At the height of the Jack Abramoff scandal, the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) became notorious as the sponsor of several of Abramoff’s overseas junkets. It also emerged that the group had served for years as a front for both Abramoff’s clients and other corporate interests, such as Philip Morris.
NCPRR has been known in particular as an active recipient of funding from ExxonMobil. It opposed action on global warming at the 1997 Kyoto summit and in 2002 created the Envirotruth website, which attempted to equate environmental activists like Greenpeace with terrorists.
Now NCPPR is in the ironic position of arguing against climate change legislation on the grounds that “the ‘Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act’ introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) favors corporate interests over our national interest.”
In a Friday press release, NCPPR’s Free Enterprise Project claims that the plan to “hand out free emissions allowances that are worth billions of dollars … opens the door for a behind-the-scenes lobbying fest that will reward well connected companies while looting taxpayers.”
Mimicking the rhetoric of progressive activists, the press release claims “It’s clear the only winners with cap-and-trade will be the lobbyists, CEOs and their environmental allies. The bill represents a huge transfer of wealth in the amount of hundreds of billions of dollars to industry. While the Washington elite benefit, the rest of America will end up paying the cost through higher energy prices, slower economic growth and sending jobs overseas.”
NCPPR’s history makes it clear that this seemingly populist rhetoric should be taken with a substantial grain of salt and that the only real question is who might be behind this latest effort. With several corporations having recently quit the United States Chamber of Commerce over its diehard opposition to climate change legislation, however, the list of possible funders might be a short one. Even ExxonMobil now supports some sort of climate change action, although it prefers a flat “carbon tax” to the cap-and-trade system.
An alternative possibility would involve a number of the groups backing the tea party rallies, such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Citizens Against Government Waste, and the Institute of Liberty. All of these were also part of something called NoClimateTax.com and all are connected with the same loose network of free market, anti-regulation groups as NCPPR.