Is Koch Backing Away From Support for Climate Change Denial? [No]


Updated: I was wondering why the so-called spokesperson for Koch wasn’t getting back to me on this story. The release from Koch was fake, and Koch Industries denies sending it out. Is it the Yes Men, who have a long history of these stunts? Will update this when I hear more.

Are the twisted tentacles of the so-called Kochtopus — the network of political funding from Koch Industries — moving away from support of climate change denial? Well, that’s what a spokesperson claiming to be the massive private company, which owns oil refiners, pipelines, Brawny paper towels, dixie cups, and Georgia Pacific Lumber among many other ventures, is claiming this morning. Greenpeace has called Koch industries the “kingpin of climate science denial.”

Update: The Hill and the New York Times, who spoke to the real spokesperson for Koch Industries, are reporting that Koch Industries denies sending out the phony press release.

In the fake press release Koch stated that it is discontinuing funding for organizations “whose positions on climate change could jeopardize America’s continued global competitiveness in the energy and chemical sectors,” including Americans for Prosperity, Fraser Institute, Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, and the George C. Marshall Institute, among others starting in January 2011. The fake release says that Koch said it took the actions after “a recent internal and thorough company review.”

To get a good idea of the climate change denial nonsense that is spewing from some of these groups, the Americans for Prosperity created this Hot Air from Cancun campaign, which seeks to expose “that energy rationing will kill jobs, raise taxes, and crush our freedoms,” and the group protested in front of the Cancun-based COP 16 U.N. climate negotiations that are going on this week. My guess is that some of the things these groups are doing is just bad for business.

As this investigative piece in the New Yorker details, David Koch, one of the two brothers that leads Koch Industries, started Americans for Prosperity and is Chairman of the Board of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a sister group to the AFP. The Koch press release doesn’t say if discontinuing funding includes stepping down from boards of any of these companies.

Given Koch is a private company and doesn’t have to disclose much, there’s no way to know the extent of its commitment to dropping funding for climate change denial research. Koch has never before been transparent when it comes to the hundreds of millions of dollars in funding it has given out to organizations over the years. In the fake press release Koch Industries also repeatedly insists that it is “proud of its environmental record.”

In the New Yorker article, Koch’s environmental record is pretty clear. In the mid-90s, the Justice Department filed two lawsuits against Koch Industries, saying it was responsible for more than three hundred oil spills, which had released an estimated three million gallons of oil into lakes and rivers. Koch Industries settled paying a $30 million civil fine, and agreed to spend $5 million dollars on environmental projects.

The Justice Department also levelled a ninety-seven-count indictment against Koch Industries, for covering up the discharge of ninety-one tons of benzene, a carcinogen, from its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Koch Petroleum Group pled guilty to one criminal charge of covering up environmental violations, including the falsification of documents, and paid a $21 million fine.

David Koch reportedly told New York that he was not convinced that global warming has been caused by human activity, but even if it has been, the heating of the planet he said will be beneficial, resulting in longer growing seasons: “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because far greater land area will be available to produce food.”

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