Where Does Senator Udall Stand?

WASHINGTON – The American Energy Alliance continued its energy policy accountability efforts today with a television ad urging Senator Mark Udall to reverse his stance against the Keystone XL pipeline. Sen. Udall has now voted against the construction of the pipeline multiple times. The ad buy is for $405,450 and will run until May 23rd in Denver and Colorado Springs. AEA President Thomas Pyle released the following statement:

“Senator Udall’s refusal to support Keystone XL is far outside the mainstream. The approval of this commonsense infrastructure project is five years overdue, delaying thousands of jobs and straining our relationship with Canada, America’s strongest energy ally. Coloradans recognize this, which is why two-thirds of them support the pipeline. Despite this overwhelming support from his constituents, Senator Udall remains beholden to a narrow band of special interests in opposition to this commonsense, job-creating, shovel ready project.

“Will Senator Udall continue to stand with special interests that promote an anti-energy agenda, or will he support policies that better the lives of Coloradans and the American people by supporting the Keystone pipeline?”

To watch the ad, click here.

To read the fact sheet for the ad, click here.

Nationwide Coalition Calls for End to Wind PTC

WASHINGTON — The American Energy Alliance joined today with over 100 organizations from across the nation in opposition to the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC). The organizations released a letter urging Congress to allow the wind PTC to expire. The letter states:

“The principal federal support for the wind energy industry is scheduled to expire at the end of this year. The undersigned organizations and the millions of Americans we represent stand opposed to extending the production tax credit (PTC).

“The wind industry has very little to show after 20 years of preferential tax treatment; it remains woefully dependent on this federal support. Yet despite this consistent under-performance, Congress has repeatedly voted to extend the PTC, usually in 1- or 2-year increments. This past year, Congress dramatically expanded the credit in addition to extending it.

“This year, Congress should break from the past and allow the wind PTC to expire as scheduled, once and for all. Americans deserve energy solutions that can make it on their own in the marketplace—not ones that need to be propped up by government indefinitely.”

To read the full letter, click here.


ICYMI: White House Favors Green Energy

WASHINGTON D.C. — AEA President Thomas Pyle was cited in an E&E News Greenwire article today on the energy provisions in President Obama’s FY2014 budget proposal. Pyle’s comments target President Obama’s continued pursuit of discriminatory energy policies:


Clean energy favored, fossil fuel programs cut under fiscal 2014 budget
E&E News, Greenwire
By Nick Juliano, Hannah Northey and Katherine Ling, E&E Reporters

President Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget request would boost funding for a variety of clean energy initiatives while reducing spending on fossil fuel programs and repealing oil and gas tax breaks.

The clean energy increases would come in research and development, state-based competition to enhance energy efficiency and the electric grid, a new trust fund designed to find alternatives to oil in transportation, and a permanent extension of the renewable energy production tax credit.

The falling fossil budget and resurrection of a long-standing call to eliminate tax breaks led to complaints from industry groups and Republicans that the president’s claimed “all of the above” energy strategy does not adequately account for coal, gas and oil.

The Department of Energy would see its overall budget grow to $28.4 billion next year, an 8 percent increase from fiscal 2012 levels. That also would reverse the effects of sequestration and a subsequent cut in the recently passed continuing resolution, which dropped DOE’s current appropriations to about $26 billion.

Obama’s budget emerged this morning, two months overdue and after the House and Senate each adopted their own starkly different budgets for fiscal 2014. The document already has been pronounced dead on arrival on Capitol Hill, but it outlines the administration’s priorities as the fiscal 2014 appropriations process ramps up and ahead of tax-and-spending battles likely to dominate Washington through the summer.

Within DOE, the biggest winners are efficiency and renewable energy programs. The budget would provide $615 million for solar, wind, geothermal and hydro energy as part of an overall increase of 40 percent above fiscal 2012 levels for clean technology activities, according to a summary.

The budget resurrects Obama’s long-standing proposal to eliminate a suite of tax deductions and other incentives for the oil and gas industry, including allowing exploration and production companies to deduct intangible drilling costs and a domestic manufacturing deduction. The proposal, which the administration says would save more than $40 billion over the next decade, has been roundly rejected by nearly all Republicans and most oil-state Democrats in Congress.

