For that reason, I believe that National CFACT is a corporate front group, not an environmental organization at all.
A front group is an organization that claims to represent one agenda while actually pursuing another. Setting up these third party groups is a well-established public relations tactic that allows corporations to create the appearance of independent opposition to activists.
PR Watch says of front groups,
Whether the issue is health, consumer safety, environmental preservation or democracy and world peace, citizens today find themselves confronted by a bewildering array of hired propagandists paid to convince the public that junk food is nutritious, pollution is harmless, and that what's good for big business and big government is good for the rest of us.As I mentioned earlier, there are approximately 22 campus chapters of CFACT across the nation. These campus chapters of CFACT do not, to my knowledge, receive funds directly from polluting industries or from National CFACT.
Unlike advertising, public relations is often hard to recognize. "The best PR is invisible," say industry insiders. To spin the news in favor of their clients, PR firms specialize in setting up phony citizens' groups and scientific "experts" who spin out contrived research. [Emphasis added.]
Nevertheless, the agenda of campus CFACT chapters appears to have close ties to the goals of National CFACT’s corporate funders:
- In Texas, student CFACT members put on a pro-Exxon Mobil protest.
- In Madison, CFACT members ran a campaign to protect SUVs from "eco-terrorists."
- The National CFACT Executive Director, Craig Rucker, organized CFACT students for an anti-Kyoto Treaty protest in Germany.
Another way that National CFACT spreads its message on college campuses is by helping students connect to industry-friendly speakers. A "Speaker's Bureau" section of the CFACT website contains a list of "scientists" with impressive-sounding credentials.
For instance, the Speaker's Bureau profiles of Drs. Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas contain detailed descriptions of their research, implying that they are highly qualified scientists. The website fails to mention, however, that their research on climate change is underwritten by the American Petroleum Institute and has been refuted by mainstream climate scientists.
Part III: Exxon Mobil: Manipulating Public Debate at Your University.