The Koch brothers and their network of rich donors have basically bought and paid for the Republican Party, and now they are reaping the rewards. In 2017, the biggest reward was Trump’s climate and environment deregulation frenzy.
The Intercept and Documented obtained a memo that lists what the Seminar Network—a cadre of uber rich conservatives that the Koch brothers convene in Indian Wells, California every year—feels it accomplished in 2017 through its investments in Congress. In addition to sweeping tax changes that massively benefit the wealthy and getting conservative judges appointed, the documents lists 13 deregulatory actions undertaken by the Trump administration and Congress. Of the 13 “highlights,” nine are likely to hurt the climate and environment.
The list includes Trump planning to walk the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, the Environmental Protection Agency killing the Clean Power Plan, the Bureau of Land Management wiping out a stream protection rule, getting the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines’ final permit approvals, and wiping out Bears Ears National Monument.
All the anti-environmental moves the network is proud of came courtesy of the president’s pen or his surrogates at the Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department. While there was friction between the Koch brothers and Trump during the presidential campaign, it appears that was nothing a little deregulatory binge couldn’t fix.
“We’ve made more progress in the last five years than I had in the last 50,” Charles Koch, one of the brothers, said after this year’s confab according to Bloomberg.
Taken together, the list shows that what matters to the Koch brothers and their wealthy friends is extracting every last bit of oil and gas out of the ground, rapidly warming world be damned. This is a continuation of the Koch brothers’ agenda for decades, one that stands in direct opposition to public opinion, with most Americans favoring regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant and wanting air that doesn’t look like pea soup.
The document claims that “the least fortunate are among the hardest hit by government overreach,” implying that cutting back on environmental regulations will now help the poorest Americans reach their full potential.
This is, of course, not remotely accurate. Pollution disproportionately affects the poor because they generally live closest to sources of it. Climate change hits the poorest the hardest because they already have the least protection, or live in vulnerable areas. And once they get knocked down, they rarely have the means on to get back up again as quickly as those that are better off like, say, the Koch brothers.
Making pollution and climate change worse will make the people the Seminar Network claims to care about suffer more while lining the Koch brothers’ pockets.