Who's hiding behind Marc Brown?

Should you disclose who you work for when you write an op-ed?
A message to New England newspapers

National Wildlife Federation challenges New England Ratepayers Association

By Miles Grant, Senior Communications Manager,
National Wildlife Federation

Should you have to disclose who you work for when you write an op-ed? Or should you be able to become a monthly op-ed columnist on behalf of your undisclosed employer?

That’s the question for New England newspapers when it comes to Marc Brown. He’s a New Hampshire resident and former staffer with DC-based polluter front groups like “FreedomWorks” who now runs an ice cream shop. Brown has been hired to create a new front group, the “New England Ratepayers Association.” It calls itself “the nonprofit dedicated to protecting utility ratepayers in New England,” but it refuses to publicly disclose even a single actual ratepayer who supports it – not on its website, not to Commonwealth Magazine.

That secrecy isn’t an accident – it’s exactly what his funders pay him for. Judging by Brown’s writing, he has one goal: Stop Cape Wind from supplying Massachusetts with electricity. Is Brown being funded by out-of-state energy providers hoping Massachusetts won’t take a big step towards a cleaner, more self-sufficient future with Cape Wind?

Whether his employers Canadian hydroelectric interests, natural gas pipeline companies or someone else entirely, without Brown’s cover their attacks on Cape Wind attacks would be seen for what they are – energy giants attacking an upstart that threatens their business model. It might even spark a backlash.

But hiding behind their designated hitter Brown, his funders have had great success spreading their message without having to get off the bench themselves:

The actual Massachusetts agency charged with protecting ratepayers, the Department of Public Utilities, has approved Cape Wind’s contract with NStar, concluding its benefits exceed its costs and that the agreement provides adequate protections for ratepayers. “It is clear that the Cape Wind facility offers significant benefits that are not currently available from other renewables,” said DPU Chair Ann Berwick.

I’m sick of shadowy front groups trying to dictate our energy decisions. For too long, we’ve been pawns of polluter lobbyists and backroom deals, and what has it gotten us? Dirty air and a changing climate bringing us rising sea levels, intensifying extreme weather and ocean acidification. Sending money and jobs out-of-state as we buy imported energy. Wild price swings hurting customers and our economy.

It’s a remarkable contrast to Cape Wind’s supporters. Cape Wind’s conservation, public health, business and labor allies are so transparent they put all their names on one website.

Wind energy is a critical opportunity to make our electricity supply cleaner, more wildlife-friendly, and more secure. We need to keep moving forward with appropriately-sited wind energy, both onshore and offshore, including Cape Wind and the Block Island wind farm.

National Wildlife Federation is a voice for wildlife, dedicated to protecting wildlife and habitat and inspiring the future generation of conservationists. Wildlife's ability to survive the challenges of the 21st century is becoming outpaced by the events that are transforming our world. Global warming, the loss of habitat, and people becoming more disconnected from nature than past generations are converging on a dangerous path for our planet. The work of NWF and our affiliates across the country provides answers to these challenges and will help ensure America's wildlife legacy continues for future generations.

CapeCodToday.com welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on CapeCodToday.com.