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July 27 2012

21:21

Latest Pro-Keystone XL Website Backed by GOP Special Interest Group

This morning, the latest in pro-tar sands spin went live. KeystoneXLNow.com takes aim at President Obama for failing to approve the Keystone XL project (even though the White House just announced approval of the southern leg today), calling it "an affront to millions of Americans out of work and an outrage to millions more who are paying higher energy costs as a result of this administration's policies."

KeystoneXLNow.com invites users to send a message directly to the State Department to counterbalance "the crazy lefties [who] are already pouring in comments to give Obama an excuse to kill the pipeline." The site calls on users to "push back by filling the official State Department docket with comments demanding they stop stalling and approve the Keystone XL pipeline now!"

Not only is KeystoneXLnow.com rife with faulty facts, but its backers and secret funders make an oil trail back to the GOP and oil-backed right wing think tanks. 

KeystoneXLnow.com argues the U.S. State Department should expedite the review process of the Keystone XL because it could take years, and, worst case scenario, Canada will simply give up and build the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline to ship tar sands crude to Asia.

Failing to approve this tar sands pipeline project now will threaten "about 20,000 immediate jobs, a secure supply of North American oil, billions in private investment, and the global efficiency benefits of connecting a major crude source to the world’s most efficient refining center," the site claims.

Canadian oil giant TransCanada quickly tweeted about the campaign, which claims to have sent 13,000 emails and letters so far. 

A closer look at the website registration for KeystoneXLnow.com reveals the site was registered this morning to Phil Kerpen of the free market group American Commitment.


According to its website, American Commitment is "dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom".

The Washington Post calls American Commitment "the latest GOP player", and notes the new group has already raised $7 million to attack Democrats, mostly at the state level. Apparently they aren't only focused on state-level battles. 

In addition to his role as the president of American Commitment, Phil Kerpen is a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the book Democracy Denied, part of the Heartland Institute's Author Series.

Kerpen previously worked for the Club for Growth, a Club offshoot called the Free Enterprise Fund and the libertarian Cato Institute.

Kerpen also spent the last five years working at Americans for Prosperity, co-founded by David Koch. Kerpen will not confirm whether the Kochtopus is bankrolling his latest front group.

As for the job creation claims that KeystoneXLnow.com touts, even TransCanada acknowledges that the claim that the project will create 20,000 immediate jobs is false.

TransCanada itself claims the project will create 13,000 direct construction jobs, a number from a report TransCanada commissioned from the Perryman Group. The Perryman Group, however, has refused to release important data behind its estimate, and there are deep flaws in their research methodology. In reality, TransCanada is counting "job years" in its job-creation estimates. In other words, TransCanada believes the project will produce 6,500 jobs that last for two years only.

Six thousand five hundred jobs is a far cry from the 20,000 KeystoneXLnow.com claims are at stake, but according to an independent assessment by Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, even the 6,500-job estimate is exaggerated. According to their analysis, the project would produce between 2,500 and 4,650 construction jobs — and could even end up costing the country jobs.

KeystoneXLNow.com also claims that KXL will provide "a secure supply of North American oil", and blames the Obama Administration's policies can for high energy prices. But according to TransCanada, KXL will increase the price of heavy crude oil in the Midwest by almost $2 to $4 billion annually, and those prices could further escalate over several years. This is because tar sands crude that now supplies Midwest refineries will be diverted so it can be sold at higher prices to the Gulf Coast and other export markets.

Consumers in the Midwest could pay 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel — adding $5 billion to annual US fuel costs.

In case there was a shadow of a doubt, KeystoneXLnow.com is little more than a secretly funded special interest group backing GOP candidates, using misinformation that is delaying our transition to a clean energy future. 

March 07 2012

17:59

Kochtopus Cato Institute Power Grab: A Historical Perspective

A new chapter is being added to the ongoing Kochtopus saga. On March 1 the Washington Post, in a story sure to fill the airwaves for the weeks and months to come, revealed the Kochtopus is suing the Cato Institute for control of the recently deceased and former Cato Chairman William Niskanen's ownership share in the think-tank.

The Koch Empire was recently outed by DeSmogBlog as a key seed funder of the climate change denier think-tank, the Heartland Institute. Heartland's internal documents were recently leaked to DeSmogBlog (see "Heartland Exposed"). 

