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Earth Day Art Contest Showcases ‘Awesomeness’ of Fossil Fuels

  • Contest being held by group with ties to coal, oil companies
  • The winner gets a $100 gift card to spend on gasoline

Earth Day may not seem an obvious time to celebrate fossil fuels.

The Independence Institute, a Denver-based free-market think tank that has ties to the oil and coal industries, wants to change that. It is having an "Earth Day Fossil Fuels Art Contest" meant to showcase "the awesomeness of fossil fuels." 

"Enviros celebrate by planting trees but they never celebrate the trucks that deliver the trees, or the gas that powers that truck, or the plastic handles of the shovels they use," the group said in an announcement of the contest. "Shouldn’t Mother Earth be thanked for making Earth Day events possible?"

Semi-finalists will be announced on Earth Day, April 22. The winner gets a $100 gasoline gift card.

"It’s time to include fossil fuels in the Earth Day celebration," Amy Oliver Cooke, executive vice president and director of the Independence Institute’s Energy Policy Center, said in an email. "So, we are."

Cooke, a critic of the Environmental Protection Agency who was among the officials on President Donald Trump’s transition team for the agency, said the purpose of the contest was "to have a little fun with fossil fuels and encourage creativity."

Previous story about the institute: Supreme Court Backs FEC Disclosure Rules

The Institute says it is agnostic on energy resources and won’t disclose its donors. But it has financial ties to companies that include coal miner Peabody Energy Corp. and the Koch Industries Inc., according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a non-profit watchdog group.

The Institute also has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has drawn criticism for opposing state environmental and clean energy policies through the crafting of model legislation, according to the center.

Previous donors to the Independence Institute include Mobil Oil Corp. and the Anschutz Foundation, according to the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a Washington-based non-profit.

Cooke declined to comment on her group’s funding.

"I think they’re trying to troll environmentalists," said David Pomerantz, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, a San Francisco group that supports renewable energy. "But all these stunts do is further isolate an already extreme, fossil-funded group further from people of all political stripes who recognize this as nonsense."

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