Non-profit

American Conservation Coalition (ACC)

Website:

www.acc.eco

Tax ID:

82-2038028

Formation:

June 30, 2017

The American Conservation Coalition (ACC) is a nominally right-leaning environmentalist organization with financial and advisory board ties to left-wing environmentalist groups. The Wisconsin-based organization was founded and is headed by Benjamin “Benji” Backer, a student at the University of Washington.[1]

ACC says it is “giving conservatives a voice on the environment,” and aims to present environmental issues as a conservative policy concern, though it does not overtly offer specific conservative policy prescriptions.[2] Despite presenting itself as a center-right advocacy group, ACC proposed a policy of taxing carbon dioxide emissions in September 2017, but has since then deleted that issue from its platform.[3][4]

Background

ACC was founded in June 2017 by college student Benjamin “Benji” Becker, to advocate within the Republican Party for environmentalist-aligned energy policy.[5] The ACC website had up until August 2018 indicated that it was part of a coalition with other environmentalist organizations including the left-wing Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES), and Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund (OEC Action Fund), alongside the right-of-center R Street Institute and ConservAmerica, according to the WayBack Machine.[6]

Environmental Activism

Carbon Tax

As of October 2018, ACC does not take a position on a carbon dioxide emissions tax as a policy solution to global warming. In September 2017, however, its website read: “There is a need to take action with a measure such as a carbon pricing policy that is noninvasive, fair for both businesses and citizens, and cuts costly and ineffective regulations.”[7][8]

While ACC itself avoids taking explicit policy positions, other coalition members such as the center-right R Street Institute, which has received grants from prominent environmentalist foundations including the Hewlett Foundation and the Energy Foundation[9] as well as the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations,[10] has openly praised Rep. Carolos Curbelo’s (R-Florida) carbon tax bill in the House of Representatives.[11]

ACC’s Founding Coalition

ACC’s founding coalition consists of a number of right-leaning and left-leaning organizations.

Conservatives for Environmental Reform

Conservatives for Environmental Reform (CFER), the 527 PAC affiliate of ACC also founded by Benji Backer, stated in 2017 that it supported a carbon pricing initiative promoted by Advocates for a Carbon Tax (ACT) Now in Washington state.[12] According to Backer, “As long as the carbon pricing initiative in Washington state is approached from the right perspective, we believe it is the best way to reduce emissions, all while promoting conservative values.”[13]

Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund

The OEC Action Fund, a PAC of the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC)—itself the Ohio state affiliate of the left-wing League of Conservation Voters—directly advocates for carbon taxes or other government-imposed anti-carbon regulations.[14]

ConservAmerica

A list of advisory board members on ACC’s website previously included Rob Sisson, the executive director of ConservAmerica, another nonprofit organization that aims to be a center-right environmentalist group.[15] Despite declarations that it is a conservative group, ConservAmerica also opposed the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline and has been generally critical towards natural gas exploration.[16][17]

People

Benjamin “Benji” Backer, the president of ACC, was formerly the co-chair for Young Americans for Mitt Romney in Wisconsin and has written for right-of-center websites such as the Daily Caller, RedState, and the Blaze.[18]

Danielle Butcher serves as the chief operating officer of ACC and is responsible for the group’s national strategy. She previously worked as an outreach coordinator for Future Female Leaders. [19]

Nicholas Lindquist is ACC’s national policy director. His responsibilities within ACC include creating and implementing strategic visions for the organization. [20]

Funding

The IRS reports that as of the 2017 fiscal year, ACC has made less then $50,000 in gross receipts.[21]

A number of ACC’s founding coalition members, including R Street, receive grants from the environmentalist Energy Foundation and the left-wing Open Society Foundations.[22][23] Furthermore, the OEC Action Fund receives grants from the left-wing Joyce Foundation, Energy Foundation, and Rockefeller Family Fund.[24] [25] [26]

