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Koch Funding Climate Change Deniers: Mixed Success

November 2, 2011

ASPEN, Colo. - The Koch family has funneled tens of millions of dollars into causes which support the oil and gas industry in an attempt to undermine the science of climate change, a new investigation finds.

The Wichita, Kan.-based brothers and their various businesses and non-profit organizations, are not only supporting politicians but also academic researchers and conservative think tanks critical of global warming, according to the Colorado Independent.

Tom Yulsman, co-director of the Boulder, Colo.-based Center for Environmental Journalism, says it's important to look at the shifting positions from prominent Republicans such as John McCain or Mitt Romney on the science of climate change - from acceptance to skepticism - to see the Koch influence.

"The debate that's actually taking place? It seems to be a debate that people are having about science. In fact, it really has nothing to do with science whatsoever. It is a debate about politics."

Even with the Koch funding, however, the scientific results don't always support Koch positions. Last week, former climate denier Richard Muller of the University of California Berkeley reported in the Wall Street Journal that the results of his Koch-funded study showed that global warming is real and increasing rapidly.

Reporter Troy Hooper, who conducted the investigation for the Colorado Independent, found that the Kochs, their interests and employees combined, topped all other donors to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee - and that nine of 12 new Republican members signed a pledge distributed by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity to oppose legislation to regulate greenhouse gases.

"I think in the case of the Kochs, we've seen it play out where it's pretty effectively changed environmental policy in the United States."

While some polls indicate Koch funds may be influencing public opinion, Yulsman says, other polls indicate a majority of Americans support environmental protections and believe the science of global warming.

"We have to ask ourselves to what extent has concern over global warming decreased because of the denial campaign, versus the fact that people are out of work, people are struggling, and quite frankly something that's going to happen over the course of decades seems like it's not quite the priority right now."

Greenpeace reports that the Kochs have spent more than $50 million since 1998 on attacks on climate science.

Read the full Colorado Independent story at

Kathleen Ryan/Dallas Heltzell, Public News Service - CT