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Koch Industries Funds Attack on Science Linking Formaldehyde and Cancer

Further revelations have come to light since the recent controversial expose in the New Yorker about Koch Industries, surrounding New York billionaire David Koch and his company’s involvement in the industry-led effort to downplay the links between formaldehyde and cancer.

In 2008, the president of one of Koch Industry’s subsidiaries sat as the Chair of a pro-Formaldehyde lobby group called the Formaldehyde Council. The subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific, is also a long-time funder of the Formaldehyde Council.

Among other things, the Formaldehyde Council tried to downplay the negative health impacts of formaldehyde in trailers set up for victims of the Katrina disaster.

Prior to the recent media attention, the New York social elite knew David Koch mostly for his commendable charitable donations to groups like the American Ballet Theater and the American Museum of Natural History.

Learning that he, through his role as senior executive and Chairman of Koch Industries, also bankrolls far-right groups and causes that regularly question President Obama’s U.S. citizenship and deny climate science surely piqued their interest in Koch’s other side.

One baffling conflict mentioned by journalist Jane Mayer in her New Yorker article is David Koch’s generous funding of cancer research, while simultaneously his companies and their lobbying groups fight against federal efforts to regulate the known human carcinogen formaldehyde.

David Koch was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the early 1990s, and since then has become a major financier of cancer research, donating hundreds of millions of dollars to respected cancer research centers such as Sloan-Kettering, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, M.I.T. and Johns Hopkins University, as Mayer notes.

For his commendable charitable work, David Koch was appointed to the National Cancer Advisory Board,a committee of the US National Cancer Institute, in 2004 by President George W. Bush and remains a member today [pdf].

Our research has uncovered very strong ties between Georgia-Pacific, a company co-owned by David Koch through Koch Industries, and a political lobby group called the Formaldehyde Council that is involved in efforts to downplay the dangers posed by formaldehyde to human health.

Formaldehyde is classified as a “Group 1 Carcinogen” which is defined as an agent that “is definitely carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and “a complete carcinogen” in the words of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The National Toxicology Program also recently revised its characterization of formaldehyde to that of “known human carcinogen.”

The Uneven Energy Playing Field and the Spindoctors who Ignore it

There has been a recent surge in articles from fossil-fuel friendly sources pointing to the inequity of tax credits and government subsidies being directed to the renewable energy sector. 

The latest is by Alan Caruba writing on the industry-backed CFACT website bemoaning a $7 million investment in a wind project in New Jersey. 

What Caruba and others fail to mention in their argument is that the fossil fuel industry - the main competitor to the renewable energy sector - receives more than ten times as much in government subsidies globally.

A recent report by Bloomberg New Finance finds that worldwide, the fossil fuel industry - which is made up mainly of oil, gas and coal companies - receives $557 billion a year in government subsidies while the renewable energy sector receives less than one-tenth of the support at around $45 billion.

Clean energy drowned out in Washington by a Two Billion Dollar Juggernaut

Red State bloggers are all in a tizzy over an Open Secrets article showing that the American Wind Energy Association spent over $5 million last year on lobbying politicians in Washington, DC.

It’s about time we started seeing the clean energy sector make its voice heard on Capitol Hill and I hope we see more people pushing lawmakers to consider legislation that promotes the use of clean and unlimited sources of energy like the sun and the wind.

But the hair-pulling by Red State bloggers is more than a little ridiculous when you consider that the American Wind Energy Association’s $5 million lobby expenditure is equal to about 5 minutes of lobbying by the oil and gas lobby which spent a whopping $175 million in the same time period.

Looking over the last ten years, the numbers are even more startling.

The Koch Industry and Americans for Prosperity Machine Exposed

The fallout continues from a very comprehensive New Yorker report exposing Koch Industries massive ideological machine with an opinion piece in the Sunday New York Times by columnist Frank Rich called: The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party.

Out in front of this controversy is a group called the Americans for Prosperity that has recieved millions from Koch Industries and has been touring the United States spreading misinformation about the realities of climate change and organizing local tea party protests.

Here is the background research we have put together over the years on the Americans for Prosperity and Koch Industries:

Background on Americans for Prosperity (AFP)

Background on Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity

Comprehensive background and history of Koch Industries

Background on Koch Industries - company holdings and investments

Background on Koch Industries and lobbying in Washington, DC

Background on Koch Industries and George Mason University

Monbiot hits back at the Sunday Telegraph Pachauri Fabrication

You can’t link to the original article that appeared in the Sunday Telegraph in December that makes false accusations about Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) because the newspaper has scrubbed the story clean from its website. 

But as Guardian columnist George Monbiot points out today the lies in the article had their desired effect. 

