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November 09 2011

14:00

Valero Positioning To Export Tar Sands Oil, Guarding Pot of Gold at End of Keystone XL Pipeline

In the heated Keystone XL debate, the Canadian company TransCanada, which is attempting to build the line, and the Koch brothers, who are throwing their considerable weight behind it in the interest of their Koch Industries’ subsidiaries, receive a lot of attention.
 

But there are other benefactors that are worth a closer look, as nobody stands to benefit as much in the longer term (if the Keystone XL pipeline is ever built) as the companies that operate the refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Let’s step back and review what the refineries actually do. The diluted tar sands bitumen (or “DilBit”) that would flow through Keystone XL is an ultra-acidic, highly viscous mess, that doesn’t at all resemble the refined petroleum products like diesel or gasoline or even jet fuel that are sold on the commercial markets. DilBit is, in the words of Keith Schneider, ”thick as peanut butter and more acidic, highly corrosive, and abrasive” than typical crude.

This tar sands DilBit needs to be refined before it can be sold. But only certain refineries are capable of handling the corrosive DilBit.

Refiners along the Texas Gulf Coast, where the Keystone XL pipeline would ultimately deliver tar sands DilBit from Canada, are eager to accomodate. The company that appears positioned to receive and refine more of TransCanada’s crude than anyone else is the Valero Energy Corporation (NYSE: VLO).

Valero "Dedicated" To Keystone XL - And Ready To Profit From It
Valero is the world’s largest independent refiner, with 15 refineries that have a collective capacity to process 2.9 million barrels per day. While their commitments to TransCanada are confidential, Valero is publicly “dedicated” to the Keystone XL project, and their 310,000 barrels per day Port Arthur, Texas refinery would receive the Alberta-born crude. Valero has invested heavily to upgrade the Port Arthur plant to handle “heavy” “sour” crude (a.k.a. tar sands DilBit) for the past few years, anticipating the pipeline’s completion.

The company has long hoped for a steady supply of Alberta’s tar sands crude, first signing on to Keystone in July of 2008. In 2010, when the Texas company was pouring money into California’s Prop 23 battle, spokesperson Bill Day urged that Alberta is “a tremendous potential supplier for us.”  

While their involvement with Keystone XL has largely flown under the radar, Valero was exposed in the bombshell “Exporting Energy Security: Keystone XL Exposed” (PDF) report by Oil Change International in September. The report found that, despite constant claims by TransCanada and other Keystone supporters of increased “energy security,” much of the crude that flows through Keystone XL would be exported. Valero was held up as a prime example of how and why. From that report:

Valero, the top beneficiary of the Keystone XL pipeline, has recently explicitly detailed an export strategy to its investors.  The nation’s top refiner has locked in at least 20 percent of the pipeline’s capacity, and, because its refinery in Port Arthur is within a Foreign Trade Zone, the company will accomplish its export strategy tax free.


Shell’s subsidiary Motiva and Total, both “shippers” with long-term contracts with TransCanada, also operate in this Foreign Trade Zone, meaning that they are exempt from customs duties on imports and exports, and also from state and local taxes.

In other words: they can sell the Keystone XL crude overseas without paying American taxes. Combine that with the fact that the Port Arthur plants are conditioned to take low-grade tar sands crude and refine it to diesel—which has much higher demand overseas— and the incentive for Valero to export the Keystone XL crude is huge.

The Oil Change International report caused quite the stir, and put Valero on the defensive. Company spokesperson Bill Day told Platts EnergyWeek that "the vast majority of products that Valero makes in the US are sold in the US…As far as I know, we've never said anything about exporting products to China, nor do we have plans to.”

On China, Day was referring to a statement by Sierra Club president Michael Brune, which was technically inaccurate. Despite Brune’s error, Valero’s overall export strategy is clear and obvious to anyone who takes the time to read their September report to investors.

Here are two telling slides.

This map shows clearly the company’s strategy to export diesel from the Gulf Coast refineries (like Port Arthur) to European, Mexican, and South American markets, while importing gasoline from overseas.




And here is a slide showing explicitly Valero’s plans to export diesel to the strong European market.

Finally, here's their slide on the Port Arthur plant, which is ready "to process over 150,000 barrels/day of high-acid, heavy sour Canadian crude," and which produces "high-quality diesel and jet fuel for growing global demand for middle distillates, and is "located at large, Gulf Coast refinery to leverage existing operations and export logistics." (Emphasis mine.)

