama and gas prices

In March 2012, American Energy Alliance launched a $3.6 million ad campaign in eight states, tying Obama's decision on the Keystone XL pipeline to higher gas prices, and recycling a 2008 quote from Energy Secretary Steven Chu about the benefits of European-level gas prices.[13]

Udall and drilling

In July 2008, the current entity called AEA sponsored radio advertisements in New Mexico, attacking congressman Tom Udall, who is now a U.S Senator, for his opposition to oil drilling. The New Mexico Independent noted that "Information on the group is hard to come by. There are no online Federal Energy Regulatory Commission filings, no Internal Revenue Service filings and no way to contact the group."[14] The group has a new address, however, which is provided below. (AEA also ran ads against Udall's cousin, Mark Udall, who is now a U.S. Senator representing Colorado.)

References

  1. "Mission Statement", American Energy Alliance website, accessed October 2008
  2. American Energy Alliance American Energy Alliance website, accessed October 2008.
  3. "Mission Statement", American Energy Alliance website, accessed October 2008.
  4. "Funding", American Energy Alliance website, accessed October 2008.
  5. Will Evans, "New Group Tied To Oil Industry Runs Ads Promoting Drilling, Attacking Democrat", NPR, September 22, 2008.
  6. Id.
  7. Id.
  8. Id.
  9. E.g., Robert L. Bradley, Jr., "Global Warming Policy Perils," Washington Times, Jan. 16, 2007, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/jan/16/20070116-085702-9753r/.
  10. http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/The.UPS.Store.Houston.TX.713-952-5332
  11. Michael Duffy (June 21, 1993). "I Hear You, I Hear You", Time. Retrieved on August 1, 2008. 
  12. Id.
  13. Kenneth Vogel, "Kochs linked to $3.6M anti-Obama gas price ad campaign," Politico, March 29, 2012.
  14. Matthew Reichbach (July 23, 2008). "Ad Watch: Pro-drilling group airs ads against Udall", New Mexico Independent. Retrieved on August 1, 2008. 

Contact Information

American Energy Alliance
1100 H Street, NW
Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202.621.2940
Email: info AT energydc.org Website: American Energy Alliance