Koch Industries and Renewable Energies

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a Koch-backed conservative group that drafts bills, many of which are designed to repeal and weaken renewable energy laws and standards state-by-state. Republican politicians, who are funded by the Kochs, push these laws in their respective state legislatures.

— Ring of Fire

The Koch brothers built the world’s largest fortune based on oil, coal and the distribution, transportation, processing and sale of those commodities. In the last 30 years, Koch Industries expanded into many other areas, buying up hundreds of large and small failing companies and turning them around. One of the largest acquisitions was Georgia Pacific, that makes products like paper towels and such.

The Kochs have an uncanny formula for making companies work. Much of their business philosophy is based on libertarian principles, teachings and values. No government. Since the libertarian movement in this country had its peak around 1980 and have never flourished since, the Kochs have backed the Republican Party and its candidates as the closest fit.

The less government, the better. No government would be best. Let the free market take care of things. Supply and demand should be the only guiding principles.

With renewable energies, versus fossil fuels, the supply and demand principles didn’t work so well over the last 40 years. There were many government subsidies for oil, coal and gas, and Koch Industries has benefited from those. It stands to reason that they will try to squash efforts by the government against support of renewable energies.

When you start seeing massive lobbying efforts backed by fossil fuel interests, or conservative think tanks, or the Koch brothers pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards or prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding – that’s a problem.  That’s not the American way.  That’s not progress.  That’s not innovation.  That’s rent-seeking and trying to protect old ways of doing business and standing in the way of the future.

— President Obama

Fortunately, the tide has turned, and there are more and more people in the country who are genuinely interested in renewable energies. There are still forces that try to squash renewables, calling them job-killers, but they are consistently proven wrong. Here are some facts:

  1. No matter what we say about fossil fuels, they are limited. Perhaps we have a few decades’ worth left in the ground, perhaps a few centuries. But they will run out. Not planning for that time would be negligent.
  2. Renewable energies do not leave greenhouse gases. Whether greenhouse gases cause global warming or not, it is still better not to pump CO2 into the atmosphere.
  3. Renewable energies will return energy independence to countries. There will be less reliance on trade and therefore dependence on other countries. OPEC countries will suffer, but now is the time for them to retool, if they have the wisdom.
  4. As renewable energy becomes more used and cheaper, it will drop below the tipping point and it will become a massive local job creator. Preventing or delaying that for today’s profits, as the referenced article suggests, would be obstructionist and unacceptable.

Koch Industries knows how to make money and they are not shy about pushing their agenda. We need to take them very seriously. They are one of the most powerful forces in our government today.

But I do believe the tide has turned. Now how long will it take China to figure this out?

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