If there's any doubt that Valero intends on exporting the tar sands crude that Keystone XL delivers, this investor presentation should put that to rest.

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. 

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January 25 2011

20:54

Right Wing Billionaire Koch Brothers Summit To Be Met With Protests

This weekend the Koch brothers will host a gaggle of extreme right wing billionaires and millionaires at a posh summit in Rancho Mirage, California. This Palm Springs meeting is not open to the public, it's a private invitation-only gathering of the wealthy elite who share the Koch’s democracy-destroying goals for America. But on Sunday, January 30th, the final day of the secret summit, a coalition of consumer and labor groups, environmentalists, civil liberties and faith groups will assemble in Rancho Mirage to protest the Kochtopus's stranglehold on American progress. 

The New York Times first reported on the gathering back in October, before these high-power industry leaders bought the midterm elections for the Republicans. As reported by Peter Dreier on The Huffington Post, those in attendance at the upcoming 3-day summit are responsible for the creation of the Tea Party, financially supporting climate change-denying organizations like the Cato Institute, and pouring millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of Republican lawmakers.

The Koch brothers have returned to a more high profile political life after remaining mostly in the shadows during the Bush administration. They resurfaced earlier this year when they dumped more than a million dollars into a failed effort to pass Proposition 23 in California, which would have scaled back the state’s progressive action on climate change in the name of “creating jobs.” In reality, there was no evidence to prove that California’s environmental laws had ever caused businesses to cut jobs, but there is ample evidence that these initiatives are on track to create lots of clean energy jobs. Charles Koch was even challenged to a debate by a former Marine named Joel Francis asking the billionaire to explain why he supported Prop 23, but he refused to participate.

Common Cause, who last week filed a complaint with the Department of Justice claiming that Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Thomas should have recused themselves from the Citizens’ United case, will be organizing most of the protesters for the event. Bus loads of folks from all over California will be carrying passengers to the protest, and a full schedule can be found at Common Cause's "Uncloaking the Kochs" page.<!--break-->

December 08 2010

00:56

Tyee Series On Canadian Tar Sands Interests Meddling In U.S. Politics

The Tyee has launched a new series exploring the efforts of Canadian tar sands interests to undermine low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) policies in the U.S. that could some day threaten to wipe out Alberta's greenhouse gas-intensive oil sands industry. 

Climate change policies being implemented in California and currently under consideration in 23 other U.S. states seek to favor lower-carbon transportation fuels. Since Canada's tar sands are widely known to be among the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive sources of oil on the planet, the tar sands would of course fall out of favor rapidly if enough U.S. states passed the low-carbon standards into law. And since laws passed by large states like California are often used to pressure Washington to set federal policies, tar sands interests have a lot at stake in battling early adopter states.

As a result, The Tyee reports:
"A sophisticated lobbying effort led by Canadian officials, fossil fuel lobby groups and several of the world's largest oil companies is targeting policymakers and consumers across the United States."
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They certainly have their work cut out for them to convince lawmakers and the public that Canada's tar sands are anywhere near "low carbon."

As the Tyee notes:

"By the time the fuel [derived from Albertan tar sands] is dripping from a gas station nozzle, it's already been responsible for 82 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions than, for instance, smooth-flowing light crude from Texas, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates."


Tar Sands developers realize they could never compete under the scenario that fuel suppliers have to disclose the carbon footprint of their products. If low-carbon fuel standards become the norm, and all transportation fuels had to compete on the open market, the cleanest ones would win the advantage in the short term, and spur investments in even cleaner transportation choices down the line. 

That was the idea behind California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2007 executive order mandating low-carbon fuel standards. And since California voters wisely smacked down Prop 23 - the anti-clean energy ballot initiative funded by Texas refineries and Koch Industries - the LCFS policy remains intact, and nearly two dozen other states are set to follow in California's footsteps.

That doesn't sit well with tar sands interests, and the Tyee reports that the oil companies are working hard to derail climate policies from coast to coast, "with active support from the Canadian government."

Read more at the Tyee, and stay tuned for the next installments in their series on tar sands politics.

 

November 25 2010

17:46

Alberta and Canadian Governments Complicit in Killing Climate Policy in EU & U.S. to Support Toxic Tar Sands

The Alberta government's multi-million dollar public relations campaign to spin dirty tar sands production in a positive light has by now received quite a bit of critical attention (see also here and here too). 

