Almost four years ago we started to call attention to the Koch brothers, radical ‘free market’ oil and gas conglomerate multibillionaires, as significant funders of the global warming denial machine (Koch Industries multibillionaire Koch brothers bankroll attacks on climate change science and policy). Since then, the Koch political empire continues to metastasize into what a Washington Post investigative article on January 5 calls “a far-reaching operation of unrivaled complexity, built around a maze of groups that cloaks its donors, according to an analysis of new tax returns and other documents.” (Koch-backed political coalition, designed to shield donors, raised $400 million in 2012)
On January 7, Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! talked with Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, and publisher of PRWatch.org and ALECExposed.org, about some of the implications of having a large network of secretly-funded political organizations, operating with tax-exempt status, playing an increasingly powerful role in driving and shaping U.S. politics (From Funding Climate Deniers to Shadowy Groups, Koch Brothers Network Spent $400 Million in 2012).
In March 2010 we noted, in one of the first pieces on the Koch brothers:
Some of the most determined opponents of action on climate change in the U.S. are so-called libertarians, motivated by an ideological commitment to minimal government and “free market” laissez-faire capitalism. Their efforts on behalf of unregulated corporate wealth and power have been funded heavily by patrons in the fossil fuel industry. While ExxonMobil has drawn much attention for its patronage of global warming denialist activity by such groups, much less public attention has been paid to the activities of the multibillionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries. Koch Industries is the second largest private company in the U.S., with estimated 2008 revenues of $100 billion. Started as a petroleum business by their father Fred Koch, who was also a founder of the right-wing extremist John Birch Society, Koch Industries has become a diversified enterprise that funds large-scale lobbying and a range of libertarian policy and activist groups that play a significant role in the global warming denial machine.
To the libertarians, the widely-shared scientific assessment that human-caused climate change will likely produce major harmful consequences — and the communication of this evidence to the public by the leading climate scientists — poses a particularly serious threat. An informed public concerned about the likelihood of harmful impacts of unchecked global climatic disruption is more likely to call for significant government action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. In order to block proactive government policymaking and keep corporate interests unregulated, libertarian groups have focused a significant part of their efforts on climate change on distorting the science to confuse public opinion, denying the seriousness of the problem, and, most recently, impugning the integrity of the climate science community. The Koch brothers have stepped forward with deep pockets to bankroll such efforts.
They’re still there. The rhetoric, tactics, and cast of characters shift over time, but the framework remains in place — only now with more donors, more organizations, more money, and less transparency.
Earlier CSW posts
New Greenpeace report documents machinations of corporate-funded climate denial machine
“Climate of Doubt” — Money Buys Skepticism
Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips: Next steps in the war on climate science
Americans for Prosperity: Distorting climate change science and economics in well-funded campaign