Clean Energy Footprints: Koch Brothers Invest in Climate Change Denial

-by Dr. Stephen A. Smith

June 5, 2011- Over the past year, industrialists Charles and David Koch have garnered considerable media attention for their extensive funding of conservative infrastructure. In August of 2010, The New Yorker magazine published an in-depth profile of the brothers, “Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.” The article drew considerable attention to their support of conservative causes, which previously had not been widely recognized. 

As co-owners of Koch Industries, the Koch brothers, as they have become known, are worth north of $40 billion and their conservative activism goes back decades; David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate in 1980 and Charles co-founded the Cato Institute in the late ‘70s.  Koch Industries was founded in 1940, by their father, also a conservative activist, and now has annual revenues near $100 billion.

The company first came to prominence by innovating methods used to refine crude oil and remains heavily involved in the manufacturing and refining of oil, chemicals and other energy sources. As major players in the energy sector, the Koch brothers, in consistent fashion with their promotion of “free-market policies,” have also donated at least $50 million to anti-environmental groups. In another report that drew further scrutiny, Think Progress detailed the Koch brothers twice-yearly gatherings of wealthy industrialists to coordinate election strategies. Numerous individuals who hold prominent roles in the extractive energy industry have attended the meetings as detailed in reporting done by Think Progress. 

Attendees have included:

•    Alan Boeckmann, CEO Fluor Corporation

•    C. Robert Buford, President of Zenith Drilling Corporation

•    Joseph W. Craft III, CEO of Alliance Resource Partners L.P.

•    Alex Cranberg, Chairman of Aspect Holdings, LLC

•    Kevin S. Crutchfield, CEO of Alpha Coal Sales Co., LLC.

•    Jim Patterson, Gulf Stream Petroleum

•    Melvyn Estrin, Director of WGL Holdings INC

•    Jim Ferrell, Ferrellgas Partners, L.P.

•    Dave, Bob and Steve Fettig, Tank Craft and Duracraft Fuel

•    Randy Foutch, CEO, Laredo Petroleum, Inc.

•    Jerry Fullinwider, Vice Chairman, Hillwood International Energy, L.P.

•    Richard Gilliam, President of Cumberland Resources Corporation

•    Frederic C. Hamilton, BHP Petroleum and Hamilton Oil Company

•    David Murfin, President, Murfin Drilling Corp

•    Larry Nichols, Executive Chairman, Devon Energy Corp

•    Corbin Robertson, President, Quintana Minerals Corp

•    Lew Ward, Ward Petroleum Corporation

Both the Center for American Progress (CAP), a D.C. based think tank, and Greenpeace have recently issued reports detailing the Koch Brothers’ involvement with the climate change denier movement. “The Koch Brothers: What You Need To Know About the Financiers of the Radical Right” was released by CAP in April of this year. The report says Koch Industries is, “now playing a quiet but dominant role in a high-profile national policy debate on global warming.” The report also details the money spent by the company to push confusion and sow disinformation about climate change, “From 2005 to 2008, Exxon Mobil spent $8.9 million while the Koch Industries-controlled foundations contributed $24.9 million in funding to organizations of the climate denial machine.” 


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