Obama’s budget also proposes eliminating various tax incentives for the coal industry, which it says would save nearly $3.3 billion over the next decade.

Revenue from closing the fossil fuel and other tax “loopholes” would go to a variety of new or extended tax supports for clean energy, efficiency, domestic manufacturing, and research and development totaling $53.4 billion over the next decade. That includes a permanent extension of the production tax credit, which would cost $17 billion over 10 years, as well as several incentives for advanced technology vehicles and efficient buildings.

Conservatives were quick to dismiss the proposed trade-off.

“He continues his effort to incorporate punitive and discriminatory tax measures for oil and gas producers into the tax code, while renewing his effort to poach mineral royalties owed to U.S. taxpayers to fund his green energy schemes without opening new lands for exploration and development,” said Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, a conservative think tank.

The president’s defenders, meanwhile, said his budget provided a welcome contrast to the one adopted by House Republicans last month.

“By eliminating nearly $40 billion in unnecessary special tax breaks for Big Oil over the next 10 years, President Obama’s proposed budget makes the tax code more fair while investing additional revenue to support the middle class,” said Daniel Weiss, director of climate strategy for the liberal Center for American Progress. “Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled House continues to ignore the needs of Americans by passing Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget, which would pour $20 billion in new tax breaks into Big Oil’s already full revenue barrel while draining funding from vital health programs and investments in economic growth.”

Obama’s budget also formalizes several proposals that have been gaining traction among administration members and in energy policy circles, including an interstate clean energy competition program modeled on the popular “Race to the Top” education initiative. The budget proposes a one-time $200 million pool of money from which states would receive competitive grants for a variety of efficiency and grid improvements.

“Key opportunities for States include: modernizing utility regulations to encourage cost-effective investments in efficiency, including combined heat and power and demand response resources, and in clean distributed generation; enhancing customer access to data; investments that improve the reliability, security and resilience of the grid; and enhancing the sharing of information regarding grid conditions,” the budget summary says.

The budget also formalizes Obama’s call for an Energy Security Trust Fund that would grow to $200 million per year to fund research into alternative transportation fuels; the budget envisions the fund receiving $60 million next year. The idea has some bipartisan support, but there is a split between the White House and congressional Republicans over whether additional coastal areas should be open to drilling in order to fund it, dampening its chances of becoming a reality.

Efficiency up, fossil energy down

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would receive a substantial boost under the budget, growing to nearly $2.8 billion, a nearly 62 percent increase over its current, sequester-adjusted level of about $1.7 billion.

Some of the largest proposed increases are concentrated in EERE efforts to make buildings more efficient, develop cleaner vehicles and promote domestic manufacturing of clean energy products. Vehicle programs would grow to $575 million from an estimated $340 million in the current fiscal year. The advanced manufacturing program would grow to $365 million from $146 million. And EERE’s weatherization and intergovernmental activities account would grow to $248 million from $145 million under the budget.

Meanwhile, the Fossil Energy Research and Development program would see its budget fall to $420 million from its current level of about $470 million.

The fossil budget would boost funding for carbon capture — from an estimated $69 million in fiscal 2013 to $112 million for next year — while cutting the carbon storage budget from $115 million to $61 million. The only other fossil line item proposed to receive an increase is spending on natural gas technologies, which would grow from $15 million to $17 million.

The Energy Information Administration, which provides a wealth of data on energy commodity prices and supplies as well as projections of future trends, would see its budget set at $117 million, up from about $101 million currently.

Nuclear, Yucca Mountain

The administration’s request for nuclear power dipped to slightly more than $735 million, down from $771 million under current sequestered spending levels, and didn’t include a request for any new authority for loan guarantees for new nuclear projects.

The White House also asked for $70 million to support the licensing of small modular reactors, which the Obama administration hopes will bolster domestic job creation, cut carbon emissions and provide a solution for replacing aging coal-fired power plants. The funds would go toward the Energy Department’s five-year, $452 million total cost-share program aimed at licensing small modular reactors.

