A new lobbying firm for the group opposing a wind farm off Cape Cod filed a federal document last month reporting that its work for the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound is partially funded and shaped by an international energy conglomerate.
The disclosure represents the first documented financial connection between the group opposing the wind farm and Oxbow Corp., which mines and markets energy and commodities, including coal, natural gas, and petroleum.
The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound immediately decried the filing as a mistake, and the lobbying firm later amended it in the US Senate Office of Public Records to eliminate the reference to Oxbow.
Oxbow’s founder, Osterville yachtsman William I. Koch, has been a cochairman of the alliance since 2005, a year that saw a flurry of congressional attempts to kill the wind farm. While Oxbow maintains that its lobbyists monitor Cape Wind because of the corporation’s interest in energy and shipping, Cape Wind proponents assert that Oxbow’s lobbyists have been doing far more to fight the wind farm.
“Bill Koch is using his company to significantly augment the already substantial amount of lobbying that the opposition group is doing by using his fossil fuel company to fight this wind farm,” said Cape Wind communications director Mark Rodgers.
After seven years of review by various governmental agencies, Cape Wind recently received a federal draft environmental review that did not identify any major environmental impediments to building the wind farm in Nantucket Sound.
The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, which has already retained two other lobbying firms, recently added BKSH & Associates, a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm that works for Oxbow. When BKSH filed a lobbying disclosure report with the US Senate Office of Public Records in April, reporting its new client, it listed Oxbow as an affiliated organization, one that contributes more than $5,000 in a quarterly period to the lobbying effort and actively participates in or supervises lobbying efforts.
BKSH lobbyist Rich Meade said the affiliation was reported because Oxbow had referred the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound to the firm and spent time strategizing with BKSH lobbyists before deciding the group should be a separate client.
The conversations with Oxbow and the group represented “enough of a body of work” that BKSH decided to report a relationship to err on the side of caution, Meade said.
“Oxbow asked us to take a look at this issue from a macro level, in terms of strategy and advice,” Meade said. “As we began those conversations with people at the alliance and learned more about the underlying issue and what needed to be done, that’s when we realized that this would necessitate a separate and distinct contract with the alliance.”
After the Globe asked about the document, BKSH filed an amended document Monday, eliminating the connection between the two groups and revising the effective date of its work with the group from April to February.
Both versions of the document still appear on the Senate website.
Meade did not return phone calls to explain the changes.
Audra Parker, a spokeswoman for Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, said she asked to get the document changed after learning that Oxbow was listed as a contributor to the group’s lobbying effort.
“There has been no financial contribution from Oxbow for BKSH lobbying efforts,” Parker said “They corrected their mistake.”
The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound includes fishermen, local government officials, and residents of the Cape and Islands who believe that the 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound would mar the beauty of the coastline and industrialize the sound. In 2006, the last year for which tax data are publicly available, the group raised just over $2 million for the cause and spent some $3 million.
In 2005 and 2004, the group raised $4.4 million and $4.7 million, respectively, according to federal tax filings it is required to submit to the state Office of Public Charities in the attorney general’s office.
“They have their own money,” said Brad Goldstein, Oxbow’s corporate communications director, who said he would not consider his company to be directly involved in the group’s lobbying. “They don’t need it. They’ve got plenty of donations on their own, from what I understand.”
By Stephanie Ebbert
15 May 2008
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