In the Midwest: Leading the Anti Clean Energy Cult

February 9, 2023

I was interviewed for a collaboration (below) between the essential Heated and Distilled climate newsletters, run by Emily Atkin and Michael Thomas, respectively. Definitely check them out – I have some of the new story excerpted below.

Living in the midwest, and working in support of clean energy as I have been, you run into Kevon Martis. In fact, it’s been said you don’t really know Kevon Martis, or “Kmart” as we call him, unless he’s threatened to sue you. Mr Martis, who styles himself as an aw-shucks-I’m-just-like-you-good ol’ boy, somehow maintains ties with a silk stocking Detroit Law firm who will send you a threatening letter if you dare to cross him. That, and a number of other factors, have caused many people over the years to ask what his funding sources are. But of course, asking that question attracts the legal threat. Draw your own conclusion.
In fact, Mr Martis threatened not only me, but the President of Yale University, for having the temerity to host my series of climate and energy videos over the last decade. Who threatens a lawsuit over a critical letter to an editor? Who threatens a lawsuit not just against an individual, but against their business associates for their mere proximity? Again, draw your own conclusion.
I’ve heard of at least half a dozen people who have been similarly threatened, and I’m sure that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
This is the state of play in the clean energy siting wars.(see also below)

Currently working on a piece that will add some color to this, so stay tuned.

Heated / Distilled :

But according to multiple residents of his small town in Michigan and a former local government official, Martis’s anti-renewable crusade began as a relatively mundane personal dispute. John Tuckerman, a Lenawee County Commissioner from 2003 to 2015 who has known Martis for more than a decade, said Martis was running a small construction company in Riga, Michigan in 2010, and wanted to rezone a part of the town to build new homes.

But Martis was overruled by the town planning commission, Tuckerman said, and shortly afterwards the commission approved plans for a wind energy project on the land.

“He was angry,” said Tuckerman.

Shortly thereafter, in 2011, Martis and a group of people in town formed Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition (IICC), a nonprofit dedicated to fighting clean energy projects. Martis’s co-founder at IICC, Joshua Nolan, represented Martin County Coal Corporation in a lawsuit that same year.

Disinformation was a key part of IICC’s strategy from the beginning. As a part of their first campaign, the group bought a TV ad that claimed a proposed wind farm in southeast Michigan could “harm your families’ health, significantly reduce property values, and damage TV and radio signals, possibly depriving your family of important safety alerts.” 

The misleading ad helped IICC secure its first victory. In July 2011, Riga passed one of the country’s most restrictive wind turbine ordinances, effectively banning wind energy projects in the area. 

Martis quickly expanded the campaign, eventually helping pass similar ordinances in nine other towns and counties. But his work was only just beginning.

Martis meets with climate deniers — and his impact grows

The following year, Martis attended an event in Washington D.C. with some of the country’s most influential climate deniers. There, he swapped ideas with organizations like the Heartland Institute and Americans for Prosperity, which receive much of their moneyfrom the fossil fuel industry. 

According to a leaked document from the event, Martis’s objective in attending the event was to “seek funding for lobbying efforts in Lansing.”

When Peter Sinclair, a clean energy advocate in Michigan, criticized Martis in a letter to an editor, Martis edited a picture of Sinclair’s face onto the body of a doll and posted it to Facebook. Martis has done this to multiple opponents.

Below, legal threat that went to the President of Yale University.


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