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Oil Billionaire Koch Brothers’ Growing Influence In Renewable Energy Policy

The political reach of one predominant oil enterprise continues to influence the renewable energy and public transportation sectors on both a state and federal level.

Oil Billionaires, Koch Brothers Growing Influence in Energy Politics

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee spent Tuesday, June 26 questioning the presidential pick, Daniel Simmons, for the role of Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), where he would oversee wind and solar energy development – sectors of clean energy that he has decried in past years.

Simmons is a conservative scholar who has held a leading role at the Department of Energy (DOE) for the past year. His career preceding this included serving as the Vice President for policy at the Institute for Energy Research (IER) and its advocacy branch, American Energy Alliance, a group which suggested the complete dissolution of the EERE in 2015.

The IER and its think tanks are funded by Charles and David Koch, brothers and owners of American Koch industries – the second largest private company in the United States.

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The Koch brothers own oil refineries in Texas, Alaska and Minnesota, and have invested millions into their political agenda via lobbying and research groups, such as the American Energy Alliance.

In 2016, following the election, Koch Industry and American Energy Alliance lobbyist, Thomas Pyle, was tapped to guide the transition of the Department of Energy into the new administration. The involvement of the Koch brothers in energy politics has only expanded since.

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David H. Koch

Koch Brothers Defeat Public Transport Bill in Nashville

Last month, the oil industry billionaires successfully defeated a public transport expansion bill in Nashville, TN through the work of their lobbying group, Americans for Prosperity.

This canvassing group has taken on more than two dozen state-level measures related to transit since 2015, according to the New York Times. The group objects to the individual taxation that funds public transportation in a community, and combats proposed tariffs on gas and fuel.

In Nashville, this tariff proposal was in the form of a referendum introduced by former mayor Megan Berry. If it had passed this May, the referendum would have funded 19 transit centers, eight additional bus lines, and a new light rail system. The proposal was for an increase in sales tax of one percentage point, up to 10.25 percent.

Americans for Prosperity honed in on this tax hike to dissuade voters from approving the referendum and funding the costliest transit project in Nashville’s history – $5.4 billion.

Campaigners supporting the bill, including Berry, preach a different message about public transit. The benefits of such a system are listed as economic and environmental assets to a community like Nashville.

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A bus from the Nashville metro transit system in 2016.

According to the American Public Transit Association, the investment in public transit can result in a reduction of the nation’s carbon emissions by almost 40 million metric tons. The transportation sector is currently the largest producer of the nation’s carbon emissions. Over half of these earth-warming gases are a result of the burning of fossil fuels in passenger cars and utility vehicles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Americans for Prosperity staff and volunteers knocked on 6,000 doors and made 42,000 phone calls to encourage registered voters in the Nashville area to vote against the referendum. On May 1, almost 64 percent of voters rejected the referendum, and the bill failed.

In addition to public transit projects, Americans for Prosperity advocated against gas taxes on its website, where a user-friendly form can be sent to a local representative.

“Some are arguing that his tax needs to be hiked to pay for infrastructure, but that’s wrong,” the letter format reads. “Instead, lawmakers need to cut wasteful spending and fund infrastructure more responsibly.”

DOE Assistant Secretary Nominee Former Koch Brothers Energy Policy Man

About a month and a half following the successful defeat of the Nashville transit plan, President Trump announced his nomination that Daniel Simmons to take on the Assistant Secretary position at the DOE.

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DOE portrait of Daniel Simmons.

In his opening statement at the Senate hearing on Tuesday, Simmons set his priorities if appointed to the position, mentioning price reduction, grid integration and energy storage.

Sofie Miller, a staffer hired to work under Simmons on renewable energy advancement, also has a history with Koch Industries. Miller is a former policy analyst and research fellow at the Charles Koch Institute.

The Senate committee fired questions at Simmons relating to current and past Energy Efficiency legislation and his own work in the department. In response to many of the pointed questions, Simmons cited unfamiliarity and did not take a definitive stance.

The Senate has yet to make a definitive approval of the new DOE Assistant Secretary.


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  1. Anonymous June 27, 2018


  2. Chari Hayes August 30, 2018

    This shit has to stop.

  3. Linda Waterman Bentz August 30, 2018

    They need to be investigated

  4. Danielle Lesage Blais August 30, 2018

    As long as they mmmmake money they don’t care how

  5. Shirley Hawkins August 30, 2018

    Investigators these bother too.

  6. Margrett Egan Geist August 30, 2018

    Slime buckets. You can’t take the money with you. You could do so much for your country, I stead of ruining it for more money. Assholes.

  7. Scott Stowell August 30, 2018

    Those crooked GREEDY old bastards just need to go away and leave our government and our society alone .

    Mr. Mueller ???

  8. Mary Fink August 30, 2018


  9. Alice Burt August 30, 2018

    They r to old too know what’s best for Americans! ?? walks and talks.

    1. Christine Johnson August 30, 2018

      These old guys have been trying to rule country beginning with their dad, Through the John Birch Society, that failed so they bought the Republican Party. They are what is driving revoking environmental laws especially for business, gradually reducing taxes on corporations until they pay none. Greedy power hungry monsters. America once ridiculed and denounced them. Couldn’t get more than one per cent of the vote. Now Americans are being tricked.

  10. Marilyn Jackson August 30, 2018

    These old guys, they have no future, so they want to wreck the planet.

  11. Tania Marcotty August 30, 2018

    So long as they mean it, but what will they invest in? And make more money from? Sun, wind, water?

  12. Linda Bednarz August 30, 2018

    I’m getting really pissed by the corruption in our goverment…it needs to stop. For heavens sake. We Are the US! Vote all these Aholes out.

  13. April Severin August 30, 2018

    There’s so many crooks in Washington you need a program to figure it out


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