February 8, 2011

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A project of the Tides Center, the Apollo Alliance (AA) claims to have been “launched in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy to catalyze a clean energy revolution in America.” AA says that in late 2007 it “spun off from its founding organizations, Campaign for America’s Future and Center for Wisconsin Strategy, formed its own Board of Directors, and expanded its staff and program to better meet the critical challenge of promoting clean energy and good jobs.” AA's name derives from the Apollo space program that set out in 1962 to put a man on the moon, and achieved its goal less than seven years later. Similarly, says AA, "an Apollo project for energy freedom must be big, bold and fast."

The watchdog website describes AA as a coalition composed of “[t]rue believers with an absolute belief that government is the solution to all social and economic problems, allied with labor unions, subsidy-seeking companies and global warming / weather control advocates.”

Van Jones, a self-proclaimed "communist" and "revolutionary," served on the AA board of directors for several years along with such luminaries as: Gerald Hudson, International Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); environmentalist Carl Pope; Joel Rogers, a founder of the Marxist political coalition known as the New Party; John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress; Robert Borosage, co-founder of both the Institute for America’s Future and Campaign for America's Future; actor and environmentalist Robert Redford; former Bill Clinton administration officials Kathleen McGinty and Dan Reicher; and key figures from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the United Steelworkers Union, and the Laborers’ International Union of North America.

AA describes itself as “a coalition of labor, business, environmental, and community leaders working to catalyze a clean energy revolution that will put millions of Americans to work in a new generation of high-quality, green-collar jobs.” “Inspired by the Apollo space program,” adds AA, “we promote investments in energy efficiency, clean power, mass transit, next-generation vehicles, and emerging technology, as well as in education and training. Working together, we will reduce carbon emissions and oil imports, spur domestic job growth, and position America to thrive in the 21st century economy.”

Van Jones describes Apollo Alliance’s mission as “sort of a grand unified field theory for progressive left causes.”

A director of New York State’s chapter of Apollo Alliance is Jeff Jones (no relation to Van Jones). AA’s website describes Jeff Jones as someone devoted to “clean[ing] up toxic pollution in inner-city and rural neighborhoods and revers[ing] global warming.” The website does not mention that in the 1970s Jones was one of the four key leaders of the Weather Underground terrorist organization, along with Mark Rudd, Bill Ayers, and Bernardine Dohrn.

The Apollo Alliance has a long list of endorsers, among which are: ACORN; Change to Win (an ACORN entity); the SEIU; the Van Jones-founded Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which claims that the American criminal-justice system is infested with racism; Green For All (another organization founded by Van Jones); the Working Families Party; Greenpeace USA; the League of Conservation Voters; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the Rainforest Action Network; the Sierra Club; the Union of Concerned Scientists; Working Assets; EarthJustice; the National Wildlife Federation; the Progressive States Network; and a host of big labor unions (including the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Teamsters, Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Electrical Workers, SEIU, Sheet Metal Workers, Transportation Workers, United Auto Workers, Food and Commercial Workers, Mine Workers, and Steel Workers).

Apollo Alliance exerts a powerful influence on the views and policies of the Obama administration. AA helped craft portions of the $787 billion “stimulus” legislation (officially called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) that President Obama signed into law in early 2009. Specifically, AA had a hand in writing the “clean energy and green-collar jobs provisions” of the bill, for which $86 billion was earmarked. This included funds “to build new transit and high speed rail lines, weatherize homes, develop next generation batteries for clean vehicles, scale up wind and solar power, build a modern electric grid, and train a new generation of green-collar workers.” AA recommended that the stimulus bill allocate $11 billion for the development of a so-called "Smart Grid," which would use digital technology to deliver electricity from suppliers to consumers; ultimately the bill allocated precisely that amount to Smart Grid-related projects, including a $100 million provision for job training related to Smart Grid technology.

Confirming the magnitude of AA's role in shaping the stimulus bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in mid-2009: “The Apollo Alliance has been an important factor in helping us [the U.S. Senate] develop and execute a strategy that makes great progress on these goals and in motivating the public to support them.”

In July 2009, Senator Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed AA Board Chair Phil Angelides, the former Treasurer of the State of California, to serve as chairman of the newly created Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

In February 2010, it was reported that AA was instrumental in helping to draft a "clean technology" bill that Democrats in the U.S. Senate were promoting. Known as the "Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology Act of 2009" (IMPACT), the bill was sponsored by Senator Sherrod Brown.

Apollo Alliance has received funding directly from the Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation and the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation. In addition, AA has been the beneficiary of grants made to the Institute for America's Future that were earmarked specifically for AA; among these were grants from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Town Creek Foundation, the Overbrook Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Max and Anna Levinson Foundation, and the Energy Foundation.

The centerpiece of Apollo Alliance’s environmental program is a “Ten-Point Plan for Good Jobs and Energy Independence,” which features the following elements:

1. Promote advanced technology & hybrid cars.

2. Invest in more efficient factories: “Make innovative use of the tax code and economic development systems to promote more efficient and profitable manufacturing while saving energy through environmental retrofits …”

3. Encourage high performance building: “Increase investment in construction of ‘green buildings’ and energy-efficient homes and offices through innovative financing and incentives, improved building operations, and updated codes and standards …”

4. Increase use of energy-efficient appliances.

5. Modernize electrical infrastructure.

6. Expand renewable energy development: “Diversify energy sources by promoting existing technologies in solar, biomass and wind …”

7. Improve transportation options: “[I]nves[t] in effective multimodal networks including bicycle, local bus and rail transit, regional high-speed rail and magnetic levitation rail projects.”

8. Reinvest in smart urban growth: “Revitalize urban centers to promote strong cities and good jobs, by rebuilding and upgrading local infrastructure including road maintenance, bridge repair, and water and waste water systems, and by expanding redevelopment of idled urban ‘brownfield’ lands, and by improving metropolitan planning and governance.”

9. Plan for a hydrogen future: “Invest in long-term research & development of hydrogen fuel cell technology, and deploy the infrastructure to support hydrogen-powered cars and distributed electricity generation using stationary fuel cells, to create jobs in the industries of the future.

10. Preserve regulatory protections: “Encourage … regulation that ensures energy diversity and system reliability, [and] that protects workers and the environment …”


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