They haven't just been investing in $56,000 advertisements and op-ed pieces. The governments of Canada and Alberta are also engaged in something much more insidious: a concerted effort to weaken climate policies in other countries, with the aim of ensuring that no impediments exist to Canada’s filthy tar sands. 

The shocking report released by Climate Action Network Canada shows that the Alberta and Canadian governments have been complicit with industry in efforts to undermine climate legislation in the EU and U.S.  The report highlights three devious efforts by industry and government to oppose or weaken energy policy abroad: California's low-carbon fuel standard, which encourages cleaner fuels and discourages burning dirty fuels; Section 526 of the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act, which stops departments from buying the dirtiest kinds of fuels and the European Union's Fuel Quality Directive, an effort to lower CO2 emissions and move toward cleaner-burning fuels.

Government and industry are behind "a concerted effort to weaken climate policies outside our borders, with the aim of ensuring that no doors are closed to Canada's highly polluting tar sands," the report's authors write. This is the heart of corporate-government complicity, with the secret oilsands advocacy strategy being led by the Foreign Affairs Department, with officials working in both the U.S. and the European Union.  The report's authors fear that these examples appear to be just the tip of the iceberg. <!--break-->

In the U.S., the Alberta government and industry have worked tirelessly to fight the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act — particularly the contested Section 526 — which requires the government buy fuels that meet an environmental performance standard. Essentially, the measure makes it tougher to find markets for fuel derived from dirty tar sands.

The Alberta government sees Section 526 as a threat to their bottom line, and as as such been paying lobbyists handsomely to debate the provision fiercely.  According to lobbying disclosure records that Climate Action Network accessed, former Michigan governor and former U.S. ambassador to Canada (1993, 1996) James Blanchard, along with others at his firm, DLA Piper participated in over 80 interactions with U.S. officials and politicians in the year beginning March 1, 2009, on behalf of the Government of Alberta.

In exchange, he billed over $300,000 US in fees.

Blanchard, conveniently, sits on the board of Enbridge who is  responsible for the Michigan Kalamazoo spill in which nearly one million litres of crude were spilled. It's also their pipelines that import the lion's share of filthy tar sands crude flowing to the U.S.  Curious that Blanchard is simultaneously on the payroll of the Alberta government whilst sitting on the board of an energy company making huge profits off of tar sands oil. 


Enbridge is also part of the reason why tar sands proponents want to lobby against the EU Fuel Quality directive. They fear a nasty precedent being set for clean energy legislation in the European Union.  So why is that a threat to tar sands development?  One of the reasons is Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

The report decries Alberta and Canadian government's shameful efforts to pull other counties away from clean energy futures.  Canada and Alberta are stacking their chips up on the tar sands, while stacking the deck to ensure that nothing gets in their way - including the pesky climate.  In that gamble, we all lose.

Download the full text of the Climate Action Fund report [PDF] to learn more about the Alberta and Canadian government's devious efforts to kill clean energy policy in the EU and U.S.

November 03 2010

00:04

Prop 23: Watch this while you wait for the vote

Check out this documentary by filmmaker and University of British Columbia journalism professor Dan McKinney:

 

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November 02 2010

20:29

Outcome of U.S. Midterm Election Already Clear - Polluters Win Again

While U.S. voters head to the polls today - and everyone from Fox to Politico to your uncle on Facebook becomes a pundit trying to predict the results - the outcome is already crystal clear: polluters have won again, handily.

With the advent of now limitless corporate donations polluting the democratic process thanks to the Supreme Court's insane ruling on Citizens United, dirty energy interests, Wall Street fat cats and lobbyists will run America for the foreseeable future.

Corporations have long enjoyed the advantage of spending a tiny amount (compared to their enormous profits) to influence the entire political system, buying future access and favors that pay off for years to come, simply by driving contributions to their favored candidates in every contest from local zoning board races to governors to U.S. Senators.

But thanks to Citizens United, corporate influence is now far more invasive and impactful. Polluters can freely run attack ads and vicious smear campaigns against climate hawks, deploy their front groups to mislead voters on everything from health care to global warming, sponsor ballot initiatives to kill clean energy progress, and generally play fast and dirty with zero accountability for their actions. 
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The result: the tragic collapse of American democracy, in the words of my friend and former boss Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (For a bit of solace this election day, check out David Robert's excellent interview with Bobby at Grist detailing why all is not yet lost in the war against carbon cronyism.)

