The corporate-backed front group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is again leading the charge for industry against environmental protections. Earlier this month, AFP kicked off its “Regulation Reality Tour” — a roadshow through the states of pivotal senators pressuring the Environmental Protection Agency not to regulate carbon emissions, as outlined by the Clean Air Act .
The campaign is part carnival, part sophisticated K Street lobbying. Attendees are welcomed by an inflatable moonbounce for children, free food and drinks, and AFP staff dressed as “carbon cops” distributing freebies to the crowd. The rallies serve as a platform for AFP to scare voters with stories of bureaucrats regulating churches and “radio controlled thermostats.” Moreover, operatives from AFP collect names and train attendees on how to lobby Congress to defeat clean energy reform.
The founder and chairman of Americans for Prosperity is oil baron David Koch, who is one of the richest men in the world because of his oil, chemicals, and manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries. Koch Industries is a major polluter with an atrocious record of sloppy operations. According to the EPA, Koch Industries is responsible for over 300 oil spills in the US and has leaked three million gallons of crude oil into fisheries and drinking waters. They were fined a record $35 million dollars and an additional $8 million in Minnesota for discharging into streams. But AFP’s recent crusade against the EPA is just the latest in Koch’s twenty-year campaign to have unrestricted power to pollute. Some highlights of the timeline:
— David Koch pioneered front groups focused on organizing grassroots opposition to environmental regulations, opposition to climate science. Koch’s flagship organization, Citizens for a Sound Economy, now known as Americans for Prosperity, orchestrated everything from anti-tax protests aimed at opposing President Clinton to the current tea party movement aimed at President Obama.
— The same tactics Koch-funded groups are now using against clean energy reform were employed during the 1990’s against (highly successful) acid rain regulations, other EPA rules against pollution. In the field, Koch’s groups would use conspiracy theories to whip up right-wing hysteria against regulations, while other Koch groups would directly lobby, produce academic reports, and pay for advertisements.
— Koch helped anti-environment Republicans win policy battles and congressional elections in the 1990’s, elect Bush in 2000 and 2004. And how the Bush administration rewarded Koch by adopting his pro-pollution ideas and appointing his operatives to key positions. Koch is the most singular force for the rampant anti-environment, anti-climate science strain popular among the American right, which stands in contrast to conservative parties in Europe and the rest of the world which recognize the threat of manmade climate change.
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