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Journalist uncovers sources of well-funded campaign to spread deceit about offshore wind energy: ‘It’s changing voters’ minds’

“They’re certainly making decisions based on what they’re hearing.”

"They're certainly making decisions based on what they're hearing."

Photo Credit: iStock

To perhaps no one’s surprise, it appears large corporations that depend on the production and consumption of dirty energy to earn billions are behind the misinformation that’s making it harder for clean energy projects to get off the ground.

In October 2022, climate journalist Michael Thomas shone a light on the misinformation running rampant through dozens of Facebook groups that were all opposed to clean energy projects, resulting in real and negative impacts on communities and the environment as a whole.

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“It’s changing voters’ minds. It’s changing local policy. And it’s slowing down the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy,” Thomas (@curious_founder) wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

As detailed by CAP 20, it’s not a fluke. The effort to stop the country’s move toward clean energy is well-funded. 

According to the publication, it hasn’t been uncommon for dirty energy companies to give money to national think tanks linked to sham grassroots organizations, known as “astroturf groups.” 

Those groups then work to influence public opinion, per CAP 20. In other words, companies pushing for offshore drilling have an interest in discouraging the use of offshore windmills through misinformation.

An op-ed published in a Delaware newspaper on Nov. 6 is one recent example. 

The article, which was rife with misinformation, described offshore wind as an “environmental wrecking ball,” and it was written by David Stevenson, director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy at the Caesar Rodney Institute, a think tank that works to shift policy in favor of dirty energy, according to CAP 20

It just so happens that CRI recently received thousands of dollars from the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and American Energy Alliance, the outlet reported.

Politicians can also play a role in misleading people about solar and wind energy. 

In September, at a rally in South Carolina, former President Donald Trump claimed that offshore windmills “are causing whales to die in numbers never seen before,” per the BBC.

However, that’s not true. According to the BBC, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration examined about 90 humpback whales that washed up on U.S. beaches since 2016 and found that the No. 1 cause of death was human interaction, which includes their getting tangled in fishing nets or struck by boats. 

The Department of Energy, alongside other government agencies, has addressed the “misinformation” about the whales, and the Associated Press also recently debunked the faulty claims, stating, “Scientists say there is no credible evidence linking offshore wind farms to whale deaths.”

Unfortunately, misinformation has continued to stall or stop clean energy projects. Across much of the U.S., regulations concerning wind or solar farms are made at the local level.

Sarah Mills, who has done extensive sustainability research at the University of Michigan, told NPR in 2022: “These local officials are not necessarily experts in energy. And so when you have people coming and stating things as facts, especially if there’s nobody fact-checking everything, right, it’s difficult. They’re certainly making decisions based on what they’re hearing.”

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