koch industries

The Keystone XL Coverup: The State Department's Attempt to Hide Oil Industry Connections

  • Posted on: 21 March 2013
  • By: JesseColeman

Mother Jones Magazine has uncovered a new twist in the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline. As it turns out the authors who drafted the environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline worked for TransCanada, Koch Industries, Shell Oil, and other oil corporations that stand to benefit from building the Keystone XL. Not only did the State Department know about these conflicts of interest, they redacted this information from public filings in attempt to conceal the truth.

For background, the Keystone XL is a proposed oil pipeline that would ship sour crude oil from the Canadian tar sands to the Gulf coast of Texas. The oil would then be refined and shipped abroad.

In order to build the pipeline, Transcanada, the company who proposed Keystone XL, must get the OK from the State Department. The State Department bases its decision on whether or not to approve the pipeline on an environmental review, conducted by a third party group overseen by the State Department and paid for by Transcanada.

This review, called the "draft supplemental environmental impact statement" was released earlier this month.  It has been widely criticized as downplaying the impact that building Keystone XL will have on the climate, and all but paving the way for approval for the project.

The review was conducted by a company called Environmental Resources Management (ERM). When ERM released its review of Keystone, it also released a 55 page filing claiming that there was no conflicts of interest in writing the report. However, the State Department redacted information from this filing, including the biographies of key experts involved in writing the report.

According to Mother Jones, those redactions were meant to keep ties between the report authors and Transanada a secret from the public. Here is what the State Department was covering up:

  • ERM's second-in-command on the Keystone report, Andrew Bielakowski, had worked on three previous pipeline projects for TransCanada over seven years as an outside consultant. He also consulted on projects for ExxonMobil, BP, and ConocoPhillips, three of the Big Five oil companies that could benefit from the Keystone XL project and increased extraction of heavy crude oil taken from the Canadian tar sands.
  • Another ERM employee who contributed to State's Keystone report—and whose prior work history was also redacted—previously worked for Shell Oil;
  • A third worked as a consultant for Koch Gateway Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Koch Industries. Shell and Koch* have a significant financial interest in the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. ERM itself has worked for Chevron, which has invested in Canadian tar sands extraction, according to its website.

However, this is not the first time that the State Department has been criticized for conflicts of interests involving TransCanada and Keystone XL.

From Mother Jones:

In October 2011, Obama's reelection campaign hired Broderick Johnson, who had previously lobbied in favor of Keystone, as a senior adviser. Emails obtained by Friends of the Earth, an environmental group that opposes the Keystone pipeline, revealed a cozy relationship between TransCanada lobbyist Paul Elliott and Marja Verloop, an official at the US Embassy in Canada whose portfolio covers the Keystone project. Before he lobbied for TransCanada, Elliott worked as deputy campaign manager on Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential bid. Clinton served as secretary of state until recently.

 

The question is, how can the State Department get away with routinely ignoring or burying connections between the oil industry and regulators responsible for Keystone XL?

 

Industry: 

State Bills to Criminalize Peaceful Protest of Oil & Gas "Critical Infrastructure"

  • Posted on: 18 February 2019
  • By: Connor Gibson

Image and related article via The Real News Network.

Updated July 17, 2019. Greenpeace USA.

Lawmakers in several states are introducing bills that would increase criminal penalties for people who trespass "critical infrastructure" facilities, such as oil and gas pipelines, power plants, and petrochemical refineries.

According to many of these legislators, these bills are a reaction to widespread protests of oil and gas infrastructure. Some of the protests have captured the nation's attention, such as the indigenous-led protests at Standing Rock in North Dakota and in Iowa against the Dakota Access Pipeline, opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline from Nebraska to Texas, protests of the Bayou Bridge pipeline in Louisiana, and opposition to several pipeline projects in Pennsylvania. Six states have enacted some form of these bills into law: North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Iowa, Louisiana, and Texas

This effort to add felony-level penalties to peaceful protestors does not appear to be in reaction from the constituents of the politicians sponsoring such legislation. In contrast, there is much evidence of coordinated pressure from the oil and gas industry, electric utilities, and chemical companies. According to The Intercept, 85 percent of the nation's "critical infrastructure" is privately owned.

Many of these bills are virtually identical. Several companies and lobbying organizations used groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Council of State Governments (CSG) to put these policies into the hands of legislators. These model "critical infrastructure" anti-protest bills adopted by ALEC and by CSG would allow prosecutors to impose large fines and felonies, not only on individuals who are arrested, but organizations that are deemed to be supporting those individuals. 

Offenses such as vandalism and violence are already illegal in these states and grounds for prosecution. Nonviolent offenses, like trespassing, are also already illegal in these states. People arrested for protesting oil and gas infrastructure--before these "critical infrastructure" bills became law in several states--already faced severe legal threats. Many people were jailed, imprisoned, and fined for nonviolent activities that occurred during protests of petrochemical pipelines.

The following pages assemble a variety of information on these state bills, and the model bills, organized by state, and then in reverse chronological order. This research is an attempt to measure how polluting companies are using a combination of lobbying, state legislative consortiums, and campaign cash to afford extra legal enforcement against protests of oil, gas, and electric infrastructure. Greenpeace relied heavily on the US Protest Law Tracker, published by the International Center for Not-For-Profit Law (ICNL). 

OIL & GAS INFRASTRUCTURE ANTI-PROTEST BILLS, BY STATE: 

* = bill(s) passed into law

These pages will continue to be updated with new information.

OIL & GAS INFRASTRUCTURE ANTI-PROTEST BILLS, PRESENT TO PAST:

2019: 

July 11, 2019: Missouri HB 355 signed into law by Governor. (see Missouri Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)
 

May 29, 2019: Illinois HB 1633 died in Senate committee after being tabled. (see Illinois Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 15, 2019: Tennessee SB 0264 signed into law by Governor. (see Tennessee Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 15, 2019: Missouri HB 355 passed in Senate with amendment adding "critical infrastructure" language. (see Missouri Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 6, 2019: Indiana SB 471 signed by Governor as Act 471. (see Indiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 1, 2019: Ohio SB 33 passed in Senate. (see Ohio Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Apr. 30, 2019: Tennessee SB 0264 passed in House, previously passed in Senate. (see Tennessee Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Apr. 11, 2019: North Dakota SB 2044 signed into law by Governor. (see North Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Apr. 11, 2019: Illinois HB 1633 passed in House. (see Illinois Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Mar. 27, 2019: South Dakota SB 189 signed by Governor Kristi Noem (see South Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 25, 2019: North Dakota SB 2044 passed in House, prevously passed in Senate. (see North Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 19, 2019: Indiana SB 471 passed in House, previously passed in Senate. (see Indiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 7, 2019: Texas SB 1993 filed. (see Texas Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 7, 2019: South Dakota SB 189 passed in Senate and in House (see South Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 6, 2019: Texas HB 3557 filed. (see Texas Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 5, 2019: Mississippi SB 2754 died in House commiitee. (see Mississippi Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 5, 2019: Kentucky SB 238 died in Senate committee. (See Kentucky Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 4, 2019: South Dakota SB 189 introduced. (see South Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Feb. 15. 2019: Kentucky SB 238 passed in House. (See Kentucky Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 12, 2019: Ohio SB 33 introduced. (see Ohio Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 12, 2019 Idaho SB 1090 died in Senate committee. (see Idaho Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 11, 2019: Idaho SB 1090 introduced and read first time on February 11, 2019. (see Idaho Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 11, 2019: Mississippi SB 2754 passed in Senate. (see Mississippi Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 7, 2019: Indiana SB 471 passed in Senate. (see Indiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 7, 2019: Illinois SB 1304 introduced, concurrent with HB 1633. (see Illinois Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 5, 2019: Kentucky SB 238 introduced. (See Kentucky Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 4, 2019: Wyoming HB 10 died in committee(see Wyoming Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Jan. 31, 2019: Illinois HB 1633 introduced. (see Illinois Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 23, 2019: Missouri SB 293 introduced, later folded into HB 355, above. (see Missouri Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 19, 2019: Mississippi SB 2754 introduced. (see Mississippi Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 17, 2019: Pennsylvania Senators announced they will reintroduce SB 652. (see Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 14, 2019: Indiana SB 471 introduced. (see Indiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 3, 2019: North Dakota SB 2044 introduced. (see North Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

