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The Problem is Not Solyndra. It is Koch Industries

J. Mijin Cha

Another day, another misleading and false attack on clean energy funded by Koch Industries, which makes billions of dollars from a variety of polluting industries.

Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers funded organization, is funding a new television ad now airing in Florida and other states claiming that President Obama gave millions of dollars away to political supporters as favors through the Department of Energy’s guaranteed loan program. We’ve debunked these false claims on Solyndra and clean energy investments here, here, here, and here.  Just a quick recap: The loan program and Solyndra’s specific loan application were started under the Bush Administration. Solyndra was named the top clean-tech company by the Wall Street Journal in 2010 and the DoE loan program has already created 64,000 jobs.

But, while the facts of the ad are false, the gist of the ad is true—we should be outraged that taxpayers’ money is being given away as political favors. And, there is no one we should more outraged at than Koch Industries, who have received millions, if not billions, of dollars of taxpayers’ money as political favors. Think Progress highlights many of the ways in which Koch Industries benefit from taxpayers.  A few of the more egregious examples include:

  • Koch Industries won massive government contracts using their close relationship with the Bush administration. The Bush administration, in a deal even conservatives alleged was a quid pro quo because of Koch’s campaign donations, handed Koch Industries a lucrative contract to supply the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve with 8 million barrels of crude oil. The SPR deal, done initially in 2002, was renewed in 2004 by Bush administration officials. During the occupation of Iraq, Koch won significant contracts to buy Iraqi crude oil.
  • The Koch brothers have claimed that they oppose government intervention in the market, but Koch Industries lobbies aggressively for taxpayer handouts. In Alaska, blogger Andrew Halcro reported that a Koch subsidiary in Fairbanks asked Gov. Sarah Palin’s administration to use taxpayer money to bail out one of their failing refineries.
  • Koch Industries has been the recipient of about $85 million in federal government contracts mostly from the Department of Defense. Koch also benefits directly from billions in taxpayer subsidies for oil companies and ethanol production.

So, instead of focusing on the millions, if not billions, of dollars that go directly to the Koch brothers, who donate substantial amounts to political candidates on the state and federal level, Americans for Prosperity repeats false claims against Solyndra and the benefit of investment in clean energy. The problem for the Koch brothers and their various political fronts is that no matter how much they keep trying to advance these false claims, the facts keep getting in the way.

Just yesterday, a new report came out analyzing the economic impact of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the first inter-state compact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under the program, ten Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states agree to cap their carbon dioxide emissions and sell nearly all their emissions allowances through auctions and invest the proceeds into energy efficiency, renewable energy and other clean energy technologies. The Analysis Group, an independent consulting company, looked at the impact of investments made by the ten states and measured its economic impact across all states in the region. 

The findings show that the regional economy gains more than $1.6 billion economic value added as a result of the state investments, consumers save a total of $1.3 billion in energy savings, 16,000 jobs are created regionwide, and the reduced demand for fossil fuels keeps more than $765 million in the local economy.

With those kinds of numbers, it’s no wonder anti-clean energy activists have to keep rehashing the same false claims. The truth is too scary for them.