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07/10/2013 09:44 AM     print story email story  

Koch Brothers Never Stop: Politicians Sign No New Climate Tax Pledge

SustainableBusiness.com News

The Koch Brothers are taking a cue from Grover Norquist's successful "No New Taxes" Pledge, and are using it to make sure a carbon tax never gets implemented by Congress.

They are pressuring politicians to sign a "No Climate Tax Pledge," which their front group, Americans for Prosperity, has been peddling since 2008.

411 politicians have signed it so far, including the entire House Republican leadership - a quarter of senators and a third of the House of Representatives.  Signatories hold offices across the country, from Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin to gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia, from Florida's attorney general Pam Bondi to the Oklahoma schools superintendent and Idaho state treasurer.

The pledge binds signatories to "oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in federal government revenue." Any legislation on climate change that enacts fees would have to be offset with other tax cuts.

Because any sane climate policy would involve increasing costs on polluters and directing revenues to clean technologies, the pledge ties the hands of legislators - as it's intended to.

"Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who own the oil and chemicals conglomerate Koch Industries, may have failed to get a Republican into the White House in 2012, but they're succeeding in a broad national push for deregulation," says the Investigative Reporting Workshop, which  tracks the pledge. 

76 of 85 Republican freshmen in the House signed it as candidates in 2010, and 57 of them received campaign contributions from Koch Industries' political action committee.

These freshman Republicans have helped cut the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency, challenged any attempt to issue new regulations and prevented policies that would address climate change in many federal agencies, says the Workshop.

Among their top causes are fighting environmental laws and government spending on renewable energy. "That includes promoting American consumption of oil and coal, blaming environmental laws for hurting the economy and questioning the science behind global warming. Since 2011, about a dozen groups testified on the issue during committee hearings at least 30 times," says the Workshop.

But despite Americans for Prosperity's success, it bemoans the fact that "the initiative is getting pushback from some in both parties and in industry, who see it as over-reaching."

Koch Industries is the second largest private corporation in the US, and their influence is growing, Charles Lewis, the Executive Editor told the New Yorker. "There is no other corporation in the U.S. today, in my view, that is as unabashedly, bare-knuckle aggressive across the board about its own self-interest, in the political process, in the nonprofit-policy-advocacy realm, even increasingly in academia and the broader public marketplace of ideas."

According to the Workshop's report, "The Koch Club," donations from 2007-2011 add up to $41.2 million to 90 tax-exempt organizations (such as Americans for Prosperity - what about that IRS "scandal"?) and $30.5 million to 221 universities for curriculum that supports their  worldview. They have been buying off universities and infiltrating the curriculum of elementary schools. They take credit for the culture of climate denial that now permeates the Republican party.

Koch Climate Tax Pledge

The group is also hard at work in Georgia to keep the state dependent on Koch Industries' fossil fuels. Georgia's Public Service Commission is about to vote on a proposal that requires Georgia Power, the state's sole investor-owned utility, to significantly increase its use of solar power.  Previously, it announced it would sign power purchase agreements for 210 MW of solar (rather than building its own plants) and the Commission wants it to add 525 MW more over the next 20 years. 

This good sense measure is supported by both renewable energy advocates and Tea Party  leaders in Atlanta, but Americans for Prosperity has launched a campaign that claims a solar mandate would increase electric costs 40% (yea, right!) and reduce grid reliability - flying in the face of the facts.

The Koch's recently formed yet another dark money group. This one, Association for American Innovation, will be an umbrella group that receives dark money and doles it out to its other dark money nonprofits.

Here is the Investigative Reporting Workshop's website on the  No Climate Tax Pledge:

Website: www.noclimatetax.com/the-pledge/



Reader Comments (3)

Author:
Christina A. Murray

Date Posted:
08/23/13 10:14 PM

I would be interested in knowing the names of all products produced by the Koch brothers conglomerate so that I can choose not to purchase any of their products in the future. They are blackmailing the elected officials in this country for their own monetary purposes. It is outrageous.

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Author:
Angela W

Date Posted:
09/02/13 04:31 AM

Christina- they are doing what Grover Norquist did with taxes.

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Author:
kurt kramer

Date Posted:
09/29/13 03:08 AM

At some point the nation’s leaders are going to accept the following simple formula (killing two birds at once) for combating the twin dragons of rising sea level (which is devastating our tunnels and shore line) and the unemployment morass and lack of economic growth in our current liquidity trap. Proposed: LOWER by as much as 6% THE COST TO BUSINESS OF ALL LABOR IN THE U.S. by replacing and covering (dollar for dollar) the employer contribution to Social Security with an energy tax on carbon dioxide emissions. The net tax cost to society would be zero, with the significant promise of a needed upward correction in GDP and employment and consumer consumption growth and a 6% competitive improvement in the cost of American labor in the world market. With fossil fuel consumption in the $2 trillion range and the employer Social Security contribution in the half trillion dollar range, a 25% annual levy on fossil fuels would suffice. The cost of the tax to society will undoubtedly be offset by the increasing supply of cheap natural gas now coming on line. This would provide an economic umbrella that would spur a bonanza of growth and invention in the non polluting energy realm. We desperately need a “Fix the Growth” movement now, which will automatically and permanently “Fix the Debt” very promptly. It’s simple.

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