Koch Brother Fronts Flood into Kansas to Attack Wind Industry – REPORT
by Connor Gibson
March 11, 2013
UPDATE: The Topeka Capital-Journal confirmed that Rep. Dennis Hedke is a member of ALEC and will attend ALEC's Annual Meeting in Chicago from August 7-9, 2013. Text below has been updated to include Rep. Hedke's ALEC membership. Correction: this post listed KS Sen. Julia Lynn as a supporter of the RPS freeze--she is not and her name was removed below. Sen. Lynn remains an ALEC member. A recent flood of Koch-supported think tanks, junk scientists and astroturf groups from inside and outside of Kansas are awaiting the outcome of a bill this week that could stall progress on the growth of clean energy in Kansas. States around the country, including Texas, Ohio, Missouri and North Carolina are poised to cut back on government support for clean energy jobs using model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC, which brings companies together with state lawmakers to forge a wish list of corporate state laws behind closed doors, is coordinating this year's assault on state laws that require a gradual increase of electricity generated by clean energy sources. ALEC and a hoard of other Koch-funded interestsoperatingunder the umbrella of the State Policy Networkhave hit Kansas legislators hard with junk economic studies, junk science and a junk vision of more polluting energy in Kansas' future. Koch Industries lobbyist Jonathan Smallhas added direct pressure on Kansas lawmakers to rollback support for clean energy. This fossil fuel-funded attack ignores the good that wind energy has done for Kansas, a state known for its bipartisan support for its growing wind industry (see key report by Polsinelli Shughart). The state now has 19 operating wind farms that have brought millions to farmers leasing their land and millions more to the state, county and local levels (NRDC). The American Wind Energy Association says that Kansas wind industry jobs have grown to 13,000 with the help of incentives like the renewable portfolio standard. Unfortunately, clean energy is not palatable to the billionaire Koch brothers or the influence peddlers they finance. All of the following State Policy Network affiliates (except the Kansas Policy Institute) are directly funded by the Koch brothers, while most of the groups get secretive grants through the Koch-affiliated "Dark Money ATM,"Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, which havedistributed over $120,000,000 to 100 groups involved in climate denial since 2002.
Beacon Hill InstituteAmericans for Prosperity was created by the Kochs with help from Koch Industries executive Richard Fink after the demise of their previous organization, Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), which split into AFP and FreedomWorks in 2004. In addition to hosting an event against the Kansas RPS law featuring Heartland's James Taylor, AFP's Kansas director Derrick Sontag testified before the Kansas House committee on Energy and Environment. AFP's Sontag urged for a full repeal rather than a simple RPS target freeze:
- $53,500 grant from Donors Trust in 2007
- Koch-funded (Washington Post)
- State Policy Network member
- State Policy Network member (and vice-versa)
- $858,858 from Koch foundations since 1997
- Ongoing funding from Koch Industries and numerous coal, oil & gas interests
- $45,000 grant from Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund since 2010
- Koch lobbyist Mike Morgan sits on ALEC's corporate board
- Senators Forrest Knox, Ty Masterson andMike Petersen.
- Representatives Dennis Hedke, Phil Hermanson,Scott Schwab, andLarry Powell (amember of ALEC's anti-environmental task force that created the Electricity Freedom Act)
Lead House sponsor Rep. Dennis Hedke will be attending ALEC's annual summit in Chicago in August, 2013. Rep. Hedke spoke directly with a Koch Industries lobbyist about the bill and has a close relationship with the Heartland Institute, which promoted one of his books.
The Heartland Institute:
- State Policy Network member; ALEC anti-environmental task force member
- $55,000 from Koch foundations since 1997
- $14.5 million from Donors Trust since 2002
Americans for Prosperity:
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="294"] Chairman David Koch at an Americans for Prosperity event[/caption]
"We believe that HB 2241 is a step in the right direction, but that it doesn't go far enough. Instead, AFP supports a full repeal of the renewable energy mandate in Kansas."Derrick Sontag apparently only cited a range of debunked studies (the "Spanish" study and the flawed Beacon Hill report) and information from Koch-funded interests like the Institute for Energy Research and "State Budget Solutions," a project of several State Policy Network groups including ALEC and the Mercatus Center, a think tank founded and heavily-funded by the Kochs. Kansas Policy Institute
- $534,500 from Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, 2009-2011
- $340,000 in 2010--49% of 2010 budget
- $125,000 in 2011--20% of2011 budget
- Member of ALEC; member of the State Policy Network
- KPI Trustee George Pearson is a Koch family friend who"worked for nearly three decades for the Koch family as manager of various Koch Foundations and for Koch Industries." Pearsonhelped Charles Koch start the Cato Institute as one of Cato's original shareholdersand workedfor the Institute for Humane Studiesat George Mason University, one of Charles Koch's most heavily-financed projects.
We have no objection to the production of renewable energy. [...] Our objection is to government intervention that forces utility companies to purchase more expensive renewable energy and pass those costs on to consumers.James Franko's free market logic comes with the usual holes--no mention of the "costs" of coal and other polluting forms of energy that taint our air, water and bodies, nor any mention of how the government spends billions each year propping up the coal and oil industries. After KPI's Franko testified before Kansas legislators on February 14,KPI hosted a luncheon for legislators at noon on the same day. The luncheon, hosted at the Topeka Capital Plaza Hotel, featured Beacon Hill's Michael Head. From KPI's email invitation:
"Given the importance of this issue, we would like to invite you to join us forlunch on Thursday 14 Februaryto hear from the author of astudy we published last yearexploring the costs and benefits of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Not only will we be discussingKPIs study but offering a review of different studies that have been presented to the Legislature."KPI has served as the glue for other State Policy Network affiliates entering Kansas to amplify the opposition to clean energy. Chris Horner -- Competitive Enterprise Institute & American Tradition Institute
- Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI):
- American Tradition Institute (ATI):
- Member of the State Policy Network
- 75% of 2010 funding from oil businessman Doug Lair
- $60,000 from Koch foundations since 1997
- $172,100 from Donors Trust since 2004
- Member of the State Policy Network
- ExxonMobil ($335,106)
- American Petroleum Institute ($273,611 since 2001)
- Charles G. Koch Foundation ($230,000)
- Southern Company ($240,000)
- Umbrella organization to all groups listed above
- $49,000 from Koch foundations since 1997
- Over $10 million from Donors Trust & Donors Capital Fund since 2002
- Donors Trust provided over 36% of SPN's 2010 budget and over 40% of SPN's 2011 budget(budgets for both years listed in their 2011 IRS filing).
- Based in Wichita, Kansas
- Operations in oil refining, oil and gas pipelines, fossil fuel commodity & derivatives trading, petrochemical manufacturing, fertilizers, textiles, wood and paper products, consumer tissue products, cattle ranching, and other ventures.
- $115 billionin estimated annual revenue
- 84% private owned between brothers Charles Koch and David Koch, each worth an estimated $34 billion (Forbes) to $44.7 billion (Bloomberg).
- Member of ALEC's anti-environmental task force
- Associated foundations fund State Policy Network, ALEC, Heartland Institute, Americans for Prosperity, Beacon Hill Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Americans for Tax Reform and Dr. Willie Soon.
- Koch brothers founded Americans for Prosperity and helped establish the Heartland Institute.