2018:

Dec. 6, 2018: Ohio SB 250 passed Senate, then died in House committee. (see Ohio Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Oct. 10, 2018: Pennsylvania SB 652 died in House committee. (see Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Aug. 8, 2018: Louisiana Act 692 (HB 727) officially went into effect. (see Louisiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jun. 13, 2018: Pennsylvania SB 652 referred to House committee. (see Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

May 30, 2018: Louisiana HB 727 signed by Governor as Act 692. (see Louisiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 30, 2018: Minnesota SF 3463 vetoed by governor. (see Minnesota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 23, 2018: Pennsylvania SB 652 passed in Senate. (see Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 9, 2018: Minnesota HB 3693 postponed and folded into SF 3463. (see Minnesota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Apr. 17, 2018: Iowa SB 2235 signed by governor, became law. (see Iowa Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Mar. 27, 2018: Iowa HF 2349 withdrawn, folded into SB 2235. (see Iowa Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 26, 2018: Louisiana HB 727 introduced. (see Louisiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 15, 2018: Minnesota SF 3463 introduced (see Minnesota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 15, 2018: Wyoming SF 74 vetoed by governor. (see Wyoming Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 12, 2018: Minnesota HB 3693 introduced. (see Minnesota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Feb. 19, 2018: Wyoming SF 74 introduced. (see Wyoming Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 16, 2018: Iowa HF 2349 introduced, replacing HSB 603 and SSB 3062. (see Iowa Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 12, 2018: Iowa SB 2235 introduced. (see Iowa Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Jan. 31, 2018: Iowa HSB 603 introduced. (see Iowa Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 24, 2018: Ohio SB 250 introduced. (see Ohio Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 23, 2018: Iowa SSB 3062 introduced. (see Iowa Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 20, 2018: ALEC board approves model bill. (see American Legislative Exchange Council ALEC Model Bill: Critical Infrastructure Protection Act)

2017:

Dec. 15, 2017: Council of State Governments model bill adopted. (see Council of State Governments CSG Model Bill: Trespassing, Interference, and Destruction of Critical Infrastructure)

Dec. 7, 2017: ALEC model bill considered internally at ALEC meeting. (see American Legislative Exchange Council ALEC Model Bill: Critical Infrastructure Protection Act)

 

May 15, 2017: Oklahoma HB 2128 signed into law by governor. (see Oklahoma Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 3, 2017: Oklahoma HB 1123 signed into law by governor. (see Oklahoma Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Apr. 25, 2017: Pennsylvania SB 652 introduced. (see Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Apr. 12, 2017: Colorado SB 17-035 died in House committee. (see Colorado Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Mar. 28, 2017: Georgia SB1 died in committee. (see Georgia Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Mar. 27, 2017: South Dakota SB 176 signed into law by governor. (see South Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Feb. 28, 2017: Colorado SB 17-035 approved by Senate. (see Colorado Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 23, 2017: North Dakota HB 1293 signed into law by governor. (see North Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 6, 2017: Oklahoma HB 2128 introduced. (see Oklahoma Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 6, 2017: Oklahoma HB 1123 introduced. (see Oklahoma Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 3, 2017: South Dakota SB 176 introduced. (see South Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Jan. 12, 2017: North Dakota HB 1293 introduced. (see North Dakota Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 11, 2017: Colorado SB 17-035 introduced. (see Colorado Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Jan. 1, 2017: Georgia SB1 introduced. (see Georgia Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

2016:

Dec. 16, 2016: Washington SB 5009 pre-filed. (see Washington Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Dec. 8, 2016: Michigan HB 4643 referred to Senate, where the bill died. (see Michigan Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Dec. 7, 2016: Michigan HB 4643 approved by House. (see Michigan Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 2, 2016: Alabama HB 77 died after first reading in House Judiciary Committee (see Alabama Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

2015:

August 1, 2015: Louisiana Act 366 becomes effective. (see Louisiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

July 1, 2015: Louisiana HB7 signed by Governor Bobby Jindal as Act 366. (see Louisiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

May 26, 2015: Michigan HB 4643 introduced. (see Michigan Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

Feb. 6, 2015: Louisiana HB7 prefiled. (see Louisiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

2006:

Council of State Governments adpoted “Unauthorized Entry of a Critical Infrastructure” model bill. (see Council of State Governments CSG Model Bill: Trespassing, Interference, and Destruction of Critical Infrastructure)

2004:

June 10, 2004: Louisiana Act 157 signed into law by Governor Kathleen Blanco (see Louisiana Oil & Gas Infrastructure anti-protest bills)

 

Media Reports & References:

2019

Jake Wartel, Anti-Protest Bills, from National to State Level, Gain Ground, Defending Rights & Dissent, July 12, 2019

Susie Cagle, 'Protesters as terrorists': growing number of states turn anti-pipeline activism into a crime, The Guardian, July 8, 2019

Delilah Friedler, South Dakota’s “Riot-Boosting” Law Aims to Curb the Next Standing Rock Before it Even Starts, Mother Jones, June 18, 2019

Naveena Sadasivam, Mess with a Texas pipeline now and you could end up a felon, Grist, June 17, 2019

Luke Darby, Red States Are Criminalizing Speech to Wage War on Environmental Activists, GQ, June 7, 2019

Alan Neuhauser, Pipeline Protest Laws Spark First Amendment Concerns, US News & World Report, June 6, 2019

Rebecca Stoner, Why are Unions Joining Conservative Groups to Protect Pipelines?, Pacific Standard, May 31, 2019

Alleen Brown, Pipeline Opponents Strike Back Against Anti-Protest Laws, The Intercept, May 23, 2019

New Lawsuit Challenges Anti-Protest Trespass Law, Center for Constitutional Rights, May 22, 2019

Jacob Shea, States Crack Down on Environmental Activists, Sierra Club, May 20, 2019

Naveena Sadasivam, After Standing Rock, protesting pipelines can get you a decade in prison and $100K in fines, Grist, May 14, 2019

Maggie Ellinger-Locke, ALEC Wants to Make Protest Illegal in Illinois, TruthOut / Greenpeace USA, May 10, 2019

Sue Udry, Free Speech is the Critical Infrastructure to our Democracy, Protect Rights & Dissent, May 8, 2019

Maggie Ellinger-Locke, Anti-Protest Legislation is Threatening our Climate, May 3, 2019

Mike Lee, High-profile protests spur state bids to tamp down unrest, E&E Publishing EnergyWire, April 24, 2019

Sarah Lazare and Simon Davis-Cohen, Fossil Fuel Companies Are Enlisting Police to Crack Down on Protesters, In These Times, April 16, 2019

Nicholas Kusnetz, More States Crack Down on Pipeline Protesters, Including Supporters Who Aren’t Even on the Scene, InsideClimate News, March 28, 2019

Alleen Brown, The Green Scare: How a Movement that Never Killed Anyone Became the FBI's #1 Domestic Terrorism Threat, The Intercept, March 23, 2019