Congress appropriated $67 million for the grant program in fiscal 2012, and DOE asked for an additional $65 million in fiscal 2013.

The president’s budget proposes a number of reforms for how the government pays for storing and disposing of nuclear waste, an issue that’s triggered multimillion-dollar lawsuits against DOE. Although the White House asked for no money to continue working on the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository in Nevada, which Obama abandoned years ago, the budget did call for the establishment of a new program.

The proposed program, which would cost $5.6 billion during the first decade, would allow the government to tap into appropriated funds and the Nuclear Waste Fund, a pot of money utilities pay into for waste disposal. The program would be a “very long-term, flexible, multi-faceted approach to dispose of the nation’s commercial and defense waste” that assumes DOE is making progress on building and operating a pilot interim storage project, as well as a permanent repository.

The White House said the proposal is aimed at curbing a growing number of lawsuits against the federal government for failing to take waste from utilities that generate nuclear power. The government signed contracts in the 1980s to take the waste but failed to do so. “The sooner that legislation enables progress on implementing a nuclear waste management program, the lower the ultimate cost will be to the taxpayers,” the administration wrote.

The administration is seeking about $1 billion for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the bulk of which the agency would recover through fees from applicants that are seeking or hold licenses. The NRC did not seek additional funds to review the Yucca Mountain project. The agency is arguing in federal court that a lack of appropriated funds is preventing a review of DOE’s application to build the Nevada facility (Greenwire, March 28).

Funding for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would remain at about $305 million.

But the president’s budget proposal called for an investment of $153 million in research and development of “smart grid” technology to modernize the country’s aging electric grid, site and plan new power lines, and secure the system against cyberattacks. An additional $80 million would be directed to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to help usher in more renewables onto the grid.


Obama’s proposed budget continues his strong support for clean energy research and development, focusing on accelerating breakthrough technology to the marketplace. Most funding requests remain at about the same level as Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget proposal.

“To compete in the 21st century economy and make America a magnet for jobs, the budget invests in American innovation, reviving our manufacturing base and keeping our Nation at the forefront of technological advancement,” a summary of the budget said.

The budget would advance the administration’s strong focus on innovation and R&D for advanced vehicles and biofuels. The budget would provide $575 million for advanced vehicles technologies, a 75 percent boost over the 2012 enacted level, including efforts to reduce the price of electric vehicles. Biofuels and biorefineries would receive a 42 percent increase to $282 million to develop and demonstrate conversion technologies to produce cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels, such as algae-derived biofuels. Overall solar, wind and other renewable energy budget levels would each receive about a 50 percent budget increase from current enacted levels under the proposed budget.

Advanced manufacturing is an important focus of the Obama administration, and the budget would provide $365 million in overall DOE funding to expand innovative manufacturing processes and advanced industrial materials, plus an additional $5 billion in tax credits and a one-time $1 billion investment to launch a network of up to 15 manufacturing innovation institutes.

DOE’s agency charged with developing “game-changing” energy technology, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), would receive $379 million under the proposed budget, a 35 percent increase from current levels under sequestration and slightly higher than last year’s administration request.

The Office of Science, the lead agency for fundamental scientific research for energy and the physical sciences, also would see a 5.7 percent increase to its budget from 2012 levels under sequestration to $5 billion. That is level with Obama’s fiscal 2013 request. The budget would boost research on all fronts, particularly for advanced computing and fusion energy with about 10 percent budget increases, but slightly cuts laboratory infrastructure. The budget also includes funding for new Energy Frontier Research Centers, which will undergo a recompetition of current grants in 2014, and Energy Innovation Hubs.

The budget would cancel the ultra-deepwater and unconventional natural gas and petroleum research fund again, although Congress continues to show support for the program.

Overall, Obama’s proposed budget would increase nondefense research and development investment by 9 percent above 2012 levels.

The budget would also make permanent important tax incentives for research and development, along with renewable energy and energy efficiency.