I'll conceed readily that Citizens United isn't the only problem threatening U.S. democracy.  There's also the matter of participation, or lack thereof, among the public. It doesn't help matters that less than half of eligible voters in the U.S. typically cast a ballot in midterm elections. So at least make sure all your friends and family get to the polls today - and encourage them to remain active in holding their leaders accountable. Elections are just step one in the process.

Putting on my own pundit hat for a minute - hey, everyone's doing it - I predict voters wil beat down outrageously obvious polluter-funded initiatives like California's oily Prop 23 and Prop 26, and ignore the insanely loud shouting of Christine O'Donnell supporters to deny her a seat in Congress - perhaps chiefly for the fact that she has zero experience or qualifications to be there, but also because of her stupefying denial of science and reason.

But let there be no doubt about it. A lot of the anti-science candidates - whose antics on the campaign trail have made for humorous, if horrifying, spectacle - are about to become anti-science lawmakers with a vote in Congress.  That spells disaster for climate and energy policy, and all other legislative efforts that rely on a respect for facts and a willingness to negotiate. 

The anti-science caucus is coming to a Congress near you, and we have polluters and wealthy corporate fat cats largely to thank for it.

19:47

Largest Donor to Prop 23 Valero Has Ties to the Tar Sands Too

As Americans head to the polls today, many are aware of the Big Oil and special interest bankrolling of efforts like California's Prop 23 which would help derail progress toward the clean energy future.  Aside from Kochtopus and Tesoro funding, the biggest funder of Prop 23 is Valero, a Texas oil company keen to avoid the domino effect of clean energy legislation.  They have already contributed more than $5 million to support it, and it's no wonder: They fear that climate legislation will hurt profits at their two California refineries.

The Tyee reports that Valero has ties to the tar sands in Alberta where California laws may one day lead to limits on Valero's prospects for future growth - which depend a great deal on Alberta's tar sands.  

Why would a Texas oil company care about California clean energy laws?  The Texas oil company owns several Alberta area refineries.  Bill Day, a Valero spokesperson, calls Canada “a tremendous potential supplier for us.”

They're eyeing up the tar sands because over the coming decades, the proposed Alberta-Texas pipeline would ship massive amounts of Albertan fossil fuels to Gulf Coast refineries.   The highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline stretched from Alberta could eventually ship up to 600,000 barrels of oil per day to Texas and Louisiana.  As they noted in their most recent annual report, "This large new source of crude oil for the Gulf Coast market will further diversify our feedstock slate and increase our ability to optimize our profitability".

<!--break-->

As tar sands oil has a much larger carbon footprint than conventional oil, climate change legislation targeted by Prop 23 would limit California's imports of high-carbon fuels -- fuels that would likely include toxic tar sands oil from Alberta.  Valero's Texas refineries may be halfway across the United States, but industry worries about the 'domino effect' of climate change legislative efforts and how they may be adopted elsewhere. 

Valero's Texas refineries have traditionally sourced heavy fuels from south of the border.  But Mexican oil fields are declining and Venezuela is politically uncertain.  So they're looking north.  Industry lobby groups predict they'll nearly tripling of oil-sands production by 2025, with most fuel bound for U.S. markets.

Though some 2,600+ kilometres away, a vote today for Prop 23 is also a vote for further development of Canada's climate-wrecking tar sands.

October 26 2010

22:09

Elusive Charles Koch Deploys Security To Block Joel Francis’ Visit to Koch Industries HQ to Invite Debate on Prop 23

Joel Francis, the Cal State-Los Angeles senior and Marine Corps veteran, today followed through on his promise to visit Koch Industries headquarters in Wichita, Kansas to formally deliver his letter challenging CEO Charles Koch to a public debate about his funding of Prop 23, an attack on California’s clean energy investments and job creation efforts.  

After receiving no response from Koch following the video posting of his challenge last week, Joel traveled all the way from Los Angeles with a group of fellow college students and Gabe Elsner, campaign director of Powervote CA and the California Student Sustainability Coalition.  

The goal was simple and the approach polite – Joel simply hoped to meet with Charles Koch to invite him to a public debate “anytime, anywhere in the state of California” between now and election day about why Koch would attack the fastest growing sector in California’s struggling economy – clean energy jobs, which are growing 10 times faster than other sectors.

