The Wonk Room has long detailed the role of the billionaire brothers of Koch Industries, Charles and David Koch, in destroying American prosperity. Their pollution-based fortunes have fueled a network of right-wing ideologues, from McCain mouthpiece Nancy Pfotenhauer to loony conspiracy theorist Christopher Monckton. In public, the Kochs like to burnish their reputations by buying museum and opera halls. In private, however, they’ve outspent Exxon Mobil to fund organizations of the climate denial machine, as Greenpeace details in a new report:
Although Koch intentionally stays out of the public eye, it is now playing a quiet but dominant role in a high-profile national policy debate on global warming. Koch Industries has become a financial kingpin of climate science denial and clean energy opposition. This private, out-of-sight corporation is now a partner to Exxon Mobil, the American Petroleum Institute and other donors that support organizations and front-groups opposing progressive clean energy and climate policy. In fact, Koch has out-spent Exxon Mobil in funding these groups in recent years. From 2005 to 2008, Exxon Mobil spent $8.9 million while the Koch Industries-controlled foundations contributed $24.9 million in funding to organizations of the climate denial machine.
This report, “Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine” documents roughly 40 climate denial and opposition organizations receiving Koch foundation grants in recent years, including:
— More than $5 million to Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP) for its nationwide “Hot Air Tour” and “Regulation Reality Tour” campaigns to spread misinformation about climate science and oppose clean energy and climate legislation.
— More than $1 million to the Heritage Foundation, a mainstay of misinformation on climate and environmental policy issues.
— Over $1 million to the Cato Institute, which disputes the scientific evidence behind global warming, questions the rationale for taking climate action, and has been heavily involved in spinning the recent ClimateGate smear campaign.
— $800,000 to the Manhattan Institute, which has hosted Bjorn Lomborg twice in the last two years. Lomborg is a prominent media spokesperson who challenges and attacks policy measures to address climate change.
— $365,000 to Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE) which advocates against taking action on climate change because warming is “inevitable” and expensive to address.
— $360,000 to Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy (PRIPP) which supported and funded “An Inconvenient Truth…or Convenient Fiction,” a film attacking the science of global warming and intended as a rebuttal to former Vice-President Al Gore’s documentary. PRIPP also threatened to sue the US Government for listing the polar bear as an endangered species.
— $325,000 to the Tax Foundation, which issued a misleading study on the costs of proposed climate legislation.
The blockbuster report covers the role of Koch’s dirty network in promoting the ClimateGate smear campaign, pushing junk science about polar bears, fueling supposedly independent Spanish and Danish studies that attacked green jobs, and selling a pack of lies about the costs of climate legislation.
Koch Industries Communications Director Melissa Cohlmia responds:
In a consistent, principled effort for more than 50 years — long before climate change was a key policy issue — Koch companies and Koch foundations have worked to advance economic freedom and market-based policy solutions to challenges faced by society. These efforts are about creating more opportunity and prosperity for all, as it’s a historical fact that economic freedom best fosters innovation, environmental protection and improved quality of life in a society.
The Greenpeace report mischaracterizes these efforts and distorts the environmental record of our companies. Koch companies have long supported science-based inquiry and dialogue about climate change and proposed responses to it. Koch companies have put tremendous energy into achieving sound environmental stewardship and consistently implemented innovative and cost-effective ways to reduce waste and emissions, including greenhouse gases, associated with our manufacturing and products.
We believe the political response to climate issues should be based on sound science. Both a free society and the scientific method require an open and honest airing of all sides, not demonizing and silencing those with whom you disagree. We’ve strived to encourage an intellectually honest debate on the scientific basis for claims of harm from greenhouse gases. We have tried to help bring out the facts of the potential effectiveness and costs of policies proposed to deal with climate, as it’s crucial to understand whether proposed initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases will achieve desired environmental goals and what effects they would likely have on the global economy.