Sapping ALEC's Power: Software Giant SAP Dumps Group Over Climate Denial

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 06 Nov 2014 05:01:00 GMT

SAPThe tech exodus from the American Legislative Exchange Council continues, with German software giant SAP ending its membership in the anti-climate lobbying group. The blow is especially harsh as ALEC’s corporate board was chaired by SAP lobbyist Steve Seale. SAP’s departure comes in the wake of Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and other tech companies leaving in quick succession this fall.

German business journal Manager Magazin reported the departure on Wednesday. “We have decided that we will leave the organization today,” an SAP spokeswoman told the magazine.

The spokeswoman told Manager that the company abandoned ALEC because of its “merkwürdigen” (strange) positions—such as its support for Stand Your Ground laws, climate denial, and opposition to solar energy deployment. Germany’s state-supported solar-power revolution (part of its “Energiewende” transition) is in stark contrast to the United States, in no small part because of the work ALEC has done for decades to oppose renewable energy.

SAP, which touts its sustainability leadership, is a major producer of smart-grid and energy-efficiency solutions. Unlike ALEC, SAP is unambiguous about the threat of fossil-fueled climate change, saying that “with the dangers and costs of global warming and rising carbon dioxide levels, and it’s clear that increased energy efficiency is an absolute must.”

At the UN Climate Summit in New York City this September, SAP signed on to the World Bank effort calling for a global price on carbon pollution.

Steve Seale
SAP lobbyist Steve Seale, former ALEC corporate board chair
SAP’s membership in ALEC came under pressure when Manager’s Nils-Viktor Sorge noted in a piece entitled “How SAP Supports a Right-Wing Hardliner in the US” that SAP America state lobbyist C Stevens Seale has been the chair of ALEC’s influential corporate board, known as the Private Enterprise Advisory Council, since March 2013. Seale, a former Republican Mississippi legislator, had also served as the chief counsel for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott in the 1990s.

SAP’s union representatives in Germany were quick to decry the corporation’s involvement in ALEC. “SAP has no place in a political organization that represents the positions of the Tea Party,” a representative told Sorge. His article also noted Google chair Eric Schmidt’s excoriation of ALEC as a group of “liars.”

“SAP America’s strong commitment to the American Legislative Exchange Council is due to the nonprofit’s significant impact and the opportunities it creates for the exchange of ideas,” Seale said upon his appointment to the ALEC board a year ago.

As of publication, Seale is still listed as the chair of the ALEC corporate board on the group’s website.

[UPDATE] “SAP has decided to immediately disassociate itself from ALEC,” a company representative said in a statement given to the Center for Media and Democracy. “The membership had been under review for some time and is now being canceled.”

When asked if the decision was because of ALEC’s climate denial, the representative replied, “Not only [that] position, on gun control and voter rights as well.”

“In the wake of the elections where a clear mandate for limited-government, state-based policies was offered by the American people,” an ALEC spokesperson told National Journal, “it is too bad that companies like SAP are making short-sighted decisions based on misinformation.”

Fracking Opponents Rack Up Victories in Local Battles

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 05 Nov 2014 16:26:00 GMT

This Election Day, opponents of the hydrofracturing boom achieved a number of local ballot victories, overcoming massive spending by the fossil-fuel industry.

  • Voters in Denton, Texas, the “birthplace” of the modern fracking boom, banned fracking in a landslide vote. Supporters of the ban were outspent by the oil-and-gas industry ten to one.
  • Athens, Ohio voters “overwhelmingly” passed a ban on fracking. An astounding 78 percent of voters supported the ban.
  • Central California’s San Benito County, which lies atop the Monterey Shale formation, passed Measure J to ban fracking, overcoming $1.8 million in spending from Chevron, ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum and other oil companies. Supporters of the ban won despite being outspent 15 to one.

There were additional local victories for oil-industry opponents and environmentalists across the nation.

VIDEO: Cory Gardner Says Climate Scientists "Want To Tell Us How We Live Our Lives"

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 03 Nov 2014 20:57:00 GMT

Speaking at a right-wing conference in Steamboat Springs, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) claimed climate policy is a conspiracy to attack workers in the fossil-fuel industry.

“You know what? This is more than a war on coal, this is a war on workers,” he said. “This is a president who has decided he doesn’t like those jobs, he doesn’t like what they’re doing, and he’s going to put them out of business and out of work.”

