Non-profit

Climate Docket

Website:

www.climatedocket.com/

Location:

Frederick, MD

Tax ID:

82-1659823

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $100,000
Expenses: $88,642
Assets: $11,358

Formation:

2017

Type:

Non-profit

President:

Richard Wiles

The Climate Docket is a left-of-center environmentalist news site that focuses on so-called climate liability lawsuits brought against conventional energy companies. [1] Although the site presents itself as a fact-based journalism organization, the staff and leadership of Climate Docket possess decades of experience in environmentalist advocacy organizations. Members of the staff and leadership have demonstrated clear opposition to energy companies, especially ExxonMobil. [2] [3]

The site is funded by Climate Communications and Law, a nonprofit that receives funds from left-of-center environmentalist organizations. In 2018, the nonprofit received a grant of $164,854 from the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, an organization that supports the left-wing Green New Deal. [4]

Climate Communications and Law was incorporated in 2017 by environmental activist Richard Wiles. Wiles and other board members of Climate Communications and Law are all involved in organizations that encourage cities to pursue climate liability litigation. Staff of Climate Docket then report on these lawsuits without disclosing any conflicts of interest. [5] Climate Communications and Law has also been accused of violating Maryland law, which requires companies that were incorporated outside of Maryland but do business within the state to register their operations. [6]

Founding and History

The Climate Docket began in 2017, with climate reporter Lynn Zinser joining as the site’s chief editor. The news site was originally called Climate Liability News, and it changed its name to the Climate Docket in 2020. [7]

The Climate Docket receives its funding though Climate Communications and Law, a nonprofit incorporated in 2017 in Washington, D.C. by environmentalist activist Richard Wiles. Climate Communications and Law reported $200,000 in revenue in its 2018 tax filings. [8] The nonprofit does not disclose its revenue sources, but tax documents reveal that in 2018, Climate Communications and Law received a $164,854 grant from the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, a left-of-center environmentalist organization that supports the Green New Deal. [9]

Political Agenda

The Climate Docket claims to that it is “not an advocacy site” and that its staff covers environmental issues “as journalists.” [10] Nonetheless, the staff of Climate Docket possess decades of experience working with left-of-center and left-wing environmentalist organizations. Articles on the Climate Docket have drawn criticism for their one-sidedness and bias in support of environmentalist causes. [11] Members of the board of Climate Communications and Law also hold positions in organizations that encourage cities to pursue the very climate liability lawsuits that Climate Docket covers in its reporting. [12]

Editorial Staff

Lynn Zinser joined the Climate Docket as chief editor upon the organization’s founding in 2017. Before joining the Climate Docket, Zinser worked as senior editor for InsideClimate News, a left-leaning media site that covers environmental issues. [13] [14] [15] Tax documents reveal that in 2018, Zinser received $120,000 from Climate Communications and Law in compensation for her work as editor. [16]

Geoff Grant works as an editorial advisor for the Climate Docket. He previously worked as director of digital media and editorial at Climate Central, a left-of-center nonprofit news site that analyzes and reports on climate science. [17] The left-leaning Washington Post described Climate Central as “more of an advocacy group” than a journalism organization. [18]

Karen Savage is a senior reporter and editor for Climate Docket. Her writing has also appeared in many left-wing media outlets, including Truthout and In These Times. [19]

Board Leadership

Richard Wiles, Alyssa Johl, and Kert Davies sit as the board of Climate Communications and Law, the nonprofit that funds Climate Docket. [20] Wiles previously worked as senior vice president at Climate Central. Wiles also started #ExxonKnew, a social media initiative organized by the environmentalist advocacy group 350.org that promoted legal action against the conventional energy industry for alleged environmental damages. [21] [22] Wiles also works as executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, an initiative of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development that supports litigation against energy companies. [23] [24] [25]

Alyssa Johl is the legal director for the Center for Climate Integrity. [26] The Center has filed amicus curie briefs in multiple cases that have been covered by Climate Docket without disclosing Johl’s involvement with both organizations. [27] [28] [29]

Kert Davies is the founder and director of the Climate Investigations Center, a center-left environmental journalism nonprofit that is critical of oil and natural gas producers. [30] In 2016, Davies attended a meeting at the Rockefeller Family Fund that discussed strategy on how to “delegitimize” ExxonMobil and convince the American public that “Exxon is a corrupt institution.” [31]

Maryland Registration Controversy

Climate Communications and Law was incorporated in Washington, D.C., but the business address listed on its tax filings is located in Maryland. Maryland law requires any corporation formed outside the state to register as a foreign business prior to doing business in Maryland. [32] In 2019, attorney Cleta Mitchell requested that the Maryland Secretary of State impose a fine against Climate Communications and Law for failing to register. Richard Wiles argued that Climate Communications and Law “has no business activities in Maryland” so was not required to register, despite its office being located in the state. [33]

