Koch-funded Prop 23 Campaign Manufacturing Science

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In the latest example of polluter attempts to exert influence over science, the Koch-funded Pacific Research Institute was paid to manufacture another junk science “study” designed to lend credibility to California’s disastrous Proposition 23 ballot measure, an oil industry-backed effort to derail the state’s landmark AB 32 law to fight global warming.

The Yes on 23 campaign, a group launched and funded primarily by three oil companies – Valero Energy, Tesoro Corporation and Koch Industries’ subsidiary Flint Hills Resources - has been meddling in science, much to the liking of its oil industry bankrollers.  Recent financial reports reveal the Yes on 23 campaign has raised more than $5.2 million in the past three months, mostly from the oil companies.

The funding reports reveal payments of tens of thousands of dollars going to researchers at an industry front group well known for ginning up misleading research suggesting that California’s clean energy efforts would kill jobs. 

According to the financial disclosures, the oil-backed campaign paid Pacific Research Institute $40,000, no doubt intended to bolster its efforts to attack California’s AB 32 law. 

Pacific Research Institute is also funded by Exxon and by the Koch family foundations, which have funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into the front group’s coffers in recent years.

The reports also reveal that a supposedly independent “economist,” Thomas Tanton, received $35,000 to produce a “study” suggesting that California’s efforts to reduce global warming pollution would hurt local economies and communities.  Tanton is far from “independent,” in fact he is a consultant to the oil and gas industry, serves as Senior Fellow of Energy Studies with the Pacific Research Institute [PDF], contributes regular columns for the Heartland Institute, and was a former VP at the Institute for Energy Research, another group heavily funded by oil and gas interests. 

The oil-backed Yes on 23 campaign is also trying to convince voters of color that their jobs are at risk, and that they are merely protecting the interests of the poor rather than protecting their dirty energy profits.  Many of their ads seek to appeal to the Latino, African-American and Asian-Pacific Islander communities that comprise 58 percent of California’s population.

California’s clean energy economy is growing faster than in any other state, largely due to the passage of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, which opened the doors for clean energy growth. 

But it seems that the Koch brothers, like many of the rest of the entrenched oil and coal industry barons, will stop at nothing in order to protect the status quo fossil fuel addiction that is saddling the global economy and wrecking the climate.

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