Clean Power Koch Brothers lobby against production tax credit for wind.

Published on November 6th, 2013 | by Tina Casey


There They Go Again: Big Oil Whines About Big Wind

November 6th, 2013 by  

The wind wars are heating up again as Congress considers another extension of the production tax credit for wind power. The latest salvo is an open letter to federal legislators under the auspices of the American Energy Alliance,* an organization which seems to think that referring to the American wind industry as Big Wind is something other than a fart joke. We’ll get to the letter itself in a bit, but for now we’re more interested in the connection between AEA and our favorite climate change deniers, the Koch brothers.

Big Oil And Climate Change Denial

If you’ve been following the climate change denial lobby, you probably know until a few years ago one of the most notorious climate change deniers in the oil industry was Exxon Mobil. The company was a major funder of the lobbying organization Heartland Institute, a leading force in anti-climate management efforts.

Koch Brothers lobby against production tax credit for wind.

Wind turbine by lamoix.

By 2007, Exxon Mobil was publicly disavowing its denialist position and the company cut ties to Heartland, but since then the Koch brothers have more than made up the difference (for those of you new to the topic, Koch Industries has been challenging climate management on a wide array of fronts).

As far as the relationship between AEA and the Koch brothers goes, while the organization is not required to disclose its sources, our friends over at SourceWatch have connected the dots for us.

According to SourceWatch, AEA was founded in 2008 by Thomas Pyle, who also serves as its current president. Pyle’s roots are in the petrochemical industries lobby, which includes work for Koch Industries.

Pyle is also the President of AEA’s sister organization, the Institute for Energy Research (IER), which according to a report by Greenpeace continues to receive both direct and indirect support from the Koch brothers.

They Write Letters

AEA’s anti-wind tax credit letter is brief and to the point, positioning itself as a grass roots effort with 100 signing organizations representing “millions of Americans.”

That positioning is reinforced by AEA’s website, which features the following warning on its home page…

Thanks to Big Wind the hidden cost of wind energy may get even MORE expensive.

…along with an exhortation to retweet the following message:

Big Wind’s tax credit already cost tax payers $12B and now they want more? Time to #EndtheWindGiveaway via @AEA

However, among the many grass roots style names on the list is a generous helping of “Big” organizations openly supported by the Koch brothers, including the 60 Plus Association, Americans for Prosperity, and Freedomworks.

As for those groups with grass roots-sounding names, it’s worth noting that several are Tea Party affiliates. Though positioning itself as a grass roots movement, the Tea Party is a corporate creature as revealed by a recent peer-reviewed study that examines the decades-long linkage between the use of astroturfing by the tobacco lobby, anti-climate management efforts, and Koch brothers funding, which resulted in the founding of the Tea Party in 2002.

The Tea Party affiliates on the list include the Greenfield Area Tea Party, the Mansfield North Central Ohio Tea Party, the Outer Banks Tea Party, the State Coordinator (OH) Tea Party Patriots, and the Georgia Tea Party, Inc.

We’re not saying that a few bad apples spoil the whole barrel, but if anyone out there is familiar with the money behind any other “grass roots” organizations on the list, feel free to drop us a note in the comment thread.

*Clarification: The American Energy Alliance is a signatory to the letter, which is part of an Americans for Prosperity project.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • Steeple

    If you do any research at all on the Kochs, they want and end to all subsidies and the cronyism that goes along with them. They are equal opportunity offenders when it comes to criticizing govt subsidies of all forms.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Show us somewhere where the Kochs have campaigned to end fossil fuel subsidies and to ensure that fossil fuels pay their external costs.

      • Steeple

        They do the former privately.

        They don’t agree on your view of external costs.

        • A Real Libertarian

          You mean like privately Rob Ford is honest, he just doesn’t agree on your view of honesty?

          • Steeple

            No, I meant what I said.

            Have no idea who Rob Ford is.

          • A Real Libertarian
          • Steeple

            What does this have to do with what we are discussing?

          • A Real Libertarian

            You: “Have no idea who Rob Ford is.”

            Me: “”

            You: “What does this have to do with what we are discussing?”

            Me: Points out the above.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Show us proof that the Koch brothers advocate for the end of fossil fuel supports or be shown up.

          I really don’t care whether they are willing to admit the damage caused by fossil fuels or not. The damage is real and we pay for it.

          • Steeple

            You’ll have to take my word for it, Bob.

            If you think I’m a liar, that’s your choice.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let’s just say that I started distrusting your posts some time ago.

          • JamesWimberley

            No, you are not a liar but a bullsh*er, that is, you don’t care whether the things you say are true or not as long as they score a point.