Traci Yoder, The Attack on Climate Justice Movements, National Lawyers Guild, March 14, 2019

Sarah Bowman, This Indiana bill is meant to protect pipelines. Critics say it infringes on free speech., Indianapolis Star, March 10, 2019

Steve Horn, Bills Criminalizing Pipeline Protest Arise in Statehouses Nationwide, The Real News Network, February 22, 2019

Will Parrish, North Dakota Seeks to Restrict Access to Public Records After Standing Rock Reporting Exposed Law Enforcement Abuses, The Intercept, February 11, 2019

Alleen Brown and Will Parrish, How Police, Private Security, and Energy Companies are Preparing for a New Pipeline Standoff, The Intercept, January 30, 2019

2018

Derek Seidman and Gin Armstrong, How to Research the Corporate Forces Behind Pipeline Protest Criminalization, LittleSis, September 27, 2018

Sarah Lustbader and Vaidya Gullapalli, States Use Anti-Protest Laws to Protect Oil Pipelines and Criminalize Environmental Activism, The Appeal, August 22, 2018

Nicholas Kusnetz, How Energy Companies and Allies Are Turning the Law Against Protesters, InsideClimate News / Washington Post, August 22, 2018

Alleen Brown and Will Parrish, Recent Arrests Under New Anti-Protest Law Spotlight Risks that Off-Duty Cops Pose to Pipeline Opponents, The Intercept, August 22, 2018

Eliza Newlin Carney, Spate of anti-protest bills target social justice infrastructure, Sunlight Foundation, June 18, 2018

Sue Sturgis, Louisiana pipeline protection bill part of wider protest crackdown, Facing South / Institute for Southern Studies, May 11, 2018

Natasha Geiling, These states want to make planning a pipeline protest a crime, ThinkProgress, April 16, 2018

Alleen Brown and Will Parrish, Louisiana and Minnesota Introduce Anti-Protest Bills Amid Fights over Bayou Bridge and Enbridge Pipelines, The Intercept, March 31, 2018

Vera Eidelman and Maggie Ellinger-Locke, The Assault on Environmental Protest, American Civil Liberties Union / Greenpeace USA, March 16, 2018

Sue Udry, Toxic Brew: State Politicians, Gas & Oil Lobbyists, and ALEC Join Forces Against Environmental Protesters, Protect Rights & Dissent, February 21, 2018

Steve Horn, Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests, DeSmog, February 21, 2018

Alexander C. Kaufman, Environmentalists Say They’re Averting Climate Disaster. Conservatives Say It’s Terrorism., HuffPost, February 20, 2018

Zoë Carpenter and Tracie Williams, PHOTOS: Since Standing Rock, 56 Bills Have Been Introduced in 30 States to Restrict Protests, The Nation, February 16, 2018

Traci Yoder, Conservative-led Anti-Protest Legislation Already Doubled Since Last Year, National Lawyers Guild, February 15, 2018

Andrew Graham, Would bill to protect energy infrastructure stifle protests?, WyoFile, February 15, 2018

Alleen Brown, Ohio and Iowa are the Latest of Eight States to Consider Anti-Protest Bills Aimed at Pipeline Opponents, The Intercept, February 2, 2018

2017

Steve Horn, As Trump Unfurls Infrastructure Plan, Iowa Bill Seeks to Criminalize Pipeline Protests, DeSmog, January 31, 2017

Steve Horn, ALEC, Corporate-Funded Bill Mill, Considers Model State Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protesters, DeSmog, December 11, 2017

Alleen Brown, Will Parrish and Alice Speri, Dakota Access-Style Policing Moves to Pennsylvannia's Mariner East 2 Pipeline, The Intercept, June 21, 2017

Sean Kitchen, ALEC Style Bills Aim to Criminalize Pipeline and Fracking Demonstrations Throughout Pennsylvania, Raging Chicken Press, May 10, 2017

Alleen Brown, Oklahoma Governor Signs Anti-Protest Law Imposing Huge Fines on "Conspirator" Organizations, The Intercept, May 6, 2017

Steve Horn, Newspaper Owned By Fracking Billionaire Leaks Memo Calling Pipeline Opponents Potential "Terrorists", DeSmog, April 23, 2017

Traci Yoder, New Anti-Protesting Legislation: A Deeper Look, National Lawyers Guild, March 2, 2017

    Contact: Connor Gibson - connor.gibson@greenpeace.org@climateconnor

    Industry: 

    Scott Pruitt Emails: Oil Lobbyists Drafted His Letters as Oklahoma's AG

    • Posted on: 23 February 2017
    • By: Connor Gibson

    Scott Pruitt had a bad habit as Oklahoma's attorney general: he liked to have oil lobbyists ghostwrite his official government letters calling for limits to enforcing federal pollution laws.

    A lawsuit initiated by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has forced thousands of Scott Pruitt's emails into the daylight, after Pruitt's office delayed CMD's records requests for two years. CMD says it anticipates more documents in the coming weeks, so we're in the middle of an unfolding saga. You may recall this 2014 New York Times article by Eric Lipton, which opened with this juicy hook:

    The letter to the Environmental Protection Agency from Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma carried a blunt accusation: Federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state.

    But Mr. Pruitt left out one critical point. The three-page letter was written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies, and was delivered to him by Devon’s chief of lobbying.

    “Outstanding!” William F. Whitsitt, who at the time directed government relations at the company, said in a note to Mr. Pruitt’s office. The attorney general’s staff had taken Devon’s draft, copied it onto state government stationery with only a few word changes, and sent it to Washington with the attorney general’s signature. “The timing of the letter is great, given our meeting this Friday with both E.P.A. and the White House.”

    Mr. Whitsitt then added, “Please pass along Devon’s thanks to Attorney General Pruitt.”

    Now we know this was not an isolated incident. A new article in today's New York Times notes a similar favor Pruitt conducted at the request of Devon Energy lobbyists who were concerned about U.S. Bureau of Land Management rules that could restrict oil and gas extraction on public lands:

    In a March 2013 letter to Mr. Pruitt’s office, William Whitsitt, then an executive vice president of Devon, referred to a letter his company had drafted for Mr. Pruitt to deliver, on Oklahoma state stationery, to Obama administration officials. Mr. Pruitt, meeting with White House officials, made the case that the rule, which would rein in planet-warming methane emissions, would be harmful to his state’s economy. His argument was taken directly from Mr. Whitsitt’s draft language.

    “To follow up on my conversations with Attorney General Pruitt and you, I believe that a meeting — or perhaps more efficient, a conference call — with OIRA (the OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Analysis) on the BLM rule should be requested right away,” Mr. Whitsitt wrote. “The attached draft letter (or something like it that Scott is comfortable talking from and sending to the acting director to whom the letter is addressed) could be the basis for the meeting or call.”

    The letter referred to the section of the White House Office of Management and Budget that coordinates regulations throughout the government.

    Two weeks later Devon's Bill Whitsitt sent a celebratory email to Pruitt's staff, saying, "I just let General Pruitt know that BLM is going to propose a different version of its federal lands hydraulic fracturing rule thanks to input received – thanks for the help on this!" In the most striking new example, CMD revealed that Scott Pruitt's staff accepted draft letters from oil refinery lobbyists who wanted government help to attack renewable fuels and limits to smog pollution:

    The oil and gas lobby group American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) coordinated opposition in 2013 to both the Renewable Fuel Standard Program and ozone limits with Pruitt’s office. While AFPM was making its own case against the RFS with the American Petroleum Institute, it provided Pruitt with a template language for an Oklahoma petition, noting “this argument is more credible coming from a State.” Later that year, Pruitt did file opposition to both the RFS and ozone limits.

