And the Worst Climate Change Denier Award Goes To...

Who’s the biggest climate change and environmental offender? Repower America recently asked its members this question. Though BP has certainly had a bad year when it comes down to it the worst of the worst in 2010 is Koch Industries.

This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the company. A study this past spring by University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute found Koch Industries to be the tenth most polluting company in the US. This places it above companies like BP and Royal Dutch Shell. Residents in 28 states can thank Koch for ruining air quality.

The company also has a large stake in bad climate business beyond US borders: the company has a refinery that relies on Albert tar sands to produce 325,000 barrels of oil a day. Tar sands are even more energy intensive to extract and refine than regular oil.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Koch Industries is the second largest private company in the US, with a value of over $100 billion. It also happens to be in the energy business. The two brothers that run it, Charles and David Koch, are two of the wealthiest people in the country and also ardent libertarians. That means both the company and its owners have quite a bit of money to throw around and an agenda when it comes to climate change legislation and government oversight.

In the midterm election cycle, Koch Industries spent over $1 million to get California’s Proposition 23 passed. The ballot measure would have repealed California’s climate change legislation. Luckily, the effort failed.

However, Koch Industries' reach extends far beyond California state lines. Greenpeace estimates that from 2005 to 2008, “Koch Industries-controlled foundations contributed $24.9 million in funding to organizations of the ‘climate denial machine.’” That money helped fund groups that blew ClimateGate out of proportion and think tanks like the Cato Institute which wrote in 2009 that Congress should “pass no legislation restricting emissions of carbon dioxide” and “inform the public about how little climate change would be prevented by proposed legislation.”

Then there’s the $37.9 million from 2006 to 2009 to directly lobby Congress about oil and energy issues. Given their funding for climate change skepticism and junk science, you’ll never guess what they were likely asking Congressmen and Congresswomen for. That's a lot of climate change denial!

And here's the worst part: this is just the information that’s available publicly. With the Supreme Court’s ruling that allows corporate donors to remain anonymous, there’s no telling how much money Koch Industries has really spent to delay and obfuscate climate change legislation. Yet despite David Koch’s effort to make sure Koch Industries is “the biggest company you’ve never heard of,” members of Repower America are onto them. Congratulations, Koch Industries! You have truly earned your 2010 Snake Oil Award.

Photo Credit: Repower America