          • Steeple
          • Bob_Wallace

            Your link is a page of calls for stopping subsidies for renewables, biofuels, ethanol, student loans, agriculture, etc. Not once does the page mention cutting subsidies for fossil fuels. The most that is said is –

            “Robertson believes the government should eliminate all subsidies and
            preferential treatment, including credits, loans, mandates and favorable
            tax incentives.”

            Absolutely nothing is said about requiring fossil fuels to pay for their external costs.

          • Steeple

            Two issues, Bob.

            This article is about subsidies. The Koch Industries position paper is very clear about its opposition to ALL SUBSIDIES. Too bad none of the people banging on me here are honest enough to admit that they were making two bit judgements about the Kochs without doing their own research. I didn’t make the accusations.

            You interjected the issue of “external costs”, which is not mentioned in this article. Nice deflection attempt. They are very clear that they hold a different position on this argument than you do. Maybe I should bring up the subject of whether you believe in aliens. Has about as much bearing as what you raised.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let’s review the facts, shall we Steeple.

            First your post –

            “If you do any research at all on the Kochs, they want and end to all subsidies and the cronyism that goes along with them. They are equal opportunity offenders when it comes to criticizing govt subsidies of all forms.”

            Then my reply –

            “Show us somewhere where the Kochs have campaigned to end fossil fuel subsidies and to ensure that fossil fuels pay their external costs.”

            When taxpayers cover the external costs then that is also a subsidy. Coal, these days, receives little if anything in normal subsidies by has extremely high external costs.

            When the Koch bros are willing to give up some of their coal profits to pay for the damage that their coal causes get back to us, will you?

          • Steeple

            Bob, feel free to make a convincing argument that there are external costs which aren’t accounted for. Believe me, the Kochs pay their share. How many people have a full time IRS agent sitting in their offices? They do.

            And oh yes, you were incorrect in your original post. I’m happy that I could educate you on that.

            The Kochs have studied the issue of emissions; I’ve studied it; you’ve studied it. We simply disagree with your position. That will make you mad, but your side hasnt proven its case. Burden of proof is on those making the accusation. If your side comes up with something better than back fitted models that don’t hold up in real time, perhaps you might convince others.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here’s a major study on the health costs of coal.
            And here a more recent one from Europe.
            If you’d like to learn more just do some reading on the causes of asthma, black lung disease and other respiratory diseases and how coal plays a role.

          • Bob_Wallace
          • Steeple

            Bob, let me keep it simple.

            This article is about subsidies. I’ve made my point about that.

            Now you want to talk about coal externalities, which did not play a part in the article. Fine.

            We agree to disagree on Carbon emissions. I’m not going to disagree about the occupational health effects or the physical landscape effects of mining coal; those are clear.

            With all of the companies and entities that 1) actually produce coal or oil and 2) are philosophically inconsistent in their approach to subsidies, why does this article refer to the Kochs, who don’t qualify for either. They own a coal transport company. They refine, and don’t produce, oil and then sell the refined products.

            All of the whining here and the sheep who have been indoctrinated into automatically yelling “Koch” might serve themselves and their causes a bit better by doing better research.

          • Bob_Wallace

            This is a common defensive move by those who don’t want to admit the obvious.

            Any financial support of any kind given to an industry is a subsidy. If you run a circus but don’t clean up your elephant poop, leaving it to the city to do it for you, the city is subsidizing your business.

          • Steeple

            So Bob, what do you do to clean up the emissions associated by any driving, consumption of electricity or other activity you engage in?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I purchase carbon offsets.

          • Steeple

            So that’s your decision. But some, including myself would equate that to buying indulgences from the Vatican. Doesn’t make the activity go away, but it makes you feel better.

            You do understand how the offset creation process works and that it is more of a political rather than scientific process? The Chinese and the Russians have made a lot of money from people falling for this scam.

          • Bob_Wallace

            There’s no way, without going to extreme extremes, for us to avoid creating some CO2 emissions. As long as the grid is partially fossil fuel powered and goods/groceries moved around using petroleum we will play a role in turning sequestered carbon into GHGs.

            For those who are willing to accept responsibility for our roles in helping to drive climate change there’s a solution. Take some of our time/resources and make something happens that lowers GHG emissions. Cause something to happen that would not have happened without our help.

            Use one or more of the carbon offset calculators like these and figure out what you need to spend to ‘break even’.



            Then look for an organization that does something that either sequesters carbon by planting trees, for example, or an organization that helps others to cut their carbon footprint.

            Lately I’ve been donating to organizations that help people at the very bottom of the economic ladder to purchase micro-solar systems. I figure that I’m getting a lot of bang for my buck this way.

            First, these folks are now going to be getting their lighting from clean solar and LEDs rather than kerosene and candles. I’m cutting down on the amount of CO2 produced and the amount of glacier-melting soot.

