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Revealed: How This Coal Giant Became Treasury Dept. for Climate Denialists

'These groups collectively are the heart and soul of climate denial'

Peabody gave money to at least two dozen companies including trade associations, lobbying groups, conservative think tanks, and other organizations. (Photo: Shubert Ciencia/flickr/cc)

Peabody Energy, the largest coal producer in the U.S., funded dozens of groups spreading skepticism about climate change, according to new figures that reportedly surprised even environmental advocates with their scale.

A Guardian analysis of the company's filings reveal that Peabody gave money to at least two dozen companies including trade associations, lobbying groups, conservative think tanks, and other organizations that campaigned against climate science and fought President Barack Obama's plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"These groups collectively are the heart and soul of climate denial," said Kert Davies, founder of the Climate Investigation Center, who has tracked climate denial funding for 20 years. "It's the broadest list I have seen of one company funding so many nodes in the denial machine."

Among the groups is the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, which has referred to carbon emissions as "the elixir of life."

The filings were revealed after Peabody filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April, citing a multi-billion dollar debt as the energy market increasingly turns away from fossil fuels. Also included on the list of beneficiaries were skeptic scientists such as Willie Soon, who has previously been exposed as an energy industry mouthpiece.

The Guardian continues:


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The filings do not list amounts or dates. But the documents suggest Peabody supported dozens of groups engaged in blocking environmental regulations in addition to a number of contrarian scientists who together have obstructed US and global action on climate change.

The support squares up with Peabody’s public position on climate change. The company went further than the fossil fuel companies and conservative groups that merely promoted doubt about the risks of climate change, asserting that rising carbon emissions were beneficial.

Nick Surgey, director of research for the Center for Media and Democracy, told the Guardian that the findings were "extraordinary."

"The breadth of the groups with financial ties to Peabody is extraordinary. Thinktanks, litigation groups, climate scientists, political organisations, dozens of organisations blocking action on climate all receiving funding from the coal industry," Surgey said. "We expected to see some denial money, but it looks like Peabody is the treasury for a very substantial part of the climate denial movement."

The analysis comes amid ongoing revelations about the oil industry's decades-long funding of climate denial. An investigation published by last week by InsideClimate News found that fossil fuel companies were suppressing research around smog years before Big Oil began its campaign against climate science.

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