From Koch Industries’ roots as “the biggest company you’ve never heard of”, David and Charles Koch have become household names for funding climate change denial and efforts to steer the United States away from a clean energy future. They suffered a little hiccup when California voters failed to buy the arguments of the dirty oil interests bankrolling Prop 23. Then, when David Koch was booed at the Nutcracker ballet just before Christmas, it started to look like the tides were shifting on public opinion around the billionaire brothers.
Despite the headway made in holding the Koch Brothers to account, they’ve creeped their way into Canada.
Well, let me be clear. It’s not as though Koch Industries is a totally foreign force in Canada. Koch and its subsidiaries currently operate in seven Canadian provinces, and according to a Greenpeace report, Koch has held multiple leases in Alberta’s tar sands, and since the 1990s the Koch Pipeline Company has operated the pipelines that carry tar sands crude from Canada into Minnesota and Wisconsin where Koch’s Flint Hill Resources owns oil refineries.
On the policy development front, they’ve busily bankrolled Canada’s Fraser Institute to the tune of $175,000 between 2005 and 2008 to ensure Canada remains in the Stone Ages when it comes to environmental policy.
The Ontario Green Energy Act has been heralded by Al Gore himself as the “single best green energy program on the North American continent.” Environmental Defence touts it as a monumental success, demonstrating that one year in, the law is steering the province into a prominent position as a global leader of economic and environmental renewal, on par with European standards.
After all the jobs the Green Energy Act has created and accolades it has received, it is curious that Tim Hudak, leader of Ontario’s Conservative party, would try to scuttle it.
To make matters even worse, Hudak is confusing the public by using phoney astroturf research. His fake green turf of choice is the now well-debunked “Spanish study on renewable energy jobs”. The 2009 study, the “Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources,” by Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, an economics professor at King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, was funded by the American Energy Alliance, a “free-market think tank” funded by the Kochtopus and ExxonMobil.
According to Dr. Alvarez’s ginned-up study, Spain’s policy on renewable energy caused the country to lose jobs. It erroneously implies that the cost of creating a renewable energy job is higher than the average cost of creating a job in Spain, and outrageously claims that Spain’s policy commitments to renewable energy development actually cost Spain 2.2 jobs lost for each clean energy job created. The study has made its rounds through the echo chamber, and was used to fight the Obama Administration’s 2010 budget proposal to create tax incentives for clean energy programs, and to oppose efforts to promote growth in the renewable energy industry.
Though a favourite of renewable energy detractors, the study has been thoroughly debunked by the Spanish government, U.S. Department of Energy, and numerous others (though apparently the Toronto Sun didn’t get the memo). And the American Wind Energy Association notes that “The Spanish Ministry of Labor has found that… renewable energy industries have created 175,000 jobs and the European Commission found that aggressive renewable policy would create a net increase of over 400,000 in the European Union by 2020, giving a ‘significant boost to the economy and the number of jobs in the EU.’”
While many Americans have by now heard of the misleading study, many Canadians probably have not, and Hudak has taken full advantage of that.
Knowing Hudak’s stance on other clean energy issues, his stance on renewable energy is perhaps not a stretch. He is already an outspoken opponent to a plan to create 17,000 renewable energy jobs in the province, and remains a vocal proponent of nuclear energy, despite the Liberals’ commitments to eliminate coal as a fuel by 2014.
Now Hudak is promoting energy policies that are moving Ontario backwards instead of forwards on energy, using a dirty industry-funded study to scare voters into believing that proven green job creation efforts are somehow killing jobs. That has no basis in fact, and is totally inexcusable.
Hide your kids, hide your wife, the Kochtopus and Tim Hudak are working in concert to kill Canada and Ontario’s clean energy future.
Nip on over to Chris Genovali’s blog to read more on this story.