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Meet VPIRG! 
From the Ethan Allen Institute’s November Newsletter

The Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) has for years been the leading promoter of the Menace of Global Warming and the necessary remedies thereto (cap and trade, greenhouse gas inventories, gas guzzler taxes, thermal efficiency utility, prohibition of single-occupant vehicles from the highways, "Clean Energy Fund" subsidies, feed in tariff, and mandates, climate supergovernment, etc.). It is notable for continually declaring that "the science of climate change is settled!" and sponsoring the 2007 State House polar bear festival urging override of a Douglas veto of Sen. Peter Shumlin’s thermal efficiency utility bill. (The override failed.)

Its most enthusiastic current campaign is to get the next legislature not to allow Entergy’s Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to pursue a certificate of public good from the Public Service Board to allow the plant’s continued operation beyond March 2012. VPIRG promotes the peculiar idea that some combination of conservation, efficiency, wind, solar, and cow power can make up for the 285 Mw Vermont currently gets (at a bargain rate) from Yankee.

VPIRG itself is a 501(c)(4) action organization. Contributions by businesses may be deductible as business expenses (think the renewable energy industry), but individual contributions are not tax deductible. VPIRG can and does advocate legislation, lobby, and support or oppose legislators, but it cannot intervene in election campaigns; that is, it cannot endorse candidates and urge people to vote for them. It can run ads saying "support Rep. Joe Smith and his fight to save the planet from greedy capitalists."

The VPIRG Education Fund is a companion 501(c)(3) sharing the same offices and controlled by the same individuals. As such, it can receive foundation grants and tax-deductible individual contributions.

The two organizations combined had receipts of over $1 million in 2008, and in 2009 employed nine persons, eight of them registered lobbyists.

VPIRG Revenues 2006-2008

 
2006
2007
2008
VPIRG
$352,226
382,452
 511,917
VPIRG Ed Fund
  507,908
612,319
 577,997
Total
  860,134
994,771
$1,089,914

VPIRG itself is not required to disclose its donors. The VPIRG Education Fund receives grants from numerous foundations. Among them are –

  • John Merck Fund (Boston): $460,000 over nine years, mainly to combat global climate change and get an enforceable cap on greenhouse gas emissions
  • Public Welfare Foundation (Washington): $210,000 since 2000
  • Merck Family Fund (Milton MA): $80,000 in 2005-06 for the "Fair Tax Coalition"
  • Blue Moon Fund (Charlottesville VA): $80,000 for single payer health care
  • Nathan Cummings Foundation (New York): $50,000 in 2004 for the single payer health care campaign.
  • Beldon Fund (New York): $50,000 in 2004 for environmental health
  • Rockefeller Family Fund (New York): $50,000 in 2003-04.
VPIRG’s current Board includes such well-known names as Duane Peterson (chair)(ex Ben & Jerry’s); Ed Flanagan (Senator, ex-Auditor); Mark Sinclair (ex Conservation Law Foundation); Richard Watts (ex Howard Dean campaign manager); Matthew Rubin (East Haven Windfarm); Dan Brush (Vermont AFL CIO); and Drew Hudson (ex moveon.org).

The free market, low tax pro-liberty counterpart to VPIRG has yet to be created.
 

The Ethan Allen Institute monthly newsletters are archived here

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