Connecting the dots of denial

Seth Kaplan

(Updated 9/15/2010)

In a recent issue of the New Yorker staff writer Jane Meyer leads us all on a guided tour of the machinery, machinations and massive expenditures that the billionaire Koch brothers have poured into organizations like the Orwellian named “Americans for Prosperity” that, among other things, are dedicated to stopping progress in the war to protect our climate.

Not satisfied with having played a role in derailing (hopefully temporarily) sensible energy and climate policy in Washington DC these guardians of fossil fuel industry profits are seeking to halt good efforts in the states.  While their efforts in California have been the most noticed they are also busy laying astroturf in places like New Jersey where a “campaign” to roll back the mild, moderate and successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has been launched out of the corporate checkbooks supporting “Americans for Prosperity.”

This effort in New Jersey angrily rails that there is no clear line on electricity bills to show the price that consumers are paying for RGGI – ignoring the reality that there is not a bit of evidence that such a cost can be identified by anyone.  Indeed, the RGGI program is so mild and moderate that, as was anticipated when the program was created, the impact on consumers is so small that it is in fact invisible.   The fact that the New Jersey “anti cap and trade” website fails to actually describe a price impact for RGGI before ranting about the need to disclose such a cost is a clear signal that we are dealing with folks who are not playing straight.

And to add yet another bizarre twist to the tale, the Albany Times-Union reports that the company owned by the same Koch brothers who founded and have funded the organization protesting RGGI has been participating in the RGGI auction, presumably for profit and not just fun.

While David and Charles Koch, as detailed in the New Yorker article,  have focused their spending on nurturing “Americans for Prosperity” and similar national efforts their brother William Koch has been focused on local denial – heavily funding lobbying against the Cape Wind project which he apparently feels would damage the view from his vacation home.  But the Koch agendas are now converging as “Americans for Prosperity” levels a volley at an effort by the governor of New Jersey, a Republican who is generally regarded as conservative, for using RGGI funds to support offshore wind farm development.   Perhaps this is a result of the reconciliation between these brothers now that they have settled their infamous feud.

Ultimately, though this is about people who have made a lot of money from the current system of generating energy from fossil fuels fighting the future.  Not only are they tossing all of us, including their own families, under the bus of a dangerously changing climate but they are fighting against efforts like wind farms that generate stability in energy prices (something their fossil products simply can’t deliver) and programs like energy efficiency investments that generate real jobs and prosperity.  For example, the operator of the efficiency programs in New York State estimates, in their annual plan, that the programs funded by RGGI in that one state will create:

  • Customer energy bill savings of more than $445 million
  • 1.7 million barrel reduction in oil imports
  • Creation or retention of approximately 1,400 jobs
  • Greenhouse gas emissions reductions up to 2.0 million tons; equal to removing approximately16,500 cars from the road

Saving people money on energy bills and creating jobs – what a nightmare !!!

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