The dirty oil coalition behind the Proposition 23 effort to stop clean energy just got a lot dirtier

Koch Industries joins Valero and Tesoro to stop climate action

No to Proposition 23!On Friday, September 03 Thomas F. Steyer, Co-Chair of the No on 23 Campaign and Paul Knepprath, Vice President for advocacy and health initiatives for the California chapter of the American Lung Association held a press call to discuss the latest donations to the Yes on 23 campaign to repeal California’s key climate and clean energy laws.

“The dirty oil coalition behind prop 23 just got a lot dirtier,” said Knepprath, referring to the $1 million contribution that Koch Industries made to the Yes on 23 campaign a day earlier. The campaign is supporting a passage of proposition 23 that was placed on the ballot by Texas oil companies.  The proposition would undo California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (also known as Assembly Bill 32, or AB 32).

Koch Industries is one of the biggest polluters in the country and is ranked the biggest spending dirty energy company.  In fact, Koch Industries outspends Exxon Mobil on climate and clean energy disinformation.  Yesterday, in addition to Koch, Tesoro donated another $1 million bringing the total contributions to the Yes on 23 campaign to more than $8 million – 97% of which comes from oil and 89% of which comes from out of state.  Valero, Tesoro and Koch alone have funded more than $6.5 million – 80% of total contributions.

“I think it’s appropriate to revert to the old saying follow the money because I think that is what Proposition 23 is trying to do is move our state backwards and cost us our clean energy jobs.  And I think that when you follow the money you see that there are three companies from out of state who have a very specific econ interest in rolling back our laws and our regulations, ” said Thomas F. Steyer, Co-Chair of No on 23 Campaign in a press call on Friday, September 3, 2010.

Steyer, a CAP board member, pointed to the economic benefits and employment opportunities stemming from AB32.  “We already have 500,000 clean energy jobs, we have been building this part of the economy consistently even in tough times, so what they’re [oil companies] really trying to roll back is something that is working,” he said.

As for what’s at stake, Steyer said, “If the yes on 23 folks win we’re going to change the framework for investment here we’re gonna change our ability to create new industries, those industries our going to go elsewhere probably not in the United States, probably our biggest competition in this is China”¦We absolutely have to prevent this proposition from passing if we’re gonna protect the jobs of the 21st century.”

The “Toxic Triplets”

“We like to look at Koch, Valero, and Tesoro as the toxic triplets, said Knepprath on the call today.

A huge coalition opposing proposition 23 including business, labor, environmental organizations and more, has formed representing the wide range of threats to the economy, jobs, and public health that that proposition 23 poses.  Knepprath noted the dangers to public health that would result from proposition 23, which would repeal sections of California’s health and safety code that force major polluters to reduce their air pollution in California.  The American Lung Association is opposed to the proposition for this reason.  “Proposition 23 is a public disaster waiting to happen. It’s going to result in more air pollution, increased public health threats, and respiratory diseases,” said Knepprath.  He continued, “with yesterday’s donations, these massive donations by Koch and others, that the dirty oil coalition behind prop 23 just got a lot dirtier.”

Guest blogger Rebecca Lefton is a researcher with CAPAF’s Progressive Media, and has been following big oil’s prop 23 closely.


9 Responses to The dirty oil coalition behind the Proposition 23 effort to stop clean energy just got a lot dirtier

  1. Jeff Huggins says:

    Thanks Rebecca, And . . .

    Thanks for the very helpful post, Rebecca.

    The only comment or “plea” I’d make is this: Whenever there’s a post featuring Koch, could we please mention and list, in the post itself, the Koch consumer brands (e.g., in this case, mainly the Georgia-Pacific products, including many familiar brands)? That way, people can choose what not to buy.

    Here (CP) and elsewhere (Dot Earth), in the past when Koch has been mentioned, I’ve gone to the Georgia-Pacific sight, written the brands down, and posted them in a comment, but I’ve already done that perhaps a dozen times. It’s tiring. In my view — ideally — the posts themselves should connect the dots for citizens — “consumers” — as much as possible. Posts themselves will not bring about change: But, action that (might) result from posts might bring about change.

    Again, the post is great. I’m just hoping that, as people write and talk about Koch, we all make the matter more actionable.

    Cheers and thanks,


  2. dyuane says:

    Koch Industries should give me a million dollars. We need to quit having lobbyist in local,state and federal government.

  3. Dan B says:

    It’s worth noting that the Koch foundations fund programming on PBS. Nova is a clear example, a program that’s becoming increasingly useless because it will not talk about global warming. It seems to fit the Spanish: No va.

    It’s possible that Koch will destroy the innovative spark that’s propelled the US to success. Meaningful innovation springs from a clear understanding of the challenges we face. Ignoring global warming misses the biggest challenge to humanity.

  4. Dorothy says:

    Yes, Dan B. And Koch also contributes to the American Ballet Theatre, the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s all in the New Yorker article:

    These big establishments made a big moral choice in accepting money from Koch. In my not-so-humble opinion, it was a appalling decision, but tragically understandable, when one considers these “public” institutions are just like other large corporations – they must feed and refuel on more and more money to keep satiated.

    I think these institutions should be publicly condemned for allowing Koch to finance them. Their deliberate blindness to the damage Koch Industries and the other toxic corporations are doing is contributing to the destruction of our biosphere.

    There more on DeSmogBlog today:

  5. Bill Logan says:

    Here is a partial list of Koch Industry products:

    Angel Soft toilet paper
    Brawny paper towels
    Dixie plates, bowls, napkins and cups
    Mardi Gras napkins and towels
    Quilted Northern toilet paper
    Soft ‘n Gentle toilet paper
    Sparkle napkins
    Vanity fair napkins
    Zee napkins

    Other KOCH brand names under their Invista division:


    There is a small but growing boycott starting on Facebook at!/pages/Boycott-and-Defeat-Koch-Industries/155879361093898

  6. catman306 says:

    Dorothy, we’re changing the world just by suddenly thrusting the spotlight on Koch Industries. They’ve been out of the public’s eye because they’re not publicly traded. No one cared if they made any money or not, so they could do what they pleased. Kings of the world, uncaring kings of the world..

    Bill Logan, I feel certain that this is a very partial list. Which raises the question: how much can we ever know about shares in other companies that Koch Industries may own and how much control they can exert with those shares?

  7. Gerald Einem says:

    Koch Industries is just the tip of the iceburg.The American Petroleuml Iinstitute is running adds against “cap and trade”( remember the energy tax?)on MSNBC,CNN and other cable news TV channels.The Koch’s may fund this as well.In theTV adds the messageis”a tax on the oil industries is a tax on the consummer”,a threat.We need to call their bluff!

  8. The Kochs are promoting something they think will deliver victory in the marketplace. No matter what sacrifice – they think they will emerge on top.

    However, since their promotion of carbon damage might actually kill all humans, – their win will ultimately defeat themselves also. Their victory just means they get a nicer coffin – but not really that much later than the rest of the world. And certainly no legacy DNA for them either – despite all their wealth.

    Either they do not yet know this – in which case they are misinformed (scientifically stupid or deliberately duped) or they know it full well and have disregard the consequences – in which case they are dangerously crazy. Gosh, neither choice sounds very nice.

    Is there another interpretation I might have missed?

    All the bread and circuses on NPR and opera cannot make up for that condemnation.

  9. RussiaJuly says:

    What evil men. They should be made to stand trial at The Hague/ICC for crimes against the planet. No amount of money on Earth should permit anyone to jeopardize the future of life on Earth.