News flash: Petrochemical billionaires and conservative activists Charles and David Koch are spending and lobbying like mad to stop renewable energy momentum in its tracks. But it seems that even so-called red states are getting sick of their dirty energy game.
“There are numerous examples of how the Kochs and their allies in the fossil fuel industry have failed, because of political and economic forces supporting clean energy,” Energy and Policy Institute executive director Gabe Eisner told me. “Kansas is a great example, where bipartisan support stopped an onslaught by the Kochs, their front groups and their lobbyists.”
Yes, last month the state’s House of Representatives voted 63-60 to defeat a bill that would have crippled its renewable energy standard. But not long after, thanks to the Kochs’ money chute, the political no-name David Brat quickly made his name by taking down House majority leader Eric Cantor in a historic defeat. The Kochs have also mobilized $500 million “to make sure Hillary Clinton is never president.” And then there is the Kochs’ tag-team with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to legislate sorry solar taxes in as many states as possible to stop the net metering future.
The fossil fool list goes on and on.
You can follow its money trails state by state in the EPI’s informative report, “Attacks on Renewable Energy Policy by Fossil Fuel Interests 2013–2014.” The micropolitics help you know just who in your neighborhood is on the Kochs’ payroll, so you can vote them out of office. The bigger picture can make you money, especially if you reroute your retirement portfolios and other business toward renewable energy upstarts. The EPI’s report is aimed directly at the Kochs’ wallet, and for good reason: “Fossil fuel and utility interests, concerned about the rise of cheap clean energy, are financing attacks on pro–clean energy policies, in an effort to delay the growth of a market competitor,” its executive summary explained.
Below is a handy map of the groups waging an uphill fight against home solar (click the map for a larger version):
Unplug the funding, and the Kochs will fold like dinosaurs stuck in petrochem tar pits. All while the cleantech infrastructure demanded by climate change is built by smarter capitalists like SolarCity, whose market ascendance is cemented with its acquisition of panel manufacturer Silevo. Or SunPower, or First Solar, or any other company looking to become the Apple of solar power, as investors and homeowners divest from the Kochs to build greener grids. The EPI’s transparent breakdown can help find the pressure points, and the people can take care of the rest.
“Citizens can engage their legislators, decision makers, business leaders and others to support pro–clean energy policies,” Eisner told me, reminding voters that the Obama administration is on the people’s side. “The Administration has pushed to eliminate national oil and gas subsidies, but Republicans in the Senate filibustered the bill.”
“‘With public opinion there’s nothing I cannot do, and without public opinion there’s nothing I can get done,’” President Obama recently said, quoting the great Abraham Lincoln in the star-studded global warming documentary “Years of Living Dangerously.” Later, President Obama stumped for climate action at the University of California Irvine, whose wider UC system, like many coal investors, is weaponizing divestment from fossil fuels as a global strategy.
“There are many avenues to support climate solutions,” Eisner added. “Divestment is just one of them.”
Whatever works, dude. Whatever works.
Solar panel background photo CC-licensed by the U.S. Navy on Wikipedia.