“It’s a war on the kind of energy we use every day — fossil fuels — whether it’s gas, coal, oil,” he continued, “because they want to tell us how we live our lives, how we heat our homes, we drive our cars.”

Dick and Liz Cheney were the featured stars at the Steamboat Institute Freedom Conference, which took place in Steamboat Springs, Colo., on August 23, 2013. Gardner was the first speaker at the conference.

Refusing to accept the reality of fossil-fueled global warming, Gardner described policy attempts to reduce fossil-fuel pollution as part of a liberal conspiracy against hard-working Americans.

“It’s about the kind of work that thousands and thousands of men and women are doing each and every day,” Gardner claimed President Obama opposes, “working hard each and every day, to make our lives better, to give us a chance to build a way of life for our families.”

In reality, the coal industry, whose carbon pollution remains unregulated, has been marked by reduced employment and higher corporate profits, as labor protections and regulations have been blocked or eliminated by conservatives.

Gardner went on to criticize Obama and his scientific advisors for explanations they made of how market forces would encourage fuel-switching away from coal given a price on carbon pollution. In doing so, he misidentified Harvard geochemist Dan Schrag, a member of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, as Obama’s top science advisor, who is in fact Harvard physicist John Holdren.

Both Schrag and Holdren have publicly described the need to dramatically reduce carbon emissions to reduce the catastrophic impacts of climate change.


VIDEO: Cory Gardner: "We Have to Stand Up to the Radical Environmentalists"

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 03 Nov 2014 14:20:00 GMT

Speaking at a right-wing conference, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) denounced the “radical environmentalists” and “social engineers” who oppose the “individual job creators” who run fossil-fuel companies. Promising the Keystone XL pipeline will get built, Gardner went on to describe his allegiance to the fracking “shale revolution”: “We will rise up, and we will win!”

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), now challenging Democrat Mark Udall’s U.S. Senate seat, has run a campaign as a “likeable” moderate.

Dick and Liz Cheney were the featured stars at the Steamboat Institute Freedom Conference, which took place in Steamboat Springs, Colo., on August 23, 2013. Gardner was the first speaker at the conference.

Gardner’s remarks about the “power” of fossil-fuel executives who “realize what is at stake in this country” alludes to the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers and other campaign contributors.

Gardner is a “long-time friend” of Americans for Prosperity Colorado head Jeff Crank, and is known to have appeared at the Koch’s 2014 summit in California. AFP and the Koch super PAC Freedom Partners have spent over $3 million supporting Gardner’s candidacy, primarily by attacking Udall. Koch Industries is Gardner’s top campaign contributor this cycle. Gardner, who joined Congress in 2011, has raked in $772,000 in campaign contributions from the oil & gas industry.


VIDEO: Iowa Senate Candidate Denies Coordinating With Kochs After Attending Koch Summit

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 27 Oct 2014 19:06:00 GMT

U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst denied coordinating with outside groups who are involved in the race, despite her participation in a secret summit organized by the Koch brothers in June. Speaking at a Des Moines, Iowa, event on October 23, Ernst claimed she doesn’t have any contact with outside groups that are running negative ads.

“I can’t control the outside groups, with the independent expenditures,” Ernst said. “You know, I don’t have contact with them.”

However, at June Koch summit in Dana Point, Calif., Ernst thanked the Koch network, which is now spending millions of dollars in attack ads and get-out-the-vote efforts on her behalf, for discovering her and powering her candidacy.

“A little-known state senator from a very rural part of Iowa, known through my National Guard service and some circles in Iowa. But the exposure to this group and to this network and the opportunity to meet so many of you, that really started my trajectory,” Ernst was recorded saying. “We are going to paint some very clear differences in this general election,” she said. “And this is the thing that we are going to take back—that it started right here with all of your folks, this wonderful network.”

As of October 27, the Koch super PAC Freedom Partners Fund has spent over $3,158,815 for Ernst, and the Koch 501c4 Americans for Prosperity has spent $250,954, according to FEC records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Ernst’s remarks in Des Moines were recorded by the Young Turks Undercurrent’s Lauren Windsor, who said Ernst was caught in a “big fat Koch lie.” Windsor had earlier released the audio recording of Ernst and other GOP Senate candidates speaking at the Koch retreat.

