-By Elliott Negin
July 19, 2013- With Congress about to head out of town for its summer recess, a Washington-based think tank is ramping up a campaign to foil any attempts to institute a tax on carbon emissions, The Hill, a Washington political trade publication, reported this week.
"We're hoping to put the final nail in the coffin of the carbon tax," said Benjamin Cole, the communications director for the Institute for Energy Research (IER) and its advocacy arm, the American Energy Alliance (AEA). "The proposal should be dead on arrival by the time lawmakers come back from August recess."
IER's campaign includes a survey of American attitudes about such a tax and a $120,000 to $150,000 radio ad buy targeting a handful of House members who, according to Cole, "are soft on the carbon tax issue."
The Hill story, however, merely described IER as a "conservative" group. That doesn't explain why a think tank named the Institute for Energy Research is so dead set against a carbon tax, given the initiative would certainly help some energy technologies, especially wind, solar and other renewables.
So why is IER so down on cutting carbon?
Because it's backed by the fossil fuel industry, that's why.
The Koch Connection
Over the last decade or so, IER and AEA have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from ExxonMobil; the American Petroleum Institute (API), the oil and gas industry's trade association; the Center to Protect Patient Rights, a secretive nonprofit group linked to Charles Koch and his brother David, the billionaire owners of the coal, oil and gas behemoth Koch Industries; and the Charles Koch-controlled Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, one of a handful of Koch family funds.
Top IER-AEA officials also are well-entrenched members of the Koch brothers' climate change contrarian network. IER and AEA President Thomas Pyle, for example, is a former lobbyist for Koch Industries and the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. IER and AEA Director of Regulatory and State Affairs Daniel Simmons, meanwhile, worked for the API-, ExxonMobil- and Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a stealthy lobby group that has been trying to repeal state standards requiring electric utilities to use more renewable energy. Before his stint as director of ALEC's Natural Resources Task Force, Simmons was a research fellow at the Koch-founded and funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Not to be outdone, IER founder and CEO Robert L. Bradley, Jr. — a former public policy analysis director at the now-defunct Enron Corp. — is an adjunct scholar at the Koch-founded and funded Cato Institute and the API- and Koch-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute. He also has been a featured speaker at the API- and Koch-funded Heartland Institute's annual climate science-bashing conference, and is a member of the academic review committee at the Koch-funded Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason. The Institute for Humane Studies' chairman, I should add, is Charles Koch.