AEA Statement on White House Budget Proposal

President Barack Obama released his FY 2014 budget on Wednesday, a $3.77 trillion plan with a $744 billion deficit. AEA President Tom Pyle released the following statement in response to the energy provisions included in the White House budget:

“Now months overdue, President Obama’s budget represents the administration’s desire to double down on bad energy policy. The same week that the U.S. Comptroller General identified scores of fragmented, duplicative and wasteful renewable energy programs, the Obama budget calls for even more spending on these and other initiatives, including permanent taxpayer-funded subsidies for century-old industries like wind and solar. He continues his effort to incorporate punitive and discriminatory tax measures for oil and gas producers into the tax code, while renewing his effort to poach mineral royalties owed to U.S. taxpayers to fund his green energy schemes without opening new lands for exploration and development.

“Conspicuously absent from the White House budget is any mention of the Keystone XL pipeline. Now on a four-year delay despite numerous environmental impact studies and a new route that avoids sensitive areas, the failure to permit this critical infrastructure project is a daily reminder of the administration’s rejection of commonsense solutions to meet America’s energy needs.  Meanwhile, the President calls for fast-track permitting for renewables, ostensibly to hasten deployment of electricity generating facilities that don’t produce energy when Americans need it most. It’s a late budget full of lousy ideas, recycled to appear fresh and sensible in hopes that the American people will forget the failures of the past four years, higher gasoline prices, skyrocketing electricity rates, bankrupt renewable firms, and billions in wasted taxpayer money on politically connected industries.”



Four Years Later: Is Energy Better Off?

WASHINGTON D.C. — The American Energy Alliance released today a comparison chart answering the basic question in many American’s minds: Are we better off today than we were four years ago?  With an exclusive focus on energy markets, regulations, and the economic impact of energy policies, the American Energy Alliance answered this question by looking at trends in energy regulations, energy costs, and taxpayer-funded energy subsidies over the past several years.

“Using the most cautious estimates, the facts are still clear.  Four years of policies aimed at crippling domestic energy production for affordable sources like coal, oil, and natural gas have yielded higher electricity costs, more pain at the pump, and more federal regulations that drive up the price of energy.  Meanwhile, taxpayers have been put on the hook for an explosive growth in renewable subsidies to fund Solyndra-style ventures, a disturbing number of which are closely tied to President Obama’s political and fundraising efforts,” AEA Director of Communications Benjamin Cole noted.

“Unemployment has grown by 43 percent in the last four years — from 5.8 to 8.3 percent this month.  Meanwhile, per capital GDP has dropped by more than $1000, which means that Americans are spending a larger share of their income to keep the lights on, heat their homes, and commute to work.  Gasoline prices have more than doubled since President Obama took office, and household energy expenses have jumped by 31 percent.  The federal government is leasing less land for energy production, generating less revenue for U.S. taxpayers, and dispensing as much as 1000 percent more for renewable subsidies to bankroll intermittent, unreliable, and uneconomic sources.”

Some basic facts from AEA’s analysis of energy policies under President Obama:

  • Taxpayer-funded biomass and biofuel energy subsidies have increased by 1731 percent — from $61 million to $1.1 billion
  • Taxpayer-funded wind energy subsidies have increased by 947 percent — from $476 million to $4.98 billion.
  • Taxpayer-funded solar energy subsidies have increased by 534 percent — from $179 million to $1.13 billion.
  • The total cost of regulations have increased 49 percent — from $1.17 trillion to $1.75 trillion.
  • The number of EPA regulations costing $100 million or more increased 40 percent — from 20 to 28.
  • Total federal acreage under lease has decreased by 11 percent — from 47.24 million to 38.46 million.
  • Total revenue from offshore lease sales has decreased by 100 percent (or 258 times lower) — from $9.48 billion to $36.75 million.
  • The approval time from permit to drill on federal lands has increased 45 percent — from 212 days to 307 days.
  • Total approved drilling permits on federal land has decreased 36 percent — from 6,617 to 4,244.
To download a hi-resolution version of the chart, click here.
To access the source material for the chart, click here.


