Quantcast

White House Fires Back at Charles Koch

Politics

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.

It all started on Monday when President Obama accused critics of his energy policies as “wanting to protect an outdated status quo” and “standing in the way of the future.”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

Obama Slams Koch Brothers at Clean Energy Summit for ‘Standing in the Way of Progress’

Charles Koch Blasts President Obama for Comments Made at Climate Speech

Why Is the World Obsessed With Donald Trump?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Ocean pollution concept with plastic and garbage. Anton Petrus / Moment / Getty Images

Nestlé cannot claim that its Ice Mountain bottled water brand is an essential public service, according to Michigan's second highest court, which delivered a legal blow to the food and beverage giant in a unanimous decision.

Read More Show Less

A number of supermarkets across the country have voluntarily issued a recall on sushi, salads and spring rolls distributed by Fuji Food Products due to a possible listeria contamination, as CBS News reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Birds eye view of beach in Green Bowl Beach, Indonesia pictured above, a country who's capital city is faced with the daunting task of moving its capital city of Jakarta because of sea level rise. Tadyanehondo / Unsplash

If you read a lot of news about the climate crisis, you probably have encountered lots of numbers: We can save hundreds of millions of people from poverty by 2050 by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but policies currently in place put us on track for a more than three degree increase; sea levels could rise three feet by 2100 if emissions aren't reduced.

Read More Show Less
A U.S. Border Patrol agent gathers personal effects from immigrants before they are transferred to a McAllen processing center on July 02, 2019 in Los Ebanos, Texas. John Moore / Getty Images

Poverty and violence in Central America are major factors driving migration to the United States. But there's another force that's often overlooked: climate change.

Retired Lt. Cmdr. Oliver Leighton Barrett is with the Center for Climate and Security. He says that in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, crime and poor economic conditions have long led to instability.

"And when you combine that with protracted drought," he says, "it's just a stressor that makes everything worse."

Barrett says that with crops failing, many people have fled their homes.

"These folks are leaving not because they're opportunists," he says, "but because they are in survival mode. You have people that are legitimate refugees."

So Barrett supports allocating foreign aid to programs that help people in drought-ridden areas adapt to climate change.

"There are nonprofits that are operating in those countries that have great ideas in terms of teaching farmers to use the land better, to harvest water better, to use different variety of crops that are more resilient to drought conditions," he says. "Those are the kinds of programs I think are needed."

So he says the best way to reduce the number of climate change migrants is to help people thrive in their home countries.

Reporting credit: Deborah Jian Lee / ChavoBart Digital Media.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

Chris Pratt arrives to the Los Angeles premiere of "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" on June 12, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Michael Tran / FilmMagic / Getty Images

Chris Pratt was called out on social media by Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa after Pratt posted an image "low key flexing" with a single-use plastic water bottle.

Read More Show Less