Regulations are what got their goat at the beginning, although they were primed to extremism by their father Fred’s John Bircherism. Making polluters clean up their own messes instead of making the bystanders and downwinders pick up the health, social, and environmental tab is anathema to a mess-maker who believes economic externalities are somebody else’s problem. And there is no bigger mess-maker than the fossil fuel industry. For the big government-hating Kochs, that made the EPA a special enemy. But certainly not their only one.
Jane Mayer In her eye-opening 2016 book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right devotes her first chapter to the Kochs, and they get mentions in just about every chapter thereafter.
Here’s Kate Aronoff:
Polluters have always been happy to throw small fortunes at the right’s quest for minority rule, keen to protect fossil fuel profits and their ability to dump waste into the air and water from pesky things like democracy. As Nancy MacLean writes in Democracy in Chains, Charles Koch took a special interest in destroying public education, thus maintaining de facto segregation, before leading the charge against climate policy at every level of government. He continues to be a generous funder of the Federalist Society, an instrumental force in building and filling the pipeline of clerks, judges and cases that has created the judicial branch as we know it, and rulings like the one that overturned Roe v Wade last week. Secretive dark-money outfits like Donors Trust, as well as Chevron and the Scaife Foundation—furnished by old oil and aluminum money—have joined him.
And here’s Sharon Lerner at The Intercept:
To ensure further growth of his riches even as science showed that the continued use of fossil fuels would accelerate climate disaster, [Charles] Koch has funneled some of his vast fortune into an extraordinary network of political front groups, lobbying efforts, think tanks, and activist networks that aim to stifle climate action. For decades, the Kochtopus, as some call his many-tentacled political influence machine, has sought to undermine not just the environmental regulation in Koch Industries’ path but also the science and philosophy of government on which it is based. [...]
The [West Virginia v. EPA] case itself can also be tied directly to Koch. The challengers are 27 Republican attorneys general, who were supported by the Koch-funded Republican Attorneys General Association. At least four Koch-funded entities have filed amicus briefs in the case: the Cato Institute, which was co-founded by Charles Koch; the Competitive Enterprise Institute; the New Civil Liberties Alliance; and Americans for Prosperity. [...]
Indeed, the effects of the ruling will likely far surpass the EPA’s ability to limit carbon emissions from power plants. “It’s going to trim back the sets of regulations that they even consider,” said [Christopher] Leonard. “It’s a slow pushback of the EPA and a diminishment of its power over time.”
The concentration of economic power in fewer hands was once of great concern to American leaders, including both Roosevelts who served in the White House. But these days that concentration has soared beyond the inequality levels of the Roaring Twenties and the pushback against the political clout of that concentration has remained, at best, sporadic and weak.
In the case of the Kochs, without them, the Federalist Society might still just be a fringe club, and there wouldn’t be six of its members sitting today on the Supreme Court dismantling decades of precedent—including the extension of fundamental rights—based on specious, inconsistent legal theories. And it’s obvious they are far from done dismantling and demolishing. These ideologues prize the often-ambiguous words of slaveholders and misogynists, who wrote the Constitution 235 years ago to serve the needs of an agrarian nation, above the needs and desires of people in a 21st century nation.
David Koch is already gone. Charles Koch soon will be. But, as much lasting damage as these men have done, the fight is not about them, Kochism will survive without them just as Trumpism will survive without Trump. The fight is with a system that permits such men free roam to impose their anti-democratic and sometimes lethal obsessions on the nation.
It’s too late for simple pushback. Shoving is required. And more of our elected leaders—local, state, national—than is now the case need to be doing that shoving. Or make way for those who will.
a dozen links to assorted perspectives on the Supreme Court’s EPA ruling
¶ How carbon emissions got caught up in a Supreme Court showdown ¶ The Supreme Court’s EPA Ruling Is Going to Be Very, Very Expensive ¶ Will West Virginia v. EPA cripple regulators? Not if Congress steps up ¶ The Supreme Court's EPA ruling was the beginning of something bigger ¶ The US Supreme Court EPA ruling is really bad, but here’s why all is not lost ¶ Gorsuch wanted climate ruling to hobble Congress ¶ Is Biden’s 2035 CO2 goal still achievable? What studies say ¶ The Profound Climate Implications of Supreme Court’s West Virginia v. EPA Decision ¶ ‘The world is getting tired of this’: Supreme Court deals blow to US climate credibility ¶ Supreme Court Guts Regulatory Power, Spurring A Titanic Shift In Climate Action ¶ The US supreme court has declared war on the Earth’s future ¶ The Real Target of the Supreme Court’s EPA Decision
The United States is behind schedule in reducing emissions and replacing fossil fuel sources of energy with renewables. No surprise given the decades of lies paid for by fossil fuel and the obstruction of a Congress that still includes 130 numbskull climate science deniers. Earlier this year, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) published a list of executive actions the Biden administration should undertake, ranging from health care costs, wages, and student debt to the climate crisis. In the latter instance, the list includes getting rid of billions of dollars of fossil fuel subsidies, blocking financing for overseas fossil infrastructure, declaring a national climate emergency, and invoking the Defense Production Act to increase the production of renewable energy.
