The Billionaire's Party: David Koch is New York's second-richest man, a celebrated patron of the arts, and the tea party's wallet.
The best pull quote is this:
Global warming could be good for the planet, Koch says. "A far greater land area will be available to produce food."...from this paragraph, which shows Greenpeace got his billionaire attention this spring:
David Koch is deeply antagonistic to the Obama administration. He fought the health-care bill, and the financial-regulation measure that was passed last week ("Everyone I know in the financial world is terrified by the powers it gives the federal government"). He also opposes the president's climate-change proposals. In his office, Koch showed me a photocopied flyer Greenpeace had produced with sketches of him and Charles below the words wanted for climate crimes and shook it in the air. Koch Industries' emissions, Koch told me, are far less than legally required. "And yet they're attacking us as environmental criminals," he said. "Wanting to put me and Charles in jail." Koch says he's not sure if global warming is caused by human activities, and at any rate, he sees the heating up of the planet as good news. Lengthened growing seasons in the northern hemisphere, he says, will make up for any trauma caused by the slow migration of people away from disappearing coastlines. "The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because a far greater land area will be available to produce food," he says.Wow. What a load of... And it goes uncontested by the NY Mag author, Andrew Goldman, who seems to write mostly "people" pieces for the magazine — on Bette Midler, Martha Stewart's daugher, Annie Leibovitz — so he can't be expected to know a big ol' global warming lie when he hears it. But we know it's a Dirty Lie — and if you want to do something about it, please go to the article right now and call Mr. Koch out for his attempts to downplay the seriousness of global warming just so he can keep raking money in hand over fist.
Here's a video about the Greenpeace campaign Mr. Koch was referring to:
Greenpeace issued a report on the Koch Brothers in March 2010 (Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine) and another report last week on Bill Koch, David's twin brother who is waging a campaign to kill Cape Wind, which will be the first offshore wind farm in the nation, just because he doesn't want to look at it from his mansion.
By the way, Greenpeace has relaunched our PolluterWatch website with profiles of all of the Kochs.
New York Magazine got trusted inside access to David Koch (who rarely gives interviews), and provides a detailed biography of the three twisted billionaire Koch brothers. Allowing the magazine such access may have been a PR attempt to do some damage control and fend off the increasing attention the Kochs are receiving for their association with Americans for Prosperity and the radical Tea Party movement. Rachel Maddow has driven this story hard for months. Koch fought back with preemptive press releases that they have nothing to do with the Tea Baggers, but it just got them more bad press on Maddow.
Its great. The Koch legacy of shrouded political action, global warming denial and free-market, anti-government, anti-regulatory radicalism is finally, slowly being dragged out into the sunlight... Accountability is a wonderful thing, especially when it involves the filthy rich.
This post originally appeared on Huffington Post.
ExxonMobil gave approximately $1.3 million to climate denial organizations last year.
This has been reported by The Times (London) after being provided information by the Greenpeace Research Department. (The Times is unfortunately a subscription-only paper online, but a version of the story can be found syndicated at The Australian).
Greenpeace tabulated this figure - as we have done every year - from Exxon’s annual corporate Worldwide Giving Report. This year's Giving Report was way late on arrival, only published online in late June rather than the customary delivery in May before Exxon's annual general shareholders meeting. Download pdf of Worldwide Giving Report here
The Times concluded that Exxon had broken its pledges dating back to 2005 to stop payments to climate change deniers. After significant pressure from numerous bodies including ExxonSecrets, the Royal Society of London and Senators Snowe and Rockefeller, Exxon admitted its campaign of diversion.
In its 2007 Corporate Citizenship Report, published in May 2008, the oil giant stated,
“In 2008, we will discontinue contributions to several public policy groups, whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure energy required for economic growth in a responsible manner.”
And indeed, over the past four years, Exxon has reduced its grants to prominent climate change deniers from the peak spending in 2005 of over $3.5M. Greenpeace’s research shows a $2.2 million reduction in annual funding to these organizations, down to roughly $1.3 million in 2009. The number of groups known to be funded has dropped from 51 to 24 between 2005 and 2009.
So they are down to about half the organizations and about one third of the funding. But is that good enough? Does this mean Exxon gets credit for finally ditching the deniers?
In 2009, Exxon was still giving significant contributions to organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, the Annapolis Center, the American Enterprise Institute, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Harvard- Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Washington Legal Foundation, each of which has a long history of climate change denial. (see complete list of 2009 funding below).
Exxon has told The Times that it is no longer funding Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Pacific Research Institute and the Media Research Center, the former nest of Marc Morano (ex- Sen. Inhofe staffer and now CFACT blogger).
The 2009 funding to these groups was:
- $100,000 to Atlas Economic Research Foundation
- $75,000 to the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy
- $50,000 to the Media Research Center
Exxon drops denial groups, but picks up denier scientists instead
Importantly, during the same period where Exxon bent to the pressure on its campaign of denial and cut all funding to hard core deniers like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heartland Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute and others...
Exxon began funding (at least publicly) the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in 2005.
The 2009 ExxonMobil funding to SAO was $ 76,106, for a grand and odd total of $417,212 since 2005. SAO is the home of Dr. Willie Soon and Dr. Sallie Baliunas, two scientists who have worked both together and as individuals on publishing junk science for nearly two decades. Both have been heavily involved with many of the groups running denier campaigns today.
For example, Soon and Baliunas’ article “Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years,” concluded (incorrectly) that the warming of the globe experienced today is not at all unique and that the twentieth century is not the warmest on record, contradicting well established science. This paper was partly funded by the American Petroleum Institute. The flawed peer review process that led to its publication caused several editors at Climate Research (where it was published) to resign.
In 2007, just ahead of a crucial decision by the US Federal Government about whether to list polar bears as "endangered" from climate change, Soon was funded by ExxonMobil for his work in a paper that argued that polar bears were not under threat (because climate change wasn't happening). Soon is an expert in astrophysics, not polar bears, but Exxon saw fit to fund this work.
Baliunas has individually authored a 1994 report entitled “The Ozone Crisis,” claiming that science denies CFC’s affect on the ozone. She has been a resident expert at the George C Marshall Institute for years, alongside other serial deniers such as S Fred Singer.
So much more is detailed in our "Dealing in Doubt" report. It is a campaign of denial that goes back some 20 years. It continues to this day as the stakes get higher and higher. 2010, so far, has set global records for high temperatures. Corporate and private funders of the organizations who continue to deal in misinformation about climate science and climate policy will someday be held accountable for their destructive actions.
24 organizations in ExxonSecrets database were funded in 2009:
- AEI American Enterprise Institute $235,000
- Atlas Economic Research Foundation $100,000
- National Taxpayers Union Foundation $80,000
- Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory $76,106
- Annapolis Center $75,000
- Communications Institute $75,000
- National Black Chamber of Commerce $75,000
- Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy $75,000
- Heritage Foundation $50,000
- Manhattan Institute $50,000
- Media Research Center $50,000
- ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council $47,500
- Mercatus Center, George Mason University $40,000
- Washington Legal Foundation $40,000
- Center for American and International Law $33,50
- Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment $30,000
- American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research $25,000
- American Spectator Foundation $25,000
- National Association of Neighborhoods $25,000
- Texas Public Policy Foundation $20,000
- Federalist Society $15,000
- Pacific Legal Foundation $15,000
- Landmark Legal Foundation $10,000
- Mountain States Legal Foundation $10,000
Everything was going so well for Big Oil. The American Petroleum Institute, its members, and their army of lobbyists were having their way with Congress and the White House, demanding access to off-limits coastal waters and other giveaways in return for dropping opposition campaigns to block global warming and energy legislation. Easy pickings.
They had duped everyone into thinking that oil drilling is harmless and safe and that drilling for more oil domestically would solve our oil problems and cure our economic woes. All cold blooded lies.
This was a very modern rig, presumably best available technology, best safety precautions... yet something went catastrophically wrong and the costs of those lies are being borne by creatures and people of the Gulf coast. The truth will emerge in due time, but apparently British Petroleum was too cheap to pay for a $500,000 safety valve and safety precautions may have not been a top priority.
Drilling for oil along our coasts will never ever never ever solve our domestic oil demand. The oil companies know this. Lee Raymond, former CEO of Exxon and the Darth Vader of global warming wars, always spoke the truth on this, saying in 2004, "I think that the notion in the United States of energy independence, which was first proposed in the Nixon administration, was a poor concept 30 years ago and it is a poor concept today." (Quoted in Financial Times, "Exxon chief hits at energy debate", September 17, 2004.)
