Summary: The American Energy Alliance and Institute for Energy Research are funded heavily by oil refining trade groups and Charles Koch’s donor network, and consistently attack policies that threaten gasoline demand.

The American Energy Alliance (AEA) describes itself as a “not-for-profit organization that engages in grassroots public policy advocacy and debate concerning energy and environmental policies.” The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers is one of the largest funders of AEA, contributing at least $600,000.00 in 2016 and 2017. AEA is an industry front group and sister organization of the Institute for Energy Research (IER).

In March 2020, AEA launched a digital ad campaign to kill the federal electric vehicle tax credit. AEA is also one of AFPM’s primary vehicles to kill Renewable Fuel Standards at the federal level. Plug -in electric vehicle incentives will undoubtedly be a part of many states’ participation in TCI and IER signed an anti-TCI “Open Letter” with a group right wing industry funded attack groups. GCC is actively working with states to help them identify potential incentives to promote PEV adoption, and AEA and IER are likely to continue to attack any effort to reduce emssions. 

Thomas Pyle, a former Koch and oil-industry lobbyist, is the President of both IER and the American Energy Alliance. Greenpeace reports that IER and AEA worked together on a $3.6 million anti-Obama gas price advertising campaign funded by Koch Industries.

The American Energy Alliance has also received over $3.8 million from Freedom Partners, including $1.5 million in 2012, a 501(c)(6) group directed by many of the Koch brothers’ “inner circle” such as Richard Fink,Marc Short, Wayne Gable, and Kevin Gentry.

Nancy Pfotenhauer, another lobbyist for Koch Industries, is listed as a Director on AEA‘s 2014 990 tax return. Pfotenhauer, formerly Nancy Mitchell, was an advisor to Senator John McCain during his presidential election campaign, and a former director of Koch Industries’ Washington office. Pfotenhauer was Koch Industries’ chief in-house lobbyist from 1996 to 2001 with a focus on gas pipelines. In 2001, Nancy Pfotenhauer left Koch Industries to become the President of the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) and later president of both Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the IWF. She was also executive vice president for Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) a group co-founded by David Koch.

While the stated aim of the AEA is to “educate and mobilize citizens in understanding, promoting and helping to solve America’s most pressing energy and environmental policy problems,” this education has taken the form of attack ads against political candidates and messages such as “stand with coal” and “vote no on Obama’s failing energy policy”  and “support President Trump’s pro-energy agenda.” This has led to some questions on the validity of the AEA‘s nonprofit status, especially given the AEA‘s own statement that their group is “not political.”AEA has spent millions of dollars on media advertising through Republican-orientated vendor Mentzer Media for its stated nonpartisan activities.