The CPC isn’t alone. People Vs. Fossil Fuels, a coalition of 1,200 environmental groups, has made two demands of the Biden administration: “stop approving fossil fuel projects and speed the end of the fossil fuel era”; and declare “a national climate emergency and launch a just, renewable energy revolution.” Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Jeff Merkley have called on President Biden to use his emergency powers on climate matters, and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Earl Blumenauer, with 51 co-sponsors introduced HR 794 making that call formal. But that bill was introduced 16 months ago and still hasn’t gotten a hearing in the House.
High fossil fuel prices are good for the planet—here’s how to keep it that way by Neil McCulloch at The Conversation. To mitigate the impact of high prices, we have seen a screeching reversal of energy policies around the world. In November 2021, governments at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow pledged to tax carbon and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. But faced with dramatic increases in the cost of fuel and electricity, those same governments have scrambled to slash taxes on energy, put in place price caps, and introduce new subsidies. Yet keeping global warming to under 1.5°C will require a dramatic reduction in the use of fossil fuels, starting now. The unfortunate reality is that one of the most effective ways of getting people to use less fossil fuel is to ensure they are expensive.
The Supreme Court rules against the E.P.A., climate sanity, and physics by Bill McKibben at The New Yorker. A train of similar cases now approaches the high court—they would, for instance, make it all but impossible for the federal government to regulate tailpipe emissions or to consider the financial toll of climate change when deciding whether to approve a new pipeline. As the Times reported in a recent investigation, the plaintiffs in these cases “are supported by the same network of conservative donors who helped former President Donald J. Trump place more than 200 federal judges, many now in position to rule on the climate cases in the coming year.”
Food Prices Are Up. A “Bean New Deal” May Be the Answer by Matthew Miles Goodrich at The Nation. With prices for poultry and beef continuing to rise, the government should ease spending on meat and pay farmers to plant beans. Agricultural subsidies are the most powerful tools the federal government has to shape what Americans consume year by year. Since 2015, the feds have spent $119 billion to underwrite the agriculture market, mainly to support growers of just five crops: corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, and rice. These subsidies help farmers weather freezes and droughts—increasingly intensified by climate change—and ensure a healthy supply of domestic crops to the market. But Jefferson’s agrarian ideal, this is not. Many of the subsidies go to the harvesting of enormous monocultures at factory farms—from 1995 to 2020, 78 percent of the $187 billion the federal government dished went to the top 10 percent of farms. These monocultures drain soil of its nutrients—increasing the use of fertilizer, which pollutes local waterways with nitrogen—and diminish the genetic variability of the crop, leaving it susceptible to pathogens. Instead of financing environmental degradation by corporate titans, the government should help out the little guy.
My people have lived in the Amazon for 6,000 years: You need to listen to us by Txai Suruí at Climate Home News. As the planet warms and biodiversity collapses, those encouraging and profiting from the destruction of the Earth must be charged with ecocide. When corporations look at my home in the Amazon rainforest, they don’t see the intricacies of the trees’ roots, the way they weave their way in and out of rich soil. They don’t pay attention to the sound of raindrops as they hit leaves, small and large. They do not see a land capable of sustaining life on Earth, a land that needs protection, a land that is sacred. Instead, they see commodities. Today, my peoples’ mission to protect nature is becoming impossible. The climate is warming rapidly, the animals are disappearing and the flowers are not blooming like they did before. And when we try to protect our environment from the powers that be, we are bullied, harassed, and sometimes even murdered.
“This shocking decision is unfortunately a reflection of the decades-long influence of the fossil fuel industry on U.S. politics. This is nothing new to the rest of the world: over the past 30 years there’s been blow after blow delivered, either in terms of failure on the part of Congress to take action, or legal challenges to climate policies.” —Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics.
