For the last month I've been reporting on a group of people who travel across America blocking wind and solar projects.

This group has passed clean energy opposition laws in states across the country.

Here's the story of one man who has been doing this for 10+ years.

For more than a decade, Kevon Martis has traveled the country with little more than a 100 slide PowerPoint presentation.

His goal: Stop America's transition to clean energy.
Martis spent most of his career in the construction industry. But in 2011, he rebranded himself as an energy expert.

He quickly learned that, armed with enough studies and facts, people would listen to him.
In 2012, after successfully blocking a project in his rural Michigan town, Martis was invited to a meeting in D.C. with some of the country's most influential climate deniers.
The event was organized by John Droz of ATI, a think tank funded by fossil fuel companies like Arch Coal.

At the meeting, Droz laid out a strategy to stop clean energy projects across the country.

(More on Droz below)

Key to the strategy was the spread of misinformation, something that Martis proved very effective at.

Over the next few years, Martis traveled everywhere from North Dakota to Ohio to D.C. with a presentation full of misleading facts and cherry-picked studies.
In his presentations, he often cites a London School of Economics study that found wind turbines decreased nearby property values by 11%.

The study had a sample size of 3 parcels of land.

Studies with larger sample sizes have shown little to no impact on property values.
Another common tactic is playing a video of a solar inverter that makes a high-pitched screech. Martis claims all solar farms make this noise.

But that isn't true. It's a video of a single inverter that broke — a rare event made to seem regular.

Some tactics are just strange.

Once he and a few other people traveled around the Midwest to energy forums dressed up as a “death turbine.”

The idea was to convince people that wind energy is dangerous, another falsehood.
This strategy often works. Martis has helped pass anti-clean energy laws in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.

He's convinced 10 local governments to pass highly restrictive wind and solar ordinances that make it almost impossible to build projects.
Following some of these successes, ATI — the think tank funded by fossil fuel companies — brought Martis on as a Senior Policy Fellow.

(ATI later rebranded to E&E Legal).
In recent years, Martis has become something of a guru to other clean energy opponents. He regularly advises resident groups around the country.

When I recently joined 40 local opposition Facebook groups, I saw his name and presentations all over.

One executive at a clean energy company told me that if Martis gets to a community before them, their project is almost destine to get delayed or blocked.

This spread of misinformation and the fear that it evokes in local residents and lawmakers is that effective.
And it appears the number of groups using these tactics is quickly growing. Most of the groups that I joined were started in the last two years.
As I've written before, in order to meet our climate targets, we're going to need to build a huge amount of clean energy.

The misinformation spread by Martis and think tanks like E&E Legal is making that already daunting task much harder.
Next week, I'm teaming up with one of my favorite climate journalists to publish the next story in this series.

Subscribe to my newsletter below to get that in your inbox.

Or if you think Twitter will still be around by then, you can follow me here.

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More from @curious_founder

Nov 15
Recently there have been a lot of news stories about residents suing offshore wind projects.

But most stories fail to mention an important detail:

Many of the lawsuits are being funded by a think tank that gets money from the fossil fuel industry.

In January, Reuters wrote an article about a group of Long Island residents suing the Biden administration over its offshore wind leases. Image
The article positions Save Long Beach Island — the nonprofit behind the lawsuit — as a small grassroots group of residents.

But dig a little deeper and you'll find that there's much more to this story.
Read 13 tweets
Nov 7
Amazon tells its customers and investors that it is committed to climate action.

So I looked at which candidates the company is supporting in the 2022 midterms.

I discovered that Amazon has given $138,000 to 25 climate deniers.

Here's who the company is supporting:

Amazon has given South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace $10,000.

(This is the max amount allowed under federal campaign finance laws).

In 2020, she said, "If you look at the history of Earth, we’ve had climate changes many times, over 130 times over millions of years...
...And so part of it might be man-made; part of it might be just natural environmental causes as part of the cycle of Earth.”

(This is false. 99.9% of peer-reviewed scientific papers conclude that climate change is mainly caused by humans).
Read 9 tweets
Nov 3
A dark money group is running ads promoting fossil fuels and attacking clean energy in the final weeks before the election.

The PAC has spent more than $1 million to reach voters in 7 swing states.

And someone just sent me documents revealing who's funding it.

In the last two months, Affordable Energy Fund — a super PAC based in DC — spent more than $1 million on direct mail and Facebook ads.

The ads appeared to target voters in swing states like Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
One ad tells voters in Ohio that natural gas is clean, despite the fact that it causes climate change and air pollution.

Another ad claims that wind energy is expensive, despite the fact that it is cheaper to build than fossil fuel alternatives.
Read 10 tweets
Nov 1
Recently I learned about a man who has trained 1,000+ people to block wind and solar projects.

I read through all his training materials, presentations, and seminars.

Here's what I learned about him and how his students plan to "win the war on clean energy."

The odds are pretty good you haven't heard of this man, John Droz, Jr.

He's only been interviewed by a few journalists. And when asked about his influence he always responds the same way:

"This story isn't about me." Image
But the story of climate action and delay in America is very much about Droz.

For most of his life, Droz was a semi-retired real estate developer. In 2011, he reinvented himself and became a "physicist."

That year, his home state of N.C. debated a bill about climate change.
Read 19 tweets
Oct 28
All across the country, local governments are restricting and banning clean energy projects.

I heard rumors that misinformation on Facebook was a major cause of this.

So I joined ~40 anti-wind and solar groups to see some of it for myself.

The results were bleak.

🧵 ImageImage
Virtually all experts agree that wind and solar energy are clean, safe, and affordable.

But many of the posts in these groups would lead you to exactly the opposite conclusion.

To see why, let's start by looking at a post I saw A LOT:

The wind turbine on fire post. ImageImage
In almost every group I saw stories, pictures, and videos of wind turbines on fire.

This was surprising to me. I've been writing about clean energy for a while now and I've never heard of a wind turbine catching fire.

And that makes sense if you look at the data.
Read 15 tweets
Oct 19
You know all those stories about residents and environmentalists blocking offshore wind farms?

Well, it turns out many of them are being funded by climate deniers and fossil-fuel companies.

Let's take a look at some of these groups and see what's going on here.

🧵 ImageImageImageImage
Last year, Biden announced a goal of building 30 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030.

Around the same time, multiple non-profits and resident groups launched with names like:

- Save Our Beach View
- Protect Our Coast NJ
- Save Long Beach Island
If you go to these nonprofits' websites, you'll notice they all make the same arguments.

They claim offshore wind farms will:

- Hurt tourism
- Decrease home values
- Increase the price of electricity
Read 17 tweets

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