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Fossil advocates: Climate activists outspend and have greater influence on U.S. energy policy

Ceres is just one organization of many well-funded groups advancing the climate agenda. Besides global environmental organizations, there is considerable funding from powerful ideological billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Michael Bloomberg.

Published: December 2, 2023 11:28pm

Ceres, a growing nonprofit committed to combating global warming and advancing an energy transition away from fossil fuels, is gaining more attention over concerns about its influence on financial institutions and federal policy. In 2021, the group brought in $44 million in total revenue, an 81% increase from 2020. It ended 2021 with over $45 million in assets, an increase of 164% since 2017.

Critics say the amount of financial might connected to the group shows that, contrary to climate activists’ claims that “big oil” has the outsized influence on energy policy, the power appears to be more in the hands of those supporting a climate agenda that will eliminate fossil fuels.

The scrutiny of Ceres includes a House Committee on the Judiciary investigation into possible violation of antitrust laws and a scathing report published last summer by a consumer advocacy organization.

Last month, the American Energy Institute (AEI), an education nonprofit that advocates for energy and environmental policies that promote economic freedom, released its own report on Ceres.

Since its founding in 1989 following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, Ceres has established an extensive investor network, which includes over 220 institutional investors who manage over $48 trillion in assets. Besides asset management firms, Ceres’ network includes investors from public pension funds, foundations and endowments, the report details.

In 2021, the group brought in $44 million in total revenue, an 81% increase from 2020. It ended 2021 with over $45 million in assets, an increase of 164% since 2017.

Jason Isaac, the founder and CEO of the AEI, told Fox News Digital that Ceres is driving the climate agenda through its relationships with wealthy investment firms and big corporations. “They just happen to be profiting very handsomely from their advocacy, so they feel good about it. I call it a cult. It has become their religion,” Isaac said.

Since 2018, Ceres has spent $1.38 million in lobbying expenditures, including pushing climate policy and tax incentives in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, which provide extensive subsidies for electric vehicles, a hydrogen buildout, transmission lines, and wind and solar projects, according to the AEI report.

American Energy Institute Board member Steve Milloy, a senior legal fellow with the Energy and Environmental Legal Institute and publisher of JunkScience.com, told Just The News that Ceres is just one of many well-funded groups advancing the climate agenda. Besides global environmental organizations, there are also wealthy and powerful individuals like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Michael Bloomberg. “It's literally trillions and trillions of dollars,” Milloy said.

Bloomberg, for example, has made commitments of $1 billion through his philanthropy entity toward a campaign to get rid of coal-fired power plants and block the building of new natural-gas fired power plants. Milloy said that the influence on policy has propped up the renewable industry while making it difficult for the oil, gas and coal industries, which still manage to operate profitably despite an unfriendly regulatory environment.  

“We don't really have an energy market anymore. Fossil fuel burning has been made pointlessly more expensive. Wind and solar have been subsidized for decades, and they still don't work,” Milloy said.

Tim Stewart, president of the U.S. Oil and Gas Association, told Just The News that the AEI report confirms what many in Washington D.C. already know. “The green lobby, or ‘Big Earth,’ spends far more money trying to influence policy than fossil energy companies do,” Stewart said. “They know this because lawmakers are either on the receiving end of the largesse, or the attacks if they fail to fall into line.”

Stewart added that Jeff Bezos’ Earth Fund is planning to spend $10 billion by 2030 on its climate initiative. MacKenzie Scott, Bezos’ ex-wife, gave an estimated $384 million to environmental causes through her philanthropic organization, Yield Giving.

“A little research shows that the Ceres budget is ten times that of my own association, and by my count, a dozen other smaller oil and gas trade associations as well.  We are exponentially outspent each year. It’s amazing that we have been able to hold the line like we have against the billions” spent in opposition, Stewart said.

Consumers’ Research, a consumer advocacy group, released a report on Ceres this summer, saying “What consumers may not be familiar with is Ceres, a globe spanning pressure group, has worked to cajole and coordinate members of the finance industry into pushing harmful, anti-consumer ‘net zero’ targets at every major public company in the country.”

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, sent a subpoena and letter to Ceres’ CEO Mindy Lubber in May explaining that the House Committee of the Judiciary, which Jordan chairs, is conducting an investigation into the adequacy and enforcement of U.S. antitrust laws. The letter alleges that Ceres appears to facilitate collusion through Climate Action 100+ Initiative, a network of hundreds of investors and companies committed to fighting climate change, which would, if true, violate antitrust laws.

Ceres did not respond to requests for comment on the investigation or the AEI report.

The climate lobby may encounter more scrutiny and opposition in the coming months if the bad news on the renewable energy front continues to pour in. Money-losing offshore wind companies are seeking more subsidies on top of those they already receive, while grid reliability falters, and automakers are pulling back on their EV commitments in the face of slowing consumer demand. 

 

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