“The current Court is textualist only when being so suits it. When that method would frustrate broader goals, special canons like the ‘major questions doctrine’ magically appear as get-out-of-text-free cards.” —Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan
HALF A DOZEN OTHERS THINGS TO READ (OR LISTEN TO)
California Dairy Uses Lots of Water. Here’s Why It Matters by Twilight Greenaway at Civil Eats. Amid the climate crisis and unprecedented drought, we examine the industrial dairy industry’s impact on groundwater in the state, as well as on low-income residents, communities of color, and small-scale farms. When we picture California agriculture, we tend to think of almond and citrus orchards and the massive tracts of strawberry and lettuce fields that we can see from the highways dividing the western part of the state from the east. But dairy is, in fact, king. There are an estimated 1.7 million cows living on dairy farms in California, and the industry brought in $7.5 billion in 2020, including $2 billion in export sales. And because most people in the state don’t see the abundance of dairy farms—most of them function like feedlots surrounded by fields of feed crops such as alfalfa and corn growing nearby—they may not be aware of the fact that they use millions of gallons of water a day—142 million gallons of water a day, according to one estimate.
Project Drawdown updates world’s leading set of climate solutions—adding 11 new solutions for addressing the climate crisis by Mary Hoff. Five years ago Project Drawdown published a collection of “drawdown solutions,” technologies and practices that, if ambitiously implemented together, can achieve drawdown—the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change. A newly released update of this landmark analysis adds 11 new solutions and confirms with even more clarity and conviction that humanity has the solutions needed to reach drawdown quickly, safely, efficiently, and equitably.
Inside the fight to force makers of plastic trash to clean up their mess by Andy Furillo at Capital & Main. On land, plastic refuse breaks down into microscopic particles that are being found pretty much everywhere. “This isn’t just about marine life,” said Nick Lapis, a lobbyist for Californians Against Waste. “This is being ingested by humans, and we don’t know what the effects of that are. This year, research has come out that showed for the first time that there’s plastic in human blood and human lungs, and there was a study that tested the first bowel movement of newborns, and they had plastic in them. … Babies are literally being born with it in their bodies.”
Climate Deniers and the Language of Climate Obstruction by Stella Levantesi at DeSmog. A new report from more than 40 groups, published by Oil Change International, has found that major U.S. and European oil and gas companies “still fail to meet the bare minimum for alignment with the Paris Agreement.” These companies’ pledges and commitments are far from credible, the report concludes, when they are planning more than 200 fossil fuel expansion projects between now and 2025. “Propaganda is about manipulating public opinions, stoking fears, and sewing divisions,” said Arena. “When they talk about ‘the woke’ or the ‘climate industrial complex’ or ‘activist extremists,’ that is all propaganda. The industry is blaming rising gas prices on ‘woke liberals’ or on renewables or on climate activism. Those are false narratives and they are propaganda-based.”
Meet the Appalachian Women Facing Down the Mountain Valley Pipeline by Ben Bolling at The Appalachian Voice. Across years and several southern states, these organizers have helped drive the massive gas pipeline to the brink of defeat. Originally priced at $3.7 billion, the MVP’s costs have ballooned to over $6.2 billion, the project is over three years behind schedule and has faced millions of dollars in fines for violations of clean water protections. A number of recent legal setbacks have set the pipeline back further, but years of experience have made these organizers cautious. [...] Beginning in the fall of 2014, Lynda Majors, Donna Pitt, and Nancy Bouldin began working in their respective communities to build awareness among landowners and concerned residents about the proposed MVP. But soon, they recognized the power-building potential in forming broader coalitions.
Mine cleanup cash could generate work for ex-coal workers by Jael Holzman at Greenwire. President Joe Biden might be about to satisfy a long-standing environmental goal of putting former coal miners to work cleaning up the abandoned mines that remain a blight on their communities, often polluting streams and releasing methane into the air. The Biden administration wants the $11.3 billion mine cleanup windfall from the bipartisan infrastructure bill to also be a jobs initiative in communities that were once the lifeblood of the U.S. coal industry before the decline of coal-fired power. It’s an unprecedented cash investment toward addressing the enormous backlog of mine sites stranded before 1977, when Congress passed the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. But there’s a big wrinkle with this money: Congress didn’t require that former or current coal industry workers get the cleanup jobs.
The Field Report: New Report Says Plans to Reduce Methane Fall Short on Big Meat and Dairy • Big Oil Bets That Green Hydrogen Is the Future of Energy • ‘We just pray for rain’: Niger is in the eye of the climate crisis – and children are starving • Once-common California bumble bees have gone missing • Rep. Grijalva Tours Cancer Alley Communities Plagued by Racial Discrimination and Environmental Injustice • The family, three generations of cancer, and the largest concentration of oil refineries in California • The Vanishing Rio Grande: Warming Takes a Toll on a Legendary River • In this rapaciously dry year, a quiet question grows louder: What are we doing here? • The Movements Taking Climate Action Where Politicians Won't • How Corporate Food Monopolies Caused the Baby Formula Scandal