Clarifies Claim About Funding Source for Billionaire's Anti-Clean Air Ads
"In my March 16 statement about GreenMountain.com chairman Sam Wyly, I stated that he used profits from the company to pay for $2.5 million in TV ads he aired before Super Tuesday. Company officials have since stated that such a transaction would not have been possible because GreenMountain.com has not earned any profits to date. Therefore my statement is in error."
"A 'dot-com' with profits? What was I thinking?"
"Accordingly, I wish to clarify my statement as follows. To date, Wyly has used his position as chairman of GreenMountain.com, but not its profits, to pose as an advocate of clean air while he denigrates decades of hard-won laws and regulations to clean up America's air pollution, telling the New York Times that only a communist would embrace them."
"I stand corrected on the source of funding. Wyly paid out of his own pocket for the $2.5 million- worth of TV ads in which he lied about the air pollution record of Governor Bush, claiming that Bush has championed air pollution control in Texas. The opposite is true."
"The best way to make sure Wyly never receives profits from GreenMountain.com to invest in future attacks on clean air, and distortions of politicians' clean air record, is to boycott Wyly's company."
Cook said that consumers concerned about the pollution impacts of their energy use would do better to invest in energy efficiency measures in their homes than to buy power from Wyly's company.
In a related development, AirDaily, a leading industry trade publication, reported that Francis Grant-Suttie of the World Wildlife Fund resigned from the Greenmountain.com advisory board the day after EWG's call for a boycott.
According to AirDaily's front-page story, WWF "supports actions that companies like GreenMountain.com have taken with respect to clean alternative energy" but "the situation has become too political for WWF."
Cook applauded WWF and Grant-Suttie "for sending a clear message to the company and to the environmental community that Wyly's destructive, anti-environmental antics will not get a green seal of approval, even if there is support for some of the good things the company is doing."
Here is what Wyly had to say in a story on the front page of the New York Times business section on March 16 ("A Texas Financier Is No Stranger to Controversy," by Barry Meier):
"Mr. Wyly said he had no immediate plans to pay for ads against Vice President Al Gore during the general election, but Mr. Wyly added that he and another son, Andrew, a Dennison University student whom he credits with the promotions against Mr. McCain, have kicked around ideas. They would be built around the theme that Mr. Gore, whose environmental record might appeal to some voters, was a regulation-happy Democrat who would not be good for business or the environment."
"Be green without being red," said Mr. Wyly, testing out a slogan on a listener. "Al Gore is an heir to the old czars and commissars. He never saw a regulation he didn't like."
The Environmental Working Group is an nonprofit environmental research organization in Washington, DC. EWG has published dozens of studies on air pollution from power plants and other sources and its impacts on human health.
Original statement by Ken Cook