Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is running for President of the United States, but that’s not all he’s up to.
He’s also working to upend our energy-spurred prosperity. The Bloomberg Family Foundation, a $7 billion organization of which he is the benefactor has made obstruction of our energy economy its raison d’etre. Bloomberg himself also presides over the board the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, an international alliance of cities whose mayors back his climate and energy approach. Bloomberg is also the chairman emeritus of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the chairman of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). These organizations claim to be nonpartisan arbiters of the climate risk that businesses face, but in reality, they’re controlled almost entirely by the network of hyper-partisan foundations that fuel the environmental left, and their recommendations reflect this. Unfortunately, the disclosure standards established by the SASB have an air of legitimacy that makes them insidious. They are starting to creep into legislation, and if a bill currently in the environmental resources subcommittee were to pass, the recommendations would be used in place of the decisions of the government regulatory agencies whose rightful purview this is.1 This interference is just the tip of Michael Bloomberg’s green influence iceberg. Delving into his foundation’s grantmaking paints the full picture. The Bloomberg Family Foundation is a major cog in influence enterprise we call Big Green, Inc.
Last month, the Institute for Energy Research released the latest update to the Big Green, Inc. database, a project that seeks to shine a light on the whopping sums of money quietly fueling the national environmental lobby and its efforts to restrict affordable, reliable energy.
This update covers 1,583 grants originating from the Heinz Endowments, the Kresge Foundation, and the focus of this article, the Bloomberg Family Foundation.
The Bloomberg Family Foundation supports mainly large national environmental organizations, and does so primarily through million and multi-million dollar grants. From 2012 to 2016 the foundation gave more than $132 million to groups working in the energy and environment space.
These grants were given to groups like the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund for a variety of broad energy-hampering goals. Many of the organizations that Bloomberg funds are advocates for the total abandonment of reliable mineral energy in the near term. These organizations fail to understand the real state of American energy, and do not acknowledge the incredible burden that a significant decrease in energy availability would have on everyday life. Because of the intermittency problem, wind and solar can never truly replace coal, nuclear, and natural gas. Reliable generating capabilities are necessary for the maintenance of our energy economy, not just when the sun shines or the wind blows, but when the energy is needed.
Bloomberg Family Foundation Grants
From 2015 to 2016, the Bloomberg Family Foundation (BFF) gave $4,800,000 to the Energy Foundation, “[t]o support the coordination and expansion of the beyond coal campaign”.The Beyond Coal Campaign, a project of the Sierra Club with partnerships throughout the environmental movement, seeks to close all U.S. coal plants. Its self-described main objective is to, “replace dirty coal with clean energy by mobilizing grassroots activists in local communities to advocate for the retirement of old and outdated coal plants and to prevent new coal plants from being built.” Brazen objectives notwithstanding, the reality is that the reliable baseload power provided by coal cannot be interchanged seamlessly with the intermittent generation of wind and solar.
Natural Resources Defense Council
BFF has also supported the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) with a $1.5 million grant “to reduce carbon pollution”. But what do NRDC efforts to limit carbon pollution look like? According to NRDC, its team of lawyers, scientists, economists, engineers, and activists, is seeking to extend government control of our energy use at all levels of governance: state, local, federal, and international.
NRDC’s advocacy “for deep cuts to carbon pollution by ending our dependence on dangerous, climate-warming fossil fuels” tends to involve a heavy dose of both lobbying and litigation. They claim to “win court cases that allow the federal government to limit carbon pollution from cars and power plants.” What NRDC really means is that they facilitate the reduction of people’s energy choices. The upshot is Bloomberg Family Foundation money is funding NRDC’s full-court press on affordable, reliable energy. Curtailing energy freedom has real impacts on people’s lives that organizations like NRDC tend to intentionally gloss over.
World Resources Institute
BFF also gave $2,950,000 to the World Resources Institute (WRI) in 2015 to “[t]o help governments, businesses and society make better-informed decisions on economic development and climate change”. Unsuprisingly, this organization’s view of climate change mitigation is fundamental economic and lifestyle shifts, so although climate concern may sound moderate and reasonable, in this case it is anything but. Their view is that: “[a]ddressing climate change requires dramatic changes to how we power our homes and factories and build our cities to how we feed our families and move around. Yet countries, businesses, states and cities have yet to make the deep structural economic and societal shifts that are required.” These “shifts” that they talk about are toward more government control of the economy and restriction personal autonomy; they mean less driving, less electricity, less trade, and less freedom. This goal is more about giving the government power over our lives than it is about good stewardship of the resources.
Environmental Defense Fund
The Bloomberg Family Foundation has also given significant amounts of money to the Environmental Defense Fund. One such donation was $100,000 in support of the 2015 Climate Leadership Summit, one of the key gatherings for the big organizations at which outrageous, economically disastrous ideas are generated and circulated. BFF also gave the Environmental Defense Fund $1,509,000 for anti-natural gas initiatives. This includes their state and federal level fights for methane standards, as well as attempts to increase government regulation of air and water. To their credit though, the EDF does acknowledge the role of natural gas in reducing overall U.S. air pollution, and at least does not seek an outright ban on natural gas production.
Without the affordable, readily available energy we now have, much of the modern lifestyle would be deleteriously impacted. Driving, keeping our homes warm, and easily accessing consumer products would all be in jeopardy.
Michael Bloomberg’s and the Bloomberg Family Foundation’s attempts to reinvent our energy mix ignore this reality; to go fully renewable is to go without. Renewables accounted for only 11 percent of U.S. energy consumption in 2018. If that other 89 percent is banned in the next 10, 15, or 20 years, the difference won’t be made up in time to prevent catastrophic negative impacts. Imagine electricity prices that are 10 times their current levels, or possibly much more than that, with widespread reliability issues and serious rationing. That is the reality of 100 percent renewables in the near term, the reality that the Bloomberg Family Foundation is funding.
In his run for president, Michael Bloomberg has echoed the positions of the foundations he funds. His plan for the electricity sector includes plans to “(a)chieve a complete transition from gas to clean energy”, as well as to “embed environmental justice into how the government conducts its work”. “Environmental justice” is all too often a shibboleth for plans to redistribute resources and institute government control. Bloomberg is repeating in his presidential platform the exact same extreme ideas that his foundation has long funded.
Nowhere is this more clear than in his plan for electricity, “Mike will completely phase out emissions in the electricity sector. By 2028, 80% of electricity generation in the U.S. will come from clean sources – moving toward 100% as soon as possible thereafter.” His platform, just like the platforms of the organizations his foundation funds, is attempting to convince the public that a near term renewable energy transition is feasible, despite the economic and technical realities.
1 IER’s Director of Policy, Kenny Stein, testified before Congress on issues associated with the Transparency in Energy Act of 2020. His testimony can be viewed below.