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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. 

May 29 2010

03:04

‘Energy Town Hall’ Oil Bus Tour Run by GOP Team At American Energy Alliance

Brad Johnson over at The WONK ROOM reports:
The American Energy Alliance (AEA), a new polluter front group, is touring the nation to smear President Barack Obama’s clean energy reform agenda. Employees riding the “American Energy Express” bus are spreading the conservative lies that the American Clean Energy and Security Act will “cripple our sluggish economy.” AEA is the 501 c(4) offshoot of the Institute for Energy Research, a right-wing oil-industry think tank run by Robert Bradley, a former speechwriter for Kenneth Lay. E&E News reports that AEA’s “Energy Town Hall” bus tour pictures workers in hard hats:

The American Energy Alliance, which is affiliated with the conservative Institute for Energy Research, has begun a four-week bus tour to county fairs, sporting events and public meetings in several coal-reliant states. Representatives of the group will travel in a large blue bus carrying the slogan “Stop the National Energy Tax, Save American Jobs” and a picture of workers in hard hats. They will cross Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Virginia. Yesterday, AEA officials participated in a rally with another group, Americans for Prosperity, in Zanesville, Ohio; a day earlier, they visited a county fair in western Pennsylvania.

In fact, by attacking legislation that addresses climate change and our national dependence on fossil fuels, AEA is preventing a clean-energy economic boom. Laughably, AEA claims it has “no ties to any political party“:

AEA has no ties to any political party, and it has no interest in supporting the agenda of any particular political party.<!--break-->

AEA Team
American Energy Alliance staffers Kevin Kennedy, Patrick Creighton, and Laura Henderson on tour in Pennsylvania. All are former House GOP staff.

AEA may be telling the truth that it has “no interest in supporting the agenda of any particular political party” — its only interest seems to be blocking progressive reform by spreading lies and distortions. However, AEA is tightly connected to the Republican Party and right-wing oil interests. In fact, all of its employees are former House Republican staffers:

Thomas J. Pyle, AEA President, Is A Oil Lobbyist And DeLay Operative. Before joining the Institute for Energy Research and the American Energy Alliance, Pyle worked as a lobbyist for the right-wing oil giant Koch Industries, first in-house starting in 2001, and then at the Rhoads Group. In 2008 Pyle became a lobbyist for the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. Previously, Pyle served as policy analyst for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives and as staff director for the GOP Congressional Western Caucus. Pyle started as a legislative assistant for radical anti-environmentalists Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) and Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA). [Institute for Energy Research, Center for Public Integrity]

Patrick Creighton, AEA Communications Director, Worked For Bush And Pennsylvania Republicans. Patrick Creighton was the special assistant to Samuel T. Mok, the chief financial officer at the Department of Labor from 2004 to 2006. He then worked as a spokesman for oil and natural gas advocate Rep. John Peterson (R-PA) from 2006 to 2009, worked to elect Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), then joined Thompson’s office until May 2009. [Institute for Energy Research, Legistorm]

Kevin Kennedy, AEA Federal Affairs Director, Promoted Alaska Drilling Under Don Young. After graduating from Union College in 2004, Kevin Kennedy worked for the Astroturf organization Arctic Power, which advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2007, Kennedy became a legislative assistant for the corrupt Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and the House Committee on Natural Resources. He joined the Institute for Energy Research and American Energy Alliance in 2009. [Institute for Energy Research]

Laura Henderson, AEA Spokesperson, Served Shelby, Dole, And Tiberi. Laura Henderson was a former press secretary for offshore drilling advocate Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) from 2005-2009. Previously, she worked for former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH). [Institute for Energy Research]

Daniel R. Simmons, AEA State Affairs Director, Is A Koch-Funded GOP Staffer. Simmons was the Director of the Natural Resources Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing network funded by Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute, and other corporate and right-wing organizations. Previously, Simmons was a Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, also funded by Koch. From 2001 to 2005, Simmons served on the staff of Rep. George Nethercutt (R-WA) on the House Natural Resources Committee. Simmons holds a B.A. in Economics from Utah State University and a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law, also supported by Koch Industries. [Institute for Energy Research, Legistorm]

Furthermore, AEA’s EnergyTownHall.org website is run by yet another former GOP House staffer:

GOP.gov Webmaster Nathan Imperiale Runs EnergyTownHall.Org. AEA’s EnergyTownHall.org was designed by NJI Media Group, part of Endeavour Global Strategies. Endeavour’s head, Sean Spicer, is a long-time GOP operative, including communications work for the House Republican Conference and the Bush White House. NJI Media Group’s president, Nathan Imperiale, served as Director of New Media for the House Republican Conference, building its GOP.gov website. [Twitter, 2/13/09; Endeavour Global Strategies]

AEA’s “American Energy Express” joins a field crowded by conservative oil and coal propaganda — the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity’s “Factuality” bus tour, the American Petroleum Institute’s “Energy Citizens” oil rallies, and the Americans For Prosperity “Hot Air” balloon tour.

<!-- post updates would go here in theory -->
Update At Free Advice, Institute for Energy Research economist Bob Murphy writes that Paul Krugman doesn't understand tea party protesters because he doesn't care about checks on government power like they do, and continues:
So, by symmetry, I think people on "our side" should realize that the great masses of Americans who are for health care reform and climate legislation (and it pains me to not put scare quotes around those phrases) aren't actually closet socialists who want to bring America to its knees.
By Brad Johnson at The WONK ROOM.
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