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Billionaire Koch brothers back suspension of California climate law

Tea party

A company owned by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch has contributed $1 million to Proposition 23, a November ballot initiative to suspend California’s groundbreaking 2006 global-warming law.

The contribution came from Flint Hills Resources LP, based in Wichita, Kan., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, the nation's second-largest private company, with estimated annual revenue of $100 billion. It was posted online Thursday by the California secretary of state.

Prop. 23 was launched by two Texas-based refiners, Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. which have been its primary funders. The involvement of the Koch brothers signals that the California initiative is likely to become the focus of a national campaign, now that climate change legislation has stalled in Congress.

The Koch brothers (pronounced “Coke”), who operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas and Minnesota, have sponsored a web of groups involved in campaigns to deny the significance of climate change and the need for renewable energy. Koch-funded groups have trained and organized "tea party" activists across the country.

"If you combined BP’s approach to safety with Enron’s greed, you would have Koch," said Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for the "No on 23" campaign. "With this contribution, the out-of-state oil companies trying to put their profits before California jobs just got a lot dirtier."

A spokeswoman for the "Yes on 23" campaign was unavailable for comment Thursday night.

The Koch contribution came as California tea party activists indicated that they will campaign for Prop. 23. They have scheduled a rally in Sacramento on Sept. 12.

In March, Greenpeace issued a report critical of the brothers' activities, titled "Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine." Last week, the New Yorker magazine published a 9,990-word article, "Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama" by Jane Mayer.

AB 32, California's 2006 climate change law, would slash the state's emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases down to 1990 levels by 2020 -- a cut amounting to about 15% below today's levels. The law, which would curb emissions from industry and transportation, is strongly backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Scientists say that global warming is already affecting the state, melting the snowpacks that provide water for its large agricultural industry and its fast-growing cities.

Prop. 23 would suspend the law until unemployment in the state, now above 12%, drops to 5.5% for four consecutive quarters, a level only seen three times in the last three decades.

So far, the Prop. 23 campaign has raised $8.2 million. Opponents of the measure, who have raised about $6.6 million, got a boost last month with a $2.5-million donation from San Francisco hedge fund mogul Thomas Steyer, the first installment of a $5-million pledge. Steyer, founder of the $20-billion Farallon Capital Management, assumed the co-chairmanship of the "No on 23" campaign, with former Secretary of State George Shultz..

UPDATE: Sept. 4 story in the Los Angeles Times on the Koch brothers contributions.

-- Margot Roosevelt

Photo: Billionaire David Koch funds groups that have helped tea party organizations across the U.S. At the Orange County Tax Day Tea Party in Irvine on April 15, Rich Donaghy said he was "tired of what I'm seeing in America and afraid for my grandchildren." Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (71)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I would ask the proponents of Prop 23, "Where do think the jobs of tomorrow will come from?" Construction is a by-product of a healthy economy, as is retail. We need to make something that the world needs. We have exported just about all the manufacturing jobs we had to China. I work in the design and engineering sector and the ONLY companies who are hiring are in the cleantech and energy arenas. Talk radio hosts, and their mindless sheep who "Long for a better America" need to look at the real picture. It's being paid for by the clowns who are making BILLIONS of of your dumb asses!

They can't buy my vote!! Go back to Texas and pollute your own home state. Stop trying to use Texas politics in CA - it will not fly here. No on Prop 23 and No to Texas Politics and No to Pollution!!

Read the current issue New Yorker article about the Koch brothers/family. They're using their wealth to fund anti-environment measures and the tea party movement.

Don't these guys have enough money already?
These profit-mongering billionaires don't mind destroying the planet as long as they double their profits. The Koch brothers also want to dismantle the public school system, end medicare and medicaid, WIC, Daycare, and eliminate many other basic entitlements.

Conservatives are killing themselves trying to hitch a ride on the Koch's bandwagon. Are these brothers the devil? Lucifer in $3,000 suits?

The idiot who said he was "tired of what I'm seeing in America and afraid for my grandchildren." fits perfectly into the Koch brothers sinister plans.

It is clear that California's political system needs drastic changes. Wealthy corporations and individuals, many of them non-Californians, keep trying to buy our elections (see prop 8, prop 16, prop 23) for their own economic, ideological, or religious purposes and they sometimes succeed. Wealthy fools like Whitman and Fiorina, who never demonstrated any interest or expertise in helping government work better, are trying to buy political office for their own egos. Our elected representatives can't manage the state's finances because of conflicting constitutional requirements imposed by ballot proposition and the ridiculous requirements for supermajorities in order to pass tax increases or budgets.

The first step in fixing this mess is to just say no to government by ballot initiative. Vote against all propositions, even if you agree with some of them. Then we need a major overhaul of the state constitution so our elected representatives can get something done.