    I recommend this deep dive by DeSmog Blog if you want more specific examples of oil lobbyists running Pruitt's agenda.

    The emails are peppered with examples of Pruitt and his staff coordinating with Koch Industries and its political surrogates, including a conference call with a Koch Industries lobbyist. Pruitt frequently worked with some of the most notable Koch-funded climate denier hubs, including Americans for Prosperity, the Federalist Society, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the State Policy Network.

    Pruitt was a keynote speaker for another well-known Koch venture in May, 2013, at a reception for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC's event was held at the Oklahoma City Petroleum Club, and Pruitt was told it would be sponsored by Koch Industries, Devon Energy, TransCanada, Continental Resources, and Phillips66. ALEC is the dating service for state legislators and corporate lobbyists, where Scott Pruitt has been a celebrity in recent years for leading other state attorneys general into attacks on the EPA.

    The appointment to lead the EPA is a reward for Pruitt, who dutifully acted on behalf of fossil fuel companies as Oklahoma attorney general, and a consequence of the Republican administrations close ties to the oil and coal industries.

    At Greenpeace, we invite our supporters to join us and resist this administration's handover of federal agencies to the industries who are supposed to be monitored by them. Scientific fact can't be yelled into submission. We'd rather not have the President learn that lesson by failing to protect Americans from the damage done by an unstable climate.

    Just as Scott Pruitt's denial of fracking-related Oklahoma earthquakes did nothing to stop a surge in real earthquakes, putting a climate denier in charge of the EPA is not going to undo the global rise in average surface temperatures that lead to intense drought, flooding, storms, and sea level rise.

    Industry: 

    Koch Brothers Front Groups Line Up in Defense of ExxonMobil Climate Change Denial

    • Posted on: 21 June 2016
    • By: Connor Gibson

    The Kochs have spent over $88 million in *traceable* funding to groups attacking climate change science, policy and regulation. Of that total, $21 million went to groups that recently bought a full page New York Times advertisement defending ExxonMobil from government investigations into its systematic misrepresentation of climate science.

    If you're an executive at a big oil company watching as ExxonMobil is finally exposed for studying climate change, covering up the science and spreading misinformation, you're probably worried now that state attorneys general are knocking on Exxon's door.

    Charles and David Koch must be worried, anyway. Their foundations gave more than $21 million to the people and groups that signed a recent, full page New York Times advertisement that defends ExxonMobil's longstanding efforts to ruin the public's understanding of climate change science.

    Here are the numbers:

    Koch money to climate deniers signing 2016 CEI ad in NY Times

    For comparison, Exxon itself spent half as much on the same people and groups, $10.1 million; money that the front groups spent on tactics like ... a $100,000-or-so full page ad buy in the New York Times! (More info at Climate Investigations Center from my former colleague, Kert Davies.)

    The ringleader group behind the letter, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), is of particular interest. Exxon dumped CEI for its unsupportable climate stance back in 2006, a crushing blow for the aggressive beltway front group that continued to humiliate CEI staff for years.

    But it appears that CEI is loyal to the cause of climate denial, despite being abandoned by Exxon a decade ago. Other financiers, like the Koch family and several coal and oil companies may explain why the denial campaign was sustained.

    Traceable funds only represent a portion of the Koch family’s contributions to CEI. At CEI’s annual fundraising events, Koch Industries’ lobbying subsidiary has been listed as a sponsor. Full-disclosure tax filings published by PR Watch revealed that Koch Industries directly paid Americans for Prosperity, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and other organizations.

    PR Watch discovered another revelation in the full-disclosure tax documents that were leaked. Apparently, David Koch likes to cut CEI $100,000 checks straight from his own coffers. David Koch’s money was not sent through his nonprofit foundation, which would have had to report the grants to CEI.

    This incomplete patchwork of previously-undisclosed funds from Koch Industries and David Koch adds $3,124,834 to the accounting on groups that co-signed the CEI ad. This raises the question: who else is just cutting a direct check to the climate deniers?

    And then there’s the "Dark Money ATM" sister groups, DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund. The DonorsTrust franchise is run by CEI’s former president, Lawson Bader, who helps donors -- including Koch -- anonymize tens of millions of dollars that go to dozens of front groups each year. DonorsTrust & Capital Fund have funneled millions of dark money dollars to CEI.

    But that's still not the end of the financial trail. Other mechanisms used by Charles Koch and his army of donor friends include Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a dark money umbrella group that has hidden hundreds of millions of dollars in politically-charged cash, shuffled between various trusts, nonprofits, and limited liability corporations.

    For the deep history, check out Kert Davies' post for the Climate Investigations Center, which spurred my own interest in the sponsors of the recent New York Times ad. Kert details the crucial history of some of the letter’s signatories, the role they have served in the climate denial machine over the years and the exact documents that inform his understanding.

    I have reproduced Kert’s ExxonSecrets map (below) of the players involved, as it helps show how a small group of people funded by a few oil and coal companies can cast a shadow that is deceptively deep. The tobacco industry crafted this deceptive model, and fossil fuel companies have innovated it since. It helps that the same people doing tobacco science denial moved on to climate science denial.

    One of those tobacco denial alumni, lawyer Steve Milloy, himself an aggressive defender of ExxonMobil, knows that a small group of people can have an outsized impact with enough funding -- even in the face of 97-99 percent of the world’s climate scientists. Milloy once said, “There’s really only about 25 of us doing this. A core group of skeptics. It’s a ragtag bunch, very Continental Army.”

    This indicates that folks like Milloy aren’t just deceiving the public, but themselves. If I was taking Charles Koch’s money to attack science, I too would probably have to constantly remind myself of my American heroics.

    Mr. Koch is as awkward as ever in his half-hearted attempts to understand climate change science (you'd think a MIT alumnus would get it), he has been wary of climate laws and regulations for a long time.

    That's probably why he has rained cash on the organizations that stage the fight, groups that have given room for a top U.S. CEO, with a background in chemical engineering, to demonstrate such scientific ignorance. Since 1997, the Kochs have spent more than $88 million in *traceable* dollars into the network of groups that attack climate science, the scientists doing the research, the potential policy solutions and the champions of those policies.

    ExxonSecrets Map of the Players:

    ExxonSecrets map of climate deniers signing CEI ad in NY Times 2016

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    $830,000 Dirty Dollars Fuel the Ohio Energy Mandates Study Committee

    • Posted on: 22 February 2016
    • By: Connor Gibson

    A wolf pack of in-state utilities and out-of-state petrochemical billionaires has attacked Ohio's clean energy law, threatening to kill clean jobs and wreak further damage on the environment.  

    This attack is led by Ohio state Senator Bill Seitz (R), who five years earlier voted for the law, but after accepting dirty energy money compared the law to Stalinism.   The latest step to stall and dismantle clean energy incentives is the so-called "Energy Mandates Study Committee," or "EMSC." The EMSC was established after previous failed attempts by Sen. Seitz and other Ohio Senators to repeal or weaken the clean energy law.

    The EMSC's recent decision to indefinitely stall laws promoting clean, efficient energy and the jobs they produce, is a power grab by coal utilities paying dropping campaign contributions in exchange to the gutting pollution-free clean energy jobs in Ohio. 

