Why Do the Minnesota “Conservative” Energy Forum and Fresh Energy Have the Same Liberal Funders?

We have one of these phony conservative groups right here in Minnesota, the Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum (MNCEF).

Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum

Yesterday I posted a story from the Washington Examiner exposing the “Conservative” Energy Network as an organization receiving vast amounts of money from liberal groups while masquerading as a conservative voice on energy policy. These groups deceptively co-opt conservative-sounding language to push for liberal environmentalist policies.

We have one of these phony conservative groups right here in Minnesota, the Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum (MNCEF).

The document below is the lobbying report from MNCEF, and I want to bring your attention to Schedule C, which shows the outside organizations that MNCEF has taken money from to lobby on their behalf.

Among them are:

Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, which produced the bogus “clean jobs” report we have debunked multiple times;

Conservation MN Voter Center, which opposes PolyMet and other expanded mining opportunities in Minnesota and supports renewable energy mandates, and;

Green Tech Action Fund, a California-based grant writing organization that is affiliated with the Energy Foundation.

All of these affiliations are damning for a so-called “conservative” organization, but this last one is the most noteworthy because the Energy Foundation is one of the largest sources of funds for leftist environmental groups in the nation.

MNCEF Lobbying Report 2019 by Alpha News MN on Scribd

For example, the Energy Foundation spent $57 million in 2016 funding climate change and environmental groups like Earthjustice, EcoWorks, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, Media Matters, the Environmental Defense Fund, Green Tech Action Fund, Ceres Inc., Climate Central, the League of Conservation Voters, the Solar Foundation, the Wind Coalition, and the list goes on.

Sounds pretty conservative so far, right?

In Minnesota, the Energy Foundation  directly spent nearly $2.4 million in 2016 supporting Fresh Energy, Conservation Minnesota, The Minnesota Citizen’s Utility Board, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Minnesota Blue Green Alliance Foundation, Climate Generation, the Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development, the Institute For Local Self-Reliance, and Wind on the Wires.

In other words, it’s a who’s who for liberal environmental groups who lobby for more renewable energy, which caused Minnesota electric bills to reach a new all-time high in 2018.

American Experiment has called out Fresh Energy several times for intentionally misleading the public on energy issues, and I’ve publicly debated the Minnesota Center For Environmental Advocacy about their misinformation on mining. Who knows how much additional money has been laundered in our state through the Green Tech Action Forum? MNCEF might know, but I don’t.

Taking money from leftist environmental groups might not be so bad if MNCEF didn’t toe the line on their policies. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

For example, when Governor Walz and the House DFL were attempting to sentence Minnesota families and businesses to higher electricity prices by enacting Minnesota’s own Green New Deal, American Experiment testified against their 100 percent carbon free mandates five times.

MNCEF did not testify against this legislation even once. In fact, they even supported a slightly watered down version of the Clean Energy First bill, which would mandate utilities to use “clean” energy sources before building a new natural gas plant.

Supporting bills like this that distort the free market is not “conservative.”

I’m going to write more on this topic in the future because I attended a MNCEF presentation at a local BPOU meeting recently and it was incredibly misleading and merits a response.

In the meantime, its important for Minnesotans to understand that the Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum is conservative in the same way that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is both democratic, and a republic.

Turns out MNCEF and Fresh Energy are just two peas in a pod.


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Isaac Orr
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Isaac Orr is a Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment, where he writes about energy and environmental issues.