But as the students arrived, it was clear that Koch wasn’t rolling out the red carpet for Joel.  Pairs of security guards were stationed prominently outside each entrance to the Koch corporate campus.  Marked and unmarked Koch security vehicles trailed several cars after they dropped the students off on the front lawn of Koch HQ. (The vehicle I arrived in along with PowerVote’s Gabe Elsner was also trailed as it left the scene).

Larry Moorman, Koch’s Director of Corporate Security, immediately approached Elsner and wrongly claimed that we were on private property.  Elsner responded that county records indicated the first 18 feet of lawn adjacent to the curb was public property, which sent Mr. Moorman on his way back to guard the front door from the apparent ‘threat’ of an articulate college senior challenging the company’s secretive CEO to talk to him.  <!--break-->

Huddled closely together on the narrow strip of public lawn in front of Koch Industries’ infamous corporate logo, Joel delivered a statement re-iterating his modest challenge, flanked by several California students holding signs saying “Mr. Koch: Got Courage?” and “Hands Off Our Clean Energy Jobs!”

Joel and Gabe then approached the front door of Kochtopus HQ to try to get inside to meet the elusive CEO, but were met again by the trenchcoat-wearing Mr. Moorman (whose appearance recalled to memory the Cigarette Smoking Man from X-Files).  

Moorman refused them entry, but agreed to personally deliver Joel’s letter to Charles Koch.  However, when pressed by the pair on whether Koch had any statement in response to Joel’s challenge, Moorman quickly made it clear that they were on private property and said “you know where the easement is,” a barely concealed way of saying ‘get back on public property or else.’

Retreating 20 steps back to the safety of the public strip of lawn, Joel placed a phone call to Koch’s main line and was transferred to Charles’ secretary, who again said Mr. Koch was not available, but took Joel’s cell number and promised to deliver the message.  

Thwarted in his attempts to shake the hand of the billionaire bankrolling Prop 23, Joel is headed back to California to rally students across the state to vote no on the dangerous proposal.  Whether Charles Koch will answer his polite request to a public debate remains to be seen.  

Will the billionaire stay locked inside his Kochtopus fortress, cowering at the prospect of a college student’s outrageously reasonable challenge to a civil debate on Koch’s own terms?  Or will he finally explain to California voters why he’s bankrolling an effort to wreck the clean energy job prospects of Joel Francis and millions of other young Californians?

 

12:32

Money Talks: Big Oil & Special Interests Bankroll Anti-Clean Energy Efforts on the Campaign Trail

With just over a week to go before the U.S. midterm elections, the Center for American Progress Action Fund has released a great interactive map that shows who's been bankrolling efforts to halt clean energy efforts and back the anti-clean energy reform agenda.  After the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision permitted corporations to spend unlimited money influencing elections, the election terrain has become a dizzying display of corporate muscle and dollars.  Perhaps most dizzying is how easy it is for Big Oil and special interests to hide behind benevolent-sounding front groups, and how difficult it now is for us to know whose interests are shaping the elections.

In this midterm election, Democratic-aligned groups have been outspent by an astounding 7 to 1 margin, and Republican-aligned groups have flooded the nation's airwaves with a flurry of ads.  According to CorpWatch, they have spent over $300 million, five times as much as they did in 2006.

CAP's stats come from a Repower America report that shows the companies and organizations spreading misinformation about clean energy and climate change.  13 organizations have injected $68.5 million in 2010 alone into fictitious TV ads designed to spin clean energy legislation.  Since August alone, they've pumped over $17 million into their efforts. 

CAP's report offers a state-by-state breakdown of the top donors, and follows the money to the source. And it's not pretty.  The stakes for a clean energy future are high as oil and coal groups spend more and more helping climate-denying candidates run in tight races. <!--break-->

One such battleground is in California where out-of-state Koch Industries and Texas Oil companies Tesoro and Valero are funding a campaign to ensure that the domino 'effect' of the clean energy economy does not sweep across America.  To date, Big Oil and special interests have invested over $10 million into the campaign, $1 million alone on TV ads.  The vast majority is from out of state interests including Koch Industries who don't want to see similar laws passed in other states.  Speaking of the Kochs, Charles Koch should debate Cal State Los Angeles student Joel Francis on Prop 23 instead of hiding behind his multi-billion dollar oil and chemical fortune. 

The Yes on 23 and "California Jobs Initiative" aren't the only Orwellian-sounding organizations bankrolling anti-clean efforts on the campaign trail.  Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Job Security, the Committee for Truth in Politics, National Taxpayers UnionClub for Growth Action, and American Crossroads GPS are also funding television ads to prevent progress on clean energy and climate legislation. 