    A review of Ohio campaign finance data reveals some of the money behind these politicians' attack on successful clean energy incentives:

    Quid Pro Coal: Dirty Energy funding to Ohio politicians on the "Energy Mandates Study Committee"

    Data courtesy The National Institute on Money in State Politics - FollowTheMoney.org

    Ohio Politician

    ALEC?

    Utility Industry

    Coal Mining

    Oil & Gas

    TOTAL 

    Rep. Ron Anstutz X $83,100 $35,200 $90,686 $208,986
    Sen. Bill Seitz X $79,125 $25,350 $20,425 $124,900
    Sen. Cliff Hite X $50,085 $2,990 $64,855 $117,950
    Rep. Kristina Roegner X $62,950 $2,150 $28,400 $93,500
    Sen. Troy Balderson X $43,400 $2,450 $30,200 $76,050
    Sen. Bob Peterson   $31,650 $3,600 $14,850 $50,100
    Rep. Christina Hagan X $24,280 $2,050 $21,900 $48,230
    Rep. Louis W. Blessing, III X $37,578 $1,200 $3,350 $42,128
    Rep. Jack Cera   $11,000 $1,350 $9,200 $21,550
    Rep. Mike Stinziano   $16,150 $0 $2,700 $18,850
    Sen. Sandra Williams   $14,700 $500 $250 $15,450
    Sen. Capri Cafaro   $12,200 $1,000 $0 $13,200

    GRAND TOTAL

     

    $466,218

    $77,840

    $286,816

    $830,874

     

    ALEC, Clean Energy, and Rigged Markets

    The EMSC is stacked with politicians linked to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate bill-mill whose state legislator members help dirty energy lobbyists forge laws rolling back clean energy incentives. Some of ALEC's top "private sector members" include Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Peabody, and Duke Energy.

    At recent ALEC meetings, many of these companies sent their lobbyists to rub elbows with state politicians and create template laws in meetings closed to the public. ALEC facilitated the creation of several model bills intended to trip up the booming clean energy industry.

    Legislators violate ALEC's core mission of promoting "free markets," giving their fossil fuel sponsors a pass and attacking incentives for their clean competitors at the expense of human health, clean air, clean water and a stable climate. ALEC's cookie-cutter attacks on clean energy have taken various shapes in Ohio, North Carolina, Kansas and a dozen other states.

    Quid Pro Coal - What Lobbying Looks Like

    Public emails recently published by Energy & Policy Institute show Sen. Seitz recruited help from utility lobbyists as he crafted SB 58.

    The utilities gave the bulk of $466,218 to 12 politicians on Sen. Seitz's committee, documented above. This includes companies directly coordinating with Sen. Seitz, according to his emails.

    Ohio utility companies -- FirstEnergy, American Electric Power, Duke Energy, NiSource, AES subsidiary Dayton Power & Light, and the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives (OREC) -- were directly solicited for input on Seitz's clean energy freeze bill, SB 58, a placeholder bill that preceded Sen. Seitz's study committee. See this timeline, courtesy of Energy & Policy Institute.

    Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives is part of a massive consortium of smaller-scale electric co-ops called the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). NRECA is the top contribution to national politicians among all dirty energy interests, even outspending Koch Industries PAC. NRECA's Ohio affiliate gave Sen. Seitz $4,250 in 2012. The next year, OREC lobbyists helped write Sen. Seitz's bill, SB 58, telling a Seitz staffer, "As we discussed,nbsp;attached is suggested language for inclusion in SB 58 with slight modifications."

    No such opportunities were provided to clean energy advocates in communication with Sen. Seitz, including several small businesses, the Sierra Club and affiliates of unions like the Steelworkers and AFL-CIO. 

    Seitz repeatedly dismissed an Ohio State University study, commissioned by Ohio Advanced Energy Economy (OAEE), a group of Ohio businesses advocating for clean energy in Ohio. OAEE President Ted Ford warned Senator Seitz in a letter:

    "[W]e can report that the results [of SB 58] are worse for ratepayers than we initially thought. The Ohio State University Study (version 2.0) finds that the bill is a massive giveaway to Ohio utilities, and would cost consumers almost $4 billion between now and 2025. The study also finds the standards have already saved Ohioans 1.4% on their electric bills."

    A handwritten note on the letter, apparently written by Senator Seitz, says "more complete fabrications from people with zero credibility." The letter and handwritten commentary were circulated by a Seitz staffer to lobbyists at Duke Energy, American Electric Power, First Energy and others.

    Seitz shot back a letter to OAEE and the Ohio Sierra Club, loaded with questions attacking the credibility and relevance of their data, also sourced from the Ohio State University Study. 

    It turns out, Sen. Seitz prefers his data from out-of-state universities, financed by none other than Kansas billionaire Charles Koch.

    Koch University, Inc. - Utah State University

    Ohio's coal-burning utilities aren't the only interests helping Seitz behind the scenes. The ALEC senator's study committee relied on data using dishonest measurements from professors at Utah State University (USU) in a department that has taken over $1.6 million from Charles Koch since 2005. USU is among the Charles Koch Foundation's top-funded universities.

    It begs the question: Why would Ohio politicians look to Utah professors, financed by a Kansas billionaire, for the data on Ohio's clean energy and efficiency efforts?

    The Koch-funded Institute for Political Economy at USU has produced a series of reports that give politicians the bad data needed to attack clean energy. The Koch professors are USU, like the Suffolk professors before them, appear to be intentionally misleading. Foundations affiliated with Koch Industries have backed these Utah professors in identical attacks on renewable energy standards, in Kansas and North Carolina.

    Disproved data aside, USU professor Randy Simmons hid his financial conflicts of interest in a national op-ed for Newsweek. 

    These aren't the only Koch-funded professors stepping up to the plate to bat against wind. Before Utah, it was the Koch-funded Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University. And recently, Kansas University Professor Art Hall was caught taking payments from Koch to study the Kansas renewable energy standard, not long before he told the Kansas legislature to erode the incentives. Hall's previous job: Koch Industries' chief economist.

    Koch Industries' executives are pushing "fake it till you make it" into the unknown.

    Why the Freeze Makes Zero Sense

    It's not the affiliations that matter so much as the false data and backwards hype involved.

    The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the U.S. wind energy trade association, has revealed basic flaws in all three of these Koch-funded professors' reports out of Utah State University. AWEA's Michael Goggin:

    Instead of only going back to EIA’s 2013 renewable cost estimates like they did in their Kansas report, in their Ohio report they go back to 2008 cost data to develop their estimate of how the cost of wind energy compares against alternatives.

    No explanation is provided for why they did not use EIA’s more recent 2015 and 2014 data, which show that wind energy imposes no net cost relative to conventional sources of energy even after removing the impact of federal incentives. Of course, the authors could have also used recent data from real-world market prices and found that wind energy provides significant net benefits for consumers, as we did above. Instead, using obsolete data allows them to miss how the cost of wind energy has fallen by more than half over the last five years, as documented by both government and private investor data.

    Jobs, lower energy bills, less wasted energy...frozen by Senator Seitz

    Samantha Williams at Natural Resources Defense Council surveys the data that Senator Seitz refuses to accept:

    As of 2013, Ohio was home to over 400 advanced energy companies that employed over 25,000 Ohioans and was leading the country in the number of facilities manufacturing components for wind technology and second in the number of solar equipment providers. A report by the Pew Charitable trusts shows Ohio attracted $1.3 billion in private clean energy investment from 2009 to 2013. Similarly, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) reported that, just prior to the passage of the SB 310 clean energy freeze, Ohio's clean tech economy had grown to support 89,000 jobs.