References

  1. “Benji Backer – 20 Year-old Conservative Speaker and Blogger.” Benji Backer. Accessed October 22, 2018. http://www.benjibacker.com/.
  2. “Giving Conservatives A Voice on the Environment.” American Conservation Coalition. Accessed October 22, 2018. https://www.acc.eco/.
  3. Lauer, Daniel, and Hayden Ludwig. “The Myth of the Conservative Carbon Tax: A Who’s Who of the EcoRight.” Capital Research Center. October 12, 2018. Accessed October 22, 2018. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-myth-of-the-conservative-carbon-tax-part-4/.
  4. “The ACC Platform.” American Conservation Coalition. Accessed October 22, 2018. https://www.acc.eco/platform/.
  5. David, Javier E. “Advocacy Group Teams with Young Republicans to Get the GOP to Embrace Its Inner Tree-hugger.” CNBC. November 18, 2017. Accessed October 22, 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/13/college-republican-group-acc-aims-to-persuade-gop-to-embrace-environment.html.
  6. Lauer, Daniel, and Hayden Ludwig. “The Myth of the Conservative Carbon Tax: A Who’s Who of the EcoRight.” Capital Research Center. October 12, 2018. Accessed October 22, 2018. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-myth-of-the-conservative-carbon-tax-part-4/.
  7. Thompson, Ronnie. “Let’s Stay Away from the Carbon Tax Debate.” American Conservation Coalition. August 13, 2018. Accessed October 22, 2018. https://www.acc.eco/blog/2018/8/13/lets-stay-away-from-the-carbon-tax-debate.
  8. Lauer, Daniel, and Hayden Ludwig. “The Myth of the Conservative Carbon Tax: A Who’s Who of the EcoRight.” Capital Research Center. October 12, 2018. Accessed October 22, 2018. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-myth-of-the-conservative-carbon-tax-part-4/.
  9. Data compiled by FoundationSearch.com subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc. from forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Queries conducted 1 November 2018.
  10. Lehrer, Eli. “Keep Kids Off the Sex Offender Registry.” Open Society Foundations. October 6, 2015. Accessed November 01, 2018. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/voices/keep-kids-sex-offender-registry.
  11. Phelan, Ann. “R Street Commends Rep. Curbelo for Introducing Carbon Tax Legislation.” R Street. July 23, 2018. Accessed October 22, 2018. https://www.rstreet.org/2018/07/23/r-street-commends-rep-curbelo-for-introducing-carbon-tax-legislation/.
  12. Boyd, Bill. “Advocates for a Carbon Tax NOW.” Advocates for a Carbon Tax NOW. June 13, 2017. Accessed October 25, 2018. https://actnow662.wordpress.com/.
  13. “Conservatives for Environmental Reform Statement on ACT NOW.” CFER―Conservatives for Environmental Reform. May 22, 2017. Accessed October 25, 2018. https://www.cferusa.org/updates/2017/5/22/conservatives-for-environmental-reform-statement-on-act-now.
  14. “Climatechangepredictions.Org – Dud Predictions About Global Warming”. Climatechangepredictions. 2016. http://climatechangepredictions.org/.
  15. Lauer, Daniel, and Hayden Ludwig. “The Myth of the Conservative Carbon Tax: A Who’s Who of the EcoRight.” Capital Research Center. October 12, 2018. Accessed October 22, 2018. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-myth-of-the-conservative-carbon-tax-part-4/.
  16. Walker, Paul. “ConservAmerica Statement on The Dakota Access Pipeline.” October 28, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2018. http://conservamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/ConservAmerica-DAPL-Letter.pdf.
  17. “Board of Directors.” American Conservation Coalition. Accessed October 22, 2018. https://www.acc.eco/board-of-directors/.
  18. “Leadership Team.” American Conservation Coalition. Accessed October 22, 2018. https://www.acc.eco/leadership-team.
  19. “Leadership Team.” American Conservation Coalition. Accessed October 22, 2018. https://www.acc.eco/leadership-team.
  20. “Leadership Team.” American Conservation Coalition. Accessed October 22, 2018. https://www.acc.eco/leadership-team.
  21. “IRS.gov Applications.” American Conservation Coalition Inc. Accessed October 25, 2018. https://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/displayAll.do?dispatchMethod=searchAll&Id=4884581&ein=822038028&country=US&deductibility=all&isDescending=false&city=&ein1=82-2038028&postDateFrom=&exemptTypeCode=al&submitName=Search&sortColumn=orgName&totalResults=1&names=&resultsPerPage=25&indexOfFirstRow=0&postDateTo=&state=All States.
  22. “Grant Visualizer: The Energy Foundation.” Foundation Search. Accessed October 29, 2018.

    http://www.foundationsearch.com/FindFunders/GrantVisualizer.aspx?searchid=4141527

  23. “Grant Visualizer: Foundation to Promote Open Society.” Foundation Search. Accessed October 29, 2018.

    http://www.foundationsearch.com/FindFunders/GrantVisualizer.aspx?searchid=4141544

  24. “Grant Visualizer: Joyce Foundation.” Foundation Search. Accessed October 29, 2018.

    http://www.foundationsearch.com/FindFunders/GrantVisualizer.aspx?searchid=4141562

  25. “Grant Visualizer: The Energy Foundation.” Foundation Search. Accessed October 29, 2018.

    http://www.foundationsearch.com/FindFunders/GrantVisualizer.aspx?searchid=4141575

  26. “Grant Visualizer: Rockefeller Family Fund Inc.” Foundation Search. Accessed October 29, 2018. http://www.foundationsearch.com/FindFunders/GrantVisualizer.aspx?searchid=4141579
  See an error? Let us know!