A few days ago, the Washington Post highlighted the unanswered questions about the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), which has been an opponent of climate action and clean energy solutions. However, what looks like a group appears to mostly comprise Harry C. Alford, his wife, Kay, and a few of his family members.
Founded in 1993, the NBCC is highly secretive — refusing, for instance, to reveal information about its membership, staffing, who their consulting clients are or what the group does for those clients. Despite this secrecy, Alford himself has admitted, even bragged about “receiv[ing] money from fossil fuel companies.” In addition, at least one investigation into the Alfords’ financing found the NBCC “is funded primarily by fossil fuel energy companies, including Koch Industries and ExxonMobil,” with NBCC’s 2015 annual convention sponsored by “Gulf Power, the Florida division of Atlanta-based energy giant Southern Company; Koch Industries and its subsidiary Georgia-Pacific; as well as Chevron and the American Chemistry Council.”
Here are a few key lines from the Washington Post story, which highlights Alford’s appearances on radio and “before some of Pittsburgh’s African American leaders to urge opposition to a White House plan for tougher limits on air pollution.”
- Since early summer, Alford has delivered the same pitch in multiple cities, blasting a plan to impose limits on carbon pollution, which contributes to premature deaths and diseases in communities of color and low-income communities.
- Alford’s message — that the proposed regulations would hurt the economy and stifle job growth — is nearly identical to the one being broadcast widely by the rules’ opponents from industry. The National Association of Manufacturers has poured millions of dollars into a television ad campaign criticizing the proposal.
- The NBCC, which acknowledges receiving strong financial backing from Exxon Mobil and other fossil-fuel interests, has specifically tailored its message to African American audiences, drawing anger from environmental and public health groups that say the low-income and communities of color would be among the biggest beneficiaries of tighter regulations.
Evlondo Coooper, Senior Fellow with the Checks and Balances Project (C&BP) a national watchdog group (disclaimer: C&BP are clients of Tigercomm) is quoted in the Washington Post story after providing Mr. Alford the opportunity to explain why his organization accepts money from the industry which has negatively impacted communities of color.
Here’s an excerpt.
“The dirtiest utility plants pollute and hurt black communities,” said Evlondo Cooper, a researcher for the Checks and Balances Project, a watchdog group that investigates the use of corporate money in anti-clean-energy campaigns. Cooper, whose nonprofit organization has staged videotaped confrontations with Alford at two of his recent speaking events, said groups such as the NBCC have helped foster perceptions of a sharp divide among African Americans over whether stronger air-quality laws are needed.
“He doesn’t speak for black people,” Cooper said, referring to Alford, “and nothing about his support for the fossil-fuel lobby or his attacks on clean energy has been helpful to our community.”
Alford, who has boasted of accepting money from oil and other fossil-fuel companies, declined to respond to repeated requests for comment.
There’s a lot more, so definitely check out the entire Washington Post article. Also, we strongly recommend two articles by C&BP: On 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina Former New Orleans Resident Questions African-American Leaders Siding With Climate Deniers and NBCC President Harry C. Alford Refuses to Answer Questions About Coal Pollution’s Health Impacts.
Unfortunately, efforts to deny man-made climate change and attacks on clean energy have been widespread among oil and coal companies – and their paid propagandists – for many years now. For more on that topic, see The Climate Deception Dossiers by the Union of Concerned Scientists; Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s May 2015 Washington Post May op-ed entitled, “The fossil-fuel industry’s campaign to mislead the American people;” renowned climate scientist Michael Mann’s book, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars;” and many more sources.
Also note that Scaling Green has written extensively on fossil-fuel-funded groups (e.g., the American Energy Alliance, American Conservative Union, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Heritage Action for America, American Commitment, and Freedom Action) that push out climate science denial and attacks against clean energy, all in service of their dirty energy funders.