As environmental and liberal groups align against the natural gas industry and its controversial process of “fracking” to release natural gas trapped beneath deep shale layers, the Washington Post is reporting that in 2008 and 2009, the leftist think tank Center for American Progress accepted $453,250 from natural gas billionaire T. Boone Pickens:
Natural gas entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens gave $453,250 to the liberal think tank Center for American Progress (CAP) in 2008 and 2009 through his nonprofit groups, to support its National Clean Energy Project events. At the time, Pickens was pressing lawmakers to adopt a bill to subsidize construction of natural gas filling stations. The legislation would have directly helped a company Pickens co-founded called Clean Energy Fuels, which describes itself as “the leading provider of natural gas for transportation.”
In an appearance last year on The Daily Show, Mr. Pickens defended the practice of fracking: “I have fracked 3,000 wells in my life… I’ve never seen anything damaged.” Host Jon Stewart then dubbed Mr. Pickens the “Wilt Chamberlain of fracking.”
With the funding alliance between Center for American Progress and the king of fracking T. Boone Pickens now coming to light, the leftist think tank is now in backpedal mode. When asked how the Center for American Progress could justify having taken just under a half-million dollars from a member of the “1 percent” whose mega millions hinge on the practice of fracking used in the natural gas trade, CAP spokeswoman Andrea Purse did her best to spin the situation:
Some of the groups that have taken money from natural gas interests emphasized that they have continued to question aspects of the industry even as they’ve accepted contributions. CAP spokeswoman Andrea Purse noted that while the group did endorse the Nat Gas Act, modeled on Pickens’s call for a transition to natural-gas-powered vehicles, it had touted natural gas as a transition fuel in 2007. Furthermore, CAP senior fellow Joe Romm wrote several blog posts critical of Pickens.
Pickens spokesman Jay Rosser said that Pickens’s activities aren’t limited to one party or political wing. “He’s lent his voice to a number of organizations interested in broad public policies on OPEC oil dependence, national security and clean-air concerns,” Rosser said. “These include business, political and environmental entities on both sides of the political spectrum.”
Environmental groups who oppose the natural gas industry and its practice of fracking will have to decide: do a few blog posts criticizing billionaire T. Boone Pickens absolve the Center for American Progress of having taken $453,250 from a man whose fortunes depend on fracking? Or is this a case of “do as I say, not as I do”?