References

  1. “About.” The Climate Docket. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://www.climatedocket.com/about-us/. ^
  2. “Karen Savage.” Twitter.com. February 15, 2021. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://twitter.com/mathsavage/status/1361326588328103936. ^
  3. Hall, Patrick. “Activist Blog Dresses Up A Press Release in Desperate Bid for Attention On #ExxonKnew.” Energy In Depth. September 12, 2019. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://eidclimate.org/activist-blog-dresses-up-a-press-release-in-desperate-bid-for-attention-on-exxonknew/. ^
  4. Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development Inc Form 990. 2018. Accessed March 3, 2021.  https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/810616238/09_2020_prefixes_75-81%2F810616238_201906_990_2020092917336950. ^
  5. Savage, Karen. “Colorado Judge Rejects Oil Companies’ Attempt to Move Climate Case.” The Climate Docket. January 28, 2021. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://www.climatedocket.com/2021/01/28/colorado-climate-case-suncor-exxon-move/. ^
  6. Walrath, Spencer. “Climate Lawsuit Promoters Dinged for Flouting State Laws.” Energy In Depth. August 22, 2019. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://eidclimate.org/climate-lawsuit-promoters-dinged-for-flouting-state-laws/. ^
  7. “The Climate Docket – Page Transparency.” Facebook.com. Accessed March 3, 2021.  https://www.facebook.com/climatedocket/. ^
  8. Climate Communications and Law 990 form. 2018. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://www.causeiq.com/organizations/view_990/821659823/9ae08d08b9116f8dd99bec8b4eaec646. ^
  9. Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development Inc Form 990. 2018. Accessed March 3, 2021.  https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/810616238/09_2020_prefixes_75-81%2F810616238_201906_990_2020092917336950. ^
  10. “About.” The Climate Docket. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://www.climatedocket.com/about-us/. ^
  11. Hall, Patrick. “Activist Blog Dresses Up A Press Release in Desperate Bid for Attention On #ExxonKnew.” Energy In Depth. September 12, 2019. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://eidclimate.org/activist-blog-dresses-up-a-press-release-in-desperate-bid-for-attention-on-exxonknew/. ^
  12. Hall, Patrick. “Activist Blog Dresses Up A Press Release in Desperate Bid for Attention On #ExxonKnew.” Energy In Depth. September 12, 2019. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://eidclimate.org/activist-blog-dresses-up-a-press-release-in-desperate-bid-for-attention-on-exxonknew/. ^
  13. “About.” The Climate Docket. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://www.climatedocket.com/about-us/. ^
  14. Melchior, Jillian Kay. “InsideClimate News: Journalism or Green PR?” National Review. December 22, 2015. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.nationalreview.com/2015/12/environmental-activism-advocacy-journalism-insideclimate-news/. ^
  15. “Inside Climate News Bias and Reliability Overview.” Ad Fontes Media. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.adfontesmedia.com/inside-climate-news-bias-and-reliability/. ^
  16. Climate Communications and Law 990 form. 2018. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://www.causeiq.com/organizations/view_990/821659823/9ae08d08b9116f8dd99bec8b4eaec646. ^
  17. “Climate Central.” Media Bias Fact Check. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/climate-central/. ^
  18. Pexton, Patrick. “Was climate-change poll biased.” The Washington Post. July 9, 2012. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/omblog/post/was-climate-change-poll-biased/2012/07/09/gJQAYreeYW_blog.html. ^
  19. “About.” The Climate Docket. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://www.climatedocket.com/about-us/. ^
  20. “About.” The Climate Docket. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://www.climatedocket.com/about-us/. ^
  21. Walrath, Spencer. “Obscure Activist Emerges As Key Player In Climate Litigation Campaign.” Energy In Depth. August 22, 2019. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://eidclimate.org/obscure-activist-emerges-as-key-player-in-climate-litigation-campaign/. ^
  22. “#ExxonKnew.” Twitter.com. January 2, 2020. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://twitter.com/Exxon_Knew/status/1212780847285329920. ^
  23. “The Center for Climate Integrity.” Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://www.igsd.org/initiatives/the-center-for-climate-integrity/. ^
  24. Walrath, Spencer. “Obscure Activist Emerges As Key Player In Climate Litigation Campaign.” Energy In Depth. August 22, 2019. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://eidclimate.org/obscure-activist-emerges-as-key-player-in-climate-litigation-campaign/. ^
  25. Walrath, Spencer. “Climate Lawsuit Promoters Dinged for Flouting State Laws.” Energy In Depth. August 22, 2019. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://eidclimate.org/climate-lawsuit-promoters-dinged-for-flouting-state-laws/. ^
  26. “About.” The Climate Docket. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://www.climatedocket.com/about-us/. ^
  27. “City of Oakland v. BP p.l.c.” Climate Case Chart. Accessed March 4, 2021. http://climatecasechart.com/case/people-state-california-v-bp-plc-oakland/. ^
  28. “County of San Mateo v. Chevron Corp.” Climate Case Chart. Accessed March 4, 2021. http://climatecasechart.com/case/county-san-mateo-v-chevron-corp/. ^
  29. “California Climate Lawsuits.” The Climate Docket. March 4, 2021. https://www.climatedocket.com/category/liability-litigation/california-climate-lawsuits/. ^
  30. “Who We Are.” Climate Investigations Center.” Accessed March 4, 2021.  https://climateinvestigations.org/who_we_are/ ^
  31. Walrath, Spencer. “Obscure Activist Emerges As Key Player In Climate Litigation Campaign.” Energy In Depth. August 22, 2019. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://eidclimate.org/obscure-activist-emerges-as-key-player-in-climate-litigation-campaign/. ^
  32. Walrath, Spencer. “Climate Lawsuit Promoters Dinged for Flouting State Laws.” Energy In Depth. August 22, 2019. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://eidclimate.org/climate-lawsuit-promoters-dinged-for-flouting-state-laws/. ^
  33. White, Chris. “Exclusive: Mysterious Groups Behind Climate Crusades Dinged For Allegedly Skirting Financial Regulations.” August 21, 2019. Accessed March 3, 2021. https://dailycaller.com/2019/08/21/climate-lawsuits-activist/. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Richard Wiles
    Founder and Director
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: October 1, 2017

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $100,000 $88,642 $11,358 $0 N $100,000 $0 $0 $1,800 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Climate Docket

    22 CLARKE PL
    Frederick, MD 21701-6528