DEBATE WATCH: The No. 1 Energy Question for President Obama

“The No. 1 question that has to be put to the president is: Why, under his watch, has the use of taxpayer-owned lands fallen into such complete abandonment?”– AEA’s Benjamin Cole

Energy policy ready for its close-up at White House debate
Jennifer Yachnin, E&E reporter
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012

DENVER — The first presidential debate of the 2012 cycle is going to be all about the economy — but environmentalists, energy industry advocates and political observers agree that’s likely to mean energy policy gets a big airing.

President Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will face off here Wednesday for the first of three debates.

A schedule released by the Commission on Presidential Debates said the first 45 minutes of the session will focus on “the economy,” followed by 15-minute segments on “health care,” “the role of government” and “governing.”

ConservAmerica Policy Director Jim DiPeso suggested that while energy policy is not specifically designated among the topics moderator and “PBS NewsHour” Executive Editor Jim Lehrer is supposed to ask about, it’s a subject one or both candidates are likely to raise.

“I would be surprised if it didn’t come up. Energy has become, in addition to being a national security and an environmental issue, it’s become very much an economic issue,” DiPeso said. “I expect we’ll be hearing a lot about what types of energy resources we’ll be developing, what technologies we ought to be pursuing, what the government should be pursuing and shouldn’t be pursuing.”

Exactly how those topics arise could vary — environmental groups are lobbying Lehrer to ask a specific question on climate change, for example — but University of Denver Department of Political Science Chairman Seth Masket suggested it would be strange to omit any discussion of energy policy, considering that the debate is taking place in Colorado, where both traditional fuels and renewable energy are vital industries (Greenwire, Sept. 27).

And such a backdrop will likely present challenges to both candidates, added Masket, whose campus will host the debate.

“I would imagine a point of criticism by Romney, that a number of Republicans have levied against Obama, is that he does not favor some of the more traditional sources of energy … and this is part of the reason why the economy has struggled somewhat,” Masket said, and later added: “There is some sense that, particularly, wind energy might be a sore spot for Romney. There are some Republicans who are involved in that industry here in Colorado, and they support continued investment.”

Advocates for the oil and gas industry, including American Energy Alliance spokesman Benjamin Cole, predicted Romney will trumpet GOP criticism of the Obama administration’s energy policies, including complaints about the length of time needed to secure permits to drill on federal land and the White House’s rejection of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline project earlier this year.

. . .

“Speaking for the AEA, I really think that the No. 1 question that has to be put to the president is: Why, under his watch, has the use of taxpayer-owned lands fallen into such complete abandonment? Why is it that he has fast-tracked renewables that have proven to be intermittent and unreliable? Why has he slowed down permitting processes for energy we know we need?” Cole said. 

In a separate interview, Western Energy Alliance Vice President for Government Affairs Kathleen Sgamma said that, if allowed her own debate query, she would like to see Obama address claims that government-backed research and assistance into hydraulic fracturing helped propel the current natural gas boom.

“I would love to see the president challenged on this rhetoric versus reality, claiming credit for something that private companies are doing,” Sgamma said in a recent interview at the WEA’s Denver headquarters. “We’ve seen people fall out of their chairs trying to show how, ‘Oh, but [the Department of Energy] seeded all of this fracking money.’ … They spent $137 million over 20 years. That’s a laughable amount of money.”

Cole said, if given the chance, he would like to quiz Romney on aspects of his energy policy, as well. While the Republican candidate’s energy plan — including a proposal to transfer regulation of energy production on federal lands to the states — largely garnered praise from the oil and gas industry, Cole said he would like to see Romney asked about his support for the renewable fuel standard.

“I’d like to hear Governor Romney say why he thinks corn is fuel and not food,” Cole said.

To continue reading, click here.


ICYMI: New York Times Talks to AEA About Wind PTC

Today, The New York Times profiled the challenges facing the wind energy companies given their dependence on government handouts.  With renewal of the Wind Production Tax Credit in jeopardy, many wind energy businesses may not survive in the free market.  The American Energy Alliance’s Director of Communications, Benjamin Cole, spoke to the New York Times and explained IER’s opposition to continuing subsidies for the wind industry.