Billionaire oil baron Charles Koch is now waging war against another entity that was created with Koch seed money decades ago: the Cato Institute.

The Post explained succinctly:

At the heart of the dispute is the fate of the shares owned by Niskanen, who died in October at age 78 of complications from a stroke. The Koch brothers believe that they have the option to buy Niskanen’s shares, while Cato officials believe that the shares belong to Niskanen’s widow, Kathryn Washburn, according to the complaint.

Cato's Pat Michaels is a key player in the world of climate change denial, "sowing the seeds of doubt" on human-caused climate change.

That said, Cato has also stood up for key libertarian principles in the past that do not fit a partisan framework. Among them: protection of civil liberties, opposition to imperialism, opposition to the war on drugs, opposition to the militarization of domestic law enforcement agencies, and support for gay rights, to name several.

A brief overview of the key movers and shakers behind Cato's ascendancy is important to understand the rise of the Koch Empire and the split between the faux-libertarians and the true libertarians.

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June 14 2011

22:24

Koch Money Fuels AFP Misinformation Campaign On Gas Prices

The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is taking their misinformation machine on the road in an attempt to convince American consumers that President Obama is causing the spike in gasoline prices. AFP is claiming that the president is intentionally keeping gas prices high because he refuses to allow oil companies to drill for oil in protected areas of the United States.

The tour is necessary for the AFP, as Americans do not believe that President Obama should be blamed for high gasoline prices. A staggering 61% of Americans say that the blame lies on the shoulders of the energy companies, and 59% say that some of the blame lies with the oil speculators. These numbers are not sitting well with the oil industry, and the AFP tour is just one of many oil industry tactics to try to shift public opinion using misinformation.

AFP’s “Running on Empty” campaign has scheduled stops in Virginia, Michigan, and Ohio in the upcoming days, to “teach” Americans about the numerous ways in which President Obama is making them pay higher prices at the pump.

AFP conveniently ignores the fact that gas prices were north of $4 a gallon during the Bush administration, when they peaked at $4.12, as pointed out by protesters who showed up at one of AFP's early gas tour events in Nebraska.  But in the alternate reality that AFP is creating to enable Koch's further oil profits, it's somehow all Obama's fault.
<!--break-->Here are the specific actions the president has taken, according to AFP, that have raised gas prices:

Illegal Moratoriums: After the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf, President Obama issued a moratorium on all new offshore drilling. The message is clear: Obama is against domestic energy production.

Canceling existing oil and gas leases: Amazingly, not only has Obama blocked any new permits but he’s also reaching back and canceling drilling leases that were already in place when he took office.

Locking up lands in the West: The federal government is working overtime to make sure Americans cannot access their own domestic resources.

EPA’s job-crushing regulations (you can read the truth about these “job-crushing” regulations here.)

As we’ve covered in the past, increased domestic oil drilling will have absolutely no impact on gas prices. Oil prices are set on an international market, and since the amount of oil (and the amount of time it would take to get to market) in the U.S. is relatively small, the most significant impact it could have would be to lower gas prices by about 2 cents per gallon. But still, Republicans continue to push the myth that increasing domestic drilling will benefit all of us immediately.

And their critique of President Obama seems way off base as well. President Obama has actually been a supporter of domestic drilling, and is currently working to expand offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico – an area that is still awash with the remnants of oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year – as well as rethinking the ban on oil drilling in ANWR. These are not the actions of an oil industry foe.

But this still isn’t enough for the Koch brothers and their Astroturf bus tour. More domestic drilling might not have a noticeable impact on our bank accounts, but those in the oil industry can expect billions of dollars in profits from increased drilling. This is why the Koch brothers, and their Americans for Prosperity front group, spent a combined $2.6 million dollars on electioneering last year alone. From the Center for Responsive Politics:

Americans for Prosperity spent $1.3 million on electioneering communications in the 2010 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

In the 2010 cycle, the Koch Industries PAC gave $1.3 million to Congressional candidates with 90 percent going to Republicans.

The Koch Industries PAC has handed out $300,500 in contributions to federal candidates and political committees so far in 2011, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) received $45,000 from Koch Industries PAC in the 2010 cycle, falling only second to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) re-election campaign.

