Saturday, February 13, 2016

Moneyed Interests Are Blocking US Action on Climate Change

Protest Against Koch Brothers (Credit: Damian Dovarganes/AP) Click to Enlarge.
Global warming is an increasingly pressing crisis.  While the recent international climate accords in Paris are an important step forward, the power of wealthy interests in the United States still hampers progress.  In her new book, Dark Money, journalist Jane Mayer traces how the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch and their right-wing allies have funded an elaborate climate change denial operation that has successfully derailed climate legislation.

The denial apparatus
Donors in the Koch network have good reason to oppose climate change, as their business model relies on the market failing to price carbon correctly, due to government subsidies and inaction.  As Mayer notes, “Coal, oil, and gas magnates formed the nucleus of the Koch donor network.” Indeed, Koch Industries is one of the country’s largest producers of toxic waste and greenhouse gas emissions.  As journalist Tim Dickinson reports, one of the first wins for the Koch brothers was torpedoing President Bill Clinton’s first-term proposal to create an energy tax, which, one high-profile Koch executive said “may have destroyed our business.”

Though the Koch brothers claim to love markets, their overriding political goal is to prevent the pricing of externalities.  Koch Industries, Mayer reports, increased its lobbying more than 20-fold to $20 million between 2004 and 2008, more than any other energy and gas company.

Lee Fang, a journalist at The Intercept, has written about how major donors like the Koch brothers have funneled millions into organizations that deny climate change and actively work to oppose climate legislation.  He recently uncovered a massive network of secret political spending aimed at funding climate change denial.

A Drexel University study finds that there is an extensive network of organizations funding climate denial, with 140 primarily conservative foundations making donations totaling $558 million to 91 organizations between 2003 and 2010. They find that 5 percent of those donations, or $26.3 million, came from Koch-affiliated organizations. Big fossil fuel companies have spent millions funding climate denial groups, including money to support Willie Soon, a discredited researcher who inflated his credentials and denied climate change (Soon also received money from the Koch Brothers).

In 2009, the year the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES, also called Waxman-Markey after its Democratic co-authors, Reps. Henry Waxman and Edward Markey) was debated, OpenSecrets reported that while pro-environmental groups spent $22.4 million on 489 lobbyists in favor of the bill, the oil and gas industry spent a whopping $175 million and hired 820 lobbyists to defeat it.

Read more at Moneyed Interests Are Blocking US Action on Climate Change

No comments:

Post a Comment