From Russia with Love—to American Degrowthers



By Bob Bennett


The sea in which swim environmental advocacy groups, their donors, Democrats and the Obama Administration is much larger and deeper than the public knows.

In a Washington Free Beacon article, Lachlan Markay traces a shadowy web of environmental groups; a major donor, the Sea Change Foundation; its president, billionaire Nat Simons; Congress and Obama’s mission of war on fossil fuels. And that web may also include business concerns in a foreign nation.

The article tells us that Nat Simons “was a major supporter of both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, personally maxing out to both in addition to five-figure contributions to organs of the Democratic Party.”

But Simons is not just a well-heeled Daddy Warbucks for enviro-groups and Democrats; he’s “a hedge fund manager, [and] also provides venture capital for … green energy companies through … VC firm, Prelude Ventures.”

“Policies advanced by Simons and … Sea Change …, which he runs with his wife Laura, would benefit green energy companies such as those backed by Prelude,” reports Markay.

Prelude invests in cleantech firms, while Simons pushes for greater interference by the federal government in the energy sector—an activity dear to President Obama’s heart. You might recall his statement, “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket…. So, if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, it’ll bankrupt them.”

Cap and Trade failed to pass, but Obama hasn’t given up his goal of crippling America’s energy base—which would indeed cause electricity rates to skyrocket—while debasing the economy and the lifestyle of all Americans. Only now, he seeks to achieve that goal through unconstitutional EPA regulations, under his Clean Power Plan.

Too bad his efforts were dealt a setback when the use of fracking produced an oil glut, causing oil prices here and abroad to plummet. And his effort to leave America’s almost limitless supply of coal in the ground has been slowed by SCOTUS, declaring the plan had not taken cost into account and remanding the case to the DC Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, it would be useful to Obama if nongovernmental organizations could put the brakes on fracking and coal.

Enter the environmental advocacy industry, advancing Obama’s lofty aims while launching green companies which, incestuously, receive government grants.

Prelude’s “website lists 12 companies in its portfolio. Seven of them have received federal grants, loans, contracts, or other government assistance since 2009, when Prelude was founded,” he writes, detailing federal largesse to Prelude-backed companies.

“Obama … featured energy efficiency incentives prominently in his “Climate Action Plan…. exactly the types of projects that Prelude focused on,” Markay writes.

What’s a president to do, to make America abandon ever-cheaper fossil fuels for more expensive green alternatives? The problem is, green-energy firms cannot make a profit without charging far more than fossil-fuel companies. Government tries to help, with taxpayer funds.

“Synergy between Simons’ political and business activities is emblematic of a sector of the economy that has come to rely on government handouts and other incentives for the adoption of otherwise uncompetitive technology, according to William Yeatman, a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.” But infusions of government cash can only do so much.

Prelude’s Managing Director Gabriel Kra had an interesting but spurious theory. “’Why is coal cheap? Why is oil cheap? Because the effect isn’t factored into the price,’ Kra said. ‘If you force people to factor that in, you’ve done a good job.’” [Emphasis added.]

That is confusing. Maybe because no valid science has established that there is an effect—any more than breathing has an effect—other than keeping you alive.

This dilemma also troubled another of Prelude’s managing directors, Tim Woodward. He “made it clear in a 2013 interview that raising the price of carbon-based fuels would improve the firm’s business prospects given its heavy investments in energy efficiency technology.”

What a novel strategy! A grocer across the street from a supermarket won’t do well, because he can’t reduce his prices below those of his larger competitor. Why can’t he simply make his competitor’s prices higher?

Because he can’t. But government can do that.

A carbon tax could make energy from fossil fuels more expensive. Nat Simons’s Sea Change “was one of five left-wing foundations that “invested substantially in pursuing a cap-and-trade policy,” says Lachlan Markay, “according to a report on environmental advocacy commissioned by the liberal Rockefeller Family Fund.”

Simons and his wife even hired a lobbyist, a former aide to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to push for the cap-and-trade bill. But it failed.

After that, “Simons … poured money into the coffers of environmentalist groups that … support ‘putting a price on carbon’ in some form.” Markay provides a long list of leftist environmental groups that, he says, “have explicitly called for such a policy.” He writes that Sea Change contributed over $173 million to those and other similar groups.