    Unfortunately, much of that hard-earned momentum was a casualty of the freeze as well as HB 483, which basically tripled setbacks for wind turbines and made future commercial-scale development unviable.The renewable sector is particularly lagging, in the E2 report showing a scant 1.5 percent job growth in Ohio far lower than the national wind and solar rate.

    Pancake Politics: They Liked this Law in 2008

    Sen. Seitz voted along with a large majority of Ohio lawmakers in 2008 to pass the clean energy law. Five years later, Seitz was comparing the clean energy law to "Joseph Stalin's five-year Plan." 

    Ohio is in the midst of a fossil-fueled flip-flop.

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    ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson has a Climate Science Problem (VIDEO)

    • Posted on: 4 December 2015
    • By: Connor Gibson

    The third and final meeting of the year for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) just wrapped up in Scottsdale, Arizona, last week.

    On the day of ALEC's board meeting, Greenpeace attempted to ask ALEC's board of directors and executives about climate change science. ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson was not keen on speaking to us.

    ALEC has a long history of denying climate change. It continues to take payments from fossil fuel companies like Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, and Peabody Energy. It was part of the American Petroleum Institute's leaked plan to manipulate the public's trust in climate scientists, spelled out in an eerie memo from 1998.

    The group even hosts privately-funded events where ALEC legislators are taught how to deny climate change science by public relations consultants who have ties to fossil fuel companies.

    As for Lisa Nelson, she is on the board of a Libertarian think tank that promotes solutions to climate change. The Niskanen Center was named after the late co-founder of Charles Koch's Cato Institute, whose recent death led to an attempted coup of the organization by the Koch brothers. Some of Niskanen's staff are former Cato executives, who now support a carbon tax, perhaps the most viable policy solution to global warming. This has caused a rift between the Libertarian purists and the Koch network's hacks-for-hire, like Pat Michaels, the disgraced climatologist at Cato.

    Since Ms. Nelson  has taken the helm of ALEC, she has lost over a dozen corporate members. Some of those companies--Google, SAP, and Shell--even condemned ALEC specifically for peddling doubt over climate change in their statements explaining why they have abandoned the lobbying group.

    [UPDATE: Since publishing, ALEC was abandoned by American Electric Power (AEP), a major U.S. coal-burning utility that has even lent staff to help govern ALEC's anti-environment task force. AEP states that ALEC's interference with the US Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan is the reason they are leaving. AEP remains a member of the utility trade group, the Edison Electric Institute, itself a member of ALEC.]

    Ms. Nelson has inherited a big problem. After decades of helping companies lie to legislators about climate change, the companies themselves and many of their front groups will no longer deny that humans are responsible for unnatural climate variability. But ALEC legislators have not received the memo, and if you ask them about climate change, they sound woefully uninformed. Almost as if they were paid to.

    More to come on that.

     

    Charles Koch: CO2 Causes Climate Change...and I Don't Care

    • Posted on: 30 April 2015
    • By: Connor Gibson

    Charles Koch, chosing Tobasco over Sriracha at the Koch Industries cafeteria.
    Photo: USA Today

    As the nation warily watches every Republican presidential candidate kiss the ring of billionaire donor Charles Koch for a shot at his network's $300,000,000 pool of presidential cash, Charles Koch did something unusual. Last week's USA Today interview with Charles Koch noted his shifting opinion on what he calls climate change "hysteria:"

    For the record, Koch says this of climate change: "You can plausibly say that CO2 has contributed" to the planet's warming, but he sees "no evidence" to support "this theory that it's going to be catastrophic."

    Wait...Charles Koch just accepted that the planet is warming? Hold your applause. Clearly, Mr. Koch still denies that there's a problem - which means he's missing the entire point of discussing climate change. But any movement from Charles on the 5 Stages of Climate Denial--from #1 down to #3--is a big deal. This is the same guy who has poured $80 million into organizations that have misrepresented climate change science to the public and advocated against any viable solutions to the problem.

    Koch's Right-Hand-Man: "Charles is ahead of me on this."

    Last June, leaked recordings surfaced from Koch's regular meeting of millionaires and billionaires who are coordinating $889 million in spending around the 2016 election. Charles's Koch top strategist Richard Fink indicated that we may see a shift in Koch's rhetoric on climate change. Fink, aka "Charles Koch's Brain," told attending prospective donors what they wanted to hear: donate to us, and we'll fight the crazy commie hippies and their pesky science. From the Undercurrent:

    “The environmental movement. Occupy Wall Street. These kids are searching for meaning. They're protesting the 1 percent. They are the 1 percent, but they're protesting the 1 percent. The environmental movement and climate change. It's not about climate change. I studied climate change for six years. I can't figure it out, quite frankly. Charles is ahead of me on this. I'm not a climatologist, but I'm not completely stupid. I can tell you I meet with people, particularly in California, that are convinced the world is going to burn up in you know, a year or two. They don't know the answer -- they don't even know the question, because it's not about climate change. It's about a cause. It gives their life meaning.”

    For context, you should probably know that Fink told the room's billionaires that the minimum wage would lead to fascism, comparing today's low-income Americans to pre-Nazi Germany citizenry. Not exactly a room full of academics. And since one of the people that Mr. Fink 'meets with' was a scientist that he funded to study global temperature data, you have to wonder how much experience Rich Fink has with willful ignorance.

    When Charles Koch Accidentally Proved Global Warming

    Charles Koch cannot deny is that he's seen the global temperature record data. In 2011, through the Charles Koch Foundation (CKF), CKF president Richard Fink funded a high-profile study on global surface temperature data. This dataset, which was an unnecessarily redundant reproduction of several other similar studies, was constructed by a scientist who at the time was a climate change denier.

    BEST data compared with previous reconstructions of global surface temperature data.

    Dr. Richard Muller's Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study (BEST) made headlines when he announced his acceptance of what climate scientists had already been saying for over 15 years--yes, people are responsible for unnatural climate variability that scientists have documented--and surprised the country by becoming an advocate for solutions to global warming.

    This put Mr. Koch in an awkward spot. Koch's $150,000 grant to Dr. Muller made him the project's top single donor, and Muller was a celebrated skeptic before his dramatic change-of-heart.

    Add to that Mr. Koch's background in science--a chemical engineering degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For such an educated, celebrated albeit controversial high-society businessman, the refusal to acknowledge science that is understood by middle schoolers guaranteed to undermine the sensible reputation that Koch Industries has spent a lot of money to put out there.

    But Charles gets no credit here. Dumping almost $80 million into organizations that have attacked the scientists who study climate change and interfered with virtually every proposed policy and regulation to solve global warming isn't being a science-savy CEO. It's being a denier, and especially in the context of a self-serving petrochemical billionaire, that's pretty offensive to the rest of us.

    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." Mr. Koch remains a staunch denier in that regard.

    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.

    Check out Greenpeace.org for more research on the Koch brothers crusade against climate science.

    Known Associates: 
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    NC to Duke Energy: Have You Dumped ALEC Yet?

    • Posted on: 10 December 2013
    • By: Connor Gibson

    Amid a dump of leaked American Legislative Exchange Council documents published by The Guardian last week, North Carolina is asking Duke Energy: Have you finally dumped ALEC?

    NC WARN and ProgressNC have both raised the question, based on Duke Energy's inclusion in a list of "Lapsed" private sector ALEC members featured in The Guardian and an article in the Raleigh News & Observer.

    ALEC's notes for Duke Energy's lapsed membership, as of April 22, 2013, only say "Merged with Progress Energy, new contacts," indicating that Duke's absence was only temporary as new personnel were assigned to participate in ALEC's work. Duke and Progress merged into the largest U.S. utility company last year.

