According to documents obtained by Republic Report, the Institute for Energy Research, a group that creates television and online content that criticizes the EPA and bashes “green” celebrities, was founded by none other than the father of climate denial, Charles Koch.
The IER is responsible for the ‘Lifestyles of the Rich Environmentalists’ video, which calls out celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Madonna for giving lip service to the environment while racking up major energy bills and emitting tons of CO2. It has also produced television ads attacking Democratic candidates in West Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina and Alaska.
The IER makes no mention of Koch on its website, though earlier reports have confirmed that the organization, as well as its subsidiary, the American Energy Alliance, have received grants from Koch-funded foundations. According to Republic Report, what would become the IER was first the Institute for Humane Studies of Texas, a non-profit Charles Koch founded in 1984. The organization lost its charter in 1989 for failing to pay a Texas state franchise tax and was later revived as the Institute for Energy Research.
Though Charles Koch has publicly stated that he favors a deregulated, free-enterprise system that does away with “all political favors, including mandates, subsidies and protective tariffs,” both the IER and AEA have lobbied to protect tax breaks and benefits for the fossil fuel industry. The groups have also issued reports claiming that eliminating such subsidies would be bad for the economy and American oil production.
Charles Koch is the head of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in America. Through its subsidiaries, the company is involved in several industries, including oil and gas, polymers and fibers, consumer products, minerals, fertilizers, forestry and ranching. The company operates in 45 states and has a presence in 60 countries and generates an annual $115 billion in revenue. Koch himself has a personal fortune of well over $40 billion.
Through various organizations and super-PACs (its largest being Americans for Prosperity, which helped found the Tea Party movement), Koch has done more than any single individual to deride climate change science. Al Gore has said Charles and his brother, David, are the primary forces behind the Republican Party’s staunch denial of climate science.
In an interview with Planet Experts, Dr. Michael Mann had his own harsh words for the oil tycoon:
“Unfortunately, at the base of this is the fact that a number of very well-heeled private interests – the Koch brothers in particular – have spent tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars poisoning – literally poisoning – our public discourse over climate change by funding professional climate change deniers, creating front groups and funding think tanks that exist to cast doubt on the science of climate change. Funded by the Koch brothers, or in many cases funded by their fossil fuel interests.”