The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
The White House fired back at the Koch brothers yesterday after Charles Koch told Politico he was "flabbergasted" by a recent attack on him and his brother by President Obama during a clean energy speech in Las Vegas, Nevada earlier this week.
— POLITICO (@politico) August 27, 2015
It all started on Monday when President Obama accused critics of his energy policies as “wanting to protect an outdated status quo” and “standing in the way of the future.” He specifically called out the Koch brothers for funding these attacks on renewable energy, saying “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.”
On Tuesday, Charles Koch responded to the comments, saying the attack was "beneath the President, the dignity of the President, to be doing that." Koch told Politico that he is not against renewable energy, he is merely “opposed to renewable energy subsidies of all kinds—as we are all subsidies, whether they benefit or help us.”
Yesterday, White House Press Sec. Josh Earnest said Koch’s statements were untrue. “I’m not sure whether to describe those comments as remarkably rich or utterly predictable,” Earnest said. “It’s that when the President is advocating, for example, the end of tax subsidies that benefit oil and gas companies, that somebody who has made billions of dollars leading an oil and gas company, might not think very highly of that policy proposal.”
Earnest also derided Koch for claiming that his company has not lobbied for policies favorable to oil and gas companies over renewable energy projects. "The fact is that Koch Industries has spent at least tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, lobbying Congress—these are public disclosures—in support of those kinds of policies, to say nothing of the millions of dollars that they have spent punishing those candidates that didn’t side with them,” Earnest said.
When asked if he was surprised by Koch's response to the criticism, Earnest responded with: “I guess. Yeah,” he said, remarking that Obama is not particularly surprised to see criticism of his policies from people like the “millionaires and billionaires” who “start to squeal. And I guess one billionaire special-interest benefactor chose to squeal to a Politico reporter,” Earnest said.
Philip Ellender, Koch Industries private sector’s president and chief operating officer of government and public affairs, responded to Earnest’s comments, reiterating their stance that they "have not lobbied for government subsidies or mandates, and we have lobbied against subsidies that directly benefit Koch." They say they have fought against "government boondoggles" and "corporate welfare" for decades. They admitted that they have accepted subsidies, but only to protect their employees and maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. "But to reiterate, we would eliminate all subsidies and mandates today if we could, including those we receive," said Ellender.
Charles and his brother David, along with their vast network of wealthy, conservative donors—the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce—plan to spend a jaw-dropping $889 million for the presidential election. Earlier this month, the billionaire brothers hosted the annual Freedom Partners summit, which included five GOP presidential candidates seeking donations from the wealthy funders.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jared Kaufman
Eating a better diet has been linked with lower levels of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. But unfortunately 821 million people — about 1 in 9 worldwide — face hunger, and roughly 2 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, according to the U.N. World Health Organization. In addition, food insecurity is associated with even higher health care costs in the U.S., particularly among older people. To help direct worldwide focus toward solving these issues, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals call for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and undernutrition by 2030.
mevans / E+ / Getty Images
Calls for Radical Climate Action Grow Louder as NOAA Reports Last Month Was Hottest June Ever Recorded
By Jessica Corbett
As meteorologists warned Thursday that temperatures above 100°F are expected to impact two-thirds of the country this weekend, U.S. government scientists revealed that last month was the hottest June ever recorded — bolstering calls for radical global action on the climate emergency.
By John R. Platt
For years now conservationists have warned that many of Madagascar's iconic lemur species face the risk of extinction due to rampant deforestation, the illegal pet trade and the emerging market for the primates' meat.
Yes, people eat lemurs, and the reasons they do aren't exactly what we might expect.