Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Jane Mayer: Koch Pledge Tied To Congressional Climate Inaction

Jane Mayer, who wrote a groundbreaking 2010 New Yorker article about Charles and David Koch, now reveals that the two oil billionaires and right-wing activists have influenced members of Congress, mostly Republicans, to sign a pledge to block action on climate change. Mayer based her findings on a two-year study by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University:

Fossil fuel magnates Charles and David Koch have, through Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group they back, succeeded in persuading many members of Congress to sign a little-known pledge in which they have promised to vote against legislation relating to climate change unless it is accompanied by an equivalent amount of tax cuts. Since most solutions to the problem of greenhouse-gas emissions require costs to the polluters and the public, the pledge essentially commits those who sign to it to vote against nearly any meaningful bill regarding global warning, and acts as yet another roadblock to action.

...Climate-change policy directly affects Koch Industries’s bottom line. Koch Industries, according to Environmental Protection Agency statistics cited in the study, is a major source of carbon-dioxide emissions, the kind of pollution that most scientists believe causes global warming. In 2011, according to the E.P.A.’s greenhouse-gas-reporting database, the company, which has oil refineries in three states, emitted over twenty-four million tons of carbon dioxide, as much as is typically emitted by five million cars.

Starting in 2008, a year after the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency could regulate greenhouse gasses as a form of pollution, accelerating possible Congressional action on climate change, the Koch-funded nonprofit group, Americans for Prosperity, devised the “No Climate Tax” pledge. It has been, according to the study, a component of a remarkably successful campaign to prevent lawmakers from addressing climate change. Two successive efforts to control greenhouse-gas emissions by implementing cap-and-trade energy bills died in the Senate, the latter of which was specifically targeted by A.F.P.’s pledge. By now, four hundred and eleven current office holders nationwide have signed the pledge. Signatories include the entire Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, a third of the members of the House of Representatives as a whole, and a quarter of U.S. senators.


MagginKat said...

That gives a whole new meaning to dirty rotten bastards.

stickler said...

This article would have been so much more informative with a link to the names of the pledge signatories.

Michael J. Mand said...

An over-arching concern here is the notion of pledges altogether. Consider Grover Norquist and his pledge petition signed by many never to raise taxes. It leaves legislators without the means to deal with unanticipated situations without opening themselves to the politically suicidal criticism of "flip-flopping", as if changing one's mind in the presence of new information is a sign of weakness; an inability to, in the cautioning words of "'enry 'iggins" in MY FAIR LADY and who, himself, who would never, "take a position and staunchly never budge".

The same can be said for a pledge never to take action to reverse climate change, even in the face of overwhelming, peer-reviewed, scientific evidnece. I guess, to the Kochs, scientific peers are nothing more than odious, knee-jerk liberal intillectuals who don't understand the real world and how it works. Thank heavens they are here to watch our backs.