Koch brothers

Mon, 2011-07-11 08:08Chris Mooney
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The Science of Astroturfing

Here at DeSmogBlog, and around the environmental and liberal political blogosphere, there is great concern about “Astroturf” organizations—groups that pose as real citizen movements or organizations, but in fact are closely tied to corporations or special interests. The “fake grassroots” has been a major issue in the climate debate in particular, where groups like Americans for Prosperity, closely tied to the billionaire Koch Brothers, have sought to mobilize opposition to cap-and-trade legislation.

One obvious goal of astroturfing is to shape public policy, and public opinion, in a manner congenial to corporate interests. And indeed, the outrage over astroturfing in a sense presumes that this activity actually works (or else, why oppose it).

Yet there have been few scientific tests of whether the strategy does indeed move people—in part, presumably, because doing a controlled experiment might be hard to pull off. That’s why I was so intrigued by a new study in the Journal of Business Ethics, which attempts to do just that.

Fri, 2011-07-01 12:44TJ Scolnick
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Americans For Prosperity Sues New York For Participating In Regional Climate Pact

The Koch brothers’ corporate front group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) filed a lawsuit on Monday in New York’s State Supreme Court seeking to reverse a core piece of state action on climate change.  

New York joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in 2005 when former governor George Pataki (R) approved the state’s participation in the program. The suit alleges that New York is illegally (coercively) taxing residents by taking part in the market-based 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states’ Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The AFP complaint also asserts that carbon emissions trading is unconstitutional because it infringes on federal authority to set rules on air pollution and electrical power transmission across states. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), along with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, are all named as defendants in the suit.

Tue, 2011-06-14 15:24Farron Cousins
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Koch Money Fuels AFP Misinformation Campaign On Gas Prices

The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is taking their misinformation machine on the road in an attempt to convince American consumers that President Obama is causing the spike in gasoline prices. AFP is claiming that the president is intentionally keeping gas prices high because he refuses to allow oil companies to drill for oil in protected areas of the United States.

The tour is necessary for the AFP, as Americans do not believe that President Obama should be blamed for high gasoline prices. A staggering 61% of Americans say that the blame lies on the shoulders of the energy companies, and 59% say that some of the blame lies with the oil speculators. These numbers are not sitting well with the oil industry, and the AFP tour is just one of many oil industry tactics to try to shift public opinion using misinformation.

AFP’s “Running on Empty” campaign has scheduled stops in Virginia, Michigan, and Ohio in the upcoming days, to “teach” Americans about the numerous ways in which President Obama is making them pay higher prices at the pump.

AFP conveniently ignores the fact that gas prices were north of $4 a gallon during the Bush administration, when they peaked at $4.12, as pointed out by protesters who showed up at one of AFP’s early gas tour events in Nebraska.  But in the alternate reality that AFP is creating to enable Koch’s further oil profits, it’s somehow all Obama’s fault.

Mon, 2011-05-23 14:22Brendan DeMelle
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Koch Brothers Exposed: Brave New Films Explains How Billionaires Could Profit From Keystone XL Pipeline

In the latest installment of its video series “Koch Brothers Exposed,” the Brave New Films team interviews concerned property owners and farmers whose land and water quality is threatened by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry filthy tar sands crude from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries. 

The short video outlines the various ways that the billionaire Koch brothers may stand to benefit from the Keystone XL pipeline - that is, if it is ever built. 

A diverse and fast-growing coalition of property owners, farmers, water quality advocates, ethics watchdogs and environmentalists is rising up against the proposed pipeline, citing the threat of devestating impacts on critical public resources, including water supplies such as the Ogallala aquifer, which sits directly in the path of the currently anticipated pipeline route. Then there are the property rights, economics, and climate change-related reasons why this pipeline is so controversial.

As the video makes clear, the decision whether to grant a thumbs up or down to TransCanada’s request for a presidential permit to build the 1,959-mile tar sands pipeline rests sqaurely with Secretary Clinton and the State Department. The video asks viewers to “Tell Secretary Clinton To Say No To The Kochs” and the Keystone XL pipeline.

Sat, 2011-05-07 09:15Farron Cousins
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West Virginia Congressman Wants EPA To Stop Monitoring Toxic Waste

Republican Representative David McKinley from West Virginia has proposed a bill that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating toxic coal ash. The EPA has not yet made a decision on whether or not to classify coal ash as toxic, but reports show that the substance poses significant risks to human health.

McKinley is the sponsor of HR 1391, formally known as Recycling Coal Combustion Residuals Accessibility Act of 2011, a bill that would strip the EPA of their ability to exempt toxic coal ash from the EPA’s “Subtitle C” classification. Subtitle C lays out the guidelines that the agency follows in order to regulate toxic substances from “the cradle to the grave,” meaning that they provide oversight throughout the cycle of any form of hazardous waste. It also gives the agency the authority to conduct periodic inspections of plants producing hazardous wastes, as well as providing states and cities with training programs in how to manage these wastes.

