Reid Remarks On The Koch Brothers’ War Against The Environment

“Charles and David Koch are waging a war against anything that protects the environment. These two billionaire oil barons are actively campaigning, spending lots of money, against anything that seeks to curb pollution, limit our dependence on fossil fuels, or lower energy costs for working families.”

 “The Koch brothers’ admit that they and their radical followers don’t accept the science of climate change.”

 “How unfortunate for the world that the Koch brothers trash this beautiful planet and jeopardize our children’s health and future, just to add more zeroes to their huge bank balance.”

Washington, DC – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Koch brothers’ efforts to block energy efficiency legislation. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

It is not often that I agree with what the Koch brothers say. Their radical agenda is normally so far out of the mainstream  that it makes opposition to their agenda easy. So imagine my surprise when I read the following quote from a Koch spokesperson in a Kansas newspaper article last week. Here is what the Koch brothers said:

“We are not experts on climate change. We do believe there should be free and open debate on the climate issue and it should be based on sound science and intellectual honesty.

The debate should take place among the scientific community, examining all points of view and void of politics, personal attacks and partisan agendas.”

“Sound science and intellectual honesty.” I’m in agreement with most of their statement. I agree that the Koch brothers, Koch Industries, and their myriad political organizations  are not experts on climate change. I also agree that the debate on climate change should be based on sound science. In fact, the sound science that has long been debated, and has reached the clear, unambiguous conclusion that climate change is very real. Of course David and Charles know the debate on climate change has already taken place within the science community – and that debate was free and open. The over-whelming evidence proves that pollution is causing climate change. But the Koch brothers don’t have to take my word for it. Just yesterday, the White House released the National Climate Assessment, a report on climate change authored by more than 300 experts. This report concluded that there are disastrous climate changes taking place on Earth, due to human activity.

Papers all over the world are talking about this. One of the Capitol Hill newspapers that we all read has a picture on the front that is stunning. It shows a picture of a man walking near a portion of a scenic highway that collapsed near Pensacola, Florida. “Climate change rapidly turning the United States into a stormy and dangerous place and notes rising sea level and natural disasters.” Another headline: “New Climate Report: People’s lives are at risk. Despite warnings, no signs of changed minds on Capitol Hill.” The front page of the Washington Post: “Study: Climate risks are growing.” The New York Times front page shows a picture of the United States, and illustrates the rising temperatures.

How can you deny what is going on? While the Koch brothers admit to not being experts on the matter, these billionaire oil tycoons are certainly experts at contributing to climate change. An analysis by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst ranked Koch Industries as one of the nation’s biggest air and water polluters last year.    In one year Koch Industries released 31 million pounds of toxic air.  That’s more than Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, and General Electric combined.  But the Koch brothers’ actions against the environment aren’t limited to toxic emissions. Charles and David Koch are waging a war against anything that protects the environment. These two billionaire oil barons are actively campaigning, spending lots of money, against anything that seeks to curb pollution, limit our dependence on fossil fuels, or lower energy costs for working families. The Kochs are pumping millions of dollars into political organizations, fighting legislation that is good for the environment.  That is ironic, given their statement urging the “void of politics…and partisan agendas” on issues pertaining to the environment.

For instance, the Senate is currently considering the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill. This bipartisan legislation will spur the use of energy efficiency technologies in private homes and commercial buildings, all at no cost to taxpayers. Shaheen-Portman will make our country more energy independent, protect our environment, and save consumers on their energy bills. If that weren’t enough, it will also create 200,000 American jobs. That’s why even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports this bill. Unsurprisingly, Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-funded attack group, has been vocal in its opposition to this job-creating, energy efficiency bill. Remember, these are the same Koch brothers, whose president, Tim Phillips, once bragged that his organization targets Republicans who work on environmental issues.

“What it means for candidates on the Republican side is, if you … buy into green energy or you play footsie on this issue, you do so at your political peril. The vast majority of people who are involved in the [Republican] nominating process—the conventions and the primaries—are suspect of the science. And that’s our influence. Groups like Americans for Prosperity have done it.”

I.E., try to do something to stop climate change, and the Koch brothers and their billions of dollars are coming for you.

That statement just says it all. The Koch brothers’ admit that they and their radical followers don’t accept the science of climate change. The president of the Koch brothers’ organization is actually bragging about Republicans’ denial of evidence-based climate change. The Kochs know that scientists across the globe aren’t working to mislead the world about climate change. Charles and David Koch choose to ignore climate change.  The Kochs choose to put our environment at risk. Why? Because it makes them richer – more affluent. The Koch brothers are making billions of dollars, and in so doing, are significantly damaging the environment.  A New York Times article recently highlighted the Kochs’ attempt to fight renewable energy, even in state legislatures. As states promote solar and wind energy by offering incentives to renewable energy companies, the Koch brothers only see how it will affect their bottom line. As renewable energy grows and becomes more efficient, oil and coal have become a smaller piece of the pie, and that just won’t cut it for Charles and David.

How unfortunate for the world that the Koch brothers trash this beautiful planet and jeopardize our children’s health and future, just to add more zeroes to their huge bank balance. Bloomberg now estimates that the Kochs’ combined wealth exceeds $100 billion. How much money is enough for these two men? I urge my Republican colleagues in the Senate to stand up to Charles and David Koch and vote to advance this bill before us today. Energy efficiency and independence is good for the U.S., good for American families, and good for the Earth we live in. Don’t be fooled by the greed of a couple of billionaires named Koch.