Koch brothers

Is Koch Industries Lobbying the EU Over Natural Gas?

America’s largest privately owned energy company, Koch Industries, has been lobbying on “energy markets/financial regulation” reveals new data released by the interactive lobby database, EU Integrity Watch launched at the end of June.

On 28 April, Koch’s lobbyist met with Lee Foulger, an EU cabinet member working under European Commissioner Jonathan Hill. Hill’s team works on financial stability, financial services and the Capital Markets Union – Europe's flagship project to build a single finance market for all 28 Member States.

According to the database, this is the only lobby meeting the representative for Koch’s legal, lobbying and public affairs arm – known as Koch Companies Public Sectors – has had in the last six months with a member of the European commission. Meetings prior to December 2014 are not available online.

Are the Koch Brothers Trying to Influence TTIP Negotiations?

The latest release of lobbying data on the European Commission’s Transparency Register has raised concerns that the fossil-fuelled Kochs are trying to influence the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.

Digging through the data, DeSmog UK found that the European arm of Koch Industry’s legal, lobbying and public affairs branch – known as Koch Companies Public Sector LLC – has spent up to £0.5m lobbying EU policymakers on the environment, energy and free trade.

And according to the voluntary register, Koch Industries – the largest privately owned energy company in the United States, known for funding climate denial groups – has a particular interest in lobbying on the “EU’s free trade agreement negotiations.”

Oiling The Machinery Of Climate Change Denial And Transit Opposition

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

Brothers Charles and David Koch run Koch Industries, the second-largest privately owned company in the U.S., behind Cargill. They’ve given close to US$70 million to climate change denial front groups, some of which they helped start, including Americans for Prosperity, founded by David Koch and a major force behind the Tea Party movement.

Through their companies, the Kochs are the largest U.S. leaseholder in the Alberta oilsands. They’ve provided funding to Canada’s pro-oil Fraser Institute and are known to fuel the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory, which claims a 1992 UN non-binding sustainable development proposal is a plot to remove property rights and other freedoms.

Researchers reveal they’re also behind many anti-transit initiatives in the U.S., in cities and states including Nashville, Indianapolis, Boston, Virginia, Florida and Los Angeles. They spend large amounts of money on campaigns to discredit climate science and the need to reduce greenhouse gases, and they fund sympathetic politicians.

Disclosure Fail: Industry Reps Testifying for Denton, Texas Fracking Bill Left Ties Undisclosed

March 24 hearing prior to the passage of a controversial bill out of committee that preempts cities in Texas from regulating hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for oil and gas obtained from shale basins, featured numerous witnesses who failed to disclose their industry ties, including some with ties to the Koch brothers

The next day on March 25, Texas Senate Bill 1165 — “Relating to the express preemption of regulation of oil and gas operations and the exclusive jurisdiction of those operations by the state” — passed in the Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee unanimously. Its companion bill, HB 40, also only received a single dissenting vote, and it now advances to a full floor vote in both chambers.  

The legislation is seen by some as part of the multipronged effort to chip away and ultimately defeat the Denton, Texas fracking ban voted on by the city's citizens on Election Day 2014, with another prong being the lawsuits filed against the city.

The March 24 Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development hearing on SB 1165, lasting over four hours, featured a long list of witnesses testifying for and against the bill.

Though everyone testifying in support of it had industry ties, a DeSmogBlog investigation reveals that a few of them did not disclose this when signing up to testify and simply wrote they were testifying as “self.” 

The War On Solar Is Real, Unlike the "War on Coal"

You’ve most likely heard of the so-called “war on coal,” especially given how eagerly mainstream newspapers have helped conservatives in pushing this bogus meme. But there’s another war going on, one you probably haven’t heard of even though the outcome has major implications for the future of our planet.

That would be the “war on solar,” a concerted effort by vested fossil fuel interests and their political allies to hinder the progress of solar power, and more broadly attack all efforts to convert our society to run on clean, renewable energy sources.

Solar is a fast-growing clean energy industry that now employs 174,000 people, more than the coal industry. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the U.S. now has more than 20 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity, enough to power four million American homes while contributing more than $15 billion to the American economy.

The aggressors in the war on the solar industry include some familiar names: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Americans for Tax Reform and the Koch Brothers’ own Americans for Prosperity, organizations that are intent on rolling back policies — including the solar investment tax credit — designed to encourage solar energy development. These front groups for fossil fuel interests are determined to restrict the growth of the clean tech industries in favor of the dirty energy interests they’re beholden to for funding.

