March 30, 2010- Koch Industries has “become a financial kingpin of climate science denial and clean energy opposition,” spending over $48.5 million since 1997 to fund the climate denial machine, according to an extensive report today by Greenpeace.
The Greenpeace report reveals how Koch Industries and the foundations under its control spent far more than even ExxonMobil in recent years to fund industry front groups opposed to clean energy and climate policies. Koch spent over half the total amount -nearly $25 million - funding climate denier groups from 2005 to 2008, a period in which Exxon only spent $8.9 million.
Greenpeace’s attempt to lift the veil of secrecy inherent to a private company like Koch Industries is no easy task. Because it remains privately owned, Koch faces few of the disclosure requirements designed to increase transparency among publicly-traded companies.
That intentional secrecy allows Koch Industries, the second-largest privately-held company in the United States, to fly largely below the public’s radar. Few Americans have likely heard of Koch, even though it operates crude oil refineries and pipelines across North America and owns such well-known consumer brands as Dixie cups, Brawny and Quilted Northern paper products, Stainmaster carpet, CoolMax and Lycra.
The company’s founder, Fred Koch, who once earned $5 million building oil refineries in the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin’s reign, was a co-founder of the libertarian John Birch Society. Charles G. and David H. Koch, two of Fred’s four sons, each now own 42% of the company’s stock. According to 2009 Forbes rankings, the Koch brothers are tied for the 19th-richest person in the world, and for ninth-richest American, each worth between $14 and $16 billion, more than George Soros or the founders of Google.
The Koch brothers use three foundations to spread Koch Industries’ influence, including support for roughly 40 organizations that doubt or downplay climate change or otherwise oppose policy solutions to build a clean energy future. Greenpeace also notes that Koch Industries has been the largest oil and gas industry contributor to electoral campaigns since the 2006 election cycle, and its done its fair share of lobbying as well. During the 2008 elections, Koch Industries contributed over $1.8 million, 88% to Republican candidates. Koch’s political action committee (PAC) also spent more than $2.5 million on contributions to federal candidates for that period, more than any other oil-and-gas sector PAC.