(Windsor is not associated with The Undercurrent, a right-wing libertarian campus magazine that promotes the Koch network.)

Rep. Paul Ryan: 'We Don't Even Know If The Science Will Change!'

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 15 Oct 2014 21:59:00 GMT

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the former Republican vice-presidential candidate, has again rejected the scientific fact of anthropogenic global warming. In a Carthage College debate with challenger Rob Zerban on Monday, Ryan expressed his doubt of “science.”

“Climate change is in large part due to human activity”: I don’t know the answer to that question. And I don’t think science does either. Uh, does climate change occur? Yeah, yes, of course we have climate change. We’ve had climate change forever. Uh, is human involvement involved? Yes, it is. What extent? I don’t know.

Ryan then cited economic figures from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century about the potential impact of climate regulations. The chamber’s directors include ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66, American Ethane, Alliance Resource Partners, Pepco, Consol Energy, Black Hills Corporation, and Southern Company.

“We don’t even know if the science will change,” Ryan continued.

In reality, the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is a physical fact known since the 1800s. The only scientifically plausible systematic explanation for the rapid and continuing warming of the planetary climate since 1950 is industrial greenhouse pollution. The world’s national scientific societies and the world’s practicing climate scientists are in overwhelming agreement about this fact, based not on feelings but on evidence and laws of physics.

Still Not a Scientist: Mitch McConnell Gets Climate Science Wrong Again

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 15 Oct 2014 15:27:00 GMT

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has again rejected the scientific fact of anthropogenic global warming. In a Kentucky Educational Television Senate debate with challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes on Monday, McConnell cited conservative columnist George Will as his expert on climate change, mocking scientists who feel that this is a problem>

“Look, there are a bunch of scientists who feel that this is a problem and that maybe we can do something about CO2 emissions. George Will, a columnist, wrote recently that back in the ‘70s a lot of scientists felt we were moving toward an ice age.”

In reality, the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is a physical fact known since the 1800s. The only scientifically plausible systematic explanation for the rapid and continuing warming of the planetary climate since 1950 is industrial greenhouse pollution. The world’s national scientific societies and the world’s practicing climate scientists are in overwhelming agreement about this fact, based not on feelings but on evidence and laws of physics.

“There was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an imminent ice age,” actual scientists Thomas Peterson and William Connolley wrote in a 2008 review for the American Meteorological Society. “Indeed, the possibility of anthropogenic warming dominated the peer-reviewed literature even then.”

UnKochMyCampus: New Grassroots Effort Launches to Fight Koch Influence on Higher Education

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 07 Oct 2014 15:07:00 GMT

Koch Free ZoneStudents across the country have launched a new effort to protest the influence of the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers on their campuses. As part of their effort to influence the American political system, Charles and David Koch have flooded hundreds of universities with contributions intended to promote their economic agenda. Although the contributions go back for decades, the spigot has been opened wide in recent years; from only seven universities recorded to have Koch contributions in 2005 to over 250 by 2012. According to UnKochMyCampus, the new grassroots effort to oppose Koch influence on higher education, 390 different colleges and universities have received Koch money.

The UnKochMyCampus effort was launched by three young activists: Kalin Jordan, a graduate of Suffolk University, where the Koch-funded Beacon Hill Institute is housed; Lindsey Berger, a Missouri State University graduate and campus organizer, and Connor Gibson, a University of Vermont graduate and Greenpeace researcher. Jordan founded the Koch Free Zone campaign at Suffolk in 2013 to end the Koch influence over the Beacon Hill Institute, one of a nationwide network of right-wing think tanks. The UnKochMyCampus site has a organizer’s guide to help students launch campaigns on their own campuses, including background research on the Koch brothers.

There are now at least four campuses that have active student efforts opposing Koch influence:

All four universities have clear evidence of Koch influence over the educational system; George Mason houses the Mercatus Center, the Koch-powered deregulatory think tank. Florida State is the center of a scandal over a $1.5 million pledge from the Kochs that gave them control over hiring and curricula at the school. In 2001, the Kochs founded the University of Kansas Center for Applied Economics, modeled after the Mercatus Center, with a Koch lobbyist as its head.

There are also online efforts opposing Koch influence at the University of Arizona, Catholic University of America, and California State University at Northridge.

