America’s richest brothers, Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, are upset with the New York Times. Representatives for the family claim that the Times characterized their position on government policies related to climate change.
In the piece the reporter notes the Koch brothers have “longtime resentment of the biggest oil companies.”
Last week, the New York Times published a piece in which the reporter set forth her own characterization of Koch’s position on the prospect of a carbon tax, without allowing us to set forth our position or use the statements we provided her in the story.
We explained to the reporter that we opposed the proposed carbon tax because we support free markets and oppose excessive government intervention into the private sector. We also explained our opposition was based on our view of the proper role of government—we believe that it shouldn’t pick winners and losers, and that is why we oppose all subsidies, even when we may benefit from them. We went on to provide her with copies of correspondence we had sent to Congress in the past opposing various subsidies. Unfortunately, the reporter refused to use any of this information.
The reporter also noted that Fred Koch had been blocked from bringing an oil refining process to the market by John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil – now ExxonMobil (among other companies).
According to the Times story ExxonMobil and other companies have begrudingly accepted that they will likely have to start pricing carbon and factoring that price and future taxes into their business model.
A new report by the environmental data company CDP has found that at least 29 companies, some with close ties to Republicans, including ExxonMobil, Walmart and American Electric Power, are incorporating a price on carbon into their long-term financial plans.
Both supporters and opponents of action to fight global warming say the development is significant because businesses that chart a financial course to make money in a carbon-constrained future could be more inclined to support policies that address climate change.
One of the holdouts, reportedly, is Koch Industries which is still funding political groups such as the Tea Party and the American Energy Alliance attacking those that support a carbon tax or cap and trade schemes.
But even if the Kochs don’t succeed in stopping the pricing of carbon they have undoubtedly delayed the process enriching themselves greatly. If one were to interpret their political giving as a business strategy it has paid off handsomely for the brothers who have gained considerable wealth in the interim.