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Executive Summary

Today’s environmental movement is fueled by a group of interconnected, left-leaning foundations that are seeking to disrupt the development of America’s energy resources. In order to understand how these groups work together and where the environmental movement’s funding originates, IER developed Big Green, Inc., a database that tracks environmental grants stemming from 14 foundations and directed to over 1,900 grassroots activists groups and totaling more than $4.2 billion. Our key findings include:

• The “David vs. Goliath” narrative surrounding environmental activism is false. Environmental organizations outpace conservative and free-market groups in terms of funding and organizational capacity.

• As evidenced by the emergence of the “Keep it in the Ground” Movement, this money plays a major role in shaping public opinion, which translates to economically destructive policy initiatives that emanate from all levels of government.

• A key strategy of the environmental movement is to target key institutions that drive the ideas that animate our society.

• Environmental funding has been tied to foreign actors, which raises concerns over the role geopolitics plays in environmental advocacy.


In American energy politics today there is a constant clash between two groups: one that seeks to unlock America’s vast natural resources and put them to use in providing an affordable, abundant energy supply for the American people and those in energy poverty around the world, and another group that seeks to halt, delay and litigate the use of traditional energy sources in the name of addressing climate change. The battle is one that plays out with every energy debate, not only on the national stage, but also at the state level and in local communities across the country.

While the pro-energy group stands on decades of proven success in improving America’s economic wellbeing and way of life, the other group, driven by the national environmental lobby, assaults America’s use of coal, oil, and natural gas without offering a viable alternative to sustaining the progress that can be attributed to the widespread use of these resources. The ultimate outcome of this fight will determine whether America will have abundant and reliable energy in the years to come.

With these high stakes, it is imperative that Americans understand the motivations, tactics, and end goals of the modern environmental movement and how the size and scope of the movement’s funding contributes to their influence on energy policy in the U.S.

To that end, the Institute for Energy Research has created Big Green, Inc., a database that tracks environmental grants originating from 14 left-leaning foundations and flowing to over 1,900environmental activist groups spanning all 50 states. The database highlights a group of foundations that have spent billions of dollars building the politically engaged environmental movement. This funding supports aggressive climate litigation, the promotion of uneconomic renewable energy sources, as well as a litany of burdensome regulations. The Big Green, Inc. database illuminates the priority issues and the state-level battles where the environmental movement dedicates vast funds.

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