DENVER—Colorado’s so-called grassroots anti-fracking effort is being funded by a shadowy network of wealthy left-wing donors in California, New York and Washington, D.C., according to a Senate report released Wednesday.
The explosive report, “How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA,” highlights Colorado’s anti-fracking movement as an example of how rich philanthropists are funding behind the scenes the national environmental agenda.
“The members of this elite liberal club funnel their fortunes through private foundations to execute their personal political agenda, which is centered around restricting the use of fossil fuels in the United States,” said the report.
The findings were issued by the Republican minority staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which oversees the EPA.
Critics have long tried to figure out who’s behind Colorado’s anti-fracking campaigns, given that their high-quality websites, professional campaign materials and organizational expertise don’t appear to be entirely the work of cash-poor local volunteers.
According to the report, three powerful foundations—the Schmidt Family Foundation in California, the Park Foundation in New York and the Tides Foundation in California—are funneling money to left-wing environmental activists in Colorado through charitable non-profits.
The foundations contribute to the non-profit Food & Water Watch, which then passes along funding to Frack Free CO and Local Control Colorado, said the report. Both Colorado groups are non-profits and not required to disclose their donors.
“That money trail starts with a select group of the most active environmental foundations, flows through intermediary public charities referred to as pass-throughs and fiscal sponsors, and ends up within the coffers of activist groups who enact the proscribed agenda,” says the 67-page report. “A close knit network deeply entrenched in the far-left environmental movement facilitates the whole process.”
Kelly Giddens, a spokeswoman for Local Control Colorado who was previously with the Fort Collins anti-fracking campaign, rejected the characterization.
“LCC is just a group formed by the leaders of the groups who led successful local campaigns for moratoria on fracking last fall. No big greens,” said Giddens in an email.
Local Control Colorado dropped its petition for a statewide anti-fracking initiative in May, opting instead to back the efforts of Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, who’s attempting to qualify two anti-fracking measures for the Nov. 4 ballot.
Coloradans for Local Control, founded by the multi-millionaire Polis, was not mentioned in the report.
“Sorry–wish there was something juicy here,” Giddens said. “We’re just a collection of moms, dads and grandparents trying to do our due diligence with respect to promoting common sense protections in our local communities for the sake of public health and safety.”
Michael Sandoval, energy policy analyst for the Independence Institute, said that the report’s “catalog of various foundations and radical activists finds a confluence in Colorado.”
“New York-based anti-fracking efforts moved to Colorado in 2013 in order to pass anti-fracking legislation,” said Sandoval. “Groups like Frack Free CO and Local Control Colorado were nothing more than fronts for out-of-state dark money power plays with seasoned eco-left veterans at the helm.”
The report also charges the Obama administration with installing “an audacious green-revolving door among senior officials at EPA,” who direct federal grant money to their former colleagues in the environmental movement.
Under President Obama, the EPA has given more than $27 million to environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund, said the report.