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.
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: