Koch Industries spent $0.5million lobbying EU against environmental protection

6/7/2015 Guardian: Koch Industries spent €0.5m lobbying EU on environmental protection
- by Arthur Neslen Brussels
Notorious US opponents of climate action have been lobbying Europe on energy and environment issues, according to EU transparency register

Koch Industries, owned by the US oil billionaire Koch brothers, has been lobbying the EU on energy and the environment.

A notorious funder of climate sceptics in the US has spent at least €550,000 (£390,908) lobbying the EU on environmental protections and energy issues over the past three years.

An obscure entry on the EU’s voluntary transparency register shows that up to €750,000 (£533,049) may have been spent by Koch Industries, the largest private energy company in the US, on trying to influence EU policy.

Brothers David and Charles Koch, who own Koch Industries, fund several thinktanks in the US that deny climate change. Most recently, one of their charitable foundations was found to have have been funding a prominent Harvard-Smithsonian Center scientist and climate sceptic, Willie Soon.
The Koch’s lobbying in Europe, spotted by the blog DeSmog UK, has focused on “all initiatives on the areas of environmental protection, trade and internal market,” documents show.

Its lobby focus has been on a recast of the EU fertiliser regulation, called Reach, and EU free trade negotiations, which have been ongoing with the US and Canada. Other areas of interest to the firm listed on the register include: energy, climate action, environment, agriculture and rural development.

Jason Anderson, WWF’s head of European energy and climate policy, said that while the Koch brothers were “obviously the biggest problem case on climate change in the US”, any climate science-denying pitches would receive short shrift in Brussels.

“Their interest in trade is slightly more worrying though given the concern that private companies would be able to exert more influence there,” he said. “We’ve been assured that important legal matters such as the precautionary principle would not be weakened but these negative forces may feel some possibility of benefit to them [from lobbying] – which is exactly what people have been concerned about.”

In the US, a Greenpeace investigation found that the Koch brothers had earmarked nearly $48m to climate sceptic groups and lobbying for fossil fuels. The activist group accused the Koch brothers of funding 35 conservative and libertarian groups, as well as more than 20 congressmen and senators.

In Europe, the figure cited in the EU’s transparency register could significantly underestimate the actual amount spent by the Koch family, according to LobbyFacts, a joint project between Corporate Europe Observatory, LobbyControl and Friends of the Earth Europe.

“The new EU Transparency Register continues to suffer from seriously unreliable data,” the group says, adding that many companies tend to under-report their lobbying spend.
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