In addition to Astroturf groups, a number of industry trade organizationss have donated handsomely including the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, American Petroleum Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers.  In addition, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, claiming to speak for business, has funded $3.8 million in energy-related ads as part of its anti-climate legislation lobbying agenda.  ThinkProgress recently reported that much of their funding is from foreign corporations, including the Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company and Bahrain Petroleum Company.  Why are they helping fund the U.S. midterm election? 

So, though the midterm elections are days away, CAP's report shows that the winners have in many way already been chosen.  Big Oil and special interests have scored a major victory over actual citizens since the Citizens United ruling, and now, instead of money talking, we need to be talking about the money. 

October 21 2010

16:59

Charles Koch Challenged To Debate Prop 23 By California Student Leader Joel Francis

Joel Francis, a Marine Corps veteran and senior at Cal State Los Angeles, has issued a debate challenge to Koch Industries' billionaire CEO Charles Koch on his support for the disastrous Prop 23 attack on California's climate and clean energy progress.

Bankrolled with at least $1 million of Kochtopus funding, along with even larger amounts from Texas oil companies Valero Energy and Tesoro Corp. and Ohio-based Marathon Energy, Proposition 23 is on the ballot in California this November, and would set back California's ambitious efforts to fight climate change and create clean energy jobs.

Student leader Joel Francis challenges Charles Koch to meet him "anytime, anywhere in the state before election day" to explain why Koch is meddling with democracy in a state he doesn't even live in. 

Watch Francis' debate challenge to Charles Koch:

<!--break-->Francis vows to travel to Koch headquarters in Wichita, Kansas to re-issue the debate challenge in person to Charles Koch if he fails to respond by next Tuesday.  

Student climate activists at POWER VOTE CA, a project of the California Student Sustainability Coalition, have issued a "No on 23" pledge for Californians to voice their opposition to this attack on California democracy by out of state oil interests.

Stay tuned for updates on whether Charles Koch accepts the challenge.  As Francis says at the close of his video challenge, "you can't possibly be afraid of just one college student."  

Or can he? 

October 07 2010

20:45

Koch-funded Attacks on Prop 23 Include Manufacturing Science

In the latest example of polluter attempts to exert influence over science, the Koch-funded Pacific Research Institute was paid to manufacture another junk science “study” designed to lend credibility to California’s disastrous Proposition 23 ballot measure, an oil industry-backed effort to derail the state’s landmark AB 32 law to fight global warming.

The Yes on 23 campaign, a group launched and funded primarily by three oil companies – Valero Energy, Tesoro Corporation and Koch Industries’ subsidiary Flint Hills Resources - has been meddling in science, much to the liking of its oil industry bankrollers.  Recent financial reports reveal the Yes on 23 campaign has raised more than $5.2 million in the past three months, mostly from the oil companies.

The funding reports reveal payments of tens of thousands of dollars going to researchers at an industry front group well known for ginning up misleading research suggesting that California's clean energy efforts would kill jobs. 

According to the financial disclosures, the oil-backed campaign paid Pacific Research Institute $40,000, no doubt intended to bolster its efforts to attack California’s AB 32 law. 

<!--break-->Pacific Research Institute is also funded by Exxon and by the Koch family foundations, which have funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into the front group’s coffers in recent years.

The reports also reveal that a supposedly independent “economist,” Thomas Tanton, received $35,000 to produce a "study" suggesting that California’s efforts to reduce global warming pollution would hurt local economies and communities.  Tanton is far from “independent,” in fact he is a consultant to the oil and gas industry, serves as Senior Fellow of Energy Studies with the Pacific Research Institute [PDF], contributes regular columns for the Heartland Institute, and was a former VP at the Institute for Energy Research, another group heavily funded by oil and gas interests. 

The oil-backed Yes on 23 campaign is also trying to convince voters of color that their jobs are at risk, and that they are merely protecting the interests of the poor rather than protecting their dirty energy profits.  Many of their ads seek to appeal to the Latino, African-American and Asian-Pacific Islander communities that comprise 58 percent of California's population.

California’s clean energy economy is growing faster than in any other state, largely due to the passage of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, which opened the doors for clean energy growth. 

But it seems that the Koch brothers, like many of the rest of the entrenched oil and coal industry barons, will stop at nothing in order to protect the status quo fossil fuel addiction that is saddling the global economy and wrecking the climate.

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