Daniel Turner: Why did wealthy 'green' groups receive coronavirus relief funds from taxpayers?

Thanks to taxpayers, environmental groups didn't have to make tough financial decisions because of the pandemic

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Editor’s note: A previous version of this op-ed erroneously cited the groups Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club as having received federal funds through the Paycheck Protection Program. Fox News regrets the error.

Americans are desperate for economic opportunity. Since the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent economic shutdown, as many as 40 million jobs have been lost and more than 100,000 small businesses have closed forever.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Congress’ central economic response to COVID-19, approved $521 billion in loans to help businesses keep workers on their payrolls. Sadly, instead of helping those Americans who need support the most, a significant portion of that money is being used to fuel political agendas.

Environmental groups are some of the best-financed nonprofits in the country, bringing in millions of dollars each. Still, despite this massive income, about 40 environmental groups split more than $45 million in PPP funds between them.

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Thanks to taxpayer funds, these groups did not have to dip into cash reserves or make difficult financial decisions or cutbacks that many of us, including my organization Power The Future, had to make. Bully for them.

One such “green” group – either “green” because of their environmental work or because they are flush with cash – The Rocky Mountain Institute, employs at least 10 people who make six figures and three who earn more than $300,000. Compare that to the average American income of $48,000.

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The Rocky Mountain Institute is headquartered in Basalt, Colo., where the average home costs more than $730,000. In comparison the average American home price is $226,000.

Rocky Mountain Institute’s headquarters, which they flaunt as a “deep green” office building, cost over $13 million to build. Each employee has an electric, heated chair, which cost $1,900. Their board chair is also the managing partner of Fahr LLC, the umbrella entity for former Democratic presidential candidate and billionaire Tom Steyer’s business, policy, political and philanthropic efforts.

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This is the company that needed up to $5 million in PPP funds?

We should see what these groups do – after all they did take taxpayer funding.

The Michigan branch of the League of Conservation Voters, which received PPP funds, is registering people to vote, promoting Joe Biden’s campaign and endorsing Democrat politicians. According to their latest tax filing, the League generated over $60 million in revenue.

With so much cash, why did the Michigan branch need taxpayer funds? It’s simple: the national group is busy endorsing Biden and spending $14 million to support his election effort. Thanks, taxpayers. 

The Sierra Club is actively promoting Biden’s disastrous and untenable energy plan. They have the bandwidth because the taxpayers ponied up payroll through the PPP.

Did you get PPE funds so you could promote Joe Biden’s campaign?

The jobs of these green groups is to provide cover for the radical Green New Deal, brainchild of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., which would cost the typical America household a minimum of $74,287 in its first year of implementation, and then at least $40,000 every year after that.

Green groups are willing to implement their politically driven agendas no matter the cost, and that’s because they can afford it. 

Green groups are willing to implement their politically driven agendas no matter the cost, and that’s because they can afford it. They’re detached from the real America, where families are struggling in search of jobs.

Environmental groups advocate for policies that are responsible for low-income areas and minorities paying more for energy, and advocate for energy programs that "mainly benefit the wealthy," according to studies from UC Berkeley and UCLA, respectively. These are energy consumers who are now predominantly unemployed and have difficulties making ends meet financially. Yet, while promoting policies that are increasing families’ bills in low-income areas, environmental groups have been receiving millions of dollars from the government despite their deep pockets.

Earlier this month, these same organizations actively worked to cancel the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, a 600-mile channel to carry fracked gas from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina. The termination of this project directly cost 17,000 jobs and $2.7 billion in economic activity and growth. I wonder if the activists in their New York or San Francisco offices even think of the lives in rural America they’ve ruined. Then again, people with $1,900 heated chairs aren’t probably thinking about anyone but themselves.

The fossil fuel industry generates trillions of dollars in tax revenue. Green nonprofits have now been awarded some of that money so they could do their activism and think lofty thoughts in air-conditioned buildings in expensive neighborhoods. They get to engage in politics without spending their own money, run pro-Biden ads without dipping into reserves, and push a socialist agenda without having to pay for it.  It’s brazen and hypocritical, but much of the green agenda is.

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Green activists should know the very funds they received were generated by those who actually work for a living. Men and women who produce something of value and contribute to the economy.

Next time these groups are low on funds they should do what we have all done: prioritize finances, cut back spending, make adjustments and, rather than take taxpayer money to destroy the jobs of taxpayers, maybe sell their fancy chairs instead.

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