In early May, ClimateProgress will bring on a new blogger/journalist, as I noted last week (see “What would you like to know about clean energy?“).
But his task won’t merely be to report on clean energy. I’m hoping we can do some investigative reporting, too. I’d love your suggestions for areas worth exploring.
A recent example done outside of CAP is from the Center for Public Integrity (“Investigative journalism in the public interest”) in their detailed new report “Koch’s web of influence“:
The Koch brothers are renowned as free market libertarians. But as a major trader in energy and financial markets, Koch Industries also knows how to hedge.
As its corporate officials and publicists decried ethanol as a costly government boondoggle, the Kochs bought four ethanol plants in Iowa in recent months, with a combined annual capacity of 435 million gallons. In Washington (where ethanol tax subsidies cost the Treasury some $6 billion annually) Koch representatives lobbied Congress on ethanol and other biofuel subsidies….
Koch’s efforts to limit regulation of toxic substances illustrate the breadth of its lobbying operation.
In 2004 Koch Industries purchased Invista, a subsidiary of DuPont, known for manufacturing Lycra, Stainmaster carpets and other textiles and fabrics. In 2005, as part of the same corporate diversification and expansion strategy, Koch Industries bought the giant wood and paper products firm, Georgia-Pacific, adding Brawny paper towels, Angel Soft toilet paper, Dixie cups and dozens of factories and plants to its holdings.
Koch has since worked, on Capitol Hill and in various regulatory proceedings, to dilute or halt tighter federal regulation of several toxic byproducts that could affect its bottom line, including dioxin, asbestos and formaldehyde, all of which have been linked to cancer….
Global warming and low carbon fuel standards
It’s in the Kochs’ commercial interest to preserve America’s reliance on carbon-based energy sources. Despite recent diversification, Koch remains a major petrochemical company with refineries in North Pole, Alaska; Corpus Christi, Texas; Rosemount, Minn., and Rotterdam in the Netherlands; an array of chemical plants; a coal subsidiary (the C. Reiss Coal Co.) and 4,000 miles of pipelines.
So it is not surprising that, when the Obama administration and the Democrats on Capitol Hill proposed to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases in recent years, Koch Industries responded with a fervent counteroffensive.
“Oppose government mandates on carbon reduction provisions “¦ [and] provisions related to climate change, and oppose entire bill,” Koch lobbyist Robert P. Hall wrote, listing his goals on the 2008 lobbying disclosure form….
Energy industry tax breaks
Koch lobbyists spend much of their time, according to their disclosure reports, fighting attempts by members of Congress to curb price-gouging, windfall profit-taking and speculation in the oil industry. To this same end, Koch officials worked to dilute a 2009 Federal Trade Commission rule governing manipulation of the energy markets.
Meanwhile, Koch has lobbied to preserve some of the oil industry’s coveted tax breaks and credits.
What kind of investigative reporting would you like to see at ClimateProgress on energy and climate in the coming year?