Its news when the Koch brother's donate 1 million but only a note when a hedge fund owner donates 5 million? And somehow the Koch's are evil for this? It's a free country and one can give their money to support any cause they choose. Soros, Steyer, and other hedge funds are just as interested in pushing their agenda as the Koch's. How about reporting the story without your obvious bias?

these despot Koch brothers are a main reason of what is wrong with American politics, they only care about turning a profit and dont care who they have to pillage for it...........

Reading this comments, readers obviously don't know the Koch brothers well. While the New Yorker piece tried to smear them, the impression left with me was their capacity for hard work. Their father wouldn't allow them to swim with other kids in the summer at the country club pool, even though they lived right across the street. Instead, he made them work while other kids played. We need MORE hard working people like that in America, rather than resenting their success.

I notice none of these people who resent billionaires in California are asking, say, Steve Jobs or Larry Ellison to leave.

California voters can also rein in climate laws like the California Global Warming Solutions Act (A.B. 32) by voting for the Prop. 23 ballot initiative November 2nd. Prop. 23 would suspend implementation of A.B. 32 until the state’s unemployment rate is reduced to below 5.5%. Estimates are that A.B. 32 could cost the state an additional one million job losses with its cap-and –trade system to reduce greenhouse gases to 1990 levels.

What is clear in California is that partisan ideologies and cultish environmentalism have replaced prudent science and rational environmental policy decisions. Militant environmentalism and green-obsessed bureaucrats have become an “axis of antagonism” that Californians can no longer afford.

Maybe people that have a job should think about people that don't have and can not get a job. When someone eliminates a real job to achieve a theoretical
benefit, they are in the "the end justifies the means" , which is how we got in this

As long as the Tea Party allows the Koch bros to participate, they will never find the complete support they need to overcome their opponents.

Koch and croonies are self serving, greedy, manipulative political movers and shakers that represent the worst of America.

What's worse is that there are so many others for sale and will march to their tune for a buck. What has happened to character in America?

With this latest revelation, I'm leaving my support for the tea party

Who are the Koch brothers? These are the brothers who has been funding the birthers, the tea party to disrupt townhall meetings and spreading lies about 'Obamacare', etc. They has been against 'Obamacare' so much that now they are applying for assistance from funds setup by 'Obamacare' to assist small businesses caring for their aging workers!

I hope CA citizens see through the rhetoric produced by special interests (special interests OUTSIDE of CA)....Regardless of if you agree with climate change - prop 23 will create jobs and improve the lives of future generations.

Louis Brandeis said it:

"You can have enormous concentrations of wealth or you can have a democracy. You can't have both"

We are starting to live his prediction, thanks to too many years of Republican policies...

Thes Koching scumbags need to go back to Texas. The last rich Texas scumbag that screwed us was Ken Lay with his Enron brownout of our state. Hopefully the Koch Brothers will soon join Lay in perpetuity.

It would make more sense if their name was pronounced with a short "o" (like a male chicken).

Well, apparently the Koch boys have not heard the message from Warren Buffett and Bill Gates about pledging to put one's billions to good use. There is nothing more distasteful than raw, ugly, self-centered, greed. It drives much of the misery in this world. The Koch brothers appear to be a particularly offensive breed of this barbaric animal.

How interesting that these two rapacious sleazes are also behind the Tea Party group. Isn't is odd how the demonstrators all parrot the same "concerns". They didn't care when the Republicans were squandering the surplus and running up deficits. They didn't care when deregulation stripped away certain protections (Wall Street anyone?). Guess we can now figure out where the script comes from.
The only thing the Tea Partiers don't realize is that people like the Kochs and George Schultz couldn't care less about them. I'm sure they have many good laughs about those sheep.

I don't care who is backing it; what matters is that California can't afford the losses losses of actual, existing jobs in exchange for the for the speculated/hoped for job gains from green enterprises. I'm all for Proposition 23 to put government back into its cage. Our air quality has improved tremendously and AB 32 is not necessary. Besides, the forces of weather and climate are too massive for us mere humans to measurably affect. The climate will change whther we want it to or not - we can not influence it.

it's about time news outlets focus on the real enemies of this great country. there are people who would watch this country raze to the ground as long as they can turn a profit. they don t care about the tea party, republicans, liberals, human beings of any sort, life forms of any kind etcetera. only that they remain rich and in power and all of us poor and fighting among ourselves. unfortunately i believe only when this country is near the point of anarchy will the blind finally see the truth.

fabian n. is the one who came out and made ab32 in 2006
this politician is a crook and a liar
his term limit came out long ago so why you all think he putt this as32 in place
this is another way the democrats are liars and crooks
plase vote yes on pro23
this is goin to make california make or go over the clift
do youre home work dont let this crooks politicians make youre mind they do not have the best interest of us in california , or americas

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