Ever heard of the Koch brothers? Neither had I until I heard about some of the awful things they’re using their money to try to accomplish. I’ll get to that in the rant part of my post, below (it’s so hard to resist).
The basics are that Koch Industries is a private energy conglomerate based in Kansas and run by brothers David and Charles. They work with oil, chemicals, fertilizers, etc. They are notorious for their political contributions, particularly to free market groups and lobbying to support the fossil fuel industry. While damaging to many environmental causes, their activities have so far not been made very public. But they are about to get much, much worse.
In a perfectly horrific example of the ability of corporations to now contribute at will to political campaigns, Politico reported that the Koch Brothers plan to contribute $88 million to conservative causes in 2012.
So what does that look like? Well, the LA Times reports that the Koch Brothers are now officially a huge influence in the new GOP. The clearest example, they report, is in the House Energy and Commerce Committee — made up of members who were beneficiaries of Koch Industries.
This does not bode well for energy and environmental legislation, particularly any bill aimed at slowing climate change. Greenpeace reports that the Koch brothers donated $48 million between 1997 and 2008 to groups that oppose or deny climate change, and often groups who attempt to circulate faulty science as evidence. Great. Just what we need – more climate deniers with money.
And it doesn’t stop there. Koch has sued activists who released a letter pretending to come from Koch, they have been reported to have closed-door meetings with Tea Party leaders, and they have funded many a campaign against Obama policies, from Health Care to economic stimulus. Treehugger has also reported that their subsidiaries generate an estimated 300 million tons of carbon emissions per year. So, by blocking climate legislation, they’re trying to keep themselves rich, obviously.
We’ll need to keep our eyes on these guys. With the unfortunate ruling that corporations may contribute to politics as much as they want, there isn’t a lot of legal leverage there. But if they continue to attempt to block climate change legislation with money, they will be hearing from many groups across the country, including the Care2 community.
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Photo courtesy of Treehugger.com
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