As Karl Cates of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis writes, “the war on solar remains starkly underreported, and vastly deserving of much more and better coverage than it’s gotten so far.”

Koch Brothers Exposed: Watch Free Documentary on the Fifth Anniversary of Citizens United

Today marks five years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the wrong way on the Citizens United case, allowing unlimited spending by corporations in elections. Protesters in Washington spent the morning disrupting the Supreme Court to register their frustration with the ruling, yelling “overturn Citizens United!” from the back of the courtroom.

In case you haven't seen the documentary film “Koch Brothers Exposed,” Brave New Films is offering the film free online for anyone to view.

I asked Mike Damanskis, a comedian, filmmaker and social media manager at Brave New Films, about the decision and what they hope to achieve by doing it. Read on for our Q&A.

Blundell: The Missing Link Between Oil Baron Charles Koch and British Climate Denial

John Blundell is welcomed into the inner circle of the Koch elite at at time of inner-family squabbling and political scandal. He soon gains insight into an empire run by obsession and apparent deception. This is part two of DeSmog UK’s history of Blundell and Charles Koch.

Blundell was offered a well paid job at the Institute of Humane Studies (IHS) in April 1982 - a hardline neoliberal think tank funded by the oil billionare Charles Koch.

He resigned as spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses and as a councillor at a London borough and moved to California in the United States with his wife Christine and their three-month-old baby boy, Miles.

How Charles Koch Sent His Emissary to London to Launch Climate Denial

Climate denial was imported from the United States to Britain by a free market idealist employed by the billionaire oil baron Charles Koch. DeSmog UK tells their story for the first time in a two-part longread from our epic history series. 

John Blundell was an idealist. A curious, unassuming and softly spoken conservative. When a sixteen-year-old school student living in a three-storey semi-detached house in the affluent suburbs of Congleton, Cheshire, his father handed him an Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) pamphlet: “I was sitting up in bed, it was 1969 when I was trying to decide on A levels.

My dad was on the agricultural economy faculty at Manchester University and went to the library and brought home a pile of things to make sure I knew what I was doing,” Blundell told me just months before he passed away. “I was already leaning toward the market philosophy.”

Green Billionaires Club? David Vitter Owns Stock in Coal Utilities Fighting EPA Carbon Rules

On July 30, the Republican minority of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, headed by Sen. David Vitter, released a report titled “The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA.”

Critics of the report say it is propaganda designed to skewer the Obama EPA and environmental philanthropists for “conspiring to help the environment.”

Vitter's chief source of campaign cash is the oil and gas industry and he recently called the billionaire Koch Brothers “two of the most patriotic Americans in the history of the Earth.” 

What the 92-page report leaves out is that Vitter — an esteemed member of the Senate “Millionaires Club” — owns tens of thousands of dollars in stocks of the electric utility Wisconsin Energy Corporation (We Energies), which owns major coal-fired power plants in both Oak Creek, Wisc. and Pleasant Prairie, Wisc.

We Energies says it stands to lose economically if the proposed Obama EPA carbon rules are implemented, citing the potential risks related to legislation and regulation in its most recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Form 10-Q.

“Any legislation or regulation that may ultimately be adopted, either at the federal or state level, designed to reduce GHG emissions could have a material adverse impact on our electric generation and natural gas distribution operations,” We Energies stated on the form.

“Such regulation could make some of our electric generating units uneconomic to maintain or operate, and could adversely affect our future results of operations.”

We Energies CEO Gale Klappa also voiced dissatisfaction with the proposed rule during his company's most recent earnings call, saying the company will submit comment to the EPA as part of the public comment period.

Keystone XL Review Extended, Delaying Final Decision Until After 2014 Elections

Reuters and Politico broke a major story today that TransCanada's northern leg of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will not be decided on until after the 2014 mid-term elections.

“The U.S. State Department will…extend the government comment period on the Keystone XL pipeline, likely postponing a final decision on the controversial project until after the November 4 midterm elections,” Reuters explained.

Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama have final say over whether the pipeline will be built because it crosses the U.S.-Canada border.

Reporters learned of the decision after a call between high-level congressional staff and State Department officials. 

“The justification is the need to wait on continued litigation over a Nebraska court decision earlier this year, which threw part of the project’s route in doubt, two sources said today after a call between the State Department and congressional staff,” reported Politico.

In the end, the decision came down to politics, according to Politico, though there are no shortage of climate change and ecological concerns for the prospective pipeline.

“A delay past November would spare Obama a politically difficult decision on whether to approve the pipeline, angering his green base and environmentally minded campaign donors — or reject it, endangering pro-pipeline Democrats,” they reported.


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