09/23/2010 10:00 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Spotlight: American Crossroads

By Matt Howes

Originally posted on The MarkUp.

American Crossroads is spending millions of dollars to attack clean energy reforms and the people who support them.

The motivation behind their attacks isn't hard to find: According to Salon Magazine, American Crossroads "is getting a staggering amount of support from billionaires, several of whom made their fortune in the energy industry and live in Texas." For example, 91% of the group's $2.6 million in August fundraising came from just three billionaires.

One of the billionaires is Trevor Rees-Jones, an independent oil investor and founder and former chair of Chief Oil, who contributed $1 million to American Crossroads in August. Chief Oil has an abysmal environmental record, cited for 78 violations by Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection in just the first 6 months of 2010, "more than any other Marcellus shale driller in the state and with the highest ratio of violations at 3.5 per well."

Another billionaire contributor to American Crossroads is Robert Rowling, whose fortune stems mainly from the oil business (through Tana Oil and Gas, now part of Texaco). Robert Rowling's TRT Holdings is involved with oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico through Tana Exploration Company LLC. In 2006, Tana was fined $165,000 after a gas/condensate leak on one of its wells occurred (after safety valves were improperly bypassed).

With donors like this, it isn't too surprising that one of American Crossroad's priorities is blocking any legislation that places a price on carbon emissions or meaningfully addresses the very real problems of climate change.

Unfortunately, they are spreading their misleading message across the country, including going "on television with commercials in Nevada, Colorado, Missouri and Ohio and the affiliated Crossroads GPS has been running ads in Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Kentucky, California and Pennsylvania."