            Second, I’m helping these people improve their lives. They will now have much cleaner air to breathe. (Ever used kerosene lanterns for your light?)

            And they’ll be paying less per month while paying off their solar systems plus paying nothing once the system is paid off after a year or so. I’ve helped them free up a bit of their scarce money that they can now put to other uses.

          • Steeple

            Bob, those are worthy investments indeed. That is putting your money where your mouth is and that is very laudable. Well done.

      • Bob,
        What are you thinking? Now you know that one cannot show something that doesn’t exist!

    • TinaCasey

      Gotta agree with Bob here. Dude, where’s your research?

      • Steeple

        See above

    • mds

      Yeh, sure, the Kochs are just interested in fair play, as are you. That’s why they are documented as giving to organizations working against solar, wind, and other renewables tech.
      Clearly by “end to all subsidies” THEY are referring to “end to all subsidies for renewables”. I think their motivations for doing this are clear enough: more money for dirty energy. I don’t think you’re coming even close to fooling anyone here.
      …and yourself and the Kochs don’t really believe in the GW conspiracy perpetrated by all those evil scientists. Right, we should trust big coal and oil instead. They’re different than big tobacco because they like to do good more than they like money. They would never distort the truth to make more money.
      You’re in bed with them or you’re just a fool.
      Certainly you’re a thick skulled troll.

      • Steeple

        Gee, they’ve been found out. Its clear from these well informed comments that they have been lying to their 80,000 employees and all of the customers that go along with being the largest privately owned business in America.

        All of the brain power here, all of whom I would assume have never been within a mile of anyone named Koch, have unraveled this clever conspiracy.

        • Adam Devereaux

          Lets be clear here- a Koch brothers position paper on ending all subsidies is worth about as much as Anthony Weiner pledging chastity. I hate to be clichéd; but Show me the Money.

          Show me when any Koch company has EVER turned down a “subsidy” they could legally claim.

          Oh, sure- I’m sure you are going to say why should they when no one else is?

          So ignoring the concept of “principles” then surely you would agree that the Koch brothers are politically active right? They have spent more money then most of us will ever see in ours lives actively lobbying. Lobbying in ways that many of us (myself included) feel is against the interest of the vast majority of US citizens.

          So show me they have even spent ONE percent of their lobbying money to the pursuit of eliminating ALL subsidies. Seriously- I’m calling you out. I’m not saying you are a liar, but you need to cite sources. We can revisit the “liar” claim after that.

          Oh I don’t exactly follow you on Discuss, perhaps this has been covered already, beg pardon if so. Your verbage is very interesting. What exactly is your connection to Koch brothers?

          • Steeple

            The Koch paper is very clear. They will accept subsidies if they already exist as not doing so would make them non competitive. For example, you can’t blend the mandated ethanol into motor gasoline and be profitable without accepting the subsidy. So they are clear on that.

            Their position is that they would like to see these subsidies eliminated. In the case of ethanol, the farm lobby and those who represent them are the political force that won’t let go of this uneconomic program.

            Sorry, I don’t have access to the Koch’s lobbying spend. Do you have access to George Sorosis’ spend?

            I am a retired independent engineer. I wear a size 10.5 shoe and am partial to chocolate. Any other personal questions I can answer?

          • A Real Libertarian

            When you blow smoke up your ass do you use a hose or some type of fan?

          • Steeple

            Tina, you may have to move to some form of moderation on your comments page. Otherwise, things can and do degenerate down to middle school intelligence levels. Unless you don’t care for contrary opinions. If that’s the case, just please say so.

          • A Real Libertarian

            You: “Any other personal questions I can answer?”

            Me: “Asks question”

            You: “Dodges question”

          • Bob_Wallace

            Contrary opinions are not worth much if they’re based on bad information.

            If you were an engineer then you very well know that one cannot make good decisions based on garbage. Sometimes that garbage consists is twisting facts and cherry-picking data.

  • Ross

    They can huff and they can puff but they will not blow wind away.

  • J_JamesM

    What?! They can complain that wind tax breaks cost taxpayers $12 billion, when they recieve hundreds of billions in subsidies?! Talk about low-hanging fruit for a rebuttal!

  • JamesWimberley

    They will regret “Big Wind”. The trope reminds Congresspersons that this is now a major industry with its own growing political clout and anchorage among their constituents. “Girly little wind” was effective once, but no longer.

    • agelbert

      Good one!
      Big Wind is going to blow Big Oil’s Crooked House down.

      A New York Times article dated Nov. 22, 1936, quotes from a lecture titled “Discoveries and Inventions” Lincoln gave in 1860, before he became president. Here’s the relevant part:

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