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Oil Tycoons Caught Sneaking Millions to Groups Spreading Climate Change Doubt

RP Siegel | Wednesday April 7th, 2010 | 20 Comments

Koch Industries is a privately held Kansas-based conglomerate specializing in petroleum related businesses. David Koch, one of the two brothers that control most of the company, likes to boast that they are “the biggest company you’ve never heard of.” In fact, Koch is the second largest privately held company in America.

According to the company’s website, it creates “value by using resources more efficiently; protecting the environment and the safety and health of our workers and others; consistently applying good science…”

Indeed, what Koch applies may in fact be the best science money can buy. A recent report by Greenpeace revealed that between 1998-2007, the company channeled funds on the order of $50 million to a number of groups that work the apparently very fertile furrows of doubt-spreading on the climate change issue. Suddenly, a lot more people have heard of them.

To put this in perspective, this sum was roughly twice the amount spent by ExxonMobil on similar efforts in the same time frame, according to Greenpeace.

The groups funded include:

•    Mercatus Center ($9.2 million) a George Mason University think tank. Charles Koch sits on the board. It tends to be against most forms of government regulation and have come out with statements like “…if a slight warming does occur, historical evidence suggests it is likely to be beneficial…”
•    Americans for Prosperity Foundation ($5.2 million) a DC non-profit “aimed to educate and mobilize citizens on behalf of ‘limited government and free markets.'” In 2008 AFP organized a Hot Air Tour aimed to discredit the idea of global warming. A recent headline on its website states “Eco-hypocrites fly in jets across Atlantic to attack AFP in Copenhagen.” Presumably the AFP representatives got to the conference by sailboat.
•    The Heritage Foundation ($1.62 million) Well-known conservative think tank. A 2009 blog post stated Study Shows Global Warming Will Not Hurt U.S. Economy, when in fact the study in question, which was a review of anti-global warming literature, concluded nothing of the kind.
•   Cato Institute ($1.03 million) Another well-known think-tank with the motto “Individual Liberty, Free Markets and Peace,” recently posted, “Science no longer provides justification for any rush to pass drastic global warming legislation.”

Koch officials wasted no time posting a response to the report on the Environmental Health and Safety page of its web site  in which it states, “The Greenpeace report mischaracterizes these efforts and distorts the environmental record of our companies. Koch companies have long supported science-based inquiry and dialogue about climate change and proposed responses to it. Koch companies have put tremendous effort into discovering and adopting innovative practices that reduce energy use and emissions in the manufacture and distribution of our products.”

That may well be, but nowhere in its response does it deny funding these groups.

As for its environmental record, in 2009, Invista, a Koch Industries’ subsidiary was fined $1.7 million for environmental violations and ordered to spend $500 million to clean up facilities in seven states, in an agreement with the US EPA and Department of Justice.  Darn government regulations.

The company has also paid fines in the tens of millions for illegally removing oil from federal lands, deliberately releasing close to 100 millions tons of carcinogenic benzene, spilling three million gallons of crude in over three hundred separate incidents, and illegally dumping a million gallons of ammonia discharge  into the Mississippi River.

Apparently its focus on “protecting the environment,” must have been occasionally superseded by other considerations, though I can’t imagine what those might have been.

Come to think of it, it had to get the money to support that “science-based inquiry” on global warming from somewhere.

The Greenpeace report also includes a number of case studies that describe how various activities by these groups have influenced the climate debate that is playing out right now and influencing the myriad decisions Americans make every day.

RP Siegel is the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, which talks about this very type of thing.


▼▼▼      20 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • Kyle Morgan

    And of course, we all know that Greenpeace itself is totally unbiased and has no agenda, and therefore a great source of factual information…

    • Joe

      Ha. I'll trust Greenpeace over Koch any day of the week! Besides, if you don't believe it, do your own research and get back to us. Let us know what isn't true. We'd like specifics. I suspect you won't be back with anything.

      • Graham Ellis

        Everyone has their own agenda and the facts we collect tend to support our own view point. I think that global warming is happening, but massively overstated. History will be the only true witness. Our planet is constantly changing and evolving. Its called progress. What we should be doing is being custodians of a planet of limited resources, but I fear we are not. Knowledge is a terrible thing sometimes.

  • Stefan

    How is it sneaking?

  • Fran Barlow

    Interesting that they can afford to spend $50 million on disonformation but not one single dollar on research that would disprove the basic science explaining the post-industrial era climate anomaly.

    Clearly, Koch, like the other filth merchants has concluded that throwing rocks is more profitable than laying down foundatiuon stones.

  • UncleB

    We Americans, on the cusp of a massive paradigm shift, that of going from a foreign liquid energy based economy to a domestic Solar, Wave, Wind, Hydro, Tidal, Geothermal, Nuclear , electric based economy, are forced by the burgeoning Asian demand for finite world's supplies of oil, with very strong Yuan against our weakening American dollar, to capitulate and go primarily Nuclear Electric to survive at our present Status Quo, or even below it! All of Asian growth is substantially nuclear supported! France, that “other Republic” is totally Nuclear powered! Oil is pricing itself off the practical energy markets of the world! Americans buy Nuclear Energy created products from Asia with “Oil based” dollars and lose out , big-time! Better reactors are available in the world than the anachronistic relics from the 1960's America suffers with presently and a proper propaganda program is needed for general acceptance of the new and miraculously efficient reactors available. Tsinghua University in China , for example, has a very much superior reactor up and running that needs to be publicized! America needs to drop the propagandized image it has of itself from the past, and face re-birth and a new paradigm and the rising price of oil in the world today coupled with shortages world wide, and complicated by burgeoning Asian growth and its inherent oil demands will force change world-wide and especially in the U.S.A. who will now have to share some of the 80% of world resources it consumes just to maintain its 'Status Quo”

  • http://twitter.com/Piggyissocute Karen Uyeno

    Corporations like Koch Industries is just the reason why there are non-profits like Greenpeace. They need to be exposed for what they are, not for what they purport to be. Then all of the millions they have spent on their anti-climate change propoganda will be for not; once people realize that they have believed nothing but lies on the Kochs' part.