    Duke Energy, North Carolina's monopoly utility company, has long been a member of ALEC. Last year, Duke Energy refused to leave ALEC even after being petitioned, emailed and called by over 150,000 people to defect. ALEC's controversial legacy includes blocking climate change policies as part of Big Oil's 1998 master plan, the NRA's Stand Your Ground laws, which increase homicide rates, and "Voter ID" bills that suppress legitimate American voters, especially students, the elderly and people with brown skin.

    While Duke Energy has resisted calls to dump ALEC, it has responded to the pressure by distancing itself from several items on ALEC's dirty lobbying laundry list:

    • Duke has repeatedly pushed back on any association with ALEC's Stand Your Ground and voter suppression laws.
    • Duke's call for action to address global warming clash with ALEC's legacy of climate change denial, including new draft policies to interfere with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's greenhouse gas rules, and a bill that forces teachers to misrepresent climate change science to their students, now law in at least four states, thanks to state legislators implementing ALEC's model bills.
    • Duke has explicitly denounced ALEC's attacks on state Renewable Portfolio Standards-laws to increase utility electricity generation from cleaner sources. Duke takes credit for helping create North Carolina's RPS.

    So why has Duke Energy resisted popular pressure to leave ALEC, including from its own ratepayers? If Duke doesn't like ALEC's history shilling for climate change deniers, nor the National Rifle Association, nor the Republican party's voter disenfranchisement strategies, what is making Duke stay?

    ALEC's new attacks on rooftop solar electricity producer are right in line with Duke Energy's attempt to pay back 29% less to homeowners whose solar panels feed extra electricity back into the grid, despite the fact that these homeowners fronted the costs of installing and maintaining solar panels themselves.

    Duke is terrified of the prospect of rooftop solar energy, which threatens its century-old monopoly business model. Duke is used to being the dominant company providing power to North Carolina residents, and they can basically charge customers as much as they want. More customers are choosing to install their own solar panels as the technology rapidly becomes cheaper, keeping money in the pockets of ratepayers rather than Duke's executives.

    ALEC's Updating Net Metering Policies Resolution, discussed last week at its States and Nation Policy Summit in Washington, DC, would complement dirty utilities like Duke Energy that are working to make it more costly for people to feed their own solar power into the electrical grid. See here for ALEC's new anti-environmental resolutions.

    Which Utilities will be Using ALEC's State Lawmakers to Attack Solar Energy?

    ALEC's utility member companies The new ALEC resolution was crafted with help from lobbyists at Edison Electric Institute, the primary trade association for Duke and most other large U.S. utility companies.

    EEI's roster also includes Arizona Public Service (APS), the utility that tried to force Arizona's residential solar electricity producers to pay $50 per month for feeding unused electricity back into the grid. In the end, the monthly fee was reduced to $5 per month, which still serves as a disincentive for homeowners to install their own solar panels.

    As it sought to make net metering more expensive for small-scale solar producers, APS lied to the public, denying its funding of anti-solar TV advertisements run by Koch brothers front groups.

    APS recently rejoined ALEC after disassociating for a short year. ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force includes APS and presumably Duke Energy, among other dirty energy giants. The EEA task force is governed by American Electric Power's Paul Loeffelman and Wyoming state Representative Thomas Lockhart, friend of the coal industry.

    Duke Can Still Do the Right Thing

    Duke Energy needs to make its intentions clear.

    The company can go with the Koch brothers, ALEC, and companies like APS, and financially punish North Carolinians who choose to produce their own electricity. Or, it can finally dump ALEC, its bad policies and anti-democratic processes and shift to a business model that embraces the power of the sun. It can continue to plan around a cost on carbon emissions and phase out dirty coal that aggravates everything from climate change to water pollution to asthma.

    We hope to get the right answer from Duke Energy soon.

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    Ohio Clean Energy still in Koch & ALEC crosshairs

    • Posted on: 30 October 2013
    • By: Connor Gibson

    Crossposted from Greenpeace’s blog: The Witness.

    UPDATE: After ALEC legislators failed to freeze or repeal RPS laws in North Carolina, Kansas, and many other states, ALEC legislators in Ohio froze its RPS law, effectively gutting the clean energy and energy efficiency incentives. Ohio state Senator and ALEC member Troy Balderson sponsored SB 310, which passed and was signed by early ALEC alumni Governor John Kasich. Troy Balderson, the third ALEC member senator in Ohio to introduce RPS attack legislation, is listed in ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force rosters from 2011 (see ALEC EEA agendas from Cincinnati and New Orleans, from Common Cause's whisteblower complaint to the IRS about ALEC's lobbying activities). Balderson's ALEC affiliation was unfortunately unreported by Ohio press and bloggers. Despite a nationally-coordinated State Policy Network and fossil fuel industry attack on state RPS laws, Ohio is the only state that has allowed ALEC and SPN to undermine its own clean energy incentives, after quietly passing the RPS law with support from ALEC legislators back in 2008.

    Ohio is currently fighting this year's final battle in a nationally-coordinated attack on clean energy standard laws, implemented by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other groups belonging to the secretive corporate front group umbrella known as the State Policy Network (SPN).

    ALEC and SPN members like the Heartland Institute and Beacon Hill Institute failed in almost all of their coordinated attempts to roll back renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in over a dozen states--laws that require utilities to use more clean energy over time. After high profile battles in North Carolina and Kansas, and more subtle efforts in states like Missouri and Connecticut, Ohio remains the last state in ALEC's sites in 2013.

    ALEC Playbook Guides the Attack on Ohio Clean Energy

     After Ohio Senator Kris Jordan's attempt to repeal Ohio's RPS went nowhere, ALEC board member and Ohio State Senator William Seitz is now using ALEC's new anti-RPS bills to lead another attack on the Ohio law--see Union of Concerned Scientists.

    ALEC's newly-forged Renewable Energy Credit Act allows for RPS targets to be met through out-of-state renewable energy credits (RECs) rather than developing new clean energy projects within Ohio's borders. RECs have varying definitions of renewable energy depending on the region they originate from, lowering demand for the best, cleanest sources of power and electricity.

    Sen. Bill Seitz's SB 58 takes advantages of existing provisions of Ohio's RPS law and tweaks other sections to mirror the key aspects of ALEC's Renewable Energy Credit Act. His RPS sneak-attack is matched by House Bill 302, introduced by ALEC member Rep. Peter Stautberg.

    Just five years ago, Senator Seitz voted for Ohio's RPS law. Now, Seitz calls clean energy incentives "Stalinist."

    Attacks on Ohio's Clean Energy Economy: Fueled by Dirty Energy Profits

    Most of ALEC's money comes from corporations and rich people like the Koch brothers, with a tiny sliver more from its negligible legislator membership dues ($50/year). This includes oil & gas giants like ExxonMobil ($344,000, 2007-2012) and Big Oil's top lobbying group, the American Petroleum Institute ($88,000, 2008-2010). Exxon and API just two of dozens of dirty energy interests paying to be in the room during ALEC's exclusive Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force meetings.

    Other polluting companies bankrolling ALEC's environmental rollbacks include Ohio operating utilities like Duke Energy and American Electric Power. AEP currently chairs ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force. Some of these companies (like Duke Energy and the American Petroleum Institute) pay into a slush fund run by ALEC that allows Ohio legislators and their families to fly to ALEC events using undisclosed corporate cash (see ALEC in Ohio, p. 6).