“Tax Credit in Doubt, Wind Power Industry Is Withering”

The New York Times

Diane Cardwell

Opponents argue that the industry has had long enough to wean itself from the subsidy and, with wind representing a small percentage of total electricity generation, the taxpayers’ investment has yielded an insufficient return.

“Big Wind has had extension after extension after extension,” said Benjamin Cole, a spokesman for the American Energy Alliance, a group partly financed by oil interests that has been lobbying against the credit in Washington. “The government shouldn’t be continuing to prop up industries that never seem to be able to get off their training wheels.”

But without the tax credit in place, the wind business “falls off a cliff,” said Ryan Wiser, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who studies the market potential of renewable electricity sources.

Industry executives and analysts say that the looming end of the production tax credit, which subsidizes wind power by 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour, has made project developers skittish about investing or going forward.

Click here to read more

PYLE: It’s time for the Wind PTC to end

Thomas Pyle, President of the American Energy Alliance, appeared on Money with Melissa Francis on FOX Business yesterday to discuss the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the recent ouster of Exelon from the American Wind Energy Association.

“I think they’re right in making the case that it’s time for this production tax credit to end. What has become, really, is just a boondoggle for the wind industry. We’re talking about an industry that has been getting this credit now for twenty years and now what’s happening is they’re literally distorting the markets that they’re in by negative pricing. In other words they’re paying for their energy to come onto the grid because they know they can get the money back through the tax credit.”

Watch the full video segment below, and read Thomas Pyle’s recent op-ed on the PTC here.



AEA Hits GOP Reps for Farm Bill Boondoggle

WASHINGTON D.C. — The American Energy Alliance begins airing this week three radio advertisements exposing the taxpayer-funded giveaways and wasteful energy subsidies included in the House Farm Bill, sponsored by Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). The ads, which cost $80K to run in South Dakota, Iowa, and Oklahoma, encourage listeners to contact Reps Kristi Noem, Steve King, and Frank Lucas and “tell them that the Farm Bill should help farmers and consumers and not their corporate cronies.”

“The American Energy Alliance is committed to America’s farmers, who rely on affordable energy to produce the food that feeds the world. But the Farm Bill has a long history of supporting expensive taxpayer giveaways that have nothing to do with a stable food supply or commonsense energy policies,” AEA President Thomas Pyle noted.

“Through the years, Republicans and Democrats alike have used this behemoth legislative vehicle to funnel billions of taxpayer dollars into expensive green energy ventures. If Washington politicians were serious about helping farmers, they would enact policies that promote development of affordable energy sources like oil and natural gas that are used to fuel equipment and produce fertilizer. Instead, we get more cronyism and big green boondoggles disguised as as a farm bill.”

To listen to the radio ad that South Dakotans will hear, click here.
To listen to the radio ad that Oklahomans will hear, click here.
To listen to the radio ad that Iowans will hear, click here.

To read AEA’s fact sheet on the radio ads, click here.


ICYMI: AEA Fires Energy ‘Jump Ball’ for 2012 President Election

The Washington Post
By Dan Eggen
April 25, 9:28 AM

Nearly all of the independent advertising aired for the 2012 general-election campaign has come from interest groups that do not disclose their donors, suggesting that much of the political spending over the next six months will come from sources invisible to the public.

Politically active nonprofits that do not reveal their funding have spent $28.5 million on advertising related to the November presidential matchup, or about 90 percent of the total through Sunday, a Washington Post analysis shows.

Most of the ad spending has come from conservative groups criticizing the policies of President Obama in key swing states, the data show. Tens of millions more have been spent by secretive groups targeting congressional races, again primarily in support of Republicans.

The numbers signal a shift away from super PACs, which are required to disclose their donors to the Federal Election Commission and which have dominated political spending in the Republican presidential primary contest. Instead, the battle between Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney appears likely to be dominated by a shadow campaign run by big-spending nonprofits that do not have to identify their financial backers.

The pattern underscores the growing influence of corporations and wealthy individuals in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that made it easier to spend unlimited money on elections. The numbers also suggest that many wealthy donors are increasingly opting for the confidentiality of nonprofits rather than allowing the public scrutiny that comes from giving to super PACs or candidates.

