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Koch Brothers Spend Big to Derail Greenhouse Gas Law in California

Are the Koch brothers thoughtful billionaires committed to the free expression of their libertarian beliefs, or do they pick their political causes with an eye trained closely to the enrichment of their carbon-heavy industries? The answer, of course, is a little bit of both, but Dan Morain of the Sacramento Bee makes a pretty good case today that their spending in California in favor of Proposition 23 falls firmly into the latter camp:

Koch Industries’ wholly owned subsidiary Flint Hills Resources, based in Kansas, tossed in $1 million to help win passage of Proposition 23, the initiative to roll back California’s 2006 law to reduce greenhouse gases.

It makes perfect sense. Koch Industries is deep into fossil fuel. To the extent the Kochs can bring about their regulation-less vision, they and their corporation would become richer still.

Successful passage of Prop 23 would kill California’s AB 32, a landmark law to reduce carbon emissions in the state. California’s new law can only do so much to restructure the country’s energy economy on its own, but the size of the state’s economy, combined with the visibility of its politics, is what makes petroleum industry chiefs like the Kochs so nervous about the law going into effect. As David Koch once told Morain in 1993, while sponsoring a different California ballot initiative, “If you can win the voucher initiative in California, it can win elsewhere. It is such a highly visible state.”

Now the Kochs are at it again, spending big money on Prop 23, and they’re getting help from their nonprofit organization, Americans for Prosperity, which has recently been accused of engaging in an improper amount of direct political advocacy. According to David Spady, the group’s California director, “Prop. 23 is our highest priority.”

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