Strange Days at State Climate Commissions

by Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent on June 2, 2008

Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

Promotion of state-level greenhouse gas reduction policies has now advanced into viral video, with a slick new piece that crows about the work of the enviro-advocacy Center for Climate Strategies. My analysis of the short film will follow in a subsequent post, but the producer, Sea Studios Foundation, spared no effort in getting CCS client-governors to appear in the 15-minute feature, which includes Martin O’Malley (Maryland), Tim Pawlenty (Minnesota, pictured), Janet Napolitano (Arizona), and Charlie Crist (Florida).

Who is Sea Studios Foundation? They are the nonprofit counterpart to Sea Studios Inc., which is 2/3-owned by television producer Mark Shelley, according to the foundation’s IRS 990 tax returns. The foundation and Sea Studios Inc. share office space in Monterey, Calif. and have a “resource sharing agreement,” under which the foundation paid the company $86,916 in 2006. In 2006 Shelley was paid $177,446 (which includes health benefits) by his for-profit company, of which $163,098 was reimbursed by the foundation. The 990 explains that Shelley “spent the majority of his time producing Foundation projects and fundraising for future Foundation projects.” An interview with the Grist Web site shows that Shelley feels real good about himself:

Q. Which stereotype about environmentalists most fits you?

A. My Toyota Prius and the hypocrisy that I fly my own small plane. Environmentalists are rarely perfect. They are just usually more so than others.

According to the foundation’s Web site, the organization believes the world faces “unprecedented global environmental threats,” and therefore “is dedicated to raising environmental literacy and motivating action in the US and internationally to address urgent threats to our planet’s health.” That entails the global warming catastrophism outcry and the praise of anyone who does something to stop it. Sea Studios’ most recognized work are collaborations with public television stations in New York (WNET), on “Nature,” and in Boston (WGBH), on “National Geographic’s Strange Days on Planet Earth.” Sea Studios has also obtained millions of dollars in federal grants from the National Science Foundation for various projects.

Sea Studios’ new Web video, which is titled “Ahead of the Curve: States Lead on Climate Change” (a sequel to an earlier production, “Ahead of the Curve: Business Leads on Climate Change”), not surprisingly was funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The enviro-grantmaker, led by Neva-Says-Die-Carbon Rockefeller, ponied up at least $90,000 for the project, after providing $75,000 three years ago for an earlier Sea Studios film “to support a convincing case that emissions reductions are achievable, cost-effective, and beneficial to the bottom line.”

The Rockefellers’ involvement in yet another CCS prop-up makes it clear that this state-level effort is as much their own as it is CCS’s, cleverly cloaked as an objective, non-advocacy process. After all, RBF has written an article praising CCS, then sent them to state enviro-crats as promotional materials for their work. RBF also guarantees money to CCS for new states when the resources can’t be raised elsewhere. And now, it’s dazzling videos – a truly Rockefellifying extravaganza! Can’t wait for the theme park.

Update 11:35 a.m.: Apparently an auditor for the National Science Foundation thought the relationship between Sea Studios Foundation and Sea Studios Inc. was a little too slushy (PDF) a few years ago.

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