Charles and David Koch, known far and wide as the Koch brothers, are major funders of climate change denial campaigns. Owners of Koch Industries, Inc., the brothers have a combined net worth of $44 billion. As a recent report by the Center for American Progress (CAP) puts it, “The Koch brothers make their money from an oil-and-gas conglomerate that emits pollutants that contribute to climate change. It should not be surprising, then, that the Koch brothers are also major contributors to organizations denying the effects of climate change.”
The CAP report cites a Greenpeace report which states that Koch Industries is “now playing a quiet but dominant role in a high-profile national policy debate on global warming.” Koch Industries, through its foundations, gave $24.9 to “organizations of the climate denial machine.” Koch Industries also fought the climate change bill, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.
The Koch brothers inherited Koch Industries, Inc. from their father, Fred. C. Koch who started the company. The brothers also inherited their conservative politics from their father. Fred Koch was an original member of the John Birch Society.
The Koch brothers have long been involved in conservatism. In 1977, Charles co-founded the Cato Institute, and David Koch was the 1980 vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. In 1984, David created Citizens for a Sound Economy, and in 2004 the group split into FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity Foundations. “The Kochs remain active with Americans for Prosperity Foundation,” according to a recent report by the Center for American Progress.
The Koch brothers have given at least $85.9 million to over 85 different conservative organizations over the last decade and a half. They also make contributions to candidates, and organize conferences “to review strategies for combating the multitude of public policies that threaten to destroy America as we know it,” as Charles Koch wrote in a letter.
The guests of a conference last year included:
- Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas
- Govs. Haley Barbour (R-MS) and Bobby Jindal (R-LA)
- Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Tom Coburn (R-OK)
- Reps. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Paul Ryan (R-WI)
- Media figures Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck
- Major Republican donor Fred Malek, a founder of the American Action Network
- Oil industry executives from Aspect Energy, LLC; Murfin Drilling Co., Inc.;
- Anschutz Company; GeoPark Holdings Ltd. and members of Koch’s subsidiaries
Why environmentalists should read the CAP report on Koch Industries
The CAP report on Koch Industries details how the company, through the vast wealth of the Koch brothers, funds the pet causes of right-wing think tanks, including climate change denial. The only way to fight against organized money is through organized people, and in order to effectively organize, concerned people need to be informed people. The report is definitely informative. It is simply a must read for anyone concerned about the environment.
DeSmogBlog points out that “David and Charles Koch have emerged as the greatest immediate risk to American democracy,” and adds that the “report shows how.”
“As this report will demonstrate, the Koch brothers’ network works hard to advance a right-wing ideological agenda that helps their businesses reap more profits at the expense of our environment, our economy, and the American middle class,” states Tony Carrk, Policy Director of the CAP Action War Room in a blog post. “Understanding how they operate is the first step in countering their efforts to reshape our nation’s laws to benefit the wealthy even more than they do today.”