    Ohio Senator Kris Jordan used corporate money funneled through ALEC to attend ALEC events with his wife (ALEC in Ohio, p. 7). With electric utilities as his top political donors, Sen. Jordan has dutifully introduced ALEC bills to repeal renewable energy incentives (SB 34), along with other ALEC priorities like redirecting public funds for private schools (SB 88, 2011), and blocking Ohio from contracting unionized companies (SB 89, 2011).

    Koch-funded Spokes & Junk Data Bolsters the ALEC Attack

    The behavior of Senator Bill Seitz indicates he's more beholden to ALEC and the dirty energy utilities dumping tens of thousands of dollars into his election campaigns* than his constituents. There is support from a majority of Ohioans for utilities to obtain at least 20% of their electricity from clean sources. Ohio veterans spoke up for the RPS for increasing the state's energy security and lowing wholesale energy costs.

    Rather than listening to these voices from Ohio, Senator Seitz has sided with out-of-state Koch-funded mouthpieces invited to testify against the Ohio RPS. Back in March, Seitz heard anti-RPS testimony from The Heartland Institute's James Taylor, who repeated false claims that the RPS will make electricity unaffordable.

    Taylor's assertions mimicked those made in a debunked series of reports written for ALEC's RPS attacks. The Ohio anti-RPS report was co-published by the Koch-funded Beacon Hill Institute and the American Tradition Institute (ATI), sister group to the Koch-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute. ATI, now known as the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, was largely funded by Montana petroleum millionaire Doug Lair.

    Senator Seitz also heard testimony from Daniel Simmons of the Institute for Energy Research (IER), who recited long-debunked statistics from the so-called "Spanish study" and "Danish study." Koch-funded groups have used these two papers for years to stifle clean energy growth in the United States. Daniel Simmons previously worked for ALEC and the Mercatus Center, which was founded by the Kochs. Heartland and the Institute for Energy Research have financial or personnel ties to the Kansas billionaire Koch brothers.

    RPS and Energy Efficiency Are Helping Build Ohio's Economy

    Thanks in part to energy efficiency incentives and the RPS law, Ohio's clean energy economy is expanding rapidly, with 25,000 Ohioans employed by 400 companies in the sector. Wind energy is set to expand rapidly, with the American Wind Energy Association projecting $10 billion in investments over the next decade, thanks to the RPS targeted by ALEC and its dirty companies through loyal politicians like Senator Seitz.

    Not content to just weaken incentives for clean energy growth, Bill Seitz's SB 58 would also undermine energy efficiency standards, another item on ALEC's agenda. This despite a projected $2.7 billion in savings for Ohio by 2012, as directed by the efficiency and RPS laws.

    No wonder ALEC got dumped by its wind and solar trade members.

    ----

    *Since 2007, Senator Seitz has received $46,450 from coal utilities that are ALEC member companies:

    • $21,500 from American Electric Power (AEP)
    • $15,300 from Duke Energy
      • $4,800 of this bundled from Duke Employees in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana during the 2008 election cycle
    • $4,000 from NiSource
    • $3,000 from Dominion
    • $2,650 from the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, a member of the nation's top dirty energy lobbying heavyweight, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

    If you add contributions from FirstEnergy, AES subsidiary Dayton Power & Light, and the Ohio Coal Association, Sen. Seitz's coal money since 2007 tops $66,000.

    ALEC's December, 2012 meeting in Washington, DC was heavily sponsored by coal companies, including AEP, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), and Edison Electric Institute, the utility trade group whose membership includes Duke Energy, AEP, NiSource, Dominion, AES and FirstEnergy.

    Data aggregated by the National Institute for Money in State Politics - FollowTheMoney.org

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    GREENPEACE REPORT: Climate Change Denial Machine vs. Scientists

    • Posted on: 10 September 2013
    • By: Connor Gibson

    Written by Cindy Baxter, crossposted from Greenpeace: Dealing in Doubt.

    Who likes being lied to by people paid by the oil industry who pose as “experts” on climate change?

    Did you know it’s been going on for 25 years?

    In a couple of weeks, the UN’s official advisors on climate change science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will update its global assessment on the issue. Yet in the background, more attacks on the climate science are underway

    For the last quarter century, the climate science denial machine, its cogs oiled by fossil fuel money, has been attacking climate science, climate scientists and every official US report on climate change, along with State and local efforts – with the aim of undermining action on climate change.

    Our new report, Dealing in Doubt, sets out the history of these attacks going back to the early 90s. These are attacks based on anti-regulatory, so called “free market” ideology, not legitimate scientific debate, using a wide range of dirty tricks: from faked science, attacks on scientists, fake credentials, cherry-picking scientific conclusions: a campaign based on the old tobacco industry mantra: “doubt is our product”.

    We give special attention to perhaps today’s poster child of the climate denial machine’s free market think tanks, the Heartland Institute, which is about to launch a new version of its “NIPCC” or “climate change reconsidered” report next week in Chicago.

    Unlike the real IPCC, with thousands of scientists involved from around the world, the Heartland Institute’s handful of authors is paid. Several of them claim fake scientific credentials. They start with a premise of proving the overwhelming consensus on climate science wrong, whereas the real IPCC simply summarizes the best science to date on climate change.

    This multi-million dollar campaign has been funded by anti-government ideologues like the Koch brothers, companies like ExxonMobil and trade associations like the American Petroleum Institute.Big Oil funding of climate denial declines. "Anonymous" funding through Donors skyrockets. Interesting.

    More recently, less visible channels of funding have been revealed such as the Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust, organization that that has been called the “ATM of the conservative movement”, distributing funds from those who don’t want to be publicly associated with the anti-environmental work product of organizations like the Heartland Institute.

    In the last week we’ve seen new peer-reviewed science published, linking at least half of 2012’s extreme weather events to a human carbon footprint in the atmosphere and on the weather and climate.

    As the scientific consensus strengthens by the day that climate change is happening now, that carbon pollution is causing it and must be regulated, the denial machine is getting increasingly shrill. But today, while they are being increasingly ignored by a majority of the public, their mouthpieces in the US House of Representatives, for instance, have increased in number.

    They’re still fighting the science – and they’re still being funded, to the tune of millions of dollars each year, to do it.

    Dealing in Doubt sets out a history of these attacks. We show how the tactics of the tobacco industry’s campaign for “sound science” led to the formation of front groups who, as they lost the battle to deny smoking’s health hazards and keep warning labels off of cigarettes, turned their argumentative skills to the denial of climate change science in order to slow government action.

    koch brosWhat we don’t cover is the fact that these organizations and deniers are also working on another front, attacking solutions to climate change. They go after any form of government incentive to promote renewable energy, while cheering for coal, fracking and the Keystone pipeline.

    They attack any piece of legislation the US EPA puts forward to curb pollution. Decrying President Obama’s “war on coal” is a common drumbeat of these anti-regulation groups. One key member of the denial machine, astrophysicist Willie Soon from the Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics, has portrayed himself as an “expert” on mercury and public health in order to attack legislation curbing mercury emissions from coal plants.

    This recent history, as well as the prior history of denial by the tobacco companies and chemical, asbestos and other manufacturing industries, is important to remember because the fossil fuel industry has never admitted that it was misguided or wrong in its early efforts to delay the policy reaction to the climate crisis. To this day, it continues to obstruct solutions.

    The individuals, organizations and corporate interests who comprise the ‘climate denial machine’ have caused harm and have slowed our response time. As a result, we will all ultimately pay a much higher cost as we deal with the impacts, both economic and ecological.

    Eventually, these interests will be held accountable for their actions.

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