Friday, February 18, 2011

The Koch Committee’s Big Oil Witnesses For Upton-Inhofe Pollution Act

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By Brad Johnson

With contributions from Noreen Nielsen, Energy Communications Director for Progressive Media at the Center for American Progress.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, now under Republican control, is holding a hearing right now to discuss blocking the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to reduce global warming pollution. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), who has received $9,000 from Koch Industries since 2008, will chair the subcommittee hearing on the Upton-Inhofe “Energy Tax Prevention Act,” hatched at a secret meeting between the bill’s sponsors and polluter lobbyists. The Republican witness list is a cavalcade of the nation’s worst polluters and oil-funded ideologues:

– Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s 2010 campaign was heavily funded by some of Texas’s largest industries, with most coming from people connected to oil and gas interests. Abbott, who has received $40,000 from Koch Industries and $10,000 from ExxonMobil, sued the Obama administration to end an offshore oil-drilling moratorium instituted following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and has taken the EPA to court three times in the past year, accusing climate scientists of “lying, falsification, cover-ups, et cetera.”

– National Black Chamber of Commerce president Harry Alford has received $425,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998. The study NBCC commissioned from Charles River Associates to attack the Waxman-Markey climate bill made false assumptions to generate artificially high costs for clean energy action.

– Lonnie Carter is president of Santee Cooper, a coal-powered utility that is the largest single mercury polluter in South Carolina. Santee Cooper is also a top consumer of mountaintop removal coal.

– Steve Cousins is vice president of Lion Oil, which ranks 27th on the list of top 100 facilities releasing chemicals such as nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and benzene into the environment. Cousins is a climate denier, questioning whether human activity is responsible for global warming.

– Peter Glaser of Troutman Sanders LLP works with the Washington Legal Foundation, which has received $325,000 from ExxonMobil and $1,255,000 from Koch Industries since 1997. Glaser has fought on behalf of carbon polluters for years, opposing the Supreme Court’s Massachusetts v. EPA decision.

– Fred Harnack represents the U.S. Steel Corporation, which ranks 19th on the 2010 Political Economy Research Institute Toxic 100 Air Polluters list.

– Illinois Farm Bureau president Phillip Nelson has a history of attacking air and water safeguards, while supporting big polluting mega-farms. Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland, headquartered in Decatur, IL, is seventh on the 2010 Political Economy Research Institute Toxic 100 Air Polluters list.

– James Pearce is the environmental general manager for FMC Corp., which had to pay the largest civil penalty ever obtained under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act for repeatedly violating the hazardous waste law at its phosphorus production facility in Pocatello, Idaho.

– Steve Rowlan is the environmental general manager at Nucor Corp., which is 24th on the 2010 Political Economy Research Institute Toxic 100 Air Polluters list.

– Margo Thorning is the vice president and chief economist for the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF). ACCF has received $215,000 from Koch foundations and nearly $1.7 million from ExxonMobil. Even with artificially negative assumptions, ACCF’s study of Waxman-Markey found that 20 million new jobs would be created by 2030.

Self-proclaimed “climate-denier-in-chief ” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), one of the draft legislation sponsors, will also testify at the hearing. Inhofe’s top lifetime contributor is Koch Industries, which has given him $86,650 since 1989.

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