In September 2014, Gibson and Berger published an extended Greenpeace report entitled “Koch on Campus: Polluting Higher Education,” that detailed the $49.5 million known to have flown from Koch foundations to over 250 campuses, based on IRS filings.

This money is in addition to the $185 million David Koch has given directly to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and $20 million to Johns Hopkins University, primarily for cancer research. Although those seem like substantial sums, those amounts are dwarfed by the billions of dollars in cuts in public funding for cancer research that have come as a result of Koch political advocacy.

In addition to the website, UnKoch My Campus has a Twitter account.

Allison Grimes, Mitch McConnell Challenger: "I Do" Believe in Climate Change

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:04:00 GMT

The U.S. Senate race in Kentucky, between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kentucky’s Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, has been marked by competing acts of fealty to the coal industry.

“Mr. President, Kentucky has lost one-third of our coal jobs in just the last three years,” one Grimes radio spot runs. “Now, your EPA is targeting Kentucky coal with pie in the sky regulations that are impossible to achieve.”

“We know what Obama needs to wage his war on coal,” McConnell retorted. “Obama needs Grimes.”

However, there is now a point of contention between the two candidates: Grimes, unlike McConnell, recognizes, at least in rhetoric, the reality of climate change.

In an interview on September 25 with Matt Jones on Louisville talk radio station WKJK, Grimes said she believes in the science of climate change.

JONES: “Do you believe in climate change?”

GRIMES: “I do. You know, Mitch McConnell and I differ on this. He still wants to argue with the scientists. I do believe that it exists, but I think that we have to address, especially leaving this world in a better place, in a balanced manner. We’ve got to keep the jobs that we have here in the state, especially our good coal jobs.”

This question came in the context of a longer discussion about Grimes’ disagreement with President Barack Obama on the coal industry. “I think we have to rein in the EPA,” Grimes said. “I think the regulations as they exist now are overburdensome.”

The McConnell campaign extracted a clip of the conversation, ending Grimes’ remarks at “it exists.”

PBS Pulls Ads From Harper's to Punish Story on Koch's Ties to WGBH

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 26 Sep 2014 19:59:00 GMT

HarpersAccording to the New York Post, the Public Broadcasting Service has suspended advertising in Harper’s Magazine after the journal published a story critical of David Koch’s relationship to public television. The billionaire carbon financier and Tea Party funder is on the board of Boston’s PBS flagship station WGBH, and until a recent New Yorker exposé served on the board of New York City’s WNET. Koch is also on the board overseeing WGBH’s science program Nova.

The Harper’s story, by journalist Eugenia Williamson, detailed the campaign by climate advocacy group Forecast the Facts to get WGBH to drop Koch (including a profile of the protest and petition delivery I led at WGBH’s board meeting last November). Williamson was critical of Koch’s potential influence over the public television station.

The Post reports:
In the past, Harper’s teamed up with PBS to sponsor a kickoff event timed to Ken Burns award-winning World War II documentary.

While there was an ad for the latest Burns saga “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,” PBS has pulled ads from the November and December issues. The ads were supposed to hype the box set CD editions of the documentary.

“I have to say I am shocked,” John “Rick” MacArthur, the president and publisher of Harper’s, told Post media reporter Keith J. Kelly. “You’d think PBS would be above that kind of tit-for-tat mentality.”

“PBS has lost its moral compass,” wrote Forecast the Facts campaign manager Emily Southard in a press release. “Instead of punishing its critics, PBS should pull itself away from the influence of David Koch and others who work to misinform Americans about climate change.”

PBS earlier released a page of talking points which claimed the Harper’s piece was “filled with many basic errors,” but did not name any.

The political organizations founded and run by the Koch brothers — particularly the Cato Institute and Americans for Prosperity — are committed against public funding for the arts, including public television. Their advocacy over the past thirty years has successfully decimated federal and local support for public television. Through these organizations, Koch supports the miseducation of the public, including children, on the existential threat of climate change. Koch Industries is one of the nation’s largest and most toxic polluters, and Koch works to prevent government efforts to protect the public from that pollution.

WGBH is providing David Koch not only a tax write-off but also social legitimacy, despite his being one of their greatest enemies.

Activists with Forecast the Facts and the Better Future Project will be protesting again in Boston and delivering a 400,000-signature petition at WGBH’s upcoming board meeting on Wednesday, October 1.

Older posts: 1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 70