After 16 days at a cost of 24 billion dollars Congress finally came to their senses. Now that Congress has passed legislation that reopens government until January 15, 2014 and extends the credit ceiling until February 7, 2014, many are asking questions about the forces behind this insane game of political chicken. Others are wondering if it will happen again in the new year. This article, written one week ago (October 9, 2013), explores the role played by the Koch brothers.
and David Koch are oil barons who have been accused of being behind
efforts to shutdown government. In a bid to keep America from
transitioning away from fossil fuels the Koch brothers are leading a
powerful cadre of conservatives in a coordinated strategy designed to subvert democracy. They have cultivated very close relationships with Republicans including GOP presidential candidates and they employ sophisticated methods of legislative control like ALEC.
They have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to misinform the public
and influence politicians. They have demonstrated considerable skill in
the art of control and subterfuge. One of their greatest
accomplishments is their role in the creation of the “grassroots”
movement known as the Tea Party.
Current levels of obstructionism in Congress are unprecedented and
the Koch brothers are a major force behind it. As reported by multiple
media sources, their political operatives have already pressured 169 members of Congress into signing a shameful promise that they will never support action on climate change.
The Koch’s fund a number of organizations and pseudo-scientific think
tanks including groups like Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Partners,
Heritage Action and its sister group, the Heritage Foundation. Some of
these groups advocate using their minions in Congress to deprive the
government of funding while others work on misinformation.
As reported in Desmog blog,
the Heartland Institute is at the forefront of the Kochs’ climate
denial. This front group recently published a fictitious report by the
so called International Climate Science Coalition, in which lead
author Fred Singer, (an apologist for the tobacco industry before he got
into the business of denying the basic science of climate change) makes
a number of ridiculous claims including, CO2 is “the gas of life..the
more CO2, the more life.” This group of deniers named themselves the
Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), mirroring
the official science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
The idea of using Republican control of the House of Representatives
to shutdown the federal government has been in the works for a while.
According to an October 5 New York Times article, defunding efforts began just after President Obama was reelected
in 2012. Conservative groups hatched a plan to use the Republican
majority in the House of Representatives and Tea Party supporters in
particular, to shutdown the federal government. The Washington Tea Party
even created a defunding tool kit to help divest Obamacare of
The government shutdown has far ranging impacts on the economy and the environment. It adversely impacts energy and climate research as well as threatens America’s natural resources. This is not the first time that Republicans have used their legislative control to shutdown government. In 2011, the GOP’s obstructionism resulted in a U.S. credit downgrade. They have also unsuccessfully attempted to use a similar strategy to defund the EPA.
The government shutdown prevents the EPA from doing its work. This
includes carbon emissions standards for new power plants and carbon
standards for existing power plants. The EPA’s proposals for 2014
biofuel targets could also be delayed by the shutdown.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I., Vt.) are among a number of law makers who have blamed the Koch
brothers for the shutdown.
On Wednesday October 9, Koch industries sent a letter to Capitol Hill
that denied allegations that they are responsible for the government
shutdown. Although Koch Industries, the Heritage Foundation and
Americans for Prosperity openly oppose Obamacare, they have not taken a
formal public position on the shutdown.
Koch Industries president for government and public affairs Philip Ellender
claims he wants Congress to focus on “balancing the budget” and
“cutting government spending.” It may well be that Koch Industries fear
the economic ramifications of a government default if a deal can’t be
reached on the debt ceiling, however, the Koch brothers support a number
of groups that wanted to shutdown the government.
According to Shiela Krumholtz,
executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, while
Ellender was technically correct in his effort to distinguish the
company from the brothers, “it’s a distinction without a difference.”
Although the company has not endorsed the shutdown, she said the Kochs
had endorsed policies, candidates and other organizations that were
involved with the shutdown.
One Senator forcefully and factually assigned the blame for the shutdown
to the Republicans. This view is echoed not only by Democrats but by a
number of fellow Republicans as well. A growing number of Americans
disapprove of the shutdown as evidenced by a recent Kaiser Family
Foundation poll which found that 57 percent disapprove of cutting off
funding as a way to stop Obamacare.
A Washington Post/ABC poll
released Monday October 7 found that the American public’s disapproval
of Republicans has grown in the past week with 70 percent of Americans
showing disapproval (up from 63 percent the previous week). Another poll
from Pew Research released on the same day found that Americans blame Republicans for the shutdown. Finally a CNN/ORC poll found that more Americans are angry at Republicans than they are at Democrats or President Obama.
As reviewed in a Huffington Post article,
environmentalists are now concerned that the Keystone XL pipeline could
become a bargaining chip in the funding debate on the debt ceiling. One
thing is certain, this fight between dirty energy and the federal
government is far from over.
“We view this as a long-term effort,” said Tim Phillips, the
president of Americans for Prosperity. He said his group is expected to
spend “tens of millions” of dollars on a “multifront effort.” While
Philips was referring to Obamacare, the statement applies to their
efforts more generally.
Regardless of what Koch Industries have said, the Koch brothers have a
proven track record of instigating climate denial and fostering
obstructionism. They have been a driving force behind the shutdown and
they can be expected to continue to exert their influence to make it
difficult to get a continuing resolution to fund the government. They
are also likely to be a contentious force in the forthcoming fight over
extending the debt ceiling later this month.
The American people have no reason to believe these peddlers of
subterfuge and good reason to distrust them as purveyors of dirty
Source: Global Warming is Real
Government Shutdown: Environmental Impacts and Republican Extortion
Gore on the Government Shutdown and Climate Change: Congress is Pathetic
Republicans Shut Down Government Again Impacting the Economy and the Environment
Government Shutdown Adversely Impacts the Environment, Energy and Climate Research
Government Shutdown Threatens America’s Natural Resources
The Environmental and Economic Implications of a Government Shutdown
Republican Assault on the Environment
Republican Obstructionism on the Debt Ceiling Risks Global Environmental Collapse
Environmental Implications of the Credit Ceiling Agreement
The US Debt Ceiling Crisis and the Green Economy
The Credit Downgrade and the Green Economy
Republican’s Fail in their Bid to Defund the EPA