Dark money is fueling climate denial and delaying action, watchdogs warn
(Inside Climate News, 3 Feb 2023) Dark money groups have become a critical roadblock to meaningful climate action by propagating misinformation about climate science and clean energy, while propping up politicians who support fossil fuels through massive donations, according to a series of recent investigations and reports.
Dark money refers to spending meant to influence elections or policy where the source of the money isn’t disclosed. In many cases, the money is hidden from the public by being channeled through politically active nonprofits such as 501(c)(4)s, which generally aren’t required to disclose donors, or through the use of shell companies.
Spanning from last May to as recently as this week, a slew of news investigations and watchdog reports have revealed a bevy of dark money campaigns aimed at safeguarding the finances of fossil fuel energy companies. Most of the campaigns focused on spreading misleading information about the benefits of fossil fuels and the potential harms of clean energy, as well as funding campaigns for politicians that are friendly to oil and gas development, the reports found.
Two particularly alarming revelations sprang from a joint-investigation by NPR and Floodlight, published in December, and another investigation by The Washington Post published Thursday. The December investigation found that at least $900,000 tied to utility company Alabama Power had been funneled to news websites that wrote articles that promoted the utility’s business interests.