Four foundations run by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch hold a combined $310 million in assets, according to tax filings obtained by the Center for Public Integrity. [Public Integrity]
The documents also show that the brothers, principal owners of the second-largest privately held company in the United States, combined in 2011 to donate $24 million through those foundations with much of the money going to support free-market and libertarian think tanks and academic centers.
A $4.5 million grant to the George Mason University Foundation makes up nearly 15 percent of the university foundation’s revenue for 2011. The school is the largest recipient of Koch foundation money since 1985, and it houses several free-market and libertarian research centers including the Institute for Humane Studies, which received $3.7 million from the Koch foundations.
The D.C.-based American Legislative Exchange Council received $150,000 to help finance its activities, including meetings where corporate representatives draft model legislation with state legislators. The Koch brothers have decades-long connections with ALEC, which gave the brothers the Adam Smith Free Enterprise Award in 1994.
A study suggests the ozone hole over the Antarctic is altering wind patterns, thus weakening the Southern Ocean’s ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. [Climate Central]
The Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday that commercial production of cellulosic fuels would start this year, and proposed requiring refiners to use 11 million gallons of the material this year. [NYTimes]
The Australian government pledged to stop coal shipping developments that would damage the Great Barrier Reef, responding to a Friday deadline amid U.N. warnings that the reef’s conservation status could be downgraded. [Reuters]
The United States taxes fossil fuels less than just about every other developed country, according to a new report from the OECD. [WaPo]
The catastrophic drought in the central United States — which has cost the nation at least $35 billion, according to a report last week — shows no signs of abating as the nation enters the final full month of winter and moves toward spring. [USA Today]
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) plans to reintroduce a bill that offers tax credits for a limited amount of offshore wind projects. Its content would likely mirror the one he co-sponsored last Congress with former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). [The Hill]
The longest streak of days on record without a tornado-related fatality in the U.S. came to a violent end on Wednesday morning, when an EF-4 tornado struck Adairsville, Ga., killing at least one person in a mobile home park. [Climate Central]