Thu, 2011-04-21 12:00Emma Pullman
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Koch Industries Coached Own Employees On How To Vote In November Election

The Nation magazine has revealed that Koch Industries sent a letter to most of its 50,000 employees before the U.S. midterm elections in November 2010 advising them on whom to vote for. In “Big Brothers: Thought Control at Koch,” Mark Ames and Mike Elk expose the urgent “election packet” [PDF] sent to tens of thousands of Koch employees complete with ample libertarian reading materials instructions and a list of eligible vote-worthy (conservative) candidates. 

As if this isn’t disturbing enough, the letter warns employees them
of the dire consequences to their families, their jobs and their country should they choose to vote otherwise. 

This story raises alarming concerns about corporations’ ability to influece the ways in which their employees vote. According to Amy Goodman at Democracy Now!, Koch is entirely within its legal right to pressure people in this manner because of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

Thu, 2011-04-07 15:26TJ Scolnick
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U.S. Congress Votes On Republican Bill To Kill The EPA’s Authority To Control Climate Change Pollution


The Senate and House have cast important votes to determine the future of carbon emissions regulations in the U.S. Thankfully the news is good.

Advocates for strong action on climate change and the nearly 3/4 Americans who believe the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should protect public health, are celebrating an important victory. Yesterday the Senate rejected multiple proposals to end the EPA climate authority. Now climate deniers and big polluters (including the Koch brothers) are mourning a significant defeat and blow to their dirty energy agenda.
 
Notably, four amendments to small business legislation, entirely for the purpose of limiting the EPA’s role in regulating carbon emissions, were defeated. Three were from Democrats, mainly Max Baucus (MT), Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Jay Rockefeller (WV), whose amendment to halt EPA use of the Clean Air Act for two years fell 88-12. The final blow (or fail) for polluter-friendly legislators came when Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) proposed an amendment to exempt power plants, refineries and other carbon polluters from oversight. His amendment was a precursor to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and House colleague Fred Upton’s (R-MIbill to end the EPA’s power to protect public health and the environment from the effects of climate change, known as H.R. 910 the “Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011”. Needing 60 votes to pass and securing only 50 votes in support.

Mon, 2011-04-04 12:03Richard Littlemore
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Required Reading: American Progress Koch Report

The Centre for American Progress Action Fund has just released a new report on the Koch brothers and their tentacled intervention in American politics.

The report documents the extent of the Koch empire as well as the Koch’s known investments in anti-government think tanks and action groups. It details how the Koch’s have used the fourth-largest private fortune in America to pervert the democratic process, most recently through the Tea Party campaign. And it shows how aggresively the Koch’s have moved to buy political support from the new generation of anti-government Republican members of Congress, as well as how much they have invested in influencing state governments.

At a time when the U.S. Supreme Court has removed the barriers from the super rich trying to affect democratic outcomes by using their wealth to manipulate the results of elections and decisions of elected representatives, David and Charles Koch have emerged as the greatest immediate risk to American democracy. The report shows how.

Sun, 2011-03-27 12:55Emma Pullman
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Koch Brothers Continue Their Canadian Takeover

On Friday, the Canadian government fell to a vote of non-confidence.  As Canadians prepare to head to the polls for an early May election, the oily architects of the Tea Party, mega-funders of climate change denial and bankrollers of major right wing think tanks including FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity have made a timely infiltration into Canadian politics. 

Last week, we reported that the oily brothers had set up shop to lobby in Alberta.  But perhaps more disquieting than that is that, according to Environmental Defence, Alberta isn’t the only province being strangled by the Kochtopus.  The Koch brothers have officially registered to lobby in Ontario too.

Thu, 2011-03-24 10:56Emma Pullman
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Koch Brothers Set Up Shop in Tar Sands Territory

The Koch Brothers, architects of the Tea Party and bankrollers of climate-change denial, have recently set up shop to lobby the Alberta government, according to the Edmonton Journal.

Alberta’s lobbyist registry shows that on March 15, 2011, Koch Industries signed up to lobby the province on energy and resource development policy issues, as well as taxation and economic development.  The registry shows the company’s lobbying activities started March 3, with no fixed end date.

Koch Industries spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia did not say what the company’s objectives are in lobbying the Alberta government, but her one-sentence statement noted that, “Koch companies want to add value by providing quality services and products our customers desire and value in a way that is compliant with all laws and regulations”.

“Compliant with all laws and regulations” seems a bit dubious given the pro-industry and anti-environment lobbying connections to Koch’s Alberta activities we uncovered. 

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