This spill is already one of the worst oil spills of all time, with estimates the Coast Guard upgraded today (April 29) of up to 5,000 barrels of crude oil blasting out of the ocean floor every day, a mile deep. That's 210,000 gallons a day, or 8,750 gallons an hour, 146 gallons a minute... Staggering.
The oil hasn't even hit the beaches and wildlife refuges, the vast wetland habitat of the Gulf Coast. Right now we are concerned about the populations of sperm whales, dolphins, sea turtles, whale sharks and other creatures that inhabit these fragile waters.
What is happening to the spawning grounds of the endangered bluefin tuna, the sea turtle nesting grounds, the massive flocks of waterfowl and shore birds that inhabit the coastal zone? We probably won't be able to assess the full damage for decades to come.
Everyone's thoughts are on stopping the leak as soon as possible and preventing even more ecological harm. Our thoughts are also with the poor men who lost their lives, and their families. We are reminded of the Massey coal mine disaster this month and the true costs of dependence on dirty energy like coal and oil.
What will it take for President Obama to retract his "Drill baby drill!" approval of expanded offshore drilling? Maybe this disaster will serve as a wake up call for the nation, to get us on the path away from oil addiction and make us once again skeptical of the words and lies of Big Oil?
Greenpeace produced a series of maps showing what this oil spill would be doing if it were 50 miles off the coast of Virginia, say in 2025. As of Thursday April 29, the oil spill would already be threatening the beaches of Cape May, NJ, Ocean City, MD, Virginia Beach, the Outer Banks, and would have entered the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and Assateague National Seashore and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
This is a long way from over
This article cross-posted on HuffingtonPost.
Of course, lobbyists for the coal industry aren't the only ones getting their way with policymakers these days; oil company CEOs are getting lots of love too. So to make sure our Senators know what they can expect from a relationship with Big Oil, here's the latest Polluterharmony success story:
Rex's Story exposes the truth about the Drill Baby Drill mantra to open up drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf and other public lands to oil companies in the futile quest for oil independence. Oil execs know that America will always rely on oil from foreign countries. Take when George W. Bush spoke about the US addiction to imported oil during his 2006 State of the Union address. Immediately, Big Oil kicked him in the shins for having the nerve to talk about oil that way. An Exxon exec characterized getting off foreign oil as "simply not feasible."
In reality, oil CEOs want to open our coastlines and public lands to oil drilling for their own profit even though they know it will never result in "energy independence" for the United States. Until we get off of oil, we won't get off of 'foriegn oil'. Period.
But the oil companies are working their magic at the state level and on Capitol Hill... "Rex" led all Big Oil donors to "Bob's" campaign in Virginia. Governor Bob talks about the proposed drilling being "out of sight" 50 miles offshore... Has anyone else noticed that 50 miles offshore of Virginia is also 50 miles off of Maryland and North Carolina and Delaware and about 75 miles off New Jersey...? Hmm, whose ocean is it to give away?
Some Senators have definitely taken notice. Ten coastal Democratic Senators wrote Sen. Kerry and friends this week stating that climate legislation with giveaways on offshore drilling is not a bet they are willing to take. From the Senators' letter:
It has come to our attention that some interests are aggressively pursuing an effort to open the nation's coasts and oceans to unfettered access to oil and gas drilling. This is of great concern to us.Giving Big Oil access to protected places not only won't make America energy independent, it poses grave economic risks and stands to leave us with a spoiled environment and more global warming pollution. Climate and clean energy policy should move us away from oil, not further our addiction to this dangerous and dirty fuel.
As coastal Senators we truly appreciate your efforts to develop comprehensive climate legislation. After all, our states are literally the front lines when it comes to the severe impacts we'll see from sea level rise and stronger storms. But we hope that as you forge legislation, you are mindful that we cannot support legislation that will mitigate one risk only to put our coasts at a greater peril from another source."
Three Greenpeace activists were taken into custody after deploying a floating banner in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building in plain view of a favorite destination for polluter lobbyists — Senator Lisa Murkowski's Washington DC office. The banner exposed Murkowski's close relationship with dirty energy interests and promoted PolluterHarmony, a spoof online dating site launched just before Valentine's Day to help connect polluters, industry lobbyists, and politicians.
Murkowski's continued counterinsurgency against Obama's EPA is part of a multilateral attack by corporations, corporate lobbyists and their friends in right wing think tanks and front groups.
Read more over on Huffington Post.
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Kert is head of the Research Department for Greenpeace USA
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