How the Koch Brothers Fund the Climate Change Denial Machine

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The Koch brothers, owners of Koch Industries are major funders of organizations that create propaganda which denies the reality of climate change. David Koch expressed doubts to the New Yorker magazine last year that climate change is caused by human activity. He also extolled the benefits of climate change, if it happens, stating that it would result in longer growing seasons in colder climates. “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because far greater land area will be available to produce food,” he said.

The Koch Industries website contains an article that begins by claiming that the company practices environmental stewardship. A couple of paragraphs down, the article states that the company also believes “over-zealous environmental regulation can be destructive.” The article goes on to criticize measures that would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Greenpeace released a report last year about the Koch foundations supporting organizations that oppose “progressive clean energy and climate policy.” Koch gave $24.9 million from 2005 to 2008 to “organizations of the climate denial machine,” the report states.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative think tank, is one of the organizations that has benefited from Koch money. According to Greenpeace, ALEC’s total grants from 1997 to 2008 from the Koch foundations were $408,000.

The ALEC published a whitepaper titled, EPA’s Regulatory Train Wreck: Strategies for State Legislators. The whitepaper states that the “highest priority should be to get the state on record as calling on Congress to stop this regulatory train wreck.” It cites the “Resolution Opposing EPA’s Regulatory Train Wreck” as a model resolution. Wyoming and Indiana adopted the resolution this year.

The resolution asks Congress to pass legislation that would prohibit the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, impose a moratorium on any new air quality regulation for at least two years, and require the Obama administration to undertake a multi-agency study identifying all EPA regulatory activity and the cumulative effect on the economy, jobs, and American competitiveness.

Koch and the Americans For Prosperity

The New Hampshire State House of Representatives voted for a bill which would repeal the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a 10 state cap-and-trade scheme. Prior to the vote on the bill, a group called Americans For Prosperity (AFP) made robocalls about the bill. AFP is the “third largest recipient of funding from the Koch Family Foundations, behind the Cato Institute and the George Mason University Foundation,” according to DeSmogBlog.

The AFP, along with Koch Industries, is an influence on some of the members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Nine of the 12 Republicans on the Committee signed an AFP pledge to oppose GHG emissions regulations. The Committee’s chairman, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) received $20,000 in donations from Koch employees. An article by the Daily Hampshire Gazette states that “Koch Industries and its employees formed the largest single oil and gas donor to members of the panel…contributing $279,500 to 22 of the committee’s 31 Republicans, and $32,000 to five Democrats.”

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Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

12 responses

  1. Does it not occur to anyone here that $24.9 million over 4 years is a pathetically small sum of money when compared to the billions spent promoting the AGW cause. Have you done any research into the vast sums provided by tycoons such as George Soros, Ted Turner and Richard Branson, not to mention the very many NGO’s like WWF, Greenpeace and Sierra Club. Adding these up quickly comes to sums many orders of magnitude greater than the loose change the Koch brothers spend on promoting their beliefs.

    Of course, they must be spending their money extremely wisely, to have dominated the debate against such enormous odds. When you outspend your opponent by thousands to one, and still wind up losing support rapidly, perhaps its time to look at your message

    1. That was the amount donated only directly, and only to members of one particular committee. When you account for (a) the vast amount of money being spent through soft donations to 529 groups, (b) the new Citizens-United enabled totally anonymous channels, and (c) subsidization of the entire right-wing think-tank / media machine, it is hard to argue that the left is getting more funding than the right from corporate interests. You have the Heritage Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute, Cato, etc. You have the pure right-wing mags like The Weekly Standard, and the libertarian anti-gov brigade (basically just Reason — which I actually think does some very good reporting, but also does advance an anti-regulatory line that is supported by folks whose wealth comes from their inherited stock in companies whose profits might be reduced by having to reduce pollution). And of course, you have Fox News, which has no equivalent on the left. MSNBC does not count. Sure, they’re biased — and they’re quite open about their biases. But they are NOT engaged in an organized disinformation campaign, in which they distribute memos to staff, hashed out with the likes of Norquist and Luntz, outlining how to talk about things, specifically so as to give people wrong ideas, like the idea that the president is a Muslim, or that a freak cold snap disproves climate change, as opposed to being evidence IN FAVOR of it, as the vast majority of climate scientists would tell you. (More extreme weather events have been one of the key predictions going back at least 25 years.) And yes, Fox does precisely that.

  2. I am not sure what Gina’s point is! If they are willing to fund groups that don’t think there is global warming what’s wrong with that? I see that the Koch’s have also funded groups that oppose the Afghan and Iraq wars, they also funded groups that oppose the Patriot Act. So have I, in my own little way. Does Gina think I’m bad?
    It is my humble opinion that many of the people who believe in global warming “wish for it to be true”. I feel like they will very disappointed when it is proven not to be.

        1. …the impression of support for pro-corporate POSITIONS.

          (Sorry, that’s what I get for posting after 3am.)

        2. The implication seems to be that I am not real, but a tobacco industry funded bot.

          Care to offer any evidence for this delusion?

          And whats pro corporate? I was just pointing out that pro AGW lobbies outspend the Koch’s by thousands to one, and its not working, is it?

          Whats more, I’m happy to provide this advice for free.

  3. If anyone survives the catastrophe the Koch Brothers are forcing on us, people will laugh at the naive faith we placed in the superiority of our democratic system. They will shake their heads at how we thought ours was the best of systems, while the problem we could not solve, “climate change”, turned out be be much worse than all the problems we could solve. Yet in the name of democratic freedom, we left the Koch brothers free to do so much damage!

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