Monbiot writes:

“The story (which has subsequently been removed from the Sunday Telegraph’s website) immediately travelled around the world. It was reproduced on hundreds of blogs. The allegations it contained were widely aired in the media and generally believed.”

The allegations put forth by the Telegraph were that Pachauri was profiting from his position as the head of the IPCC.

Turns out the story was completely false after the accounting firm KPMG was brought in to study all of Pachauri’s financial records. 

In fact, Pachauri’s compensation for his tireless work as the head of the IPCC is a whopping zero dollars and zero cents. That’s right, he isn’t paid a dime by the IPCC.

Check out Monbiot’s in-depth analysis here: The Smearing Of An Innocent Man

America's Wetland Foundation dropped as sponsor of Be the One campaign

Last week, DeSmogBlog contributor Brendan Demelle broke a story about a campaign being run in the Gulf of Mexico called “Be the One” that listed its “sponsor” as America’s Wetland Foundation - an organization backed by major oil companies like BP, Shell and ExxonMobil.

Subsequent to Demelle’s article, Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock withdrew her public support for the “Be the One” campaign and has recieved a lot of positive coverage and praise for her decision.

The organizers of the Be the One campaign - a group called Women of the Storm - has now reassigned America’s Wetland Foundation from its status as the sole sponsor of Be the One campaign to that of a partner.

Lucky we took this screenshot last week [click to enlarge]:

Want to Talk Northern Gateway Pipeline? Cancel your vacation

A Northern BC newspaper, the Kitimat Sentinal, has an article today talking about the impact Enbridge’s major oil spill in Michigan is having on the oil company’s proposal to run a similar pipeline from the Alberta’s tar sands to the West Coast of British Columbia.

It is a good read, but a note near the end of the article caught my eye regarding an upcoming community consultation that the “Northern Gateway Project Joint Review Panel” has planned:

“Aug 31 the Northern Gateway Project Joint Review Panel will be at Riverlodge in Kitimat for oral comments on the Enbridge submission.

People interested in commenting must register by August 18, by fax or mail.”

A community hearing in the last days of the summer holiday pretty much guarantees a poor showing of concerned citizens, something that I would guess would be a good thing if you’re bent on seeing this pipeline go through.

Lexus: the Darker Side of Climate Denial

Blogger A. Siegel has stumbled across a pretty embarrassing spectacle put on earlier this year by Lexus.

As part of the launch of their “Darker Side of Green” Campaign, Lexus held a debate, hosted by comedian Sarah Silverman about whether climate change is actually happening.

Pretty unbelievable that this would get through their vetting process, unless of course they thought it was edgy or shocking enough to sell more cars.

Either way the debate did nothing more than propagate the myth that climate change is somehow not happening or something we need to worry about.

I would expect this kind of thing from the likes of former tobacco company spindoctors like the Heartland Institute than I would a company trying to promote their hybrid car.

You would also think that a debate about a complicated scientific issue like climate change would involve actual scientists who do research in the field. Instead, Lexus chose to have a filmmaker, who’s last film was a propaganda piece paid for by a mining company and a journalist (who made the best of a silly situation).

And the filmmaker, Phelim McAleer, does a good job embarrassing himself but that is beside the point.

Whatever carbon emissions Lexus thinks it’s going to reduce with its new hybrid were probably equaled out by the hot air produced at this ridiculous debate over something the likes of NASA and the US Academy of Science say is a real problem and something that needs to be addressed.

New Website Wants to Turn Off Fox News

Author Marty Essen has started a new online project asking Americans to show their patriotism and Turn Off Fox News.

Whether it is the outright strange conspiracy theories of Fox host Glenn Beck or the subtler no-spin zone spindoctoring of Bill O’Reilly, Fox News has played host to many of the people we talk about here on DeSmogBlog everyday.

Essen writes,

“Unfortunately, unlike professional wrestling, where the predetermined conclusion is relatively harmless, Fox’s predetermined conclusions undermine elections, belittle the environment, embolden the paranoid, enrich the rich, and in general, divide our county.”

Well said. Help spread the message and help turn off Fox News!

Nikiforuk on Hiding the Alberta Tar Sand's Dirty Truth

alberta tar sands

Must read column on The Tyee today by Alberta tar sands expert Andrew Nikiforuk.

Nikiforuk uncovers the Alberta government’s attempt to make the tar sands look rosy to US lawmakers who are considering a $7 billion new pipeline that would run from Canada to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. He writes:

“Our sultry bedmates argue that all petroleum sources are getting heavier and dirtier and that Alberta taxpayers will soon spend between $20 billion and $60 billion over two decades on unproven technologies to bury the carbon in special cemeteries. And shouldn’t energy security trump climate security and silly green energy plans”

Read the entire article on The Tyee: Alberta Hides Dirty Truth as US Demands Tar Sands Facts

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