Charles Koch donated at least $107,900 to federal candidates and committees in the 2010 cycle (not including his donations to the Koch PAC). Top recipients included the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) with $30,400 in donations and the National Republican Congressional Committee ($24,500).

David Koch spent at least $99,291 on campaign contributions to federal candidates and committees in the 2010 cycle (not including his donations to the Koch PAC), with the NRSC receiving $34,900 and the NRCC receiving $25,000.


The Koch’s spend a lot of money to purchase, or defeat, members of Congress, and in their effort to blame Obama for high gas prices, it looks like a few Republicans are trying to pay off that Koch debt by getting their hands dirty.

Several freshman GOP Congressman have taken it upon themselves to stage “gas pumping events” at gas stations in their jurisdictions to promote the lie that the rise in price is Obama’s fault. Two of the four Republican congressman involved in these stunts – Jeff Duncan (SC) and Todd Young (IN) – have taken $2,500 and $5,000 respectively from Koch Industries.

The Koch brothers and AFP are working with seemingly limitless funds, and it is unlikely that they will allow their gas price tour to end before they are able to change at least a few people’s minds. The bigger issue is whether the Democrats and President Obama will cave into the pressure from these groups and allow more drilling in an attempt to appease the Kochtopus, which will surely be funding GOP candidates in the next election.

January 27 2011

13:00

Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife: Not Even Canadians are Safe from the Kochs Anymore

From Koch Industries' roots as "the biggest company you've never heard of", David and Charles Koch have become household names for funding climate change denial and efforts to steer the United States away from a clean energy future.  They suffered a little hiccup when California voters failed to buy the arguments of the dirty oil interests bankrolling Prop 23.  Then, when David Koch was booed at the Nutcracker ballet just before Christmas, it started to look like the tides were shifting on public opinion around the billionaire brothers. 

Despite the headway made in holding the Koch Brothers to account, they've creeped their way into Canada. 

Well, let me be clear.  Its not as though Koch Industries is a totally foreign force in Canada. Koch and its subsidiaries currently operate in seven Canadian provinces, and according to a Greenpeace report, Koch has held multiple leases in Alberta's tar sands, and since the 1990s the Koch Pipeline Company has operated the pipelines that carry tar sands crude from Canada into Minnesota and Wisconsin where Koch’s Flint Hill Resources owns oil refineries.

On the policy development front, they've busily bankrolled Canada's Fraser Institute to the tune of $175,000 between 2005 and 2008 to ensure Canada remains in the Stone Ages when it comes to environmental policy.  

This time though, it's gotten political.  According to Chris Genovali's piece in the Huffington Postrenewable energy in Ontario is under attack by the Kochtopus. <!--break-->

The Ontario Green Energy Act has been heralded by Al Gore himself as the "single best green energy program on the North American continent."  Environmental Defence touts it as a monumental success, demonstrating that one year in, the law is steering the province into a prominent position as a global leader of economic and environmental renewal, on par with European standards.  

After all the jobs the Green Energy Act has created and accolades it has received, it is curious that Tim Hudak, leader of Ontario's Conservative party, would try to scuttle it. 

To make matters even worse, Hudak is confusing the public by using phoney astroturf research.  His fake green turf of choice is the now well-debunked "Spanish study on renewable energy jobs".  The 2009 study, the "Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources," by Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, an economics professor at King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, was funded by the American Energy Alliance, a "free-market think tank" funded by the Kochtopus and ExxonMobil. 

According to Dr. Alvarez’s ginned-up study, Spain's policy on renewable energy caused the country to lose jobs.  It erroneously implies that the cost of creating a renewable energy job is higher than the average cost of creating a job in Spain, and outrageously claims that Spain’s policy commitments to renewable energy development actually cost Spain 2.2 jobs lost for each clean energy job created.  The study has made its rounds through the echo chamber, and was used to fight the Obama Administration's 2010 budget proposal to create tax incentives for clean energy programs, and to oppose efforts to promote growth in the renewable energy industry.

Though a favourite of renewable energy detractors, the study has been thoroughly debunked by the Spanish governmentU.S. Department of Energy, and numerous others (though apparently the Toronto Sun didn't get the memo).  And the American Wind Energy Association notes that "The Spanish Ministry of Labor has found that... renewable energy industries have created 175,000 jobs and the European Commission found that aggressive renewable policy would create a net increase of over 400,000 in the European Union by 2020, giving a 'significant boost to the economy and the number of jobs in the EU.'" 

