A Colorado electricity cooperative is urging other power groups to support global warming skeptics and has donated $100,000 to a climatologist who has labeled some of his colleagues "alarmists."
The Intermountain Rural Electric Association's general manager wrote in a letter to other energy cooperatives that it also helped raise contributions from others for Dr. Patrick Michaels, a climatologist at the University of Virginia and a fellow at the CATO Institute in Washington D.C.
Many scientists believe that global warming will lead to catastrophic consequences such as the flooding of low-lying nations and stronger hurricanes.
Power plants emit 40 percent of the world's carbon dioxide, the main gas that most scientists believe causes global warming. Coal emits more CO2 than another other fuel.
Many power companies are watching the federal government's every step on global warming. Any future national plan in the United States, the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases, to regulate such gases could force many companies to shut coal-fired generation or add expensive carbon-capturing devises to their equipment.
IREA General Manager Stanley Lewandowski, in a letter obtained by Reuters, wrote to electric groups through the United States trumpeting Michaels, author of the book "The Satanic Gases: Clearing the Air about Global Warming."
"Most of the electrical power furnished by rural electric cooperatives is produced by coal fired-power plants," Lewandowski wrote. "That will also be true for the foreseeable future. This then raises a concern about all of the publicity on global warming and costly measures being advocated to control CO2 emissions."
An environmentalist said it was surprising that an industry group with a stake in future global warming legislation would give money to a scientist.
"I would say it's smoking gun evidence that industry is trying to buy science to back its anti-environmental propaganda on global warming," said Frank O'Donnell, president of Washington D.C.-environmental group Clean Air Watch.
"Something coming from a Patrick Michaels should carry a warning label," he said. "'Caution: this commentary bought with industry money.'"
Jamie Dettmer, a spokesman for the Cato Institute, said, Michaels did not ask IREA for funding and that he gets money from the public and private sector. "If an organization comes to us and says, 'We're going to give you money if you show us these results,' we're going to show them the door."
Michaels himself did not respond to a request from Reuters for comment.
PUBLIC OPINION FIGHT
Lewandowski wrote that his group is working with energy companies and looking into possibly funding a film that would counteract former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's global warming film "An Inconvenient Truth."
His wrote that his group was also in touch with the Washington, D.C.- based Competitive Enterprise Institute, which in May launched a series of television advertisements to counter a media spotlight on threats posed by global warming.
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