Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine

The Koch Brothers have sent at least $79,048,951 to groups denying climate change science since 1997.

Airship Protests Koch Brothers Meeting

The Greenpeace Airship A.E. Bates flies over the location of oil billionaires David and Charles Koch's latest secret political strategy meeting, with a banner reading "Koch Brothers: Dirty Money." The aerial message is directed to arriving attendees of the meeting and highlights the Koch Brothers ongoing use of their vast oil profits to push a polluter agenda through campaign contributions, lobbying, and funding fronts groups and think tanks.

© Gus Ruelas / Greenpeace

Greenpeace uses 1997 as a benchmark year due to increased coordinated backlash against global climate negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol of 1998. We define climate change denial as “anyone who is obstructing, delaying or trying to derail policy steps that are in line with the scientific consensus that says we need to take rapid steps to decarbonize the economy.”

We do this to hold accountable those who do not state their intentions honestly. Modern lobbyists decreasingly deny outright the irrefutable science, but instead deny the need for viable solutions – such as a cost on industrial carbon pollution, energy efficiency, clean energy alternatives to fossil fuels – as demonstrated by the science.

The Koch brothers continue to finance campaigns to make Americans doubt the seriousness of global warming, increasingly hiding money through nonprofits like DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund.

Why focus on Charles Koch and David Koch? Many large foundations associated with corporate fortunes are active in financing climate denial groups – Anschutz, Bradley, Coors, DeVos, Dunn, Howard, Pope, Scaife, Searle, and Seid, to name a few.

Unlike Koch, most of those fortunes did not come from owning a corporation like Koch Industries, historically rooted in fossil fuel operations. And none come as close as the Kochs in terms of decades-long focus on actively building a political influence network and coordinating other wealthy executives, corporations and families to dump amounts money into politics that not even the Koch brothers could afford.

Billionaire oilman David Koch used to joke that Koch Industries was “the biggest company you’ve never heard of.” Now the shroud of secrecy has thankfully been lifted, revealing the $79 million that he and his brother Charles have quietly funneled to climate-denial front groups that are working to delay policies and regulations aimed at stopping global warming, most of which are part of the State Policy Network.

Today, the Kochs are being watched as a prime example of the corporate takeover of government. Their funding and co-opting of the Tea Party movement is now well documented.

Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch have a vested interest in delaying climate action: they’ve made billions from their ownership and control of Koch Industries, an oil corporation that is the second largest privately-held company in America (which also happens to have an especially poor environmental record). It’s timely that more people are now aware of Charles and David Koch and just what they’re up to. A growing awareness of these oil billionaires’ destructive agenda has led to increased scrutiny and resistance from people and organizations all over the United States.

We continue to expose the connections between climate denial front groups and the secretive billionaires who are funding their efforts.

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The Koch brothers, their family members, and their employees direct a web of financing that supports conservative special interest groups and think-tanks, with a strong focus on fighting environmental regulation, opposing clean energy legislation, and easing limits on industrial pollution. This money is typically funneled through one of three “charitable” foundations the Kochs have set up: the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation; the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation; and the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation.

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What You Can Do

By spreading the word to your networks on sites like Facebook and Twitter, you can make more people aware of who the Kochs are and unmask the “experts” who take money from them to write reports and appear on TV questioning the wisdom of taking action to save the climate.

See also PolluterWatch profiles of Koch IndustriesCharles Koch and David Koch.

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