Money can buy you many things in this world, but unfortunately for billionaire David Koch, it couldn’t buy him the gift he really wanted this holiday season: the ouster of President Obama. But since Koch is really, really rich, he can afford to spend massive amounts of cash to go after other political targets—like any member of Congress who supports the major aid package to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Last week, one of Koch’s conservative political organizations, Americans for Prosperity, sent a letter to congressional members threatening to unleash a torrent of political attack ads against them in the next election if they vote for the $60.4 billion federal storm aid package.
“It seems particularly cruel that the Koch political machine would use its vast network of paid activists and professional operatives to kill this bill,” The Nation’s Lee Fang writes. “For one thing, this is David Koch’s community. From his Upper East Side apartment, Koch lives only a subway ride away from the devastation in Red Hook.”
The superstorm, which hit the New York City area especially hard, claimed the lives of 100 people, destroyed or damaged tens of thousands of residences and caused an estimated $50 billion dollars of damages.
But Koch’s fiendish decision to target these would-be aid recipients is a travesty for another indirect reason, one that involves not just a threat to the region, but also to the entire planet as we know it: climate change.
That’s why it’s definitely worth pointing out that David Koch and his brother Charles haven’t just contributed enormously to the climate change problem, but they have also been instrumental players in the climate-denial movement itself.
The other tragedy of Koch’s decision to target Sandy aid is that his company is one reason we will increasingly face extreme weather events like hurricanes, flash floods, droughts and fierce storms. The Koch brothers, David and Charles, sit atop one of the world’s largest privately held conglomerates. Koch Industries is a sprawling company with interests in commodity speculation, timber, oil refining, ethanol production, chemicals, pipelines, consumer products, and fertilizer, among others. The Koch empire, by one estimate, has an annual carbon footprint of 100 million tons.
Not only does Koch’s business contribute to climate change through massive carbon emissions, as Greenpeace reported, Koch is the largest financier of climate denial political organizations and media groups. (As an aside, unlike AFP, Greenpeace ignored partisan politics and sent many of its workers to Queens to assist with relief efforts.)
… Koch’s political machine has largely used “conservative” and populist political efforts to advance their bottom line. Koch Industries makes a fortune by avoiding having to repay society for contributing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Before AFP fought efforts to regulate carbon emissions, the group (then known as Citizens for a Sound Economy) blasted efforts to curb acid rain and asthma-causing dust from factories, using much of the same rhetoric and hard-edge tactics. It lost those battles; but in recent years, it has won major policy debates, especially on climate change.
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.