Koch Climate Opposition Funding

The Koch brothers, their family members and Koch Industries employees direct a web of financing that supports conservative and libertarian special interest groups and think-tanks, with a strong focus on fighting environmental regulation and easing limits on industrial pollution.

Koch Museum Board Protest in Washington DC

© Brooke Armstrong

Koch Climate Opposition Funding

“Koch’s chief political influence tool is a web of interconnected, right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups funded by foundations controlled and supported by the two Koch brothers.” 

Center for Public Integrity

This web is currently fueling a campaign to oppose clean energy and climate legislation, by funding organizations that generate, disseminate and repeat inaccurate and misleading information about climate science, clean energy and climate policies. This information is then provided to astroturf groups (fake grassroots organizations that are created or sponsored by industries) – some of which are also funded by Koch interests – which use the misinformation to increase opposition to clean energy policies and climate solutions.

Koch foundations contributed over $70 million to climate opposition groups from 1997 to 2012. The climate debate heated up in 1997 around the Kyoto Protocol international negotiations, galvanizing corporate opposition to climate policy. The volume of funding has increased significantly in recent years as climate policy has gained momentum in the United States. Over 64% of the Koch grants since 1997 were dispersed in recent years, between 2005 to 2011.  As a rough indicator of the scale and significance of this investment, the Koch foundations surpass ExxonMobil and the ExxonMobil Foundation as a funding source to organizations that generate and disseminate misinformation on the science of and solutions to global warming. From 2005 to 2011, the Koch Foundations provided $43.1 million in funding to groups denying climate science; during the same time ExxonMobil provided $12.3 million to the same network of organizations.

The Koch web spans beyond clean energy and climate concerns, and beyond connections plainly visible through publicly available funding trails and records. Many of the organizations funded by Koch are also working against health care reform. Koch’s interests are also advocated through dozens of trade associations (501-C-6’s). Neither Koch Industries nor its owners or officers are required to report potentially millions of dollars of contributions to these groups, such as U.S. Chamber of Commerce, state Chambers of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and its state affiliates, the American Petroleum Institute and others. Comprehensive examination and research of the entire Koch web is ongoing.

Sources of Data for Koch Foundation Grants

Foundations disclose major recipients of grants on their IRS 990 forms (tax returns). The data cited in this report comes from the foundations’ IRS 990 tax forms, accessed through the GuideStar database and from data available on the Media Matters Action Conservative Transparency Project.

The Koch Foundations

Climate denial organizations receive millions of dollars in grants made by three Koch-controlled foundations: the now-defunct Claude R. Lambe foundation; the Charles G. Koch foundation; and theDavid H. Koch foundation, which typically only gives to charities. The Kochs also funnel millions of dollars to intermediate money funnels like Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund through one of their obscure foundations, the Knowledge and Progress Fund.

To see what groups these foundations have given money to, view our interactive web feature, “Koch’s Web of Dirty Money and Influence.”

See also PolluterWatch profiles of Koch Industries, Charles Koch and David Koch.

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