“I think there is a potential to see a tremendous amount of money flowing through these nonprofit groups,” said Bill Allison, editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation, which advocates greater disclosure for political organizations and candidates. “For an awful lot of donors, it’s a very attractive way to give without leaving any kind of footprint.”

Crossroads GPS, the largest of the independent pro-Republican groups, said it raised nearly $40 million from unidentified donors in the first three months of this year, compared with less than $10 million by its affiliated super PAC, American Crossroads, which discloses contributions, according to documents and officials.

The Crossroads groups have run nearly $12 million in anti-Obama ads this cycle, nearly all of them paid for by the secretive nonprofit arm, according to data from Kantar Media/Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks ad spending. Recent tax records showed that 90 percent of the $76 million raised by the nonprofit arm through 2011 came from unidentified donors who gave $1 million or more, including two who gave $10 million each.

Many of the spots aired by groups such as Crossroads GPS are considered “issue ads” because they do not specifically urge viewers to vote for a particular candidate. The strategy allows them to conform to Internal Revenue Service rules for “social welfare” groups, which do not have to disclose their donors as long as their “primary purpose” is not politics.

One Crossroads GPS spot currently running in Virginia, for example, castigates the president for high energy costs. “No matter how Obama spins it, gas costs too much,” the female narrator says. “Tell Obama: Stop blaming others and work to pass better energy policies.”

Despite its anti-Obama message, the ad is not considered an election-related message under FEC and IRS guidelines. That means the money spent to air the spot — about $204,000 in the Richmond, Charlottesville and Washington markets — will not count as part of the group’s political budget, experts say.

“We are still very early in the cycle, with virtually all of last year and the first quarter dedicated to framing legislative and regulatory issues with conservative messaging,” said Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for the Crossroads groups. “As we approach the elections, more of our expenditures will be political and election focused.”

In addition to Crossroads, top expenditures on anti-Obama issue ads include $7 million from Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group with ties to oil billionaires Charles and David Koch; $3 million from the American Future Fund, a nonprofit conservative group based in Iowa; and at least $3.3 million from the American Energy Alliance, a group supported in part by the energy industry.

Liberal groups have spent little in comparison. The Environmental Defense Fund and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have each spent about $1.1 million on ads related to the general presidential election, the data show. Most of the money on the left, particularly from labor unions, is expected to be spent on grass-roots organizing rather than advertising.

Benjamin Cole, communications director for American Energy Alliance, said the estimated $4 million the group has spent on television, radio and Internet ads “is just a fraction of what we’re expecting to spend” by November. He said the group is proud that it “fired the jump ball for the general election” with an ad running in 10 swing states that criticizes Obama’s energy policies and warns of $9-a-gallon gasoline.

“Almost overnight it became Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on energy,” Cole said. “There’s no problem with that. We want the conversation about energy and we’re happy to keep that conversation going.”

Nonetheless, Cole said, the group’s aims are primarily educational and nonpartisan. He noted that the group has criticized Romney, giving him its “Dim Bulb Award” last week for saying in 2003 that coal energy “kills people.”

Watchdog groups have long complained about a lack of disclosure by tax-exempt advocacy organizations, and Democrats have pushed for stronger requirements. Last month, a federal judge in Washington ordered the FEC to require tougher disclosure rules for nonprofits that run ads within 60 days of an election, but it’s unclear whether the agency will act on the matter before November.

Much of the advocacy spending related to the presidential election will go undocumented until 2013, when interest groups file their annual reports with the IRS.

Super PACs also have come under fire for transparency because many donations to the groups are from entities that are hard to trace. Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney super PAC that has raised $52 million, said it would revise its FEC disclosures this week after news organizations raised questions about a $400,000 donation linked to a defunct company address.

Spokeswoman Brittany Gross said the listing was the result of a “clerical error.” She said the filing will be updated to show a pair of $200,000 contributions from Gerald and Darlene Jordan, who hosted a recent fundraiser for Romney at their home in Palm Beach, Fla.