State Policy Network (SPN)

Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group

$128,551 received from Koch foundations, 1997-2017.

The State Policy Network (SPN) is both an organization and a network of state level think tanks and policy organizations that act as a coordinated front for a variety of corporate priorities including delaying action to mitigate global warming.

Despite State Policy Network CEO Tracie Sharp‘s insistence that SPN’s member organizations are “fiercely independent” and focused on their states’ issues, she has privately told the CEOs of SPN member organizations that SPN issue-based “grants are driven by donor intent.” SPN’s cut-and-paste style of advancing corporate campaigns was the feature of a New Yorker article comparing the State Policy Network to IKEA.

The State Policy Network has promoted climate science denial conferences hosted by the Heartland Institute and circulated unscientific reports from Heartland’s “Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change.” Heartland’s “Climate Change Reconsidered” reports are authored by career climate deniers such as S. Fred Singer and Craig Idso.

Coordinating around model state legislation introduced by politicians in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC, an SPN member), the State Policy Network has attacked renewable portfolio standard laws in at least 15 states in 2013 and 2014, most notably in Kansas, North Carolina and Ohio. While ALEC politicians like Troy Balderson and Bill Seitz succeeded in freezing Ohio’s RPS law and ALEC national chairman John Piscopo watered down the Connecticut RPS, these attacks have largely failed across the country. Clean energy incentives are popular because of the jobs and economic benefits in RPS states, and because of false data used by SPN affiliatesto justify the RPS repeal attempts.

The Charles G. Koch Foundation is a member of the State Policy Network.

ALEC and The Heartland Institute founded the State Policy Network through a predecessor called the Madison Group.  Allegedly, President Ronald Reagan suggested to South Carolina building supply billionaire Thomas Roe that he create state-level organizations modeled off of the Heritage Foundation. Today, Heartland, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Heritage are allSPN members, and all have coordinated to block solutions to global warming.

The following Koch-funded State Policy Network member organizations are involved in coordinated public relations campaigns to promote unscientific doubt over global warming and delay policies to address the problem:

The State Policy Network also includes numerous “Associate Members,” often based in Washington, DC, that are part of the Koch-funded climate denial machine, some of which were established by the Koch brothers.

Note: other SPN members without [direct] Koch funding also participate in the climate denial machine, such as DCI Group and the Pacific Legal Foundation. Koch foundations finance numerous other SPN members as well.

Few of the Koch-funded groups that promote doubt over global warming aren’t members of the State Policy Network. Most notably, the Institute for Energy Research and sister group American Energy Alliance, both of which stem from a predecessor group founded by Charles Koch in Texas, are not SPN members despite their presence at conferences hosted by SPN and its affiliates.

SPN is also associated with networks financing not only the climate denial machine, but the broader corporate political movement, such as the Philanthropy Roundation, the Searle Freedom Trust, and Donor’s Trust, all of which are tied to the Kochs through various personnel. SPN’s broader campaigns include opposing healthcare reform, eliminating corporate taxes, privatizing education by directing public funds to private schools, resisting pollution regulations, weakening pension programs, attacking the prevailing wage and blocking policies to increase the minimum wage. More on SPN’s broader work is featured on and the Center for Media and Democracy’s 2013 report, Exposed: The State Policy Network.

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