  • orkneygal

    Fraudulent claims, using faked “Hockey Sticks”, openly and aggressively violating Freedom of Information requests and conspiring to squash dissenting views by corrupting the peer review process, that's the type of work that some climate scientists have done to mislead the public about the causes and affects of our ever changing climate. On top of all that comes the admission by Dr. Jones that his tricked up temperature databases can’t be reproduced because he didn’t keep the notes of how he did the manipulations.

    And the warmists call this irrefutable science.

    Well, here is some real irrefutable science.

    The overwhelming paleoclimate evidence from around the globe is that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was synchronous, world wide and much warmer than today.

    However, the MWP deniers will never admit the existence of the MWP because it means that their religious-like belief in AGW is exposed for the steaming pile of junk science that it truly is.

    In total, climate change is complex and not well understood.

    But this part is simple.

    If the world was warmer when CO2 levels were lower, CO2 cannot be the earth's temperature regulator.

    A thousand years ago, the Earth was warmer than it is today; before the social and industrial advances that have made modern people the healthiest and most prosperous in history. MWP deniers want us to believe that plant friendly, ocean cleansing and life giving CO2 is a bad thing to better advance their meglomanical desire to both boss around the developed world and further impoverish the poor while pocketing a lot of taxpayer money along the way.

    Taxing carbon is not the answer to the ever changing climate.There is only one answer to changes in climate that has ever worked for humanity.

    That is adaptation.

    One of the many links to the overwhelming Paleoclimate evidence of the global nature of the MWP is below.

    http://www.co2science.org/data/mwp/mwpp.php

    I salute the Koch brothers for doing exactly what Al Gore is. Investing in things they believe in.

    • TskTsk

      Even if global warming is 'over-exaggerated' or false altogether do you not believe that shifts in consumer pressure towards cleaner sources for power is a good thing? Would you not rather live in a world where large corporations were ethical in their business practices?

    • shaun lamont

      orkneygirl…..more like idiotgirl

      you imagine this is a balanced arguement, with balanced possible outcomes…oh so wrong

      if everyone, is wrong about global warming / climate change…so we loose some money…but if you and your ilk are wrong, then you kill a planet, incuding us..

    • TonySal

      All the Koch Bothers believe in is profit. And damn the planet,our children, and our grandchildren.

  • RP Siegel

    Climate change is a difficult issue because: a) the science is quite complex and b) many people (particularly those making lots of money form fossil fuels) don't want to change. Non-scientists tend to think about weather which is what people experience directly, rather than climate which is something far more abstract.(See my post on meteorologists denying global warming. http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/04/weatherman-… ) But the two things are different in two fundamental ways: weather is short term and it's local. There is not sufficient data to conclude that medieval warming period which occurred in Europe was truly global in nature. There have been many times through history where temperatures increased in one area at the expense of another, but the overall planet remained in equilibrium as a system. Additional CO2 in the atmosphere changes that equilibrium point through it's interaction with water vapor which blocks thermal radiation, keeping it from leaving the planetary system as it had in the past. As time goes on, more and more weather anomalies will convince skeptics that things have changed, but unfortunately there is not time to wait for a gradual awakening.

  • Andrew

    Koch Industries' response is interesting.

    http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/ko

  • Victor

    The bold new tactics of climate denialists now include an extensive campaign of black operations; break-ins into climate scientists' offices, incidents of industrial espionage directed against green groups, and attempts like that against Britain's CRU to infiltrate the computer system at the Canada's University of Victoria by people posing as technicians.

    It seems very clear now that populist anger is encouraged by a network of conservative think tanks funded, in part, by Big Carbon. These links, which have been heavily documented, are close enough to provoke the Royal Society to take the unprecedented step of writing to Exxon Mobil asking the company to desist from funding anti-science groups.

    The various arms of these climate change denial efforts are united by their loathing of environmentalism. Environmentalism is variously seen to be the enemy of individual freedom, an ideology of smug elites, an attack on the consumerist basis of capitalism, or the vanguard of world government.

    For deniers, accepting climate science would mean admitting that unrestrained capitalism has jeopardized humanity's future. But this painful admission would mean more than that environmentalists were right all along, it would initiate a demand for comprehensive and urgent government intervention. This would be intolerable. It's easier to reject climate science and conduct business as usual even though it means humanity's future is “harsh, brutish and short.”

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    Thanks for your great work.
    really really good stuff men !!! thanks !!!
    Interesting Article. Hoping that you will continue posting an article having a useful information. Thanks a lot!

  • http://www.edhardyau.com/ Ed hardy

    Thanks for your great work.
    really really good stuff men !!! thanks !!!
    Interesting Article. Hoping that you will continue posting an article having a useful information. Thanks a lot!

  • http://www.solartronenergy.com/ solar hot water

    Just because we are changing every other aspect of the planet doesn’t mean we are changing the climate. Jeez, how can people be so dumb!

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