As ThinkProgress and others have reported, Koch Industries and its billionaire owners, Charles and David Koch, have played a leading role in the apparently successful effort by polluters to stymie Senate passage of comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation.
Not content to simply stop progress, however, the Koch brothers and various Koch-funded organizations have also been actively trying to roll back existing clean air and clean energy laws — both at the state and national levels. David Koch, who lives in New York City and whose company is based in Kansas, is secretly bankrolling the Proposition 23 effort to roll back California’s landmark clean energy law. Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity helped make opposition to “cap-and-trade” a Tea Party talking point and then launched its so-called “Regulation Reality” tour to attack Supreme Court-mandated Clean Air Act regulations being finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Today, a new Koch-backed national effort to protect the energy industry, dubbed “Rally for Jobs,” begins with rallies in Texas and will continue next week with events in New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, and Ohio. While the American Petroleum Institute, Big Oil’s Washington lobbying arm, is the “presenting sponsor” of the Rally for Jobs tour, several Koch-backed groups are also involved:
• FreedomWorks, whose Koch-founded precursor, Citizens for a Sound Economy, received some $5.7 million from Koch foundations. • Americans for Prosperity, which received at least $5.1 million from Koch Foundations from 2005–2008 and is an offshoot of the Koch-founded Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, which itself received more than $6 million from Koch foundations.• The American Highway Users Alliance, of which Koch Industries is a member.• Americans for Tax Reform, which received $60,000 from Koch Foundations from 1997–2008.• The Institute for Policy Innovation, which received $35,000 from Koch foundations.• The National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, of which Koch Industries is a member. • The National Taxpayers Union, which has received $20,000 from Koch foundations.• The Natural Gas Supply Association, of which Koch Industries appears to be a member.• The Texas Prosperity Project, on whose board of directors sits Bill Oswald, Government & Regulatory Affairs Director at Koch Industries. • The Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, which recently held an event sponsored by Flint Hills Resources, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries.
The Rally for Jobs tour is the latest astroturf attempt by Koch and the rest of Big Oil to use the economic anxiety gripping the nation to stave off any new attempts to crack down on the industry’s emissions and to block new accountability measures in the wake of the BP oil disaster. The front group’s website uses standard energy industry boilerplate repeating the false claim that increased energy use and economic prosperity are inexorably linked:
More energy equals more jobs, higher incomes and greater economic growth. We must come together to tell Washington that our livelihoods depend on the oil and natural gas industry and consumers who rely on access to affordable energy will not be overlooked.
Just yesterday, the Center for American Progress released a report showing that a concerted national energy efficiency program (i.e using less energy, not more) could create 625,000 sustained jobs over ten years, spark $500 billion in investment, and save ratepayers $64 billion that they could then use more productively.
The Rally for Jobs website also implies that the federal government is blocking energy production and somehow threatening jobs, presumably referring to the Obama administration’s deepwater drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil industry and some elected officials have been fearmongering over the moratorium for months, but a front page New York Times article from last week noted that job losses as a result of the drilling ban have simply “failed to materialize.” Further underscoring how unreliable the claims of the oil industry often turn out to be, just two of the 33 deepwater rigs idled by the moratorium have actually left the Gulf.
It seems that politics and the fall election may also have played a role in selecting the tour’s stops. Canton, Ohio and Mokena, Illinois, the sites of two stops next week, are not generally known for their role in oil production, but they do happen to be home to vulnerable freshman House Democrats — both of whom voted for comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation last year. Indeed, Jack Gerard, the president of the American Petroleum Institute, noted that “we have always encouraged our employees to engage in political activities.”
If this all sounds strangely familiar, it’s because many of the same Koch-backed groups participated in a nearly identical effort last summer. The so-called “Energy Citizens” campaign was widely mocked as the height of energy industry astroturfing, especially after documents were uncovered showing that 15 of the 21 Energy Citizens events were actually planned by oil industry lobbyists.
It seems that when it comes to astroturf groups protecting polluters, almost all roads eventually lead back to the “Kochtopus.”