March 17, 2023


Republican Operatives Are Astroturfing Opposition to Solar Power (Molly Taft, February 21, 2023, Gizmodo)

Several grassroots groups opposed to solar projects in local areas may have one thing in common: a Virginia-based group with powerful GOP connections advising them on strategy. National Public Radio and environmental news collective Floodlight published an expose Friday on a group called Citizens for Responsible Solar, a nonprofit founded in 2019, and its substantial influence in fighting renewable energy across the country--and connections to polluters and prominent climate deniers.

The group, according to its website, says its purpose is to "advocate for responsible solar policies that balance the demand for renewable energy with the interests of counties and their residents." But as NPR reports, the founder of Citizens for Responsible Solar, Susan Ralston, has a long resume in GOP politics and relationships with conservative heavy-hitters--she worked for both George W. Bush and Karl Rove. For her anti-solar groups work, Ralston has hired staff members and consultants with similarly strong ties to GOP political figures and dark money groups, including Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

And it looks like Ralston was being paid well by parties with a vested interest in not seeing renewable energy projects succeed. According to NPR, her consulting firm, SBR Enterprises Inc, received almost $300,000 between 2018 and 2020 from the Paul E. Singer Foundation, the charitable giving outlet of wealthy venture capitalist Paul Singer. Singer's investment firm is the largest shareholder of coal company Peabody Energy...

Leading Denier Think Tank Uses AI Image of Dead Whale and Wind Turbines (Molly Taft, 3/16/23, Gizmodo)

Readers of the daily email newsletter of one of the country's leading right-wing, fossil fuel-funded think tanks were treated to a bizarre sight this week: an AI-generated image of a dead whale washed ashore on a beach in front of wind turbines, above a fearmongering story about offshore wind. Unfortunately, what is isolated to one newsletter today could spread around the right-wing ecosystem tomorrow.

I cover climate and read breaking news about renewable energy every day; if there were a real photo of a dead whale in front of a wind farm like this, chances are I would have seen it. Still, the image gave me a jump when I opened the email from the Texas Public Policy Foundation. For a moment, I wondered if I'd somehow missed a huge story about a dead humpback that had washed ashore in front of a wind farm.

The story under the image is old hat for this particular newsletter. The Texas Public Policy Foundation, or TPPF, is one of the leaders in the national right-wing push against renewable energy--specifically against offshore wind. Despite its location in Texas, the group has lent its sizable financial muscle to anti-offshore wind efforts on the East Coast, joining a lawsuit against a project filed by local fishermen and creating an entire movie about the evils of wind energy.

The image is at least recognizably an AI generation: there's the tell-tale uncanny valley nature of the pattern of the debris of the beach, and the blades of the wind turbines are, well, bendy, in a way that you certainly don't see in real life. The biggest giveaway is the DALL-E generator watermark at the lower right hand corner of the image. When I plugged in various search terms, like "beached dead humpback whale in front of offshore wind turbines" into the DALL-E generator, I got images that looked a lot like what was at the top of my newsletter. (Some of mine were much better, not gonna lie.)

Posted by at March 17, 2023 7:27 AM