When President Obama rolled out his climate strategy last week, he made a point to sidestep Congress and take executive action -- and with good reason. A two-year study conducted by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University offers some insight into how Charles and David Koch have helped systematically derail climate legislation on Capitol Hill.
Using Americans For Prosperity, a conservative group they bankroll, the Koch brothers have convinced scores of Republicans in Congress not to vote for any climate legislation unless it's "accompanied by an equivalent amount of tax cuts." According to the report:
[I]n 2011 and 2012, Koch Industries Public Sector LLC, the lobbying arm of Koch Industries, advocated for the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which would have rolled back the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could regulate greenhouse gases. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and co-signed by 92 Republicans (and three Democrats), 61 of whom signed an anti-climate tax “pledge.” An economist with the American Council for Capital Formation — a nonprofit group that receives Koch money — testified about that same bill before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Margo Thorning told members of the House in February 2011 that regulation of greenhouse gas emissions “makes little economic or environmental sense,” according to her testimony.
Writing for the New Yorker, Jane Mayer, who first highlighted the investigation, notes that since most climate change solutions involve some cost to polluters and the public, signing the Kochs' pledge is tantamount to voting down practically any meaningful legislation to curb global warming.
The Koch brothers have good reason to care about climate-change policy: it directly affects their bottom line. According to an estimate by ThinkProgress' Wonk Room, each year Koch Industries is likely responsible for about 300 million tons of carbon dioxide, the type of pollution that the vast majority of scientists agree causes global warming.