Binz says that Lewandowski is "absolutely committed to fossil fuels going forward. He's free to do that, I guess. But I think his member-owners should seriously question whether he's acting in their best interest. He's shooting first and asking questions later."
Lewandowski is also under fire from scientists for grossly misrepresenting the scientific evidence of global warming in a six-page "fact sheet" that accompanied the letter, blaming global warming on natural cycles and "the influences of plate tectonics."
Scientists say he is simply wrong and attempting to cloud sound science now agreed on after decades of debate.
"There is clearly a well-organized and well-funded effort to undermine the science and cause confusion in the minds of the public," said Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. "And several contrarians have benefited solely to carry this disinformation campaign out."
Lewandowski said: "I'm not trying to twist the science. I didn't dream any of this stuff up. I picked this up here and there. I didn't mean to mislead anybody, and that's not my intent."
Experts and journalists, however, who have documented a 15-year campaign funded by major companies in the fossil fuel industry to cast doubt on global warming science say the intent is to create confusion.
"This coal industry disinformation campaign is a repeat of a similar campaign launched in the early 1990s by Western Fuels and other coal interests," said Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Ross Gelbspan.
"That campaign, which involved some of the same players, was perhaps less reprehensible since the science of climate change was still maturing at the time."
In the last several years, however, a growing body of research has led virtually all credible climate scientists to the same conclusion.
For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- an international group of hundreds of climate scientists -- concluded in 2001 that "there is new and stronger evidence that most of the observed warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities."
Last month, the National Academies of Sciences said Earth was likely hotter than it had been in at least the last 2,000 years.
Gelbspan says that continued efforts to confuse the public in the face of the evidence are "particularly sinister" given that they follow "by almost 10 years the conclusion of more than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries in what is the largest and most rigorously peer-reviewed scientific collaboration in history."
For his part, Lewandowski says that he plans to tell his customers about how he's spending their money, probably in a notice mailed with September electric bills.
"We will go to our membership with this issue. I'm going to write them a letter and tell them, 'This is our side of it.' We'll tell them, 'If you think we ought to do something different, let us know.'"