But there’s a mystery. Where does Sea Change get its money from? Markay reveals that in 2010 and 2011 Sea Change received donations of 23 million, from “a Bermuda-based company called Klein Ltd., which nobody knows much about. Simons and his wife, along with Klein Ltd. are Sea Change’s sole donors, Markay says. In another article, He delves into Klein Ltd. a little deeper. It starts off with a jolt:

“A shadowy Bermudan company that has funneled tens of millions of dollars to anti-fracking environmentalist groups in the United States is run by executives with deep ties to Russian oil interests and offshore money laundering schemes involving members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.”

No one seems to know where Klein Ltd.’s money comes from, Markay tells us. “Its only publicly documented activities have been transfers of $23 million to U.S. environmentalist groups that push policies that would hamstring surging American oil and gas production, which has hurt Russia’s energy-reliant economy.”

Nicholas Hoskins is a director at Klein Ltd. and also a director “at a hedge fund management firm that has invested heavily in Russian oil and gas.” He’s also “senior counsel at the Bermudan law firm Wakefield Quin.”

“Simons himself has ties to Klein Ltd. Several Wakefield Quin attorneys are listed as directors of hedge funds that his firm manages, and in which Sea Change has assets.”

We know the American Left has an interest in, shall we say, “damaging America’s viability”? But who would suspect that another nation might have an interest in destroying our fracking-generated energy independence? So the next time you hear the ubiquitous clamoring to stop fracking, know that it might be connected to certain Russian oil concerns.

“As many as 20 companies and investment funds with ties to the Russian government are Wakefield Quin clients. Many list the firm’s address on official documentation. Klein Ltd. also shares that address,” writes Lachlan Markay, “Experts say the links between Russian oil interests, secretive foreign political donors, and high-profile American environmentalists suggest Russia may be backing anti-fracking efforts in the United States.

“A number of … employees of Wakefield Quin have worked in some capacity for companies or investment funds owned by or tied to Russian state-owned corporations and high-level officials in the country,” or “have ties to Russian oil and gas companies.”

The collusion between government and environmentalists is sometimes even more direct.

The Wall Street Journal reported on December 19th:

“The Energy & Environment Legal Institute has obtained government emails that show the EPA secretly worked with environmental lobbyists to craft its Clean Power Plan regulating greenhouse gases. The emails show this secret alliance designed a standard that would be impossible or economically ruinous for existing coal plants to meet—in order to force their closure.

One, from the Sierra Club, to Michael Goo, EPA’s then-associate administrator of policy, suggested a strategy for the EPA to exploit an “ambiguity” in the law—Sierra’s word—to “shutter existing coal plants,” as the WSJ put it.

“The emails, obtained through FOIA requests, show that … environmentalists essentially wrote the [EPA] rule.”

The WH is pushing technologies that could never replace fossil fuels and also preserve America’s economic power and quality of life. And Obama’s plan to reduce emissions of coal-fired power plants to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 would bankrupt much of the coal industry.

This would be but one step toward profoundly shrinking our economy. The fanatics pushing this call it “degrowth”—a downscaling of production and consumption. “In the last several years, particularly during the Obama administration, the federal government has embraced key elements of the degrowther movement, “Mark Levin tells us; “Degrowthers define their agenda as follows: “Sustainable degrowth is a downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet.”

Naturally, such a change would have devastating effects on America. Unsurprisingly, it would require the elimination of capitalism and a loss of freedom, for who would willingly live with the effects of such a change?

Sure enough, leading degrowther Serge Latouche declares: “A society based on economic contraction cannot exist under capitalism.” As Levin points out, it would require a police state.

Just proceeding with Obama’s carbon regulation proposal would have devastating effects by 2030, according to a report from the Heritage Foundation, triggering:

  • An average annual employment shortfall of nearly 300,000 jobs;
  • A peak employment shortfall of more than 1 million jobs;
  • A loss of more than $2.5 trillion (inflation-adjusted) in aggregate gross domestic product (GDP); and
  • A total income loss of more than $7,000 (inflation-adjusted) per person.

This devastation of America’s economy would result in only a “minuscule [reduction of] global greenhouse gas emissions.” Clearly, the devastation itself is the true goal.

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