July 27, 2006

Power group promoting global warming skeptic

By Timothy Gardner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - 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.


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.