While many Americans have by now heard of the misleading study, many Canadians probably have not, and Hudak has taken full advantage of that.

Knowing Hudak's stance on other clean energy issues, his stance on renewable energy is perhaps not a stretch.  He is already an outspoken opponent to a plan to create 17,000 renewable energy jobs in the province, and remains a vocal proponent of nuclear energy, despite the Liberals' commitments to eliminate coal as a fuel by 2014. 

Now Hudak is promoting energy policies that are moving Ontario backwards instead of forwards on energy, using a dirty industry-funded study to scare voters into believing that proven green job creation efforts are somehow killing jobs.   That has no basis in fact, and is totally inexcusable. 

Hide your kids, hide your wife, the Kochtopus and Tim Hudak are working in concert to kill Canada and Ontario's clean energy future. 

Nip on over to Chris Genovali's blog to read more on this story. 

November 19 2010

16:19

Koch-Funded Tim Phillips is Still Confused About Climate Change

This piece was co-written by Ryan Koronowski, Alliance for Climate Protection Research Director and Josh Nelson, Alliance for Climate Protection New Media Director.

This week, CNN's "Parker Spitzer" spoke with Tim Phillips, the head of the front group Americans for Prosperity that's funded by the oil company Koch Industries. Mr. Phillips was up to his old tricks. While acknowledging that he is not a scientist, he said that to believe climate science isn't "far from settled" would be "arrogance."

<!--break-->

Of course, his claim is the furthest thing from the truth. This was simply another attempt by an oil industry-funded, climate denial mouthpiece to try and convince Americans that climate change isn't happening. But this particularly insidious brand of snake oil has no basis in reality. In fact, there's overwhelming evidence that climate change is happening now and is caused by pollution from fossil fuels. Americans for Prosperity has a seemingly harmless-sounding name, but they are heavily funded by foundations run by David Koch, co-owner of the oil refinery and pipeline company Koch Industries.

While you might not have heard of Koch Industries before they won Repower America's Snake Oil Award for Public Deception, the Koch brothers are doing everything they can to mislead the public and influence our political leaders. And it doesn't stop with backing third party smear machines; Koch has also spent nearly $17 million lobbying Congress in the past two years.

It's not over yet. In January, Koch Industries executives and high finance head honchos will be meeting at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa to "develop strategies to counter the most severe threats facing our free society," which evidently includes "climate change alarmism." A similar meeting this year featured a presentation on voter mobilization by none other than Tim Phillips.

The fight to solve climate change is about more than just a back-and-forth debate about scientific issues that have long been settled. Instead, we should acknowledge that facts don't have a political party, and get to work building a clean energy economy that can create millions of jobs for Americans.

Tim Phillips may claim not to believe in climate change, but as Upton Sinclair once wrote, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

Thanks to the Wonk Room over at Think Progress for first catching this story.

November 17 2009

23:18

Energy industry front group plans "teabagger" protest at Gore's event in Portland

I just got word that Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is planning on protesting a presentation Al Gore is making tomorrow night in Portland, Oregon.

Under the guise of the "teabagger movement" AFP will do what it does best, which is protesting clean energy and green jobs.

It's hard to believe this is much of a grassroots "teabagger" movement when the organizers get so much money from the largest private energy company in the United States.

Below is everything you need to know about AFP and their president Tim Phillips that we've pulled from our research database.

All this will be passed on to the local Portland media to ensure that they include this important context in any reporting they do on this story. If you're from Portland or know anyone from the area, please pass this around to local bloggers and media.

<!--break-->

Highlights:

- Here's a complete rundown of AFP's funding.

- AFP is the third largest recipient of funding from the Koch Family Foundations, manged by Charles G. Koch who runs the largest privately owned energy company in the United States, Koch Industries.

- AFP has also received money in the past from Exxon Mobil, who has been notoriously bad when it comes to funding groups looking to delay the movement away from oil to green energy.

- Tim Phillips is the president of AFP and has been fueling the anti-clean energy movement by making outrageous puiblic statements like, a cap-and-trade program would increases taxes by $1.2 trillion.

- Tim Philips spearheaded a direct mail, coalition building campaign for George Bush's campaign against John McCain in the 2